A Guide to Paris with Kids
Paris! With kids! We took our kids to Paris and lived to tell the tale. There are so many ways to see a city like Paris but below is a list of things we did, loved, and would recommend to you. I’ll write another post about packing and flying with kids but for now, let’s talk about navigating the City of Lights with a 3-year-old and a baby.
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte This restaurant is worth the potential disaster that comes with taking kids into a (french) restaurant because three words: STEAK & FRITES. They only serve one meal at this joint (it’s not a joint–it’s old school French and very cool). The steak and fries are perfectly cooked and since they aren’t making your meal to order, the turn around is quick. You only have to make two choices: medium or medium rare, and small or large wine. If the answers to those questions aren’t obvious, I can’t help you. Just get there 20 minutes before they open to avoid waiting in line.
Cafe Oberkampf and Cafe Mericourt These two are sister restaurants and have similar menus, but we hit up both for the shakshuka. After eating here, we bought tickets for the shakshuka train and rode that all the way home.
Ober Mamma We loved this place so much we tried to go back a second time. I’m pretty sure every staff member came over to say hi to our kids–they were so friendly and generous to them (which matters so much when you haul your double stroller and two overtired kids into a restaurant). The food was good (we ordered Hakuna La Burrata and Pizza Middleton), the cocktails were great (Rosemary Me and Big Mamma), and the life size tree art installation made it fun for the girls.
Chambelland The gluten-free bakery that sets the bar. It was one of the first bakeries that made gluten-free bread and pastry taste like something you actually want to eat. I don’t really miss bread, except when I’m in a place like Paris. I just want to grab a baguette or something easy on the go but that’s typically not an option for me. I went to Chambelland the first day we were in Paris and bought a loaf. I kept it in my bag so we could have picnics/last minute lunches and I didn’t have to miss out or be a diva about where we ate.
L’as du Fallafel Shoot dang this place was good. You order from a window and he kind of just loads on the toppings. We shared the falafel and the chicken shawarma and every bite was a delicious bite. Fun fact: a bird pooped on my arm while I was eating my pita.
Merci Cafe I could wander around Merci for hours0–which I did–while Carter hung out with the girls at the Cafe. Luckily it’s really cool with lots of used books and a long hallway. Marlow got her first real coke (the kind with cane sugar), so she was stoked.
Comptoir de la Gastronomie To fulfill the french onion soup requirement. This is the place.
Pack a Picnic This is the easiest and arguably best way to eat in Paris–grab a baguette, cheese, and salami, and you’ve got yourself a party.
Bonton My favorite kids store of all time. Three stories of beautiful clothing, home decor, and toys. Everything is well designed and curated. Most everything is out of our budget but it’s a great place to get lost in. They have an activity table set up by the entrance and an old school photo booth (bring 2 euros) we all crammed in.
Merci A concept store you can get lost in for hours. Linens, clothing, kitchen, decor–they have pretty much everything, and pretty much everything is beautiful. It’s a concept store so it’s expensive, but Merci is worth exploring. It’s also worth getting a picture of their famous red Fiat out front (whose side mirror Marlow predictably licked).
Toy Stores for a pinwheel We stopped in a random toy store and bought Marlow a rainbow pinwheel, which was the highlight of her trip. It kept her busy in the stroller for hours.
E.Dehillerin This kitchen store has been on my bucket list for years. It carries every tool needed for French cooking, with no bells and whistles. It’s like a small warehouse full of the finest cookware in the world.
Sezane This stop is for you. Go to Sezane and go by yourself. When the kids fell asleep in the stroller one afternoon, I hightailed it to Sezane. It is quintessentially French with an approachable twist. I tried this blouse on and it’s even more beautiful in person. I love everything they have, I could close my eyes and point to something random and I’d buy it right then and there.
Luxembourg Gardens Our day at Luxembourg Gardens was my favorite of the trip. We packed a lunch and found a grassy spot to sit (which ended up being illegal but that’s another story for another time). We went on the swings which were in stalls and cost three dollars to use, it was hilarious. Then we found the sailboats. You can rent them for four euros per half hour. They are wooden sailboats you guide around the pond using a wooden stick. Marlow’s stick lasted exactly one minute before falling into the water. We basically just watched it sail around which was just as fun. The sailboats is something I’ll remember forever. It was magical and joyful and I want to frame every photo I took there.
Walk Around We didn’t go to museums or galleries or stores. We walked. We walked all day. According to my watch, our average was 9.2 miles a day. We strapped them in the stroller and off we went. We saw everything we wanted to see by walking by it to lunch or a park. It was the right way for us to see the city. After London, where we took approximately one million tube rides, we made a deal that we weren’t going to take the subway. Just walking. A good stroller obviously matters here. This is the one we have.
Boat Tour Our boat tour experience was interesting because the girls got bombarded by a busload of tourists looking for pictures of blue eyed babies. That was such a weird sentence to write, but I promise it was weirder to live. Anyway, aside from that, the boat ride was a great way to see the sites without having to pay to go in any of them. I recommend going at sunset–the eiffel tower will light up and sparkle as you go by. The sky was brushed with vibrant hues and it was really beautiful.
I’ll write a separate post with all packing recommendations, but here are some highlights:
Gathre Mat We used this mat a ton. It folds down really small so we stuffed it at the bottom of the stroller and pulled it out anytime we were at a park or eating a meal on the go. It is made of leather so it’s durable and resists stains well. There were several times where we stopped at parks with wet grass and this mat did the trick to keep us dry.
Instax Mini Camera I have talked endlessly about this camera, and for good reason: it was the number one best toy we brought for Marlow. She took pictures of everything she saw, then we glued them in her travel book and decorated the pages. I wrote in word-for-word what she wanted me to write and I think it helped her process the trip in a positive way. Plus, it helped keep her still when we needed her just. sit. down.
Uppababy Vista I agonized over buying this stroller because of the price but it is hands down the best baby/kid product we have purchased. It is so flexible and customizable, and the girls are content in it for long periods of time. We couldn’t have gotten through this trip without it.
Dockatot Jane sleeps in the Dockatot at home and we didn’t want to risk the chance of her not sleeping on our trip so we brought it. She slept really well because it felt just like home to her; she didn’t even notice the difference. The best part is that we can put it on the floor next to the bed–our Paris apartment wouldn’t have had room for a pack n play, but a Dockatot is tiny and portable. It is also smaller than a pack n play, so we just brought it as a carry on.
AirBnB We stayed in a quirky apartment one block away from the eiffel tower. We didn’t do much other than sleep there, so we didn’t need much in terms of space. We wanted to be close to the city center so we didn’t have to travel far if we didn’t want to. The least of trekking around to get where we want to go, the better. There was a courtyard we had all to ourselves, which was nice in the mornings when Marlow and I were up but Jane and Carter weren’t yet.