Travel to Paris w/ 2 young children

Old Jan 4th, 2005, 08:31 PM
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Travel to Paris w/ 2 young children

Hi, would like to get your thoughts and suggestions on traveling to Paris in mid-feb 2005 w/ 2 young children (3yrs & 18 mos old). We have been to Paris a few times, but never with kids. I don't recall seeing a lot of kids in the restaurant that we went to. Paris does not seem to be kid-friendly. Where do you suggest for us to stay, in apartment vs. hotel? Any good apartment? any family oriented resto w/ high chair? What are the tricks to travel w/ kids? What are the places to go with kids? We love Paris and contemplating taking this trip in Feb for about 8 days. Would love to get all of the help and suggestions that we can get. Thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 08:56 PM
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Hi...I hate to "rain on your parade", but speaking from experience and the experience of friends of mine, they did it once and wouldn't do it again. The main problem was the time difference. By the time the kids were finally sleeping during the night and up during the day (instead of the other way around), it was time to go home and deal with it all over again at home.

Then....there is the plane ride. Every flight I've taken since, I thank god I don't have a toddler with me.

I really do understand your desire to go, but my opinion is don't. But...of course that is MY opinion based on my experience and those of others I know. If you do go, I wish for you kids who sleep at night and are up during the day!

Best wishes,

Margy
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 01:24 PM
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I first took my daughter to Paris when she was 4 years old. She's now 7 and has been to Europe four times, and we'll be back in Paris next month. Last year we stayed on the 6th floor of Hotel Cluny Square on the corner of St Germain and St Michel and it was a delight. A nice big bathtub and the view of the Eiffle Tower out of our skylight, plenty of room for the 3 of us to move around. We ate in a different restaurant every night, all within walking distance of our hotel, and the restaurant staff could not have been nicer to our child. I have always found the cliche that Parisians are rude or don't like children to be overstated.
As for what to do with your kids, Fodor's little book "What to do with Kids in Paris" was a great reference for us, the only bad experience being the Catacombs! Almost everything else that was open in February, we did.
As for jet lag -- maybe it is her age or temperament but my daughter honestly does not really suffer from it. What we do is, we always fly out of San Francisco in the afternoon, nonstop, she sleeps on the plane for several hours, and when we arrive it is "morning" in Europe and we just go with the flow right away. We change our watches and don't talk about what time it is back home. Last year we arrived in Paris around 11:00 a.m. and by that afternoon were enjoying a day at Disneyland. We try to stay outside in the fresh air as much as we can, as the first day can be hard, but the first night we all fall asleep exhausted around 8 pm Paris time, and my daughter then sleeps through the night, and is always first to adjust to the time.
Good luck and I hope you have a great trip!
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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it's a bit very young, but hell, who cares take a cheap hotel (formule 1 stuff) will be cheaper than renting appartement.

places
* eurodisney will love the very young ones
* the rex movie thing (don't confuse it with rex-discotheque, it's same corner , same street but totally different)
* the silver bowl and to-do-museum (science and stuff) -- north east of paris
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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Well, my now teenage kids have traveled to Paris (and other European destinations) yearly since the oldest was 11 months. Interestingly, we never, ever had an issue with jetlag - it was us adults who got the jetlag. The kids slept all or most of the way over every time and got on schedule right away, faster than we did.
Traveling with young kids is very, very different from traveling without them, though. You'll have to plan the trip around the kids, not just bring them along on the kind of trip you're used to.
We always found Paris to be very kid-friendly. There are plenty of restaurants where kids are welcomed (some of the chains like Hippopotamus, Flunch, etc., plus plenty of neighborhood bistros that are used to having families as clients). Plus, Paris is full of little sandwich shops, tea shops, department store restaurants, etc., where children are the norm.
If I can remember that far back, the things my kids loved in Paris when they were very young were boat rides, carrousels and parks, marionette shows, picnics, the street performers around the Pompidou Center, outdoor markets, and just walking around and stopping for a cool drink at a café. We took them to museums and exhibits, but left the minute anyone got restless or cranky.
That said, I don't think February is the time to test out your first trip to Paris with really young kids. I'd go when the weather is warm and you can spend a lot of time outdoors and not have to lug winter gear with you.
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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The "tricks" to traveling with kids are to know your kids and be honest with yourselves regarding what you want to do on the trip. My kids always have done well on the long flights, but some kids don't. We prefer to stay in apartments, because it is easier to fix food that they will eat. (I personally love to shop for food in foreign countries - it's a cultural experience!) Apartments also give the kids some room to move around. I would eat restaurant meals during mid-day, when restaurants are more casual and the kids aren't so tired. I also seem to remember that there are some fun pizza-arcade type restaurants just for kids that would entertain your kids for hours. Frankly, many kid-friendly activities in Paris are generally outdoors - Luxembourg Gardens, Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. But there are circuses in Paris during the winter and the hands-on Science Museum would be fun. And my daughter loved riding the Metro!
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Old Jan 5th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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Have you lost your mind. What is the point of taking two very young children (one a baby) to Paris for 8 days in February?

A baby can't do things anyway, so activities don't matter. I wouldn't travel all the way to Paris to go to some science museum (which is WAY out) which I think is too old for such young children, anyway.

I've never seen a high-chair in a restaurant nor infants in a restaurant at night, but perhaps that's because I don't dine in places where they would go. But I don't think most people take infants out to restaurants late at night, they should be in bed. I have seen babies with parents at casual tea salons or cafes at lunch, but they are just kind of in their stroller down on the floor.

I think an apt. would be good for you if you want to do this, as you may need extra equipment or facilities and probably some kind of kitchenette facilities. I would think that summer or warm weather might be better for this kind of trip.

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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 02:25 AM
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Good morning,

This was posted on another site. Hope this helps make your decision:

"To all those who are planning a family trip to Paris, read THIS!!
First of all Paris is not a very Kid friendly city. The metro stations are not equipped with ramps. Some places had elevators and escalators but we had to carry the stroller and the bags and my kid at least once every time we took the metro. Also, it���s quite difficult and must I say dangerous to carry strollers on the escalators, but what could we do? We had no better choice.
Be extremely aware of the pickpocket. They are everywhere. We GOT pick pocketed and it was a nightmare to even report it to the police, not to mention the hassle. Thankfully we had enough cash to cover our vacation.
Except for New York and I haven't seen such rush and crowd anywhere else. Forget using the Metro anytime between 4:40 to 6pm since lot of people are going home and it���s just impossible to get in the trains.
No matter what people say, Paris is COLD. I had planed a lot of walks and stuff which went down the drain as soon as we left the airport. Effie Tower was more pain than fun. When my son started to crying their were no warm covered places to take him. The closest restaurants were not around for a couple of blocks. After this we stuck to staying indoors.
Overall I would not recommend that families go on vacation to Paris. I had many more troubles that ruined my trip, but I have tried to be objective. I hope my experience helps other people plan their vacation better."
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 05:17 AM
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Have you traveled by plane to any other destinations with both children? That would be a good 'practice' experience - somewhere for you to use a subway or bus to get between sights...

There are several other fairly recent threads about Paris and children/toddlers...try searching for them to get more tips.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 09:48 PM
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Mom, Don't worry! We were in Paris last April with a 3 year old and a 22 month old. We rented an apartment - wise choice if you need access to a fridge for milk, juice and cold snacks. This year we will return again during March. The kids enjoyed Hippopotamus - they are everywhere and very kid friendly. When we did go out, we would usually dine early, before the crowds. Make sure you take sippy cups and child size spoons/forks. We stayed in the 11th/12th Arr. Every day the kids wanted to go to the local park. I've never seen such an awesome park - Square Trousseau. The playground was padded! We went to all of the toy stores we could find, Natural History Museum, Eiffel Tower, the zoo, boat ride. For the trip we purchased a portable DVD player and an extra plug for the power port so we didn't have to use the battery on the airplane, and a variety of children's DVDs. Also took on the plane new small toys - hotwheel/Matchbox packs, crayons, Poly Pocket, books, a large variety of snacks, a box of wipees, extra change of clothes, and a small cold pack with juice, cheese sticks, lunch meat, yogurt. Medicine (bandaids, Motrin, Benedryl, chapstick). I suggest a lightweight stoller - we have a Maclaren that folds up flat, and a Buggyboard. Most of the Metro stops have elevators, but we did have to carry the stroller up and down many, many stairs. I have to say the French were very kind to my children. The shopkeepers gave them bags of candy and cookies, and street vendors gave them trinkets. As for child-unfriendly, don't expect high chairs or any changing tables! They are very rare, and we became experts using the stroller/ground/benches as a changing station!
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 10:38 AM
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Having lived in Paris for four years with a small child, I beg to differ with Lokelani. Most Metro stops do not have elevators. You will climb lots of stairs and connections at some of the bigger stations can be very long. There is plenty to do with children in Paris (marionnette shows are very popular, for example), but eating out at a nice resto is not one of them. Children are welcome at cafes (like those you find at Trocadero) but do not take them to a nicer bistro...it just wouldn't be worth the money.
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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I think it could be very chilly park weather in mid-Feb.
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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HI, Every body - Thanks so much for your feedback! My kids fly with us a lot and have been to Sidney, Australia already. They did well on the plane. It's more of what to do in Paris that I am concerned about. Lokelani, would you recommend the apartment that you stayed at. Can I have the address. Also, where can I see the marrionette show? What is Hippotamus? Can I have the list of resto's that you have been to that were kid friendly? We will move our trip to a later time this year when the weather will be warmer. I am starting the planning now. Thanks again for your feedback.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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I will start a list of activities:
Jardin du Luxembourg: sailboats in the fountain, pony rides, puppet shows, sandboxes, playground. You have to pay to get in to the playground, but it is worth it.
Rodin Museum: sculpture garden.
La Tour Eiffel: carousel, picnic on the Champ de Mars.
Bateaux Moches: boat ride on the Seine.
Paris zoo or Thoiry Wild Animal Park.
Food: gaufres-soft, fat waffles with whipped cream; crepes; real french fries; ice cream.
City bus tour at naptime. Put my daughter to sleep instantly!
Places to avoid: Palace of Versailles, Louvre, Musee d'Orsay. If you must see these with the kids, be there first thing in the morning and stay only one or two hours. Better yet, hire a babysitter for a day. Although expensive, we have done that as a splurge and it worked out fine. In fact, the Caen Peace Museum in Normandy had its own nursery. My daughter had a great time there.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 12:07 PM
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Paris can be extremely cold, damp and rainy in February..personally I would go in the summer, at least you are able to spend all day outdoor if you like. What are you going to do with a small child if the weather is bad?
Good Luck..
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 12:42 PM
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No, you aren't crazy to contemplate a trip to Paris with young children! But it will be a different kind of experience. French families with young children typically dine all together in creperies, fast-food restaurants and pizza parlors. Otherwise, we see them, very rarely, in neighborhood restaurants of the non-starred variety on the east side of Paris where we live. But if you rented an apartment, preferable on many fronts, I think, you could mainly make do by food shopping, preferably in one of the wonderful outdoor markets, and cooking at home. This can be wonderful if you like to cook! One other thing to ponder is the carrying you would have to so if you wanted to use the Metro. I would advise that you arrange for child care during a part of your stay, but this is difficult without recommendations, I know, and you may not be contemplating a hotel with that level of concierge service. The French love children. I can almost guarantee that if you sit in a public place with your children -- or walk in a park in February -- you will meet French people! The French are very good parents, I find, but there does come a time, even at home, when dad or mom says (to children older than yours) "Go and have fun,'' and the adults amuse themselves.
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 02:05 PM
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..Dear Mom...Please rethink this trip if you plan to do a lot of sight seeing! Your trip will be very different from one that you have imagined given the age of the children..I would strongly suggest an apt or at a minimum a hotel room with a fridge and microwave. You can certainly do things with the children but outdoor activities can be iffy in Feb (rainy damp days). Be sure you have a stroller with a plastic covering...Think of what your children like doing at home and think what activities would parrallel them in Paris..be flexible....But please ask yourself why you are contemplating this trip with 2 toddlers in Feb..I have done it but I had no choice, backup (family) , a large apt. and a house in Normandy...from my many trips with my 3 at all stages in their lives, I find 18 mo to 3 about the most unpredictable. Each child is unique so I dont want to generalize, but please ask the question I posed above.
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Old Jan 27th, 2005, 11:48 PM
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Thanks for such informative feedback. We are now moving our trip to the second week of April (4/9/05 for 8 days-just staying in Paris). The weather will be warmer, but I heard that it rains a lot in Apr. Is this true? We definitely will take it easy. Looking for a recommendation for a good, comfortable apartment in an area that is kid-friendly or close to kids attractions. Thanks again for such helpful thoughts.
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Old Feb 17th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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We are also planning a trip to Paris in April with our 2 year old daughter. We rented an apartment through Rentals in Paris. They were very helpful and pointed out apartments that would not be suitable for small children. Best of luck to you on your trip!
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