Paris is always a good idea as they say – and this is definitely true for me! When we started planning how we will spend our Easter break I knew I wanted to show my little girls this beautiful city. When we booked our week long trip to Paris with our two children for April I was so thrilled. Only afterwards I began to panic – how will we keep our little girls entertained over there and during the journey. Looking back now, I know we made the right decision. Our daughters loved it and we all came back with beautiful memories.
Traveling with kids is a completely different story to traveling on your own or with adults. The idea of it is scary and overwhelming at first (at least to me) but I know that travel is the best way of learning. I want my children to see other countries, experience different cultures, try new tastes and see new sights.
It’s been five years since my last visit to Paris and I must say that things have changed! As much as I love the city I knew that eating out for vegetarians will not be easy. Luckily, to my surprise, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought to find a vegetarian/vegan food.
How to plan a trip with kids to Paris
When we started thinking about our itenary in Paris, we knew that traveling with two small children will be considerably different than our single trip years ago. This time we wanted our girls to have the best time and enjoy themselves. I knew we wanted to stay somewhere near a park with beautiful sights to relax within an easy reach. During the research phase I read about different districts in Paris and talked to my French friends living in Paris. I came across couple of blog posts, but unfortunately they were mostly about the actual accommodation options. Therefore I want to share my experience and steps I took to ensure our stay will be enjoyable for everyone.
My 5 tips for planning your family holidays:
- Think what you want to see and do first
- Decide on the budget
- Read about the districts and use Google Street view
- Focus on age-suitable kids activities
- Pick a warm time of the year and be realistic about itinerary
Think what you want to see and do first
Firstly, we discussed what we really want to see and what is attracting us to this incredible city. For me it was the architecture, the art and the food. We asked ourself how we want to spend this time. And the answer was – relaxing with kids. Eating delicious ice-cream. Walking around beautiful buildings and my favourite – play boats in a pond in the park. Those experiences will help to guide you towards final itenary.
Decide on the budget
Budget is certainly important. Unless you’re not going to care much about budget – then you can skip to next part. There are plenty of options in Paris for a family to stay. Numerous air b’n’bs, hotels, guest houses etc. The more central you are the more expensive it gets. However, this also depends on the standard of particular place. We would usually go for self-catering option when on holidays with kids. But in this case we decided to book a hotel. Couple of reasons – the price was even better then apartments and we knew we won’t be cooking.
Read about the districts and use Google Street view
As a family, we knew we want a quiet area to stay in. Ideally residential but close to cafes and restaurants. I knew more or less where I wanted to look. I knew that the underground network is excellent in Paris and you can easily get around the city. I’ve read about recommended areas for families and went to look it up on Google Street view to get the feel of it. I wanted to be close to metro station as well as I knew that we could go anywhere then – as I said parisian metro network is fantastic. It was super important to me to be next to a park. I remember how gorgeous the Luxemburg gardens are and decided to stay within vicinity of it. I looked up available hotels in this area. I’ve weighted the options – further but nicer and less nice and closer. At the end we decided to stay in a district 6, which is still central enough. We absolutely loved it! Our hotel was on a wide boulevard with with shops, cafes and bakeries. Very relaxed and calm. It was just 2 minutes walk from the picturesque Luxemburg gardens and that was a real bliss. That’s where we headed every morning, unless we had planned to see one of the historic sites.
Focus on age-suitable kids activities
Our children were 5 and 2 years old at the time of our trip. I researched online what kids activities has Paris to offer. There are plenty! However I was cautious to not overbook ourselves. We didn’t want to add any extra pressure. Traveling with kids is challenging enough. We decided to keep it really simple and enjoy little things. The biggest deal was visiting the Eiffel Tower. Girls were fascinated by it the moment they saw it! We dedicated one day to the Eiffel Tower tour. I recommend booking it in advance as the queues were long. We also picked one museum to visit – Musee d’Orsey. And that’s it. They are tiring enough visits so we ensured we relaxed straight after by going for an meal or an ice-cream and coffee. Other then this we were admiring the city on foot. We walked around the Seine and admired Notre Dame and the bridges. As our family loves ice-creams – visiting the best ice-cream place was high on our list. We went to Montmartre and it was amazing. Girls and I had a go on a famous from the movie Amelie, merry – go -round. Ideal children attraction with a beautiful setting. The Luxemburg gardens offered surprisingly more attractions they we expected. Not just the playgrounds. We had a picnic there and chilled out on a grass. Girls had a ride on a ponies in the park – they loved it so much! And of course we played the boats – my biggest dream for them. They super enjoyed it and so did we!
Pick a warm time of the year and be realistic about itinerary
Ideally it might be wise to stay away from the busiest holidays season – July and August to avoid the crowds and the heat. April, May and June as well as September are great options. We were very lucky to have an amazing weather in April. It was an unusual spell of hot and dry temperatures. It really saved us. Whenever we were tired or the kids were getting restless, we would head towards the park and chill out there. Wonderful picnics and eating ice-cream on benches will stay in our memories for ever. Surrounded by the most incredible architecture in the whole world.