Paris; When people think of it there is all kinds of ideas and notions. Some hate it and others wax poetic about it. I am here to give
you the truth. From my view point, It is colored in with the fact that we did it with two kids under double digits. I not only
survived the travel but thrived. However, I do wonder if I would have loved it more or less without them.
There were things we loved and things we didn’t. I have heard it said that when you go somewhere with kids you are not on vacation, you just traveled. This blog is how you do international travel with kids and do it well. First of all, you can do Paris in 3, 5, or 7 days according to Pinterest but we ignored all of that and chose a 6 day routine where we left on a Friday afternoon and came home Thursday night very late the following week. Neck pillows, coloring pages, Plan good headphones and melatonin for all involved. I bought water bottles from online and they worked wonder for the plane after security and hooked perfectly to backpacks around the city. Our hotel was very very nice and we upgraded to what the perisians call an “appartment” which meant we had a hallway, two bathrooms and separate door between sleeping for kids. This was worth every single penny. We would have not survived being in the space they called a “room”. My suite case wouldn’t have even fit. Much less 4 people. The added space was amazing and the hot breakfast everyday helped give the kids energy before the busy days of site seeing.
When reading online it is very specific as to what you should wear to “blend” in. Black, nice flats no giant tennis shoes and never athletic wear. I followed these rules to the letter. What we found out? Paris is very very tourist focused. You will see tons of people wearing anything and everything. So it really doesn’t matter. If you want to go Parisian like I did-go for it but if your more comfortable in your track suits it won’t be a dead give way. The few things I would not go without rain jackets, and umbrella’s, The weather has a bite too in spring so thermal tights too. It is because the wind blows through the buildings and the concrete cools everything. (Except in summer where it heats everything – I am told) The thermal tights idea I will be using back home now that I know the trick.
For the tours and sightseeing:
We did not schedule much because we knew we needed flexibility with the kids but we most certainly planned. We used excel and trip adviser, Rick Steve, and every other tool to plan out a system. Solo Sophie is great blog I read a ton on as well. If you are interested in our actual itinerary I posted that blog here. For planning I would choose 2-3 things a day – MAX. Our schedule looks much fuller than that but we only scheduled two or three things per day. we filled in everything else as we went. The only exception to that idea would be the day you do Versailles. We greatly underestimated the size and time we could have spent in the gardens and back areas.
Now of course someone can not talk Paris without talking about food. So let me first say that we loved the food but also got tired at baguettes. We are big foodies and my children are not picky. My son even enjoyed the escargot. My daughter loved the ham and butter sandwiches. We made only two dinner reservations the entire time there and made a promise to ourselves to visit a special little restaurant by Notre Dame for lunch one day. The one thing we looked for was english/french menu’s. We knew petit french and this seemed to really ease my kids and husbands language barriers.
As for the french people they get a bad rap for being rude and stuck up but, we did not find this at all. They are more proper and believe in standards. “Do not put feet on the Metro seat” “Do greet and say good bye when leaving an establishment” “use merci often” . The people that upset us were the non-french tourists. I am amazed at the lack of etiquette from people visiting. Rude pushing and standing and self sticks everywhere allowed. People in front of us at the Louvre shoving my kids to see, they scoffed at the nice baker servicing them who didn’t understand northwestern English, and I watched a tourists liter the hall at Versailles! Those people we could have done without. I hope when you visit places you use your manners! The only time I saw the French being “French” was when driving. They do not stop. Pedestrines do not have any rights and they will run you over, so walk carefully.
Leave room in your suitcase for shopping but ship Champs-Elysees it is a tourist trap and feels like a dirty Disney with no rides.
Give yourself plenty of time to recover from jet lag. It took Friday/Saturday and some of Sunday for the family to be back on schedule once home.
Plan your bathrooms with your lunch and dinner stops or at your museums. We only messed this up once when we did lunch outside on the steps of The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre and ended up waiting in line for 45 minutes for the one public bathroom available.
Pickpockets are known to be an issue so just keep your stuff on you and well guarded. However, we felt very safe the entire time.
Sir Winston Churchill – This is close to Arch de triumph with obviously an english menu and classic dishes like fish + chips
for kids. The history of the place is also very fun.
Cafe de L’Homme – Worth its weight in gold… which you will pay. It is the only fine dining restaurant in a museum in all of Paris and one of
top restaurants in the entire world. So it is pricey. It is named after Gustaf Eiffel and has the best views in all of Paris. We met the most amazing people here. They truly made our entire trip. Be warned our kids were the only kids and if your kids do not dress up and behave for 3 hours do not take them here.
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole – I found this spot doing research and it was a highlight for sure. Beautiful and built with the same stones as Notre Dame it is one of only two still standing from that time period on this street. The food amazing, the staff wonderful and the place the best part. happily stay and play a tune on the old piano if you are brave enough.
The Best Baker
This is on your way to Sacre-Coeur and truly a gem. We knew we hit the jackpot when at 10a.m. the line was out the door. I will never forget that Croquet Monsieur sandwich for as long as I live. Truly the best sandwich I have ever had. My daughter ate the entire sleeve of macaroons in one sitting.
Last but not least when visiting Paris with kids you must look for the Carousels in the city. This was one of the highlights
of the trip for us. There are about twenty in the city of lights. We saw nine and road three.
The carousel so pretty
I thought to take a ride.
The animals so shiny
I look so good astride.
The wind blew my hair
I laughed with childish joy.
A universal playground
For every girl and boy.