Summer here and I thought it was high time to write down some random tips of what to do in my lovely city with kids. Paris is such a great place to visit and so easy to get around that it is a great destination with children, even young ones. But there are a couple of things that might be good to know:
- Hilariously my very first tip actually has very little to do with kids and has everything to do with coffee and bars! Basically if you want to save a cent or two always order and drink a coffee at the bar in a Parisian café, not on the terrace. The price on a terrace can be more that double than the one if you sit by the bar. The same goes for most drinks. (By the way: a café is an espresso, a noisette is a macchiato and a crème is a cappuccino roughly speaking).
- All neighbourhoods in Paris have little squares with play equipment (like place des Vosges on the photo above). They are simple, easy going and a nice way to get away from the crowds. If you are looking for a real park, go a bit further afield and head over to the Buttes de Chaumont, which is super French and has grassy areas, so a good place to go and kick a ball around.
- My favourite Parisian street food is good old-fashioned crepes, and you can still find a lot of little hole-in-the-wall crepes stands that will throw together a “jambon-fromage-champions” (my personal favourite). My kids absolutely love them.
- In restaurants do ask for a kids menu, even if it is not advertised. Especially less touristy places will often happily make a smaller plate for kids.
- If you have the time to teach your kids just a few words in French, it is totally worth it. I have seen the sternest French waiter melt when he had been addressed in French by a little foreign tourist. Even “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “S’il vous plait” is enough.
- When you ask for anything, be it a baguette in a boulangerie or directions on the street, start with “Bonjour” not “Excuse me”. It just the way we start a conversation over here. If not you might finish with your questions just to have a pointed “Bonjour” thrown back at you.
- For me the best way to get around Paris, if you have a bit of time, is by bus. They use the same tickets as the metro, but are so much more pleasant and such a great way to see the city. The free public transport app is unfortunately only in French at the moment, but it is so easy to use that I think you could use it with even the smallest knowledge of French.
- If you have even more time then the very, very best way of getting around Paris is to walk! Paris is much smaller than London and New York so it is actually easy to walk from one attraction to the next. On the left bank of the Seine a lot of the quays are closed to cars and are a lovely way to discover Paris. On Sundays the right bank of the Seine is also closed to cars.
- As we now all know, French Kids don’t throw food 😉 which is actually only partly correct of course. But it is true that people expect children to behave in restaurants and will ask the waiter to ask you to be a bit quieter. Do not take it personally as it happens to French parents as much as it does to foreigners. I try to smile and apologise and that normally does the trick.
As I mentioned, this is a bit of a random list, but these are some of my top tips to visiting Paris. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them!
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This weekend, there were a lot more smiles in Paris than usual – spring has finally arrived! The trees are starting to look just a little bit greener and the thermometer is slowly reaching 21 degrees – the magic number when it is possibly to sit outside in a T-shirt.
The terraces of all the cafés in Paris were packed this weekend, so we decided to venture a little bit further afield and jumped on the train for a day trip to one of the lesser known chateaux close to Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte.
True, it is not the easiest chateau to get to. If you are taking the train, you need to jump on a commuter train to Melun (about 50 minutes outside of Paris) and then either take a shuttle bus or a taxi. But the trip is absolutely worth it.
Vaux-le-Vicomte was build slightly before Versailles and the gardens were landscaped by the same landscape architect, Le Notre. Rumour has it that, when Louis XIV visited Vaux-le-Vicomte, he was so jealous of the beautiful chateau, he promptly threw the owner, his finance minister Le Fouquet, into jail (arrested by no other than D’Artagnan, head of the Musketeers). Le Fouquet was then kept in prison for the rest of his life together with the Man with the Iron Mask. All pretty exciting stuff, don’t you think?
The grounds are very easy to explore and the highlight of the trip is the visit to the chateau, where you can rent period costumes for children. We just went up to the reception desk and rented the costumes for 4 euros each. There is truly nothing better than dressing up as a Musketeer or a Renaissance Lady whilst exploring a chateau.
It is a much more accessible chateau for families than Versailles is; it is so much smaller and there aren’t really any crowds. I really do recommend it, especially if you need to get away from the bustle of Paris!
PS. Apologies for the blurry photos, I just snapped these photos on my phone!
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Last night, as the end of a long day drew to an end, I had the need to jot down a couple of thoughts about the events in Paris since Wednesday. It has been terrifying, horrific, violent, senseless on the one hand… and beautiful, peaceful and full of hope on the other hand. It is very hard to describe what has been going on in this beautiful city of ours over the last few days, so apologies if I ramble. ; )
I wanted to start off by explaining to the non-French contingent the importance of Charlie Hebdo and how much it symbolizes so much of French culture. Here in France, illustrated stories and cartoons are a huge part of our culture. Adults as much as children devour illustrated novels. (One of my 9-year-old’s after school activities is a cartoon class.) My generation grew up on the cartoon books by Wolinski and Cabu, so these guys were not just people working for a small satirical magazine that sometimes found itself on the fine line between offensive and provocative, they were illustrators that have formed the rebellious spirit of a whole generation.
The French are, on the whole, cynical, critical and irreverent (I mean this as a compliment). They are also, compared to all the countries I have lived in, the most politically aware and politically engaged. This is why the attack of Charlie Hebdo was so significant: it represents an attack on something us French hold the most dear: our freedom of expression. A quote by Voltaire has been repeated again and again this week: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to death your right to say it.” People here feel strongly that provocation by cartoonist are incredibly important, as the irreverence and humour is such a historic way in France to mock the government and society in general.
For most of Wednesday and Thursday, Charlie Hebdo was our main focus – Friday’s attacks irreversibly changed the scale of the attacks. “Je Suis Charlie” suddenly became so much bigger than it had been. It came to represent all groups targeted in the attack. “Je Suis Charlie” suddenly came to mean: I am a journalist, I am Jewish, I am the Police. The slogan became bigger than just France, it started to represent all the people targeted senselessly by terrorists.
On Wednesday late afternoon, after letting sink in the terror of what had happened in my neighbourhood and in my city, I took the kids over to Place de la Republique. A spontaneous gathering was taking place and I felt like it was important to show the children (and myself) how a tiny little group of people can commit a senseless crime and how in the face of that, thousands of people gathered together peacefully to stand up against violence. The atmosphere on the square was so calm and strong and it was incredible to see how everyone needed to unite together and gain strength from likeminded people. I think, hopefully, that showing the children what was going on (both the good and the bad) was the best way for them to deal with the tragedies. The Charlie Hebdo shooting and the shooting of the first police man happened so close to us that ignoring it and protecting them from the events was not a possibility. But I do hope that by participating in the demonstration today and laying flowers down for the victims will give them an understanding of what happened and how important it is to stand up for our basic rights.
P.S. For anyone living in France or whose children read French, I really liked the gesture by Le Petit Quotidien, a children’s daily newspaper who have made a version dedicated to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks downloadable free of charge.
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This weekend we went for a little adventure around Paris — the sun was out and it was the perfect day to discover Montmartre. It is ironic how, when you live in a city, you sometimes know less about it than all the tourists who visit!
We were delighted when Context Travel invited us for a tour around Montmartre, one of my favourite parts of Paris. The tour was tailormade for children, full of entertaining scary stories and legends. Our personal tour guide, Anais, was lovely, bi-lingual and could answer every single question that we asked her and, believe me, she was asked a LOT of questions!
We followed the path that St Denis (patron saint of Paris) walked after he, unfortunately, had his head cut off by the Romans. The legend says he walked from the bottom of the hill right to the very top, holding his severed head in his hands. The Sacrée Coeur was built on top of his final resting place (I do hope I have remembered this correctly!).
Following the path of St Denis we discovered the houses that Picasso and Van Gogh lived in and and got a glimpse of what Montmartre was like in the late 1800s (there were a LOT of cafés, cabarets and drinking establishments as Coco noticed). We saw the vineyards, the cobbled streets that are so different from the rest of Paris, and the hidden gardens and artist lofts. We walked up and down hill for 2.5 hours and could have easily continued!
At the end of the trip we sat on the steps of the Sacrée Coeur and drew pictures of all the things we had seen on our walk. On the steps we also had an amazing view of Paris and of a street artist dribbling a football whilst hanging off a lamp post (nothing unusual in that).
We did finish off the journey with a little ride in the Funicular which is part of the Paris metro. It is such a cute, random little train, that it is well worth the metro ticket it costs to use it.
Such a fun way to discover Paris, I highly recommend it!
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One of my favourite shops in Paris is not a shoe shop or a fancy food shop (though there are many). It is actually a beautiful, little haberdashery shop in the Marais: L’Entrée des Fournisseurs is full of ribbons, buttons, fabrics and wool, just like in the good old days. It also stocks some of my favourite sewing patterns by Citronille. The shop just launched a new website making it even easier to get hold of all the bits and pieces I think I actually need.
If you ever are in the neighbourhood, a browse around the shop is very worth it, but the website is a close second.
PS I order my children’s name tags from this place and they are the cutest!
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Living in this lovely city of Paris is great… but it is easy to forget all the great things to do and visit just outside the city. A couple of weekends ago we jumped with some friends on a commuter train (the RER B) and within 40 minutes we had arrived in front of the stunning chateau of Versailles, known for its beauty and also the over the top extravagance of the Kings and Queens of France who lived there.
The children were amazed by the opulence of their surroundings and how crazy it was that this whole chateau was built just for one man and his entourage to live in! Good old Louis the 14th sure knew how to live it up!
The main palace is amazing to visit, but with a whole gaggle of children in tow, we opted for a visit of the gardens surrounding the palace and a visit to the smaller Trianon Palace together with Marie-Antoinette’s domaine, which has been restored very recently.
It was a lovely day: we picnicked, played hide and seek between the manicured hedges, strolled through the different gardens, and had a good look around Marie-Antoinette’s retreat.
We finished the trip with a boat ride on the Grand Canal, just like Marie Antoinette would have done, I am sure.
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The Velib’ (the Parisian city council bicycle scheme) has had a huge impact on the city, more than anything I have ever seen. Bike paths have popped up all over the place and even the infamous Parisian taxi drivers seem to have gotten used to bikes on the road, at least they have stopped screaming at them or trying to run them down! Most people I know use a Velib’ on a daily basis, so Paris just might become another bike friendly European town — I am keeping my fingers crossed.
So now we need to get the future generation onto bikes, which is not that easy in Paris. It is quite daunting teaching a kid how to ride on a public, busy street and most family flats are too small to be able to fit bicycles in them. This is one of the reasons Paris town hall has just launched a Velib scheme called P’tit Velib’ just for kids with 4 locations in Paris. The little bicycles have the same minimalist chic look as their bigger counterparts and come in 4 different sizes from push bike to teenager bike. At the moment you can pick them up in the bois de Vincennes, bois de Boulogne and the Berge de Seine. I do hope this scheme grows and comes to other locations in Paris, it is such a great idea!
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Our friend and talented photographer, Emily Ulmer, is in town from Los Angeles and came over on Sunday for a little visit and impromptu photoshoot. We walked over to the park and she snapped some photos of my crazy brood running wild and climbing trees. I never would have thoughts she would have gotten good photos of them — Marlow had just woken from a much-too-short nap and was cranky and tired, and the others would not sit still for a single second.
But…. she got some really cute ones!! I think it’s a testament to her photo-taking skills that she managed to get these shots, and I thought I would share some of my favourites with you…
Aren’t they fun?! I love that she managed to get a photo of all of my kids up in a tree!
Emily will be spending the summer in Europe, mostly in London and Paris (but happy to travel for jobs!). If you’re interested in booking her for your own family photoshoot, please email her to make an appointment. I think she takes such beautiful, natural photos.
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If you happen to be in Paris in the next few months and if you happen to like animation, do have a quick peek at the lovely little exhibition on at La Gaîté Lyrique, one of Paris’ newest museums.
La Gaîté Lyrique is the museum of digital art, but in this case, the exhibition is actually about the very opposite: hand made animation. It is a showing how stop frame animation is made and created in really cool way. I love it because it showcases the craftiness behind it all.
It is a perfect family outing, especially if your little offspring is a budding animator!
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It is so nice receiving mails from readers with questions about Paris, as it gets me to discover new things about my city. It is soo easy to fall in a rut! I was recently contacted by a reader who is a German school teacher travelling to Paris with teenagers. Not at all my area of expertise! But it was fun trying to figure out what might interest teenagers in Paris, so here is the list I came up with. (I might be totally off the mark by the way, so do feel free to tell me if I am!):
The Batobus is run by the city of Paris and goes down the Seine and stops at all the important places. I like it as it is not as expensive as the rest of the tourist boats and you can get off at the major sites, walk a bit and jump on again at the next stop.
The Science Museum and the Music Museum are both in the Parc de la Villette. The Music Museum has a great exhibition on at the moment about black music and it’s history. The Parc de la Villette also has this great old 50’s submarine in it, which is fun to explore.
I love Monet’s water lily’s in the Orangerie; it is not too overwhelming and busy, like some of the Museums in Paris are. Alternatively there are also the Army Museum and the Catacombes. A walk around Montmartre is beautiful and shows a different side of Paris than the centre. The Pompidou is an amazing building and museum for any age group.
Just on the outskirts of Paris there is the chateau de Vincennes, a medieval fortress.
The above picture I found on a blog called Style Is Born. It made me laugh as this is exactly how I imagined a Parisian teenager would look like.
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We have just come back from a fun weekend together in Paris! We went for Playtime Paris, but also managed to squeeze in some meetings, visit some museums, walk from one end of Paris to the other, and laugh so hard our bellies are still sore. We’ll be sharing our re-cap of Playtime soon, but in the meantime wanted to share some photos from the rest of our weekend…
Esther and I stumbled upon the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature and it was incredible! We weren’t going to go in but then a lady passed us on the street and told us we really must not walk past without seeing inside. It’s a museum of hunting and animals and nature, but done in the most beautiful way. The lady said to us ‘I’m a vegetarian, been one my whole life, and I’m against hunting… and even still I think it’s a beautiful museum.” What a recommendation! I’m so happy she persuaded us because we were so impressed with it and are hoping to go back with the kids soon.
Emilie having a meeting with the wonderfully talented Lalé. We’re working on an exciting project with her and can’t wait to tell you about it!
We decided to be tourists on Saturday, so Esther and I walked the whole of Paris from one end to the next. We walked through beautiful gardens, along the river, to the Louvre, over the bridge and all the way to the Eiffel Tower and back. Here we are outside the Louvre.
Here’s a photo of the three of us on the metro after a long day at Playtime. Exhausted but still laughing to tears!
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For once I am giving the urban planners of Paris a cautious thumbs up: this summer not one, but two new public, urban spaces opened! And, to boot, they are great for the whole family.
On the right bank, after being a massive building site for a long while, the new Place de La Republique is finally ready. It is hated by all taxi drivers, who get stuck at the red lights, but it is loved in the neighbourhood. Some of the top attractions are the toy library, where you can borrow for free anything from chess to stilts to baby toys. There is also a great little water park for children right beside a lovely café/restaurant. The new trees are still small and their could be more play areas, but in general this space has some great potential.
Over on the left bank a much bigger project is slowly coming together: a long stretch of the banks of the Seine (from the Musée d’Orsay to the Pont d’Alma) has been closed down to traffic and now is solely pedestrian. It is not quite finished yet, but there are already amazing play areas and great restaurants on barges and along the banks. It is such a treat to have access to the river, something that was really lacking in Paris.
It is so nice to see an old city like Paris still constantly evolving and adapting to its population!
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I am really, super excited about the recent launch of Kid & Coe, a vacation rental website featuring stylish family homes all over the world. Imagine travelling to New York, Paris, San Francisco, Copenhagen… Mexico even (!) and being able to stay in a family home, complete with child-sized beds, toys for your kids, a proper kitchen to cook meals, and other family-friendly features to really make you feel at home wherever you go.
Each Kid & Coe listing offers a great description of the property as well as a ‘good to know’ section of family-friendly considerations (closest parks, baby proof safety measures, dishwasher and washing machines, etc.). You can also read a description of the neighbourhood and surrounding area, and of course view loads of great photos of each property (truthfully, it’s like viewing the pages of Elle Decor – some of these homes are so beautiful and inspiring – it’s worth travelling just for the chance to stay in them!).
Not only is it a great place to find stylish family rentals, but you can also list your home with Kid & Coe if you’re interested in renting it out while you’re away. Registering your home is really easy, and the team at Kid & Coe is extremely helpful. It’s easy to enter the dates you’ll be away and manage your property listing and information. I know because I recently signed us up our home and it was really a piece of cake. I’m excited to see the process of booking and renting out our home… and I’m even more excited to stay in some of the other amazing homes around the world. I definitely have the travel bug just looking at this site!
p.s. Here’s the link for the beautiful London-based home featured in these photos. (Don’t you just want to move straight in?!!)
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The three of us (plus two babies!) met up in Paris last weekend to attend another Playtime tradeshow. It was a beautiful, sunny (hot even!) weekend and the three of us had so much fun together. On Saturday we walked around Paris until the sun went down and the babies got tired. It was the perfect summery day in Paris! On Sunday we attended Playtime and, as usual, we were so inspired by the many great brands we saw — lots of old favourites, and a few new discoveries too! Here’s a brief recap in photos:
- Aymara – Beautiful knitwear in a rainbow of cool colours!
- Nobodinoz – A vibrant collection of toys, cushions, decorations and really cool animal backpacks.
- Seesaw – A new-to-us brand featuring geometric designs and easy-to-wear silhouettes.
- Shusha Toys – Such wonderful wooden toys from Russia – we want to buy every toy in their collection!
- L’Asticot – We loved the fabrics in this collection. The little squid and the fish prints – so cute!
- Sunchild – A great collection of brightly coloured swim trunks, nice and short – perfect for little legs!
- Coq en Pâte – Bold graphics and colours. And we love the collection of beach toys made from seaweed – Fun!
- Garbo and Friends – We love the illustrations and soft colours.
- Picnik – Gorgeous, bold geometric patterns.
- ESPno1 A great collection as always, and we especially loved this awesome playsuit!
- It was so hot in there – the only place Marlow wanted to be was on the cold cement floor!
- Sprout by Grow – A beautiful collection for big and small girls.
- Aravore -We love the new collection, and how sweet is that little floral romper?!
- Indikidual -Original cuts and patterns set this collection apart. The Jellyfish trousers are a highlight!
- Biobu by Ekobo – A collection of dishes which are beautiful, natural and completely biodegradable!
- Maa — Awesome, hipster trainers! We want these for ourselves!
- More Shusha Toys – We love these wooden facial parts to create different faces. So fun!
- Macarons – Beautiful textured fabrics. We loved the Ikat skirt!
- Poco Nido – Fun high and low boots and cute baby shoes.
- INspiRaTiOns by la Girafe – A beautiful stand with fresh flowers from the garden.
- Corby Tindersticks – So fun and creative!
- Moon et Miel – Cool basics in wonderful, rich colours.
- More Garbo and Friends – beautiful illustrations.
- My Name is Simone – We love these funky guys — so much character!
- Finishing off the day with a lounge in the park! The babies were so happy to be outside again.
- Le Petit Lucas de Tertre – Beautiful patterns, clothes and bedding. A favourite as always.
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Last weekend Esther and co were in town, which was a serious amount of fun! It was so great catching up, though at the end of the weekend we did start wondering what we should do, as it was literally pouring with rain the whole time. That being said, finding things to do in Paris is not very hard…. We all wrapped up and headed over to the Pompidou Centre, specifically the Children’s Gallery, which is hosting a brilliant, interactive exhibition: Ta-Da!
The artist Navid Nuur wants kids to learn again about how to play and create with everyday objects and see the beauty in them. It is really well done — I think everyone’s favourite was the 3 columns filled with play dough or the machine that made medals out of a 5 cent piece.
The Centre Pompidou is, by the way, one of my favourite places to take visitors. It has such a great view over Paris, the permanent exhibition is amazing, as are more of the temporary ones, and, not to forget, the gift and book shop are full of beautiful bits and pieces. (I do love a good museum shop!)
The photo is of little Ava arriving into the Centre, complete with rain coat and umbrella.
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This past weekend the three of us (plus babies!) met up in Paris to spend a day at Playtime, the international children’s trade show. We should have learned our lesson from last year because one day was simply not enough to browse the many, many wonderful brands. We spent the day rushing around from stand to stand, and still didn’t see everything we wanted to see…
We managed to squeeze in visits to some of our favourite brands:
- Bobo Choses – Another beautiful collection featuring musical instruments in a sweet ‘Lullaby’ theme
- Gray Label – We love the additions of the mustard yellow and the soft green colours. Emily Gray is one clever woman!
- Waddler – Cute new cotton pieces in addition to their fabulous alpaca wool collection.
- Aravore – We especially loved the new Fair Isle pieces. Adorable!
- Elfie – Thank goodness they’re still making that little Mouse Jumper – it’s a favourite in our house!
- Lalé – Perfection! We especially loved their new bed quilts.
- Nico Nico – There are some new little wool capes in the collection that we already have our sights set on!!
- Hucklebones – As always, a gorgeous and timeless collection. (They had a swan at their stand made of 800 sheets of paper – wow!)
- Bieq – So many handknitted baby hats. We’ll take them all please! : )
- Le Petit Lucas – The sweet designs on the bedding, the adorable decorations, and we just adore the new gnome featured on the jumpers and clothing. So cute!
- Apünktchen – Our favourite hats for babies, kids and even grown-ups.
- Tapete – Cute graphics as always.
- Macarons – They designed their own fabric! It doesn’t get more innovative than that.
- Very French Gangsters – We love the colourful new glasses straps to hold glasses on. (We want them for ourselves!)
- Collégien – A fun and colourful collection of slippers — such fun new designs.
- Miller – A perfectly on-trend collection. There was a pretty yellow dress which especially caught our eye.
We also made some wonderful new discoveries:
- Wool Fabrique – Gorgeous wool goodies! (We’ll write more about this later.)
- LEOCA Paris – We were really impressed with the warm colours, the innovative shapes, the playful but still classic designs of this great collection.
- 10is – Leather trainers in lovely muted tones. Cool!
- Bemini – Little knitted hats, scarves, mittens, jumpers, blankets and a clever, hooded nid d’ange blanket/sac.
- Emma Levine – We were especially impressed with the jackets and dresses – such beautiful, hand-dyed fabrics from Bali, offering a slightly vintage-like ethnic vibe.
- Boy + Girl – A brand out of LA, offering an eclectic collection, mixing fabrics and colours to offer something fresh and hip.
- Boob – A great maternity and nursing collection run by some awesome mamas (can we be friends, please?!).
- Titlee – A fabulous collection of jewellery (more to come later about it!).
- Tocoto Vintage – Maria has reviewed this beautiful collection here before, but it was so nice to see it in the flesh.
- Inspirations By La Giraffe – We’ve seen this sweet jewellery at Elias & Grace before, but it was lovely to see it in full, and their stand was really beautifully decorated.
Phew! It was a busy, busy day! We really had so much fun talking to all the designers and seeing all the great new collections. What a wonderful business we’re in — so many friendly faces, so many inspiring people, so much creativity! We consider ourselves lucky to be a part of it all.
xx Courtney, Esther & Emilie
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I often get asked for tips about Paris. But living in a city is so different to visiting, that I often have trouble answering. So I wanted to put together a little list of places and services you might find helpful if you are planning a trip to Paris, especially with the whole family.
Complete Paris a fabulous concierge service which will organise as much as you need. Ali, the lovely owner, has children herself so she is very aware of the needs of families travelling to Paris. She can organise trustworthy English speaking babysitters, pick-ups in cars with car seats, recommend shows — basically take a lot of the stress out of the trip, so you can enjoy Paris.
Chic Shopping Paris – Rebecca is a dear friend of mine, who has been running some of the best shopping tours around Paris for years. (Rebecca also was a correspondent for Babyccino many moons ago, when she lived in Washington for a brief period). She has excellent taste and is super personable, so it is a great experience. You will definitely discover some of the hidden shopping treasures of Paris.
The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris – This is an excellent App in English specialising in anything to do with food in Paris. It lists some fabulous restaurants, markets and shops and it very easy to navigate. It is great if you want to find great French food in your area and don’t know where to start.
Paris Velo C’est Sympa – Paris is getting much more accessible for bicycles, especially on Sundays, when the quais along the Seine are closed of for cars. Sometimes it is nice, especially when the sun is shining, to discover Paris overground, rather than travelling everywhere by metro. This place rents bicycles by the day and also rents out kids seats for the bicycles, and tandem bikes.
Paris Taxi – I’ve used this company a few times as they are some of the few taxi companies to provide child seats. They were mainly good for airplane pick up and drop off, rather than travelling within Paris.
Velib’ – The Velib’ almost doesn’t need an introduction: these bicycles dotted around the city are now so part of Parisians everyday life, one hardly notices them. Velib’ is now the largest bike-sharing network in the world. Since the Velib’ scheme started, cycling around Paris has become much easier and the crazy drivers and cyclists are starting to co-exist in fragile harmony. The Velib’s are a great way for getting around Paris, which, when you actually get onto a bicycle, is a relatively small city.
I would love to hear if you have any other tips to add onto my list!
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I wanted to tell you a little bit about one of my favourite boutiques in Paris, Marie Puce. It is nestled in a beautiful Parisian street, la rue du Cherche Midi, which is packed with lovely shops. The boutique is a joy to visit: It has a great selection of clothes and accessorizes, mostly by the boutique’s own label. The designs are so French, fresh and lovely. My favourites are the cute shoes, the orange skirt (it is the perfect orange, not too bright and not too pastel) and for boys the cool little shirts.
If you do not happen to be coming to Paris in the forseeable future, don’t worry, a lot of the Marie Puce label is also available on-line. I guess it is a bit like a virtual shopping trip to Paris!
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We have had so many great contributors tell us about their cities, and each of them has made me want to pack my bag and go explore the city, so I wanted to do a post about Paris. I still sometimes step out of my flat and get a little bit excited. Why? Because I do live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Sometimes I forget and then I look up and think: “Seriously… I am one lucky girl!”
So here is my list of what to do in Paris with your family for a weekend (or more!) in Paris:
The Pompidou Centre – great for the whole family. The permanent collection is world-class and well laid out, not too big and not too small. The ground floor has a little exhibition center just for kids that normally runs parallel to the temporary exhibitions and helps kids understand the exhibition. If nothing else, taking the rolling staircases, which are on the outside of the building in the plastic tubes, is an activity in itself.
The Galerie de l’Evolution – Paris’s natural history museum, which has recently been renovated and is worth a visit, especially if it is rainy outside. It is a beautiful space and is set in the Jardin des Plantes, the Botantical Gardens. It is a lovely to have a walk around in.
The Menagerie in the Jardin des Plantes – Also in the Jardin des Plantes is the Menagerie, a little zoo that has been around since the mid-19th century and has not changed a lot since then. It is a great size for smaller children and very charming.
The Sacrée Coeur and Montmartre – Montmartre and the Sacrée Coeur is a fun place to explore – unfortunately a lot of tourists agree with this, so the main streets are often packed with tourists. It is quite easy to avoid them though, as the groups normally stick to a few road and squares.
I recommend taking the funicular (easily my favourite public transportation vehicle) up to the top of the hill (you pay with a metro ticket). The view of Paris from the Sacrée Coeur is one of the best. If you walk back down the steps you will find a beautiful old merry-go-round – you might recognize it from the movie Amelie Poulain.
Musée D’Orsay – The Musée d’Orsay is a really accessible museum for kids from about 5 years and up. It houses a lot of the famous impressionists, so it is a great introduction to art and famous artwork that your kids might already know. It is right in the heart of Paris on the right bank of the Seine, beside the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens, the perfect place to go and have a run about in after a museum visit. Do note that one of the crazy things about parks in France is one is often not allowed on the grass and there are fierce looking officers with whistles paroling the parks to make sure it stays that way!
Cité des Enfants – The cité des Enfants is based in the Science Museum a little bit outside the centre of Paris at La Villette. It is definitely worth the treck out if you are staying for a few days. All the exhibitions are interactive, educational and fun. I have been there with my kids and it is quite interesting how different kids gravitate towards different part of the exhibition. The exhibitions are divided between a section for 2-7 year olds and a section for 5-12 year olds. I would advise booking tickets in advance from the museum’s website.
Luxembourg Gardens – The Luxembourg Gardens is possibly my favourite park in Paris – it is beautiful and very, very Parisian. Again you will stumble over the problem that it is hard to find a piece of grass to sit on, but you can sit on the famous chairs, go on the merry-go-round, rent little boats to push around the little pond with a stick, visit the play area (you will notice all the French parents sitting on the benches outside the area while the foreign parents are running around the area trying to keep an eye on their children). (more…)