A week in Paris can be children's play

IN MID DECEMBER, WE ARE SPENDING A WEEK IN PARIS WITH FOUR CHILDREN FROM TWO GENERATIONS: 24, 21, 11 AND 8. ANY HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO ENGAGE EVERYONE IN THIS WIDE SPECTRUM IN THE DELIGHTS OF PARIS?

E. VERSTER, EAST PERTH WA

The twenty-somethings won't have any difficulty amusing themselves, Paris is a feast for this age group. You could kick start them with a carnet de dix - a pack of 10 Metro tickets, available from any station - a copy of Time Out Paris and a shove in the direction of the Marais and they'll find their feet in no time. If they Google "Goop Paris" they'll get Gwyneth Paltrow's take on the city. The Paris section of the Petite Paris site (petiteparis.com.au) is another handy reference.

The sub-teens will need more care and attention. Stories are a great way to get children involved and to appreciate the human drama behind some of Paris' beautiful monumental wonders.

Tell them the story of the Phantom of the Opera as a prelude to a guided tour of the Palais Garnier, The Hunchback of Notre Dame before visiting the cathedral, and possibly whet their appetite with a viewing of Les Miserables, since Victor Hugo is such a titanic figure for the French.

You might also get in touch with Virginia Dae (parisinsight.com), whose specialty is small-group, intimate strolls tailored to your exact requirements. Dae is a real delight with a vivid, insider's view of the city, and she'd be perfect to put together a children's tour of Paris.

Since it's chilly December, chocolate is called for, and this is a Paris specialty. Jean-Paul Hevin does what is possibly the best hot chocolate in Paris. Go upstairs to the Salon de The at 231 rue Saint-Honore, or try the Chocolate Bar.

OUR EXTENDED FAMILY OF 16 HOLIDAY TOGETHER FOR 7-10 DAYS EVERY SECOND CHRISTMAS. IN 2014 WE THOUGHT WE MIGHT TRY A TROPICAL HOLIDAY. THERE ARE 10 ADULTS AND SIX KIDS AGED FROM 10-16. WE LIKE ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES, SPORTS, POOLSIDE LOUNGING AND GOOD FOOD. WOULD BE GOOD TO LIMIT FLIGHT TIME TO EIGHT HOURS MAXIMUM AND A SINGLE RESIDENCE WORKS BETTER THAN INDIVIDUAL UNITS. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

M. ARCHARD, MT WAVERLEY, VIC

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Villa-style accommodation for this many people in a tropical setting is a tough one. Bali has a wide selection of villas, and although finding a single property to accommodate 16 is almost impossible, the island does have individual villas in village-style clusters, each one separate within its own walled domain but close enough to make communal get-togethers viable. Contact Bali Villas (balivillas.com), Bali Villa Living (balivillaliving.com) and Villa-Bali (villa-bali.com) and see what they can offer. On the downside, December is wet season in Bali.

Fiji is another place where holiday villas are an option and there are several villa specialists here. However, Christmas is also the wet season in Fiji. Bali offers more options for the visitor.

IN APRIL NEXT YEAR WE ARE SPENDING A WEEK IN MAURITIUS FOR A BIT OF R & R AFTER A CAMPING SAFARI IN AFRICA. WHILST A RESORT WILL BE GOOD FOR A DAY OR TWO, WE ARE KEEN TO EXPLORE MAURITIUS. WE HAVEN'T REALLY SEEN ANY TRAVEL ARTICLES FOR MAURITIUS ON WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO MISS. ANY TIPS ON WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO MISS?

A. KAVANAGH, MAITLAND

The seafood is wonderful, the aquatic landscape is first-class, there are lots of energetic water sports to choose from but apart from the Botanical Gardens near Pamplemousses, most visitors find little reason to leave their Mauritian resort. There are a few adventure activities that might appeal such as quad biking and hiking at Casela Nature & Leisure Park (caselayemen.mu) and hiking in Black River Gorge National Park but essentially, the island falls into the domain of sunshine, sand and sloth. If you Google "Mauritius travel guide" you can find several sources of information on the island.

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CONVERSATION

OVER TO YOU ...

The question was "What's your best-ever travel tip?

"My best advice was from my aunt and uncle," writes K. Dismorr. "When exploring in a foreign city take the hotel's business card with you -- especially if you don't speak or read the language."

"Carry photographs of your suitcases showing any identifying characteristics," says J. Herbert.

"I always take a small selection of ziplock bags," writes K. Mulcahy. "Arrival at a destination after hours of travel often means a visit to the local shops for wine and nibbles to unwind and I zip the leftovers. Also great for cosmetics, wet swimming costumes etc."

"For backpackers and budget travellers always pack a pillow case," says J. Marples. "Filled with clothes it's a pillow, cover for a dodgy pillow in hostels and a bag for taking dirty washing to the laundromat."

A. Watts writes: "On trips of more than two weeks write a travel diary. Re-reading my first trip to Indonesia for six weeks in the 1970s evokes age-old memories."

"For some years now my husband and I have travelled with carry-on luggage only," writes A. Priest. "We never have to worry about lost or damaged luggage, and no lugging heavy bags up stairs or on public transport. We have spent seven weeks in the UK with just our 7 kilograms each."

Next question: What destination is top of your travel wish list for 2014? Send a response, or your travel question, to tripologist@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

All published responses will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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