france w/ 18 mo. old baby

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Mar 18th, 2001, 09:06 PM
  #1
kasper
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france w/ 18 mo. old baby

Hi - I'm new to this site and glad I found it. My husband and I are planning a trip to France in September with our 18 month old son. (18 mos. at time of trip.) I'm taking a french class, but realistically I won't know much of the language.

We'd like to travel mostly by train and then rent a car to see the countryside. We can stay for 10-12 days. I think should stay in Paris and maybe one or two other base points. We've identified the Loire Valley (near Tours), Avignon and Nice as possibilites but we're open to suggestion. Annecy sounded really wonderful, but I think it's too much out of the way. Bordeaux sounded nice too, but we're not big winery fans. We're more interested in countryside, small towns, and architecture. Does anyone have any opinions or advice? How long should we stay at each place? How many destinations would you recommend? If we picked Paris and just one other destination, which would you recommend? Are any of the destinations I noted considered safer than the others with regards to crime?

Also, can we rent a car seat when we rent a car?

Alos, does anyone know about eating out with baby in France? Is it accepted or should we stick to the most casual types of places?

I greatly appreciate any thoughts, opinions and advice. Thank you in advance.
 
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Mar 18th, 2001, 10:59 PM
  #2
Ann
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Eating out with babies/children is entirely acceptable in France. We always took our sons with us.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 09:34 AM
  #3
Jane
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I can't speak specifically to France (we've mostly travelled in Britain) but I can tell you that you will be much more comfortable if you rent an apt. You have a kitchen, a lot more space, and you just don't have to lug all that stuff around. I would recommend you rent an apt in Paris (www.drawbridgetoeurope.com is one of many sites) and then pick one other spot in the countryside that you want to see, like Provence, and rent an apt there. The rates are very reasonable, usually. And you can get apts for less than a week if it is not high season.

That's what works for us. Take day trips from bases in two diverses areas. If you want websites for apts, there are old threads but it doesn't hurt to start a new one.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 11:14 AM
  #4
Joe
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Kasper,

You can rent a car seat with your car but the rates depend on the company. I rented in Florida at Christmas and the car seat rent was $75 for the four week period. Ridiculous! Instead I then went out to Walmart and bought a seat for $70! I took it back with us at the end of the trip (the airline was very flexible about weight allowances when it comes to baby staff).

It`s the same in Europe. Look for a company that charges per rental rather than per week. Hertz does the latter, at least in the UK. Enjoy! Joe
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 12:04 PM
  #5
mom
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Check with your airline to see if you should be bringing your car seat with you for the plane -- baby (even at 18mo) will be safer than just seated and belted as if he/she were an adult.
Solves the car seat for the car problem. You will not, however, want a car in Paris. Another reason why you may want to rent an apartment instead of a regular hotel room -- more room to keep the extra baby stuff you'll need to travel with.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 12:33 PM
  #6
Christina
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I have not traveled to France with children so perhaps my perspective is off or I have not paid enough attention, but in Paris at least, I would say that it is unacceptable to dine with babies and children in any "nice" restaurant and that you should stick to casual places. I know someone from UK said they did so in France and if they return (to this thread), I think it would be interesting to know exactly how old their children were and what kind of restaurants they did this in and in what locations. The reason I wonder is that from my observation, it is less acceptable than in the US, for example, and definitely at dinner time. For one thing, people usually do not eat dinner until 8 pm and later, and children should not be out at that hour. I have seen children and babies during lunch time in modest restaurants and cafes, though, so I think that is okay. But, I have never once seen a baby or child less than teenage years in a cafe or nice restaurant in Paris for dinner in the main tourist/chic/more adult areas (ie, St-Germain), and I have been to Paris a lot and eaten many dinners out (and I don't frequent La Tour Argent). I have, by contrast, seen children and even babies in bistros in middle/working-class neighborhood restaurants where I've stayed but not in the popular tourist areas. So, if I were you, I would plan on sticking to casual restaurants and I don't probably understand what time of night you would take an 18-mo old baby out to dinner? most restaurants in Paris do not even open until 7:30-8 pm. In any case, you should ask the restaurant when you make reservations to make sure it's okay, if they don't want you, they will probably say something like they are not suitable for children. Things might be looser outside Paris in more rural areas, that is probably true. As for where you should go, I agree that two places seems plenty with only 10-12 days (Paris plus one other city). I think either Loire Valley or Avignon would be fine for your desires. I would choose them over Nice as Nice is a very large city and it would be a greater variety to see some country; also, it's farther away so you'd spend more time getting there (and back). If you haven't seen Loire Valley, I guess I'd choose it just because it's closer to Paris, so then if/when you go back, you could do the full Provence/Riviera thing to combine country and city(Nice) down there.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 12:37 PM
  #7
Ann
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Well, we started dining out with our boys when the youngest was 2 years old and continued until they were teenage. French people regularly take their children to restaurants. If they are brought up in the habit of eating out, they behave appropriately.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 12:57 PM
  #8
Marsha
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I've traveled with babies in the U.S. and children in France. Just remember to take it easy and don't try to do too much. Also, be realistic about what you can do with an active toddler. Rent an apartment and stay in one location or, at the most, two locations. An apartment will give your toddler room to run around at the end of a day of confinement in strollers and cars. You also will probably want to eat at home in the evening. Crime is not a serious issue in France, if you are careful, stay out of questionable areas and don't stay out late at night. In Paris, spend some time at the Luxembourg Gardens - it has great sandboxes and a great playground! During naptime, I would plan to visit museums or travel in the car, so your toddler can sleep and you can enjoy the quiet. I would also suggest researching the threads here about travelling on long flights with children.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 01:31 PM
  #9
StCirq
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My children have eaten at all sorts of Paris restaurants, except for the very posh ones, every summer of their lives for the past 13 years. When they were very small, we usually opted to sit outdoors for dinner, in case one of them couldn't sit still throughout the dinner, but we certainly have eaten our share of meals in bistros and brasseries and cafés and restaurants without ever encountering the slightest suggestion by waiters or management or other diners that we shouldn't be there with children. Moreover, we've seen lots of other French children, and babies, dining with their parents, everywhere in France. That said, I wouldn't make reservations at a quiet, elegant restaurant and plan to get through a typical Parisian meal with an 18-year-old in a stroller beside the table.
As for accommodations, an apt. is ideal, but generally speaking they rent by the week, so it would reduce your time outside Paris. Also, traveling with an 18-month-old on trains IMO would be a lot more exhausting than driving. I'd pick one area, not two, to visit outside Paris in a 10-day period, especially if you do rent an apt. and stay in Paris for a week. I'm partial to the Dordogne, but if this is your first time to France you might want to focus on a better known destination such as Provence, the Loire, or Normandy.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 02:26 PM
  #10
kasper
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Thanks so much for the replies. I appreciate the input. Most of you think we should stick with Paris and one other destination. But I'm still confused as to which area would be best. We're mostly interested in countryside/lancscape, small towns, and architecture.
 
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Mar 19th, 2001, 11:16 PM
  #11
Ann
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Gosh, St Cirq, I could never get my 18 year old to stay in his stroller!!!

I'm glad you agree with me that children are welcome in restaurants in France.

Kasper, I would suggest the Loire valley. Easy to reach from Paris and it covers all your interests.
 
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Mar 20th, 2001, 05:55 AM
  #12
StCirq
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<<St Cirq, I could never get my 18 year old to stay in his stroller!!!>>

Ooopps! I doubt when the time comes I'll be able to, either.



 
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