Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Paris Avec Bebe

Paris with kids, paris with kids itinerary, paris with kids blog
Jordan at Pont des Art bridge

When anyone asks why I would take my 20-month old daughter to Paris, I counter with "Why not?"

Paris is an outstanding city for babies and kids.  We went for the first time with Jordan when she was 13 months old in November 2012 and again this past June when she was 20-months.

Visiting the city with a child is magical.  The pictures alone make it worthwhile.

More than anything, a well-behaved child speaks a universal language.  That baby's smile can melt any cold-hearted Parisian's heart like butter on a warm baguette.  The French LOVE babies and kids.

The New York Times recently offered some suggestions for Paris with Kids.  It has solid, highbrow ideas like kid-friendly museums to visit.  It's a good read.  

I would add the following:

Paris with Kids Itinerary, Paris with kids blog
Jordan with a new friend at Luxembourg Gardens
  • Parks parks parks galore.  The Parisian parks are wonderful.  Families don't have huge yards, so the parks are a big deal.  Between 3-4pm is the witching hour when the parks fill up with either families or nannies and their charges.  The parks will be packed.  Luxembourg Gardens, Parc Monceau, the park next to Les Halles, Places des Vosges, the Palais Royal promenade, Parc de Bercy.  Any of them are great. They are also opportunities for your little one to connect with other French kiddos. You will find the language barrier to be nonexistent. 
  • The Tuileries - this is the park in front of the Louvre.  We didn't hit any museums while we were there. Instead, we opted to take in the city itself as one big museum.  The green space in front of the Louvre is outstanding.  It fills with people who like to enjoy the extended summer daylight hours well into the evenings. We ended up running into people we had met a few times.  Be careful, though, some of those street vendors use the labyrinth hedges as urinals.  Keep to the open space. 
  • Carousels - magical delights throughout the city.  We enjoyed the carouselx at the Trocadero & Parc Monceau. You must ride them if you visit.  Some visitors make a sport of riding as many carousels as possible.
  • Palais Royal is a great spot to visit for both parents and kids.  Located in the 1st, it offers a slew of restaurants (we visited Muscade a few times).  It not only has long shopping corridors where you can stroll and let your kids can run, there is also a huge green space.  While you are eating (and drinking) lunch, your kids, again, can play and burn off some energy.
  • Get that bread!  We broke a few of our diet rules while on the trip.  We let Jordan snack and eat a lot of bread.  It worked for us if she was hungry and cranky and couldn't find anything on a menu to eat.  We love Le Poilane and Eric Kayser.  Although, the worst bread in Paris is better than many of the best bakeries in Texas. 
  • Visit the farmers markets.  Every neighborhood has one.  Stock up on produce.  You won't be disappointed. 
  • Our standby, kid-approved dining options: Cafe Breizh, L'Eboulliant, the bar at La Duree on the Champs Elysees and  the food hall at Le Bon Marche (good for picnics items). 
  • The zoo.  My husband took Jordan here while I was exploring Bercy Village.  She loved it. 
Here are some general thoughts on ensuring your trip with kids is a success:

Bonjour!
  • Consider renting an apartment.  We had a spot across from Notre Dame and it was perfect.  It was less expensive and much larger than any hotel option we could find.  We could eat a quality breakfast in the morning.  Jordan could watch Dora before we went out the door for the day.  We had space for all of our stuff.  It was perfect.  We used Guest Apartment ServicesThey were wonderful.
  • Make sure they sleep well.  A sleep-deprived kid is a cranky kid.
  • Make sure they eat well - a breeze in Paris.  Restaurant owners and chefs delight in watching a child eat.  At Maxim's they treated Jordan like a queen.   Sure, we paid the price for it but it was an experience we'll never forget. 
Paris with Kids, Paris With Kids Blog, Paris With Kids Itinerary
Jordan at Maxim's
  • If your child is young enough, use that stroller!  We took Jordan everywhere in our stroller.  She was able to sleep in it while we were walking.  It was compact enough to fit in restaurants and nestle under tables.  We would typically arrive to lunch around 1pm while she was sleeping.  We would slip the stroller under the table just like a chair.  It worked in just about every spot.
  • Practice circus contortionist-like flexibility.  Your itineraries will probably change based on your little one's temperament.  Embrace it.  It's part of the adventure.  You never know who you might meet or where a day in Paris will take you. 

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