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Trip Report – London and Paris with Toddler

Trip Report – London and Paris with Toddler

Apr 12th, 2003, 06:10 PM
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Trip Report – London and Paris with Toddler

Traveled from US to London in September with our 14 month old. Our baby is an excellent traveler. As expected, slept the whole way over since its a night time flight. Key to airport/taxi/rental car ease with a toddler is the Sit and Stroll stroller that converts from a car seat to a stroller – roll it on the plane, pop in the wheels, and plop it in the seat. We stayed at the Morgan hotel in London which was excellent – we stayed in the large apartment suites which were a bit pricey (L120/nt) but totally worth it with a separate large living room, separate kitchen, etc. Great location – around the corner from the British Museum, great restaurants nearby – Wagamama, Townhouse Brasserie, & North Sea Fish Restaurant. We spent Sat afternoon at the museum then walked down to Covent Garden Sat night. Great fun with all the street artists & excellent dinner at Porter’s English Restaurant. The key to travel around London with a toddler is a good backpack carrier and a tube pass. We bought the travel pass before we left the states (no need for photo) and picked it up at Victoria Station after we arrived off the Gatwick Express – Easy! The tube was a piece of cake to get around. We had no trouble even during rush hour – mostly we just got lots of smiles. (Maybe because we’re used to subways and expect crowds and pushing – and carefully made sure the baby was always backed against us or a window/wall and not a stranger.) Sunday we went to Hampton Court Palace via train – we toured the castle, had lunch at the restaurant in the gardens, did the maze, chased ducks around the grounds, and had a great time. Dinner, friendly conversation, & a fab ginger-key lime pie at Wagamamas rounded out a great day.

Monday was the only day of the trip that it rained so we changed plans & went to Westminster Abbey in the morning (timed it for baby’s nap & he slept the entire tour) and then went shopping. First stop Harrods where we had lunch at the restaurant in the kids department (they had baby food on the menu and brought it out heated for us) Bought the requisite Harrod’s bear, & then a quick subway to that other main shopping street with Burbery’s, Liberty, Hamley’s, etc. (An extra large golf umbrella that folded down small was a good investment before leaving.) By the way this may have been careful planning on my part but every restaurant we went to had high chairs and was kid friendly. Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day and we went to Tower of London first. Per travel guide got there when it opened and went straight to the crown jewels where there was nobody there. We had to force ourselves to stop in each of the empty waiting rooms to watch the movie as it was human nature to just want to rush through all those empty stalls. We went around the moving walkways about 6 times marveling at those jewels – and still only about 5 other people showed up. Then we went out back to the entrance where we finally ran into the crowds and just tagged on to one of the beefeater tours that had started. Then we took the subway to St John’s cathedral – quick stop for food a “The Place Below” and ate on the steps of the church. Time for the afternoon nap so we entered the cathedral and hiked up all those stairs to the whispering gallery and then on to the top of the dome outdoors. Next tubed over to the Westminster Bridge, strolled along the bridge over the Thames to Big Ben and walked down to the horse guard just in time to see the changing of the Horse Guard. Another great day!
prokidtravel is offline  
Apr 12th, 2003, 06:11 PM
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Wednesday we decided to do an out of town trip and we rented a car and drove out to Woburn Abbey and Safari Park. Always an adventure driving – going there was easy as there’s lots of signs for the freeway and the park – getting back was a little tougher – no signs for the car rental. But we stopped for directions and got good friendly advice. The Abbey was pretty neat esp. since the marquis and family still live there and the safari park was fantastic (we like that sort of thing). You drove through and actually had tigers, bears, lions, wolves, etc walking around your car. Plus there was a separate section to walk through with birds, kangaroos, etc. Thursday we took the Chunnel to Paris. Stayed at the Aramis near Luxembourg gardens. Good location with a big grocery store nearby and several toy stores. Big laughs for everyone as our toddler hollered out the names of all the “American” toys – esp. Elmer the patchwork elephant and the Rainbow Fish seemed popular and we bought books and videos of these in French. We’ve been to Paris several times so we just relaxed and strolled around outdoors most of the time as we had gorgeous weather. Took some fabulous photos of out toddler chasing pigeons in front of Notre Dame and playing on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower. As expected, Paris was not as easy as London – partly due to the language barrier and partly due to the restaurants (most not opening until 7:30). But we knew this in advance and ate mostly at cafes and brasseries. No one else was there eating dinner at 5:30 pm so there was never any issue with our toddler and everyone was friendly. Again, as expected, there were no high chairs at these establishments, but we had bought a fantastic travel chair by First steps (see One Step Ahead catalogue) that inflates and can strap to any chair (even cage chairs) and is very secure. We flew out of Paris and the flight home went great with the help of the new planes that have the TV’s on the backs of each seat so each seat can watch their own choice of entertainment. USAir had a great kids channel with Spirit the Hirse movie, Muppets, etc. & again as expected, our toddler did great – no crying and very little noise the whole trip back
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Apr 12th, 2003, 06:17 PM
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Hope this helps anyone else looking to travel to these two fantastic cities with toddlers!
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Apr 12th, 2003, 09:45 PM
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Thanks for your enjoyable report on your obviously well planned and thought out trip - please note the cathedral you visited in London would have been St. Pauls rather than St. Johns!!
prue is offline  
Apr 13th, 2003, 10:01 AM
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Very nice report! You are one wonderful planner and mother! I am very impressed! IMVHO, most concerned parents should plan so well, then you would not have all these tired irritable, yet still lovely children. Judy
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Apr 14th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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Prokid, excellent information. My husband and I are doing the exact same cities with our 17 month old in September, and after some of the posts I've seen from people saying "don't take your kid abroad" I was getting worried. Like you, I've been to Paris a bunch of times so we're not feeling the need to do all the touristy things... just walk around and do what feels right at the time.

I was glad to see you went to the British Museum with your toddler. Did they let you bring in the backpack carrier, or a stroller? The only big museum in Paris I absolutely MUST see again is the D'Orsay, and I'm sure I have seen children there before... though if you went there can you please mention what you saw?

You mentioned a "good backpack carrier"... which one did you have? I was thinking of just using the sling, but then again that means I'm the only one who can carry her. (My hubby refuses to use that thing as many men do. But a backpack is an entirely other option.)

Great report. thanks,
kat
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Apr 14th, 2004, 05:59 PM
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We splurged on an LL Bean carrier and were always pleased with it. We were able to carry our boys until they were almost 3 (though not for too long at that age). Most of the large museums like the British Museum allow strollers, although when it is crowded it can be a hassle. Historic houses and some of the smaller museums, especially those in historic settings are what typically will not allow strollers. I have seen carriers to rent at some of the larger houses, although I'd check that out before going.
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May 7th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Great post. I am going to London with my 5 yo and infant daughter in seven weeks and really appreciate your insight.
DanM is offline  
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