France for 1 month

Jan 24th, 2010, 10:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4
France for 1 month

My family and I are looking to go to France for 1 month in September. We have 2 small (2 and 4) children and we are going to try and bring a babysitter with us. My husband and I are hoping to take a couple of short (2 to 3 days) side trips as well as do some travelling with the kids. I'm hoping to get some help with the planning.

1. I'm looking for suggestions for cities outside of Paris to stay. We want to be within about 20 to 30 minutes of Paris so we have easy access to visit the city as well as access to the airport.

2. This is such a long trip, I'm helping to cut costs by doing a house swap. Does anyone have any good experiences with home swap websites?

3. Any suggestions on good short trips, either inside or outside of France, are welcome. This could be family friendly or couple friendly.

Any suggestions and input would be welcome.

NewtoTravel is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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Um - 20 to 30 minutes from the center of Paris is still Paris. It's a sizable city. With children you might want to try for a house in the suburbs. If you can find a swap or not depends on where you live - it would probably have to be a major city or resort. (A neighbor of mine has joined several swap sites and has succeeded in finding one only 2 or 3 times out of 10 years - and that's offering a great apartment in NYC. (She is looking for similar in a major european resort or city - and has had lots of offers but either not been able to match schedules - or the swappers had kids - which she doesn't want in her apartment due to potential breakage.)

I think you would have much better luck joining several of the home swap groups and moving quickly - arrangements often take almost a year to set up.

Separately I would be very hesitant to leave 2 small kids with a babysitter for several days unless the sitter is an adult and has at least some French and significant travel experience.

There are a ton of rips you can do from Paris in a couple of days by train or car (if you stay in the suburbs you may well need one - are you willing to swap cars as well as houses?)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 10:56 AM
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We've stayed in around 40 different Gites (houses) for a total of 70 weeks in various regions in France. In Sept, you could rent a 3 bedroom/2 bath Gite for less than 800e per week (less of a more modest gite). However, most are in the countryside.

Like nytraveler said - 20-30 mins from Paris is still Paris. I think you should stay either IN Paris or in a charming/interesting city with proximinity to beautiful countryside & cute villages, AND with quick access to Paris by TGV (fast train).

My choices would be (in preference sequence)
1. Dijon/Burgundy - 1 3/4 hrs from Paris
2. Strasbourg/Alsace 2 1/4 hrs from Paris

Both cities have merry-go-rounds in City Center & many Pedestrian only streets. Dijon has LOTS of VERY interesting events on weekends in Sept - that are fun for both adults & small kids (don't know about the 2YO). When we were there for one of these - there were many children in town enjoying the festivities ("Old Time" mechanical instrument music festival with organ grinders, pipe organs on a flat-bed truck, puppet acts, etc - we really had a great time). Prior week-end was their annual Patrimony weekend (everywhere in France), and the following weekend was a huge street fair.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 12:48 PM
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I am with Stu Dudley. Visiting Paris with 2 small children is not going to be a holiday getting around.
There are stunning places outside of Paris and will be far more economical in accommodation and entertainment.
You just need to look up the accommodation for that region there are zillions of choices.
I chose the Loire Region to own a holiday apartment because it is 1 hr by TGV from Paris and it is most elegant part of France with its chateaux and vineyards and picture postcard countryside. Parks, fishing, historical villages,markets - a true French relaxed holiday. Wait till your kids are older for Paris and they will remember it too.
Places of Chinon, Saumaur, Tours, and of course Richelieu.
houseswapper is offline  
Jan 24th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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I absolutely loved visiting Paris when my kids were those ages, BUT not for more than a week at a time. There are myriad things for young kids/toddlers to do in Paris; after all the city is full of its own babies.

As others have pointed out, there aren't any other cities 20-30 minutes from Paris, but there are lots of cities within in hour or two. If you wanted to split up your trip and see some of Paris and some of other places, there are myriad choices. And you could rent or swap on the fringes of Paris, say in St-Germain-en-Laye or some other nice suburb, and make forays into central Paris from there.

Cities that have pretty easy train access to Paris that might be appealing would include Reims and Orléans and Rouen, even Poitiers. But really, with the TGV, you can be on the other side of the country in under three hours, so if you're willing to forgo the idea of a full four weeks in Paris, the hexagon's your oyster.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 25th, 2010, 10:25 AM
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Agree with the above posts. Rent a gite in the countryside after spending some time in Paris. I would be happy to babysit your kids if you pay for my airfare.
glaciermeadows is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 05:38 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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Thanks for the suggestions. Glaciermeadows, we have a wonderful nanny in her mid-50s that helps watch our kids during the week that we are taking. But, thanks for the offer.
NewtoTravel is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 05:47 AM
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Chartres is a nice town you might look into. We always stop there on our way from Loire and often remark how nice it would be to stay there. From there you can visit Loire and Paris easily.

As a kid my Dad did a house swap, we got the poor end of the deal. I think one needs to feel secure or savvy to enter such an arrangement
FrankS is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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Posts: 68
I am with Burgundy and renting a gite. Loire is also nice. My wife and I rented a gite for a week last April and had a great time diving to beautiful villages. I picked the gite for its modest price. In a quiet village with a church a few houses and vineyards. That was it, but we loved it. Out the back door for morning and evening walks with an ocassional car passing by. Not for everyone, but we only had breakfast there and then ventured out everyday. It only cost 350 to 400 euros depending on time of year. Too modest for some, but we were very happy there.
glaciermeadows is offline  
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