Travel doctor: Paris with an 11-year-old

travel doctorQ. My daughter, who lives in New Zealand, is bringing our 11-year old granddaughter to stay in June and she wants to visit Paris for a day or two. Have you some ideas as to what to do with an 11-year-old who will not be awfully interested in museums and art galleries? Also can you recommend any gluten-free restaurants as my daughter is a coeliac?
Gillian Bray, via e-mail

A. Two of Paris’s best parks should be on your list. The Luxembourg Gardens, between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, has a carousel, playground and pony rides; the bandstand hosts concerts on summer afternoons and there’s a puppet theatre too. The Tuileries, in front of the Louvre, is also a delight — and I expect its trampolines will be irresistible to your 11-year old. You will have to do the Eiffel Tower but book otherwise you’ll endure an horrendous queue. It’s worth considering the Behind the Scenes guided tour of the tower that starts in the bunker under the Champ de Mars and includes access to the engine room ( Tickets can also be booked for Bateaux-Mouches cruises ( on the Seine. As for gluten-free dining, try bakeries Helmut Newcake ( and Thank You, My Deer (; Café Pinson (, in the Marais, caters for both vegetarians and coeliacs. has a gluten-free travel guide that includes Paris and a gluten-free dining card (in French of course) to print out and take to restaurants.

Q. We are considering hiring a place for the three days of Christmas that will be big enough for all of our family. A place within comfortable reach of Cambridgeshire would be ideal, and we would need enough bedrooms for about four or five couples, at least two children, a teenager and two single octogenarians. Our budget is about £2,000. Is this impossible?

Janette Folker, via e-mail

It’s not impossible but most holiday rentals over Christmas are for seven nights and many of the bigger properties – you will need eight or nine bedrooms – have been snapped up. If you really want a short journey, Cottages4you (0845 2680763, has Domum, an old-fashioned eight-bedroom Edwardian house overlooking the sea at the little beachside village of Mundesley in Norfolk. There’s a ground-floor bedroom for the less mobile, and a games room with billiard table. It costs £1,836 for a week starting December 21. Alternatively, if you could face a four-hour journey, Cilwych Farm Cottages (01874 658888, in the Brecon Beacons could suit you – it’s a collection of four smartly furnished cottages, plus a large communal kitchen and lounge dining area for up to 15 people. This would cost £1,400 for five nights from December 22.
Q. We were stopped while boarding a Ryanair flight at Alicante airport (where there’s a sign saying you are allowed to take airport shopping on board as well as one other bag) and told we could not take our duty-free bag on board unless we could fit it in our carry-on case. In this instance, we had room but my husband mentioned to a policeman standing next to the Ryanair staff that this was against the law. The policeman just squirmed and didn’t want to be involved. What is the correct policy and how does one stand up to Ryanair?
Mags Murray, via e-mail

 As part of its new and long overdue campaign to be more passenger-friendly, Ryanair is now allowing passengers to bring a second small carry-on bag (“small ladies’ handbag or small airport shopping bag”) no bigger than 35 x 20 x 20 cm, “which will allow a bottle of wine or equivalent to be carried”. If I were you, I’d print out this information from the Ryanair website ( and take it with you when you next travel.

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