Paris with Kids
I’ve been planning a trip to Paris for the past year. I kept wavering on should I take my three year old or not. I weighed the pros and cons of traveling with such a young child and ultimately decided I couldn’t leave her behind. She’s a seasoned traveler, and I didn’t want to miss out on the memories that we would create. Yes, she wouldn’t remember everything when she got older but I would. And if she does forget, we have pictures and memories.
1. Choose an apartment instead of a hotel
Hotels have amenities at your fingertips, but they lack the features I need the most: a spare bedroom, kitchen, and a residential vibe. Airbnb is my go-to source for family travel. We booked a charming one bedroom apartment in the Mouffetard district for a total of $775 for eight nights. There is no way I could have a hotel with the amenities I needed at that rate. Another advantage of staying in an apartment is the ability to immerse yourself in French culture. We were greeted by our temporary neighbors every morning. The courtyard of our building even had a friendly cat.
2.Figure out how to navigate the metro with a stroller
We thought about leaving the stroller behind or bringing our cheap baby doll stroller. I referenced Travels With Baby when evaluating if bringing a stroller would be worth the hassle. We opted for our jogging stroller with air-filled wheels because we planned to do a lot of walking and needed something with smooth suspension to navigate the bumpy Parisian streets. Plus if our daughter got tired or needed a nap, she could lounge in the stroller while we continued to see the sights.
The challenge of the metro system was our only obstacle. The narrow turnstiles did not accommodate our B.O.B. jogging stroller. We were fortunate to find some metro stations with wide handicapped turnstiles accessible via a station agent or luggage pass through chutes. If your metro station has neither, you’re forced to pass the stroller over the turnstile. By day two we had a routine established and were getting through the metro with our stroller with ease.
3. Don't be afraid to stay out late
Our daughter’s nap schedule was out of order, and we were on vacation, so I didn’t obsess over getting her to bed at 8 pm every night. We enjoyed late dinners, strolls along the Seine, and shopping in the bustling Latin Quarter in the evening. Paris is a beautiful city when it’s lit up at night, and I wanted her to enjoy it if she wasn’t going to sleep anyway. I figured I could have stayed in the apartment or stayed out enjoying the sights of the city. We toured Montparnasse, saw Lido Cabaret, strolled along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and many other things in the evening. When my daughter got tired, she slept in her stroller. We only had one couple give us a dirty look and comment about having a child out past 10 pm, but they were fellow American tourist.
4. Museums Have Activities for Kids
We stayed away from the Louvre because she was too young for any of the children's programs, but there were other museums that we were able to enjoy. My top recommendations are the Cité des Sciences and the Centre Pompidou. The Cite des Sciences is a museum you could spend an entire day at. If you time your visit correctly, you can enter into the special play areas for kids where there are special exhibits catered to exploration and play.
Spend time in Parks and playgrounds
Kids need time to run around and be kids. Paris is full of beautiful parks and playgrounds where they can run around, play, and even make a new friend. My recommendation is Jardin du Luxembourg. There’s a small fee to enter the play area, but the playground is vast. One thing to know is most of the parks in Paris ban people from playing on the grass. We had a more enjoyable time in playgrounds.