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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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?!!)
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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…)
I love living in Paris — it is beautiful, full of life and love and so much fun to explore. If you don’t happen to live in Paris, have a look at the downloadable Paris Paper City, from one of my top favorite children’s craft blogs Made By Joel. Just download the PDFs and you too can start exploring Paris, even if you live on the other side of the world. Have an explore around the Eifel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and a local boulagerie. There is even the sweetest little downloadable Citroën to drive around your city.
Such a fun way to introduce the city of lights to your kids. I love the fact that Joel has, very thoughtfully, included a brief description of all the buildings onto his PDFs, so this game can be educational too.
When I was younger and a bit more feisty, I was vehemently against being called Mademoiselle. Why should men only have one description while women are categorised by being married or not? But now, though I still agree with this sentiment in principle, I secretly love it when a shopkeeper adresses me as Mademoiselle, mostly accompanied by a wink. Makes me feel young and sexy!
You see, in France we still address each other with Madame, Monsieur and Mademoiselle — the equivalent of Sir, Madam and Miss. These terms, as far as I can tell, have completely dissapeared out of the English/American vocabulary. I really like this politeness. When I walk into a bakery I greet everyone in there with a general “Bonjour Monsieur/Dames” and when it is my turn I get told “A vous, Madame”.
There is a campaign in France to get rid of the Mademoiselle, which makes total sense. My grandmother’s two best friends, 90 and 92 respectively, are still known as Mademoiselle as they never got married. I address them as Mademoiselle, whilst they call me Madame, and there is not a lot of logic in that. I do hope the shopkeepers will continue to call me Mademoiselle though (and not forget the wink)!
What about in your country, are women still being addressed as Senorita, Senorina or Fräulein?
- Emilie x
The illustration is of Coco Chanel, one of France’s most famous Mademoiselles, by Adrian Tomine for the New Yorker.
There has been an exciting development over here in Paris. Our mayor, Bertand Delanoë (who might possibly be my favourite politician at the moment), has introduced a new scheme that could revolutionise the way we live in this city. After the Velib’, we now have the Autolib’, an electrical car which, just like a Velib, you pick up on the street and drop off when you arrive at your destination.
I love using the Velib’, but cycling around a city with kids in tow is just not possible. The arrival of the Autolib’ was announced months ago and I have been peeking down my road, to see if there were going to be any cars parked close to me. And suddenly there were 4 neatly lined up electrical cars right across the road!
I now just walk a few meters, swipe my card, unplug the car from its power socket and off I go. It’s brilliant and has already taken me all around Paris. There are not yet that many parking stations, but new ones are opening every day. For the kids, I just bring along booster seats, which are easy enough to carry.
P.S. Have you ever driven an electrical car? It is soo quiet!
This weekend we were at at fab party at one of my favourite shops here in Paris, Lilli Bulle. It was the launch party for the new collection of Veja tennis shoes. My girls had the best time colouring in the massive art illustration, so I got to snoop around the lovely shop and find out more about Veja, a brand with a great environmental and ethical vision. The shoes are made out of organic cotton and eco-tanned leather in factories that respect their workers.
One thing with ethically made goods is that they are always a bit pricer than high street brands, but the Veja tennis shoes are super well made and will last. I am really trying to buy quality over quantity (not always successfully….). You can find a list of stockist on the Veja website.
Below is a photo of the fab mural outside the Lilli Bulle shop we got to colour in!
Courtney and her lovely sister were over in Paris a while ago and they persuaded me to expand my horizon a little bit and make the journey with them to Porte de Clignancourt and the famed Marché de St Ouen, otherwise known as les Puces (the Fleas or Flea Market).
I don’t think I had visited this market in 10 years but I have totally fallen back in love with this place. Yes, it is not what it used to be. Yes, things are not dirt cheap and it is hard to find a real bargain. BUT, I love the mazes of little streets full of fabulous things and the sellers who often have a story to tell about each of their wares. I headed back there today and discovered yet another part of the market that I had no idea existed!
Note: This is not a great day out with a hoard of small kids… It is perfect if your child is small enough to sit in a stroller or big enough to enjoy looking at things, but not touching everything. If you are in Paris though and have some time on your own for a bit of a stroll, the “Puces” is a lot of fun. Check out the description of how to get there which Jordan at Oh Happy Day put together — it’s super helpful.
I just found out about the City Walks with Kids Guides and wonder how I ever managed to travel without them. It is such an ingenious concept! Instead of a book, it is a pack of cards you can take along for the walk you want to go on. The walks are cleverly laid out so that they are easily done with kids and take you to famous and not so famous places that the whole family can enjoy. I love the way the texts are written — they are packed full of little anecdotes and stories that will get everyone’s attention.
I am definitely picking up City Walks with Kids in Paris. Though I live in this city, I have never used a travel guide to explore it with my kids, and it will be a fun thing to do this summer! City Walks with Kids in Paris and City Walks with Kids in London are available from Smallable. The other Cirty Walks with Kids (Washington, San Francisco and New York) are available from the Chronicle Books website.