Taking Children to Paris

Old Nov 6th, 2003, 04:55 AM
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Taking Children to Paris

I would be grateful for input from anyone who has recently taken their young children to Paris. My husband and I are planning to take our two children to Paris next June for one or two weeks(when they will be four and a half and two respectively).

I should add (to forestall the automatic response of (1) "Paris is wasted on the young"(2) "Please do not impose your brats on me on my transatlantic flight/ romantic meal" (3)"do not drag your kids round endless museums"):

We live in London so this will not entail a transatlantic flight or jetlag or culture shock;

We have been to Paris on our own many times in the last fifteen years so have no need to traipse round museums for our benefit;and

Our children are used to eating out in restaurants and are well behaved.

We would prefer to stay in an appartment in a central location (prefer Marais or area around the Rodin Museum) so we can walk rather than use the metro. Has anyone got any recommendations? The appartment would have to be quite large ie 2 or 3 bedrooms.

Secondly, when we stayed in Florence a couple of years ago we found a playcenter in a former Orphanage which was open to tourists. Is there anything similar in Central Paris?

Thirdly, using Fodor's Around Paris with Kids guide I have identifed the following as possible activities:the Zoo in Bois de Vincennes; the waterpark at Aquaboulevard; boat cruise on the Seine; the Ferme de Paris in the Bois de Vincennes; Occeanographic Centre; Cite des Sciences;Tuileries Garden for the playground and puppet theatre; and of,course, Disneyland Paris.

Any comments advice on the above would be appreciated as well as any additons. I should add that the four year old loves animals (hence the zoo and the farm)and playgrounds especially riding on roundabouts.

Finally, does anyone have any child friendly restaurant recommendations? We prefer to eat out at lunchtime. The children will eat anything within reason (probably not seafood though!). We have seen children at Bofinger. Are there any other "proper" restaurants were children, if well behaved, are welcomed?
waterloo is offline  
Old Nov 6th, 2003, 05:13 AM
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Cheers to you! Traveling with the little ones is great! I would recommend Luxembourg Gardens - there's lots to do there on a nice day with the kids - pack a ball or frisbee and you have a whole day of fun. We've rented little boats to sail around - there's lots of options on a beautiful day.

I can't recommend any restaurants but I am sure someone on this forum can. Good luck.
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 06:26 AM
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In his Paris 2002 gudidebook, Rick Steves (Europe Throught the Back Door) gives this list of the "Ten Top Kids' Spots in Paris":
1. Luxembourg Gardens, 2. Jardin des Plantes, 3. Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars Park, 4. Trocadero, 5. Notre-Dame, Towers, and Crypt, 6. Seine River Boat Rides, 7. Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees, 8. Versailles, 9. Pompidou Center, 10. The Cite des Sciences in the Parc de la Vilette.
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 07:00 AM
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waterloo, my hat is off to you for having a two and four year old that are easy to travel with and well behaved in public. Spread your secret around, especially how to get kids that young to eat quietly at restaurants.
Old Nov 6th, 2003, 07:18 AM
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My kids loved the playground at the Luxembourg gardens, as well as playing with the sailboats. There were also pony rides there. The carousels (at Eiffel tower, Sacre Coeur, Hotel de Ville, etc..) were their favorite thing in Paris (this was several years ago when they were 4 and 7). They also loved the toys dept in Gallerie Layayette.
For lunch, my kids loved crepes and usually we didn't go into restaurants, just cafe or bistro and they could order pasta with butter and cheese or pasta with a slice of ham. Any bistro and cafe we were in happily and readily accommodated this request. Also enjoyed hot chocolate at Angelina's.
YOu will have a wonderful time in Paris, just different (lots of time sitting around in parks watching people, not much or no museums time).
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 07:21 AM
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My grandkinds had a great time in Paris. They loved the Jardins de Luxembourg (wonderful playground).

Les Jardins d'Acclimatation is fabulous, too, beautiful gardens- check


,and as others recommended,La Cité des Sciences and Cite des Enfants, in Parc de la Vilette, are also wonderful.
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 07:25 AM
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Wow, sounds like you don't need any help at all. Sounds like you've done your homework and have it all under control.

My husband and I were living in London the summer of 2002 and did the very same thing with our then 2.5 year-old little boy. We found Paris to be extremely doable (and more fun--we'd been to Paris lots before, but never with kids) with the little guy in tow. We had a wonderful trip and wouldn't hesitate to return with small children. I can't say much about the kid-friendly activities you've scouted out as we frankly spent much of our time really seeing the more adult-oriented sights--museums, etc. Our son is really used to museums and very, very easy to tote along. I think more than anything, however, he found the simplest tourist attractions to be loads of fun--ie ascending the Tour Eiffle and Arc de Triomphe, walking through the Tuileries (do stop at the pond there and let the kids play with the boats!), the boat ride on the Seine, etc. These simple, yet common Paris itinerary spots, were enough to please him. As far as hotels, space was a big priority for us. We stayed in the Citadines--www.citadines.com. It's a French chain of Aparthotels. They have several in Paris. We stayed at the Les Halles one. We chose that one primarily because of it's central location. It's literally right on Les Halles, which isn't the most charming areas, but we enjoyed it enough. And the close proximity to everything was really fantastic--a short jaunt to the Seine and Ile de la Cite. The website has very detailed info on the hotels and the rooms (with floor-plans, etc.). As with most chains, the place lacks charm, but it was great--spacious, clean, etc. If you're interested and want more feedback on the hotel I'd be happy to help. Otherwise the website does have very good information. For meals we mostly did picnics--ie in the Tuileries, on the Champ du Mars, gardens of Versailles, so don't have much experience on restaurants with kids. The picnics proved key--a good time not only to eat, but also to let the little one run around a bit. Good luck!
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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When my kids were that age they loved the Cité de Science and the jardin de Luxembourg and the jardin d'acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne. They also loved hot chocolate at Angelina and ice cream at Berthillon (they still do!) and the various carrousels of Paris.
Two chain restaurants - Flunch and Hippopotamus - were big hits with my kids when they were young, but we never hesitated to take them into bistros and brasseries, either. We always stayed in hotels near the place Ecole Militaire in the 7th, and my kids ate countless dinners at the cafés around that place as well as at the Auberge Bressanne, Punjab (great Indian restaurant), Bistro de Papa, La Croque au Sel, and other neighborhood restaurants. We were always warmly welcomed and encountered other families with small children often.
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 08:28 AM
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The Luxembourg Gardens are great, but remember that you and your kids are not allowed on the grass. The four year old should understand that easily enough, but the two year old might not.
The Rodin Museum area sounds better than the Marais for young children, IMHO, due the greater amount of green space and places for them to run around. Less traffic, too. The Place des Vosges is nice, but it can get incredibly crowded in June.
From the Rodin area you can also walk to the Parc Andre Citroen, which DOES allow (even encourage) you to run, play, picnic, etc. on the grass. Lots of small kids play there and your kids might make some friends for the day. Also, you can ride the hot air balloon (might be too much for the 2 yo, but if the 4 yo is brave, he/she might enjoy it).
A big thumbs up for the Zoo over at Vincennes. It's a beautiful zoo, the animals aren't in cages but in large, more natural surroundings. As a result, they're much livelier than animals in lots of other zoos. Go early in the day. There's a little train you can ride around in as well. (But be careful around the polar bear exhibit, those bears leap HIGH from their swimming area! I was taking a photo there and one suddenly shot up to just two feet below me, scared me half to death, lucky I didn't drop the camera!). Surprised that it's not on the Rick Steves list.
If you do a day trip, besides DisneyWorld, consider taking them to Angers, 1.5 hours by TGV from Paris. The big medieval castle right in town should interest your 4 yo, and the pretty parks are perfect for small children. The Jardin du Mail has a beautiful carousel and the Jardin des Plantes has a nice little petting zoo.
Re restaurants, if you are over by the Rodin or the Champ de Mars, two suggestions: Brasserie/Cafe Bosquet and Le Suffren. Bosquet has a simple menu with all the usuals, but it's well prepared and the service is good. They're used to children. Le Suffren, on Ave. Suffren, is a little more upscale. Of course, you also have the rue Cler to get all kinds of snacks and treats.
Finally, DON'T go into the chic Cafe Esplanade on the Esplanade des Invalides. We went there with my 2.5 yo niece in August and got a look of horror from the hostess. "Pas de poussettes!" she ordered, meaning we had to stash the stroller by the entrance. They served us, but not happily, and we were relieved to leave. But it's a great place for adults to have a drink or afternoon tea. I like it a lot, but it's simply not child-friendly.
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 10:27 AM
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I also commend you for bringing your young children. My youngest was 2 years old when I first brought him to Paris and he still talks about it today(he's 7 now).

If you want to be near the Rodin museum, last time we were there with the kids (2 kids, 4 people), we stayed at the Hotel Palais Bourbon, literally around the corner from the Rodin Museum. They have a number of quad rooms. Ours was actually 2 rooms... the main room and a small attached room with 2 beds for the kids. The price (at X-Mas time last year) was about $145 Euros per night, including breakfast. We were very happy with the hotel and its location.

Best of luck

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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 10:41 AM
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I have on disk a compilation of places that Fodors forum parent say their children liked in Paris, and shall gladly email it to you if you email to ask me.

[email protected]
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 10:52 AM
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If you take your kids to nice restaurants from early on and make them behave, there are usually no problems. If they don't act right, usually the threat of no dessert works to straighten things out. If not, it is to the bathroom for a serious talk with dad. But then again, I made my kids sit at the table and act properly with good manners at home too.
My boys loved Versailles--you can run around on the grass in most of it and they liked the fountains (have to go on a SUnday for those to be turned on). Also they loved eating in the restaurant at the end of lake, pond or whatever it is at Versailles.
Other good restaurants to visit are the cafes in the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay--it makes a nice break in the museum visit.
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Old Nov 6th, 2003, 11:09 AM
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As far as apartments, I know several folks on here have liked www.parisperfect.com which has several apts. in the 7th. However, a two-bedroom apt will be quite expensive, perhaps you know that and it's not a problem. I have not seen very many 3-bedrm vacation rental apts, they are extremely expensive if you find any because that is so unusual.

I think your list sounds good, I do recommend the Jardin d'Acclimation, also, and the Luxembourg gardens, of course. As for the Tuileries and puppet shows -- I wasn't aware they had them, but I know there are some off the Champs-elysees near the rondpoint (near Matignon and Gabriel streets)(probably at theatre de marigny). I thought that was the premier puppet show spot on the Right Bank, not the Tuileries (my most recent Pariscope lists none in the Tuileries). There are puppet shows elsewhere, in the Champ de Mars and Luxembourg Gardens, also. If you have plenty of time, you might try the jardin du ranelagh near the Marmottan museum, a lot of children enjoy that park and they have puppet shows, also.

I don't believe you have a circus on your list of attractions. Perhaps they are too young, but that would normally be on the list of child activities.
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