Paris with Kids
Paris. The City of Lights. The places where dreamers go to dream, fashionistas go to twirl in dresses at the foot of the Eiffel tower, the place of slow walks through the park and where macaroons and red wine seem endless. So many people dream of their time in Paris. I know I did before my first visit. I was 17 when I first laid eyes on the city; it was fascinating. I returned 3 more times; all different experiences. At 31 I returned for my 5th rendezvous with my old friend. This time, like the other times, I felt comfort in the familiarity and surprise at the differences.
This trip was different because I brought my children. Seeing them explore new places is exciting to me, but this time it felt more exciting and more personal. This IS Paris after all.
Below you will find our entire Paris itinerary with kids; outlining exactly what we did in 3 days in Paris with kids.
Day 1: Arrival
We took the fast train in from Amsterdam. It's a 3.5 hour ride packed with lots of people and luggage. After we got off in Paris, we walked to our specific metro line station. As we boarded our first metro my husband and step-dad were both targeted by pickpockets. Luckily, all the thieves got was a bag of half eaten gummy bears. So, a PRO TIP is to be VERY cautious of your belongings at all times on the Paris Metro. Luckily, we knew that, so wallets, passports, and cash were all secured. We were able to get off at our stop and find our Airbnb without much more incident. We got checked in and settled then went walking the streets to find dinner and groceries for the next several days. We ended up having a takeaway dinner from Restaurant Kervan -- they have the most delicious chicken sandwiches. Our Airbnb was convenient to many restaurants and stores, so we frequented the local Lidle grocery store to get snacks, wine and tons of French Cheese. We packed the kid's lunches every day as well fruits/crackers and water bottles. This saved us a ton of money.
Day 2: Notre Dame, Louvre, Champs-Élysées, Five Guys, LADURÉE, Arch De Triomphe
We left the apartment and headed for the nearest bus stop. The buses are much more stroller friendly but take a significant amount of time. However, you really get to see the hustle and bustle of the city from inside the busses. We found them to be clean and comfortable.
Our first stop was Notre Dame. We did an outside tour; walking around the front and back gardens. Since Jimmy and I had both visited before, we decided not to wait in line to go inside the cathedral on this trip. However, if you have never been, DO NOT miss it. The stained glass windows and massive naive are incredible. PRO TIP: There are restrooms located around the back of the church in the garden.
After the Cathedral, we walked along Rue d'Arcole back toward the Seine and decided to stop for a cappuccino and some breakfast at Le Tambour d'Arcole. We shared a breakfast and pastries and all had super cool cappuccinos that swirled on their own! If you're in the area for breakfast, it's worth a stop!
After we were full of French Food, we walked along the bank of the Seine toward the Louvre. We caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and saw so many Parisian street vendors along the way. Once we arrived at the Louvre, we walked slow and took in the massive size and detail of this incredible building. We entered through the Colonnade de Perrault entrance which allowed us to walk through the stunning courtyard situated behind the Louvre Pyramid. It is free and open to walk the courtyard and around this part of the Louvre. To go inside the actual museum, you must wait in line and then pay to enter. Our daughter had to use the restroom, so we asked a security guard and he let us skip the line and go into the Louvre's lobby to use the facilities. There is a very nice family bathroom with toddler sized toilets and baby changing area there. Since we have visited the Louvre museum before, we did not tour it this time. However, if you haven't ever gone, you must visit the Mona Lisa and my all time favorite, The Winged Victory of Samothrace. You will not regret seeing these masterpieces for yourself. If art is your thing, consider giving the Louvre an entire day. It is MASSIVE and takes time to see. PRO TIP: If you have a stroller, you can take the open air elevator up and out of the museum. We rode it out and the kids loved it.
From the Louvre, we took our time and walked out and through the Tuileries Garden which is directly in front of the Louvre. We let the kids walk the path and stop to play around the fountain, then slowly made our way down Allee Centrale (or the center walking path). We took our time. It was about 85-87 degrees Fahrenheit and we were HOT, so the shade was welcome. We even stopped to fill our water bottles at one of the public faucets; the kids got a huge kick out of that.
We walked from there across to the Jardins des Champs-Élysées and zig-zagged our way through until we came to the first roundabout. We crossed over the road and started the famous walk toward the Arc De Triomphe. We were starving, so while we stopped for photos here and there, we knew where we were headed. Five Guys. Five Guys, you say? Yes. We are Americans after all and after 19 days in Europe, we were hankering for some delicious burgers. I ordered while Jimmy got us a table outside. And then, there we were. Sitting on the most famous shopping strip in the World, eating Five Guys with our two toddlers. It was amazing. PRO TIP: Be sure to use their bathrooms since you'll have to pay anywhere else --- and sit outside -- there is no extra charge!
A short distance past Five Guys we found ourselves out front of the Ladurée tea room. This is the most famous macaroon company in the world. We peeked inside. We noticed a long line from the takeaway station and a super fancy tea room, but what caught my eye the most was a secret room back behind the takeaway station. We walked back to find an entire room; an extravagant bar with fairy tale tables surrounding it. Of course, I was giddy we had the place to ourselves -- our daughter thought she was in a castle. After some macaroons and a cappuccino, we left very happy. PRO TIP: Skip the long take-away line, go to the bar in the back and have some macaroons...you can order them for takeaway there too. AND use their restrooms upstairs. They are VERY clean and VERY fancy.
After feeling so full I could barely walk, we started our way to the Arc De Triomphe. Again, we have been to Paris before, so this time we decided not to go inside or across the round about. Instead, we did the touristy thing and stood away to take some photos. However, if you haven't been to Paris before, you absolutely must walk underneath it and experience the true Arc! Once we got our photos, we headed to the Metro to round out our tourist day at the Eiffel Tower.
We never made it.
Once we got down into the Metro our son, who was riding in his Tula on my husband's chest, started choking. The choking was followed by projectile vomit. We were in shock. More puke followed. We attempted to clean it up with some wipes. The stench was unreal. We decided our only option was to bring him back to Airbnb and see if we could get him feeling better. Our stop was 21 stops away, so it was a long ride. He puked more.
Turns out he had what we think was Norovirus. He spiked a high fever, was puking and had horrible diarrhea. For 36 hours we were up all night changing sheets, clothes, nursing our baby back to health. Luckily, my parents were with us and they took our daughter to the playground at our Airbnb the next morning while Jimmy and I took turns taking care of the baby and getting him medicine at the pharmacy. We are also grateful that we chose to stay at an Airbnb that had a washing machine because we did constant laundry.
Day 3: Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower (AT NIGHT)
As I said before, our son was sick. We didn't do anything but take care of him and let our daughter play at the playground this entire day. Keep our set back in mind when planning your Paris itinerary with kids because you will have much more exploring time than we did!
Around 3:30pm I decided to take my daughter (and parents) out for an evening in Paris. This is the first time on any of our adventures that I have gotten a one on one day with either of my kids. It was magical and something I will never ever forget.
We started the evening off with a very short Metro ride into Montmartre. We hopped off the metro and headed toward Sacre Coure. I stopped at a street vendor to get Charletta some macaroons. We made our way to the Funicular for a fun way to get up the steep hill to the church. It accepted our Metro Pass, so it was no additional cost. Once at the top we took in the views of Paris. Charletta loved climbing the stairs in front of the church. We people watched and took our time.
From the church we made our way through the streets of Montmartre until we found a place we all wanted to eat and have a drink. We decided on La Villa Des Abbesses. We had a fantastically slow French dinner complete with wine and dessert. It was delicious. We sat out on the front under the awning to people watch.
We decided to walk down from dinner to find the Café des Deux Moulins from the movie Amélie. Along the way we stopped and listened to some street performers play amazing music. Charletta was really into it and danced the entire time. From the musicians we walked down past Café des Deux Moulins and toward the Moulin Rouge. We obviously did not go inside, but instead took some photos outside.
We found the nearest Metro station and made the trek out to the Eiffel Tower. We got off at the Bir-Hakeim Metro stop. This stop gave us the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset as we pulled in. You MUST go to this bridge: Pont de Bir-Hakeim. The views are stunning and it makes for some great photos!
We walked from our stop to the Eiffel Tower. It was a dream. Seeing it lit up at night never ever gets old. We walked Champ de Mars making several stops to people watch and let C run around. Eventually, it happened. The Effiel Tower began it's nightly sparkle. Charletta went crazy. She was squeeling and screaming that they were making it sparkle for her birthday. I could not have asked for a more perfect night with her. My younger self could have never imagined how fun it would be to take a toddler to the Eiffel Tower, especially at night!
Day 4: Eiffel Tower, Carette Playgrounds & Eating
Our son was feeling better. He still wasn't 100%, but he was well enough to go out exploring with us. Our very first stop was the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to get some photos of the kids with it during the day and let them play at some of the many parks surrounding it. We made the 21 stop ride on the Metro to the Trocadéro stop. This is an excellent viewing platform of the ET! Definitely add this to your must stops!
We were starving and since it was our last full day in Paris, we decided to find a super Parisian breakfast. We chose Carette. This Cafe is an easy walk from the Trocadéro stop. We chose to eat inside since it was so hot and our son was still recovering. We ordered a huge breakfast complete with Omelets, Croissants, and Nutella filled crepes with ice cream. After gorging ourselves, I stopped by their take-away bar and got an array of DELICIOUS macaroons. It was a perfect Parisian meal. When taking kids to Paris, I highly reccomend stopping for some of the slow-style Parisian meals.
We decided to walk from the Palais de Chaillot down to the actual Eiffel Tower. We walked across the gorgeous Pont d'lena Bridge and down to the Eiffel Tower. As we were walking around the base, we found one of the famous carousels. We decided to go for it. We paid for each child and both of us to ride. They of course loved it! We stayed after the ride to take some photos -- some of my favorite from our trip. Who says Paris with toddlers can’t be fun?
We chose not to go up the Eiffel Tower this trip. We have both done it before (me several times), so instead we spent our time enjoying the Paris vibe. We walked along the paths to find our way back to the Champs de Mars where we let the kids play on every playground we saw; there are several at the base of the Eiffel Tower. We stayed for at least an hour. The great thing about kids is that they don't care when others don't speak English. They jumped right in with a group and played the entire time.
We continued our walk along the Champs de Mars and decided to go find some Starbucks. (don't even judge us) We found one nearby, but since we were going slow it took us a good 45 minutes to meander there. (The closest Starbucks to the ET is located HERE) We found the air conditioning to be a welcomed break. We let Charletta use the bathroom, got some iced coffees, changed the baby and willed ourselves to stop sweating.
After our coffee we decided to meander our way to the Metro and head back to our Airbnb and the surrounding area. (We stayed near the Bonneville Metro Stop) We spent the rest of our last day in Paris letting Latham take a much needed recovery nap, eating some delicious local dinner at Restaurant Kervan and picking up some wine to bring home. We had a very early flight, so we also spent the evening packing.
Paris with Kids QUICK TIPS:
The Metro is NOT stroller friendly. I suggest wearing your child in a soft carrier (link below to our fave: a Toddler Tula) or an extremely portable stroller (GB Pockit).
Use the bathroom at every single chance. The Louvre has great family bathrooms.
Pick-Pockets are REAL. Secure all of your belongings WELL.
Do not allow anyone to place a bracelet on your arm or sign any "petition" -- these are scams to get money from you.
Paris can be expensive; consider cooking breakfasts and bringing lunches with you -- there are so many places to have a picnic
Paris is huge. Be ready to ride the bus (VERY stroller Friendly) or the Metro to get from site to site
The CDG airport is the most unorganized we have ever experienced. Give yourself MANY hours in advance to get through securtity -- there is some really good shopping, so you should stay entertained! (Future Blog to Follow)
If you are going to enter many of the sites we listed, consider a Paris Pass to save money on entry fees.
Overall our 3 days in Paris with kids was everything I could have asked for. We didn't have the chance to do a ton of "off the beaten path" items, but we did enjoy our last days of vacation. If you ever find yourself in Paris with kids, I hope you take your time and let them play in all the gardens and playgrounds. Eat a ton of macaroons and drink red wine. And at least once, stop for a slow Parisian style meal under an awning and people watch. 3 Days in Paris with family is going to be one of your most memorable vacations ever.
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