A weekend in Paris with kids

Paris with kids. It may seem like a contradiction; can this romantic and trendy city also be a family treat? Yes, it can! 

Beautiful Paris parks for children. Photo: Unni Holtedahl

Beautiful Paris parks for children. Photo: Unni Holtedahl

I was kind of reluctant to take the kids to a city like Paris. Knowing that the subway system is not stroller friendly didn’t help. Also, most of the good french restaurants aren’t that kids-friendly. At the same time, it had been about eight years since I’d been there, and Paris is very special to me and my husband (actually, I was proposed to there, but that’s another story). So, I had to come up with a family friendly plan, which means a lot of research and planning!

There are a few websites I usually read when preparing city trips for the family: Babyccino and Fodors are two very good sources of information. It’s also very useful to ask friends with young children. All plans were made considering we were leaving Luxembourg on a Friday morning and returning on a Sunday afternoon.

Firstly, we had to find a hotel. Paris has quite a variety of hotels with family or triple rooms, so the decision is mostly influenced by the location and the price. Bearing in mind public transport, I would say that the ‘triangle’ Champs-Elysées, Opéra and Notre-Dame would be a very good choice.

Next, the getting around issue. Everyone told me to avoid using the subway as we would be carrying one or two strollers. So, are choice would be the bus. Considering we would only stay for a weekend, a tourist bus seemed like the best solution. From the three available companies, L’Open Tours was my choice for one reason: It has 4 tour routes, including the Montmartre neighbourhood.

Finally, what to do and where to eat. Usually, I choose to get to know the surroundings of the hotel on the first day. This way we make sure we know some important spots, just in case: Grocery store, pharmacy, bakery and restaurants. I bought bus tickets for two days, and chose the routes we would like to explore, in our case, the Paris Grand-Tour (Louvre, Notre-Dame, Opéra, Palais-Royal, Champs-Elysées, Eiffel Tower) and the Montmartre Tour. Don’t forget to take the funicular with a window seat for the kids, as they will certainly enjoy it.

Paris boat trip. Photo: Unni Holtedahl

Paris boat trip. Photo: Unni Holtedahl

We also opted for a boat tour at night, and Vedettes du Pont-Neuf were highly recommended. And I must say I wasn’t disappointed at all. The only thing I missed was the lights dancing on the Eiffel Tower. If you’d like to watch it (and it is a must), then make sure you take a cruise passing by the Eiffel Tower at 8 pm or later – every hour on the hour.

Need some ideas on where the kids can spend energy? Well, the Jardins des Tuileries is perfect. Right in the city centre, lots of free space to run, some ducks in the small lakes and a playground.

As for restaurants, I would recommend the Rendez-Vous des Camionneurs. It’s the perfect spot for a dinner before the night cruise, with delicious french food in a family friendly atmosphere.

The key to a stress free family weekend is to plan well and keep it simple. So, how about Paris for your next weekend break?

By Rute Vendeirinho, November 2013

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