Paris travelers regularly ask me for advice before booking a short-term rental apartment: “Is a trip to Paris with children a practical or even desirable proposition?”
Over to you Julie!
<< Visiting Paris with children? Sure, it’s possible. There are even children who live in Paris all year round, I can assure you, as I have 3 of them at home.>>
And it’s even possible to ENJOY your trip with children.
You’re going to need to be quite organized and well-informed, but that is what we are here for.
I’m not even going to mention hotel rooms, as I find them ill-adapted to family travel.
In an apartment, you live like at home. Your kids have a bed adapted to their age, a baby booster chair if you need it, a bath tub… You prepare whatever meals you deem best for your children, at the most appropriate time for them. You get them to bed at the time that suits them, they can take naps, while you enjoy the living room to relax, read, watch a DVD or prepare your next Paris visits.
Or simply admiring the beauty of Paris from your window…
Then, getting around as a family. The ‘Yoyo’ by BabyZen has become known as the lifesaver amongst parents in Paris. It is (almost) the only pushchair that easily fits in buses and the metro, however be aware of the flights of stairs in the metro stations. You will notice for yourself that this pushchair is widely adopted by young Parisiens. It folds like an umbrella and unfolds by using only one hand, making it perfect for air travel. If you don’t have one then borrow one or buy a pre-owned one for your trip, you won’t regret it!
Visits: Paris is full of places which are especially adapted for kids. You can easily divide your time equally between activities for the children, and activities for Mummy and Daddy. (Personally I am a fan of “a time for the kids and a time for the parents” and if the carrot is enticing enough it is possible to keep them patient for a good while).
In every district there are parks where our children can run around and play to burn off some much-needed energy. This will transform your pushchair-riding munchkins into little angels in the museum…
Some of Paris’ most central parks, like the Tuilleries Gardens next to the Louvre and the Luxembourg Gardens have plenty of activities to keep your children entertained. There are playgrounds, merry-go-rounds, ponies, boats and more..! At the Paris Town Hall, Hotel de Ville there is a yearly ice skating rink during the winter months and a merry-go-round all year round.
While your little whipper snappers are having fun, you can explore the history of these magnificent grounds that really “make” Paris as much as the monuments do.
The Grande Galerie de l’Evolution will no doubt go down a treat with your ankle biters and more “classical” museums usually offer circuits adapted to children, according to their age…
Meals: even though you can of course have them in your apartment, it would be such a shame to not enjoy the famous French gastronomy. In Paris, children and pushchairs are very often welcome and lots of restaurants offer high chairs, special kids menus, and the waiters are used to slaloming between the pushchairs. You just need to choose the right restaurant. Some simple advice: look at the patrons lunching. If there are only businessmen in suit and tie, steer clear…
If you want, there are even restaurants that were designed so that children can play and let their parents eat in peace. For example, a few steps from the Buttes Chaumont park, try Les 400 Coups. Inside the park, you simply must stop at the Rosa Bonheur http://www.rosabonheur.fr “guinguette” (popular drinking establishment of the 1920’s) that is both old fashioned and trendy (absolutely, both at the same time).
For shopping fans, the Bonpoint tea room inside the eponymous boutique makes for the perfect resting place in the desirable 6th district of Saint Germain.
Finally, if your kids are too small for long days out, don’t forget you can always bring along your usual baby sitter, you will just need to book an apartment with an extra bedroom… or call on us to find you a local baby sitter.
That way you can enjoy Paris fully, knowing that your sweeties are nearby, but not too near…”
Now a few words from our new Rentals Assistant, Gemma, who was previously an Au Pair in Paris for 12 months. Gemma is familiar with places around Paris that are great to keep young children entertained and tantrum-free:
<< After being an Au Pair in Paris for one year, the children and I discovered some great places for after school and weekend activities.
As Julie mentionned, the parks in Paris are a great place for the children to let off some steam. The Tuileries and the Luxembourg gardens were always a hit with the children.
Another favourite was the ‘Jardin des Plantes‘. This garden has a small zoo which has over 200 different species of animal. It is also a pretty place to visit and admire the beautiful array of flowers leading up to the main building at the end of the garden. In the summer the sunflowers grow so high that they hang over your head! I found that the children loved all the bright colours and learning about the varieties of plants and flowers.
‘Palais de la Découverte‘ was another hit amongst the children. This museum is situated just off the Champs-Elysées and is free for children under the age of 6. Inside the museum there is a planeterium which mesmerized the children thanks to all of the lights on the ceiling. There are lots of hands-on activities for children of all ages where they can learn and discover while having fun.
‘Cirque d’Hiver‘ in the North Marais is sure to be a winner with the children. This circus has a variety of different acts from a human cannonball to trapeze artists. There are also some clever animal acts including tigers, horses and elephants!
If you’re lucky enough to experience Paris in the sunshine, then Paris has lots of great grassy areas for a picnic. You can introduce your children to some traditional French food whilst enjoying the picturesque surroundings of a Parisian park. To make your life even easier, there is a company called ‘Paris Picnic’ who provide a ready made picnic basket and can deliver it to your door. It would be a great treat for the children, and a hassle-free way to have a fun afternoon relaxing in the sunshine. >>
Well, thanks Julie and Gemma for all that helpful advice – I’m glad that our apartment rental clients now have some good practical tips to avoid frustration and get the most from Paris with kids.
If you have experience travelling with kids, what do you think of these tips?
And what other tips of your own might you contribute? (use the “comment” like or box below)