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30 Days in France with Family (6 y/o, 23 mo), what city to stay?

30 Days in France with Family (6 y/o, 23 mo), what city to stay?

Old Apr 28th, 2016, 06:54 PM
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30 Days in France with Family (6 y/o, 23 mo), what city to stay?

I am in need of some help. My family and I would like to spend 30 days in France this summer, but I am having a slight issue of where we should stay. If it was my husband and I, we would explore and just hop from city to city. However, we are taking our young kids on this adventure. They are 6 years of age and almost 2 years old. Our priority is them. I want them to enjoy themselves as well as expose them to a different culture. We will be traveling from the US. I must admit this is last minute, but it is a one of a lifetime opportunity and I want to make it happen. Please help and provide input of where we should stay and maybe top 3/4 cities that we must visit. My husband is saying we should just find one place to stay and just take day trips to the other cities. But, France is a big country and doing day trips with kids, wouldn't be fun. Sorry for the length of the post. Just want to provide enough info. Thank you in advance.
daphene6 is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2016, 07:05 PM
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I like the idea of 4 weeks - one in each place - starting with Paris.

Any city or town will have lots to occupy small kids, either right in the town or in nearby places (don't plan on more than an hour away and only once or twice).

Use public transit in Paris and a car outside.

Get an apartment in Paris or a gite or similar in/near the other towns (preferably with a pool) so the kids have a yard to play in.

There are tons of towns that will be good, but make sure they are near a castle to explore, a lake or river with boat rides and preferably some amusement areas and possibly farms where the kids could see some animals.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 08:57 PM
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We traveled with our kids a few years ago when they were young like yours and they much preferred life in the country as opposed to big cities. We also found that settling into one place for a minimum of a week was crucial for their happiness and our sanity!!!
My advice is to make the trip about BEING rather than DOING. Once we changed our mindset, we were able to give up our expectations of "seeing it all" and just moved at a slower, kid-friendly pace. It truly was the trip of a lifetime for us…and we are now going to Europe for our third long trip this summer.
You HAVE to do Paris for at least a week to 10 days. BUT you have to do Paris considering you have two kids who will NOT want to wait in long lines for muesums and really will have no appreciation for what they are seeing once you get inside. Plan to picnic, explore the amazing parks and gardens, ride the bateaux mouches, etc. There are several really good guidebooks about Paris with kids.
We spent almost three weeks in the south of France near Gordes with our kids and it was fabulous. Get a place with a pool and spend your time exploring the markets and small towns, parks, short walks, etc. Les Baux was our kids' favourite town. We also rented electric bikes with child seats in Bonnieux and spent a fun afternoon exploring the little towns nearby.
Maybe fly home from Nice.
Don't forget to bring a really good compact, foldable stroller so you can jump on and off buses and trains if needed! Bring along a good backpack so your hands are free to hold onto the kids. The larger cities are busy and hot and require a hand on small ones at ALL times.
Pack a "busy bag" for restaurants and anywhere that the kids will have to be still and quiet. Crayons, paper, cards, etc. We found the French people to be incredibly warm with our kids BUT there isn't a lot of tolerance in France for kids running around restaurants! I
Teach your kids a few French words and you will be ready to charm your way through the country!
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 08:58 PM
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Last thing: I DEFINITELY recommend renting a car for the time you are not in Paris. I couldn't imagine trying to do a trip with young kids on trains and buses - although I know not everyone will feel this way.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 10:47 PM
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You can find gites outside of Paris, but given the current rental situation in the city, you should stick to legal apart'hotels where you'll have a kitchen and assistance from the front desk (especially important if this is your first trip overseas and you don't speak much French). You'll also be able to drop your baggage at a hotel if you arrive before check-in time - this is not normally possible with apartments, and it's no fun dragging your stuff and your children around until you can have access, especially in hot weather.

Apartments do not provide reliable a/c, which you will definitely need in the summer - hotels and many apart'hotels do. Laundry facilities in apartments take an average of 3 hours to wash and spin dry a small load, so aren't the convenience they seem to be. You'd do better to locate a "laverie" nearby (coin laundry) - much faster and inexpensive for normal loads.

Legal apart'hotels are located in many different neighborhoods and are priced accordingly, but all are convenient to transportation, supermarkets and have everything you need. Remember that you must ask for a "quad" room - every person counts in Paris - and you can request a crib. You didn't state your budget, but here are some to consider:
Hotel Residence Henri IV
Helzear Montparnasse
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 12:23 AM
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I just slept in citadines les halles - a full apt for myself.
Price was 275 you can put the whole family, it was perfect : clean, nice, superbly located and with a conciergerie. (I got it for about half price, but only one night).

the other cities : i'd go to Strasbourg, and Riviera - rent a car and get yourself a nice place !
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 05:32 AM
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I can also recommend you the southtern part of France: visiting Provence, there are so many beautiful villages, hard to mention one. Rustica accomondations with big swimmingpools! And there is the seeside between Cassis and Seyne sur Mer, and don't forget the Verdon canyon in this area.
And with kids you can surely make a nice vacation in the Dordogne valley around Beynac, Saint Cypern, La Roque Gageac and of course the markets of Sarlat.
I would say 10 days around Paris, 10 days in the Dordogne valley + Bordeaux and 10 days for Provence + the seaside!
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 08:27 PM
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I am greatly appreciative of your comments. It provides a wealth of information. I was in Paris for a few days in March on a girls trip and did a great portion of the tourist stuff. I had a blast. Therefore, no need to stand in long lines with the kids to do the Louvre etc...The other thing I didn't mention is I speak french, not fluently, but enough to carry a conversation. So I am hoping that will help us quite a bit. As far as our budget, we want to save as much as we're able to and splurge on only the things that we must. Again thank you thank you. I am excited reading all of your suggestions.
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