Paris is a great place for teenagers. The city is full of history, art, global cultures and a vibrant urban and social scene. With so many options, it’s helpful to make a plan in advance. Figure out topics you like and plan a small handful of things to do. Don’t get Griswolded, be sure to leave more time than you think you need to wander, rest and explore unexpected discoveries.
J, our 14-year-old, has visited Paris throughout the years and her tastes and interests have evolved. On our last visit, she was in love with the story of Marie Antoinette, the style icon and naughty girl who becomes Queen of France. Marie Antoinette met with a terrible ending, which adds to my daughter’s fascination with her.
Our kids each choose a topic and do a little research before traveling to a city. J chose the life of Marie Antoinette as fashion icon. J loves the modern and beautifully stylized Sofia Coppola movie with Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette.
J’s itinerary while in Paris is something a fashion and French history lover of any age would enjoy. When you visit J’s choice of museums, you feel like a true Parisian. They are off the crowded, main tourist radar of “must sees” like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. It is easy to slowly amble the halls and take in what you wish, without the feeling of being herded like cattle. Docents are available and happy to answer any questions or suggest other things you may like.
Here is J’s Paris itinerary for a Marie Antoinette/fashion themed visit:
1. Musée Carnavalet
16, rue des Francs-Bourgeois 75003 Paris. Website.
This museum is known as one of the largest in Paris. Although there are many beautiful architectural treasures and interiors, we most loved the geometric and perfectly manicured gardens in view from any window. Of special interest to J was:
- the Louis XVI room of furnishings and instruments
- the display of some of Marie Antoinette’s personal items like a very small pair of shoes and an ornate fan
- Marie’s prison bedroom at the Temple
- a guillotine, much like the one that may have beheaded Marie
2. La Conciergerie
2 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris. Website
Beautifully situated along the Seine River, the Conciergerie was the first royal palace and then transformed into a prison during the French Revolution. If the walls could talk! It is located in central Paris in the oldest remaining part of the Palais de la Cité. Admissions limits how many people can enter each day, so be sure you buy tickets to visit in advance. This museum is often booked solid 3-4 months ahead of time.
J’s research led her there not so much for fashion, but to satisfy her macabre side. This was Marie’s final prison after attempting to escape the nicely appointed prison at the Temple. Like many other victims at the time, Marie was carted off from here to Place de la Concorde and beheaded.
The museum’s replica of Marie Antoinette’s prison cell shown below is perfectly CREEPY. There is a mannequin posing as her, sitting at the desk, with a fake guard keeping watch. There are guillotine blades on display in the halls.
Luckily, the architecture of the building lightens the mood again.
3. Cooking Baz’Art
23, rue Fourcroy 75017 Paris website
Marie Antoinette is credited with the saying, “Let them eat cake!” J took that quite literally by learning to make cake at Cooking Baz’Art. For 45 euros, she learned to make a variety of desserts at the fashionable kitchen of chef and instructor Isabel Luzzato. Isabel, a fellow fashion stylist and textile designer for many years, took baking and the presentation of sweets to another level. Using the works of Picasso, Mondrian, Miro and other artists as reference in decorating, it was truly a pity to gobble up those sweet desserts!
10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, Galliera Street, 75016 Paris. Website.
Musée Galliera houses the largest collection of clothing and costumes in Paris. This place is a fashionista’s dream! If you wish to visit this wonderful museum, check ahead. It is often closed to preserve the very fragile textiles from unnecessary exposure to light.
Although no display is permanent, certain select famous garments are always available to admire. These include some of Marie Antoinette’s costumes, a collection of costumes from the Sofia Coppola Marie Antoinette movie, Brigitte Bardot’s wedding dress and 1950’s vintage fashion and accessories.
Another notable garment on display at the museum is the iconic LBD (little black dress) Audrey Hepburn wore for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This LBD has created the next fascination for our 14-year-old: Audrey Hepburn’s movie career and style. Move over, Marie and make room for Audrey; a teenager in Paris is a fickle creature!
To read about our 8 year old’s Paris history adventure, click here.