France with an Infant

Feb 13th, 2008, 09:04 AM
  #1  
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France with an Infant

Hey all

Just wanted to post an itinerary our family is doing in March / April and see if anyone has advice.

We do 2 night in Paris, train to Caen where we renta car and then 2 nights in Honfleur.
Drive to Mont St Michel - 1night.
Drive to Croisic - 1 night.
Drive to Tours, 4 nights, drop car and train back to Paris for 2 more.

Wondering specifically if you have recommendations on car seat carrying to France. We have a Britax Marathon, are renting a VW Passat.

Also looking for stroller recommendations. We use a large Mountain Buggy at home, our son will be 10mos when we travel and we need a smaller, reclining stroller for the trip.

Do you have any recommendations for how to better bring a baby on the plane or help them deal with jet lag?

Thanks. Look forward to your comments.
cyberbuzz is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 09:30 AM
  #2  
 
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Babies don't really have jet lag. They are asleep or awake when they want to be, much to your chagrin.

Rent a car with a car seat.
kerouac is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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When the ten month old baby wakes up at 4 am expecting dinner, that IS jet lag. Jet lag is not just about " being tired' its about being out of sync.

Babies out of sync are scary.. LOL
We spend the first 6 months of their lives trying to get them " in symc" LOL, some babies really do get day and night mixed up,, horrors, had that happen to one of three for me..

I would inquire carefully from rental agency regarding baby seat,, make sure they are using decent approved models( which of course they should , but , hey you should still ask) find out if they install or if you do. In Hawaii they refused to install the car seat because if it is done incorrectly they did " not want responsiblity" , ??? is that crazy or what, luckly it fit fine and had the tether bolt in good position to clip in easily, but I thought it was cheesy us standing there in hot sun while hubby struggles with strange car seat and I hold onto three kids, oldest was only 5 at that time!
bozama is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 10:30 AM
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In any case, an American car seat is not necessarily approved for use in France.
kerouac is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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Definitely don't bring the baby jogger. They are a nightmare even here in Nantucket in the summer, esp the doublewides, as Moms on a roll try to get by each other on narrow sidewalks. One of the umbrella types would be great.

Also bring lots of money because Paris has the most beautiful childrens' clothes you will ever have seen.
Ackislander is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 12:33 PM
  #6  
 
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Bozama, it is illegal to sell a car seat which is not EU approved. I relly do not think any car rental company would risk providing a seat which did not meet the current regulations.
Unless you are sure you car seat meets EU regs, or you particularly want it on board (if that is allowed - not all airlines allow that) than hire a seat with the car.
A Maclaren type buggy, with hood, and rain cover (just in case ) is ideal. Some are reclinable. some aren't, check the one you get is. They can be put up with one hand, even by stupid, clumsly Grandmas like me!
hetismij is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 12:35 PM
  #7  
 
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BTW I just found this when i googled your car seat - I hope it doesn't apply to yours -

Britax Marathon Recall
Oct. 19, 2007 - Britax has issued a recall on its Marathon convertible car seats with model numbers E9L06, E9W06 and E906 that were manufactured between May 23 and July 28, 2006 with a top tether lot number of KGR 01 A. Under some circumstances, if a child weighs more than 50 pounds and the vehicle manufacturer allows the use of the top tether above 50 pounds, the top tether hook could open and have the potential to release from the anchor. This could allow the child to move further forward in a crash than is allowed by federal car seat standards. Registered owners will receive a repair kit. Others can visit marathonrecall.com to find out if your car seat is affected.
hetismij is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 01:58 PM
  #8  
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thanks for the tips, so far, gang!

our car seat was not part of the recall, saw that back in dec.

definitely NOT bringing the mountain buggy .. lol. we are looking at combi, jeep or maclaren types, that's what i was asking advice on.

as for bringing vs renting car seat.. i am hesitant to rent a previously used car seat. how can you be certain it wasnt involved in crash, etc. rented from eurocar, they said seat had to be arranged with local office, havent looked into that yet.. will do.

thx.

does anyone have any recommendations on things to do in caen, honfleur, mt st michel, nantes, loire, tours with an infant?

thx again.
cyberbuzz is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 03:28 PM
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Well, I lugged two babies all over Europe at least a couple of times a year until they weren't babies anymore (and am now lugging two college-age kids), and they never seemed to be affected by jet lag. There were a few cranky moments on airplanes and one memorable flight I walked up and down an aisle with a two-year old for 8 hours, but they were always ready to go to bed mid-evening the day of our arrival. Your mileage may vary.

The problem with renting a car seat is that the rental company cannot absolutely guarantee they'll have one for you. Same as with roof racks and other extras. However, we must've done 10-15 European rentals where we needed a car seat and we never failed to get one. I sure wouldn't lug one over the pond with me.

You also might consider taking one of those baby packs/sacks instead f a stroller. We took a stroller to Venice one year and were there 10 minutes before we realized what idiots we were. It would be even worse on le Mont St-Michel.

As an aside, your itinerary is a little peculiar. Why are you taking the train to Caen, then going north to Honfleur, then two days later backtracking and going south to le MSM? Why not take the train to Rouen and just keep going in a straight line? It doesn't sound like you're planning to do much or any touring of the DDay sites, and going to Caen isn't logical if you're not. And why Tours for 4 nights? Is it to visit the Loire Valley sights? Personally, Tours is my least favorite place in the Loire, and driving in and out of it is a major pain, though maybe not so bad in March.

I guess I'm wondering what drives the destinations of this trip. If it's to visit friends/relatives or something like that, it's fine. If it's a trip to visit Normandy and the Loire Valley, this itinerary could use some work, starting with adding at least another night in Paris, as the baby may not get jet lag, but you surely will, and you're heading out of Paris before you really have time to deal with that. And if the Baby DOES have jetlag, the trip could get off to a difficult start.
StCirq is online now  
Feb 13th, 2008, 05:00 PM
  #10  
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From what I can tell, it's just a quick jaunt between Caen and Honfleur, giving us a chance to check out some of the beaches that afternoon on our way. 77km, big deal, non?

Rouen is farther and offers nothing particularly of interest for us to see along the way.

We're not "in Tours" per se, but staying at the wonderful Le Moulin du Port in St-Georges-sur-Cher.

we will have a pack for MSM, yes.

we have picked the itinerary based on places we've never been. we have done the east and south often, never the west... and took this as a chance to try something new.

i am excited to stay in Croisic and see the fleur du sel beds.

thx.
cyberbuzz is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 04:07 PM
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We have had luck with the Maclaren Triumph. It is a bit more than the other ones (I think it cost $150-200) but it reclines). We used it all over cobblestones in Italy and it was fine. Our daughter must have found it comfortable because she would sleep in it. Bring the rain cover as it is quite light and works great if you get caught in a downpour. Have a great trip. Sounds wonderful.
Sally30 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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Rouen doesn't interest you but Tours does? Hmmm....

Sure, 77 kms isn't that big a deal, unless it's, say, July or August on a coastal road...

And I just don't understand why you'd want to backtrack when you don't need to plan your route that way. Doing anything that's unnecessary on a road trip in a foreign country when you've got an infant along IMO is not sensical.

That said, it's your trip.
StCirq is online now  
Feb 16th, 2008, 05:17 PM
  #13  
 
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We recently (in Nov, our son was 20 months) spent 10 days in Italy + 4 in Germany with a Combi EX (the one with the 6 inch wheels) and were reasonable happy. When purchasing, we specifically looked for one that was as light as possible (it is about 12 1/2 lbs) and didn't want to shell out the $200 or so for the McClaren or Piko (which are about the same weight) since also have a full size one. (We paid $100 for the Combi.) About the only time we had problems were in the Forum and at Ostia Antica where the paving stones are around 1 ft across with 3-4 in gaps. Generally cobblestones weren't a problem. The only drawback is that the basket isn't very large and it has a bar through the middle of it. However, it does have full recline.

Not discussed above about renting a car seat is that you may still be using an infant seat while I don't believe most car rental places carry those. Your car seat is almost assuredly EU compliant since it's actually a Swedish make. (We didn't take ours, but we aside from a few taxi rides, we traveled only by train.)

As to jet lag, one thing that worked well for us was to minimize the adjustment by having him adjust to a later schedule. Normally at home (US east coast), he's up between 6 and 7 and in bed around 8:30. In Europe, he adjusted to getting up around 9 and going to bed at 10. This actually was nice for us as we could sleep a bit later and Italy operates a later schedule than the US in general. We were actually surprised that he adjusted so well, thought we both have minimal problems with jet lag and we spent that first few nights at the home of our friends and not a hotel. Just don't ask about coming back when he was up at 3 AM the first night.

Good luck and enjoy your trip,
Paul
sanschag is offline  
Feb 17th, 2008, 03:15 AM
  #14  
 
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Ditch the stroller, get a baby backpack, much more versatile. Just think about the cobble-stoned streets you have to negotiate with a stroller.

But if you must get one, try the Quinny Zapp, a 3-wheeler, similar to your Mountain Buggy but a lot more light weight and much smaller, especially when it is collapsed.

s

swagman is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 11:07 AM
  #15  
 
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Hi Buzz,

We took our 11 month old to Europe (France and Italy) for 3 weeks a few years back. We brought a simple umbrella stroller and a baby back pack, and used the back pack about 95% of the time. The cobblestones, rough or thin or nonexistent sidewalks, and many dirt or composite paths made the stroller pretty unwieldy, even a lightweight one.

We also brought our Pack & Play, and a baby seat/table thingy, which we would box up each time we changed locations. Yikes! But it all worked out great.

Jet lag: we spent the few days before the trip gradually changing her feeding and sleeping hours to closer to Europe time, which helped. Our pediatrician also suggested some presctiption medicine (I don't recall the name) which helped her sleep for the right times on the plane, which was a godsend.

(Attention moral commentators: this is not an invitation for you to pontificate. Take a deep breath and move away from the keyboard!)

On the flight over from the west coast, the woman in our bulkhead row (ask for one so you can put a small bassinette on the floor) who was clearly dreading the flight when she saw our baby, finally commented about 2/3 of the way there on how well our baby slept, and how happy she was that she wasn't next to a screaming baby. We just smiled and said we've really tried hard to work on good sleep habits...

Enjoy the trip and take lots of pix!
laughingd2 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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I have been on a number of 'screaming baby' flights. If it is any consolation, the mystery person seated next to you and the baby on such flights is often an airline employee who has been seated there on purpose, because we are not supposed to complain and have learned to put up with anything in exchange for our cheap or free tickets.
kerouac is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 04:47 PM
  #17  
 
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We took our 10 mo. old on a trip to London and Paris last year and he traveled great!! We were lucky enough to get a straight flight from the US to London which was great. He did cry on initial take off only due to being strapped in a seat. But after dinner slept the whole flight. Other take offs we held him on our lap, gave him a pacifier and he was perfectly fine. He has always hated being seated though.


Different story on the way back but he was still a trooper. Flight was cancelled out of Paris so he slept in the stroller while we waited in the airport. On the plane he made friends with the flight attendants, they were great!! A baby seems to bring out the best in people.


Honestly I was afraid and did not want to be "that parent" who had the screaming baby. But as I said he was great. I think passengers cringed when they saw us initally as we were complimented several times after we landed on how good he was. PHEW!!!

We were concerned with a stroller as well and wanted something portable, comfortable and one that reclined. We tried several and researched like crazy!! We finally decided on a Britax Preview. It was perfect!! It was between a travel stroller and an umbrella stroller. Was comfortable, reclined but would collapse quickly when needed. Also has a handy diaper bag that zips on and off that was a perfect idea!!

We additionally bought a “sun shade” that attached to it and would stretch all the way from the top down to where his feet came out so when he was sleeping it gave shade and it also was UV protectant, paid somewhere around $20 for that. Just “google” UV sun shade and you will find plenty. Also bought a rain shield that we used 1x but well worth it when it was needed. Both take up hardly any space when collapsed.

We also brought a collapsible baby carrier. My husband “wore” the baby a lot. He loved to be up and see people at times but other times loved to sit and people watch from his stroller. When he was being carried the stroller was great for carrying our “stuff”.

Hope this info helps!! I appreciated all the tips I got when we were getting ready. Glad to see that you are still traveling with the baby!! We are planning a trip this summer to Italy with our now 1 ˝ year old. Oh what an adventure!!
mabern2 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 05:03 PM
  #18  
 
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frankly cyberbuzz, you have to be one of the rudest posters in a long, looooong time. StCirq is one of the most helpful, knowledgeable fodorites and she was trying to help you. Her points were VERY much to the point and instead of snapping at her and calling her names you might actually look at a map to see what she meant . . . .

Sheesh -




janisj is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 08:25 PM
  #19  
 
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Yeah, I love the moral pontificator comment...like I'm looking at maps and making some MORAL judgment about him planning his trip the way he wants to. Um, no, it was PRACTICAL considerations I was taking into consideration. But forget it. I no longer want to help you. Figure it out on your own.
StCirq is online now  

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