As you know, I have been posting about the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. And while I know that a quick trip to Paris isn’t on the calendar for all of you, I still wanted to make a few suggestions in case it is (Like for Sarah, from Loved Like the Church). I got good feedback from Top Tips for Traveling with Toddlers (some of you just liked the alliteration), which I think is a good resource for travel in general. Here are my tips for taking little ones to the Louvre. Now I will do some for Paris specifically. You’re welcome.
Tips for Toddlers in Paris
Taking little ones to Paris (or anywhere for that matter) can be challenging for several reasons. First, they are not interested in the same things you are. Second, their attention span is much shorter, unless they are asking you the same question repeatedly- then it is excellent and will outpace yous any day of the week. Third, their scheduling needs are different from yours- you have to factor in snacks and naps, etc. So, knowing this in advance and putting a little thought in ahead of time will spare you the devastation of unmet expectations.
- Set reasonable expectations. Know their limits and try to not stretch them every hour of every day. You are in Paris, so some stretching is appropriate, but no one is going to enjoy the trip if they’re dead-tired and at the end of their rope.
- Prioritize what you want to see. Make a list of all the places you want to go and then hit your must-see’s first during your children’s best time of day. For instance, our kids function the best after a good night of sleep- so, the morning hours are ideal for us to pop in and out of places, then we can go back to the hotel and rest, then hit less important places in the later afternoon.
- Schedule in rest time. Even if your kids don’t take naps, they will need rest time. Paris requires a LOT of walking and they will be physically tired at the end of the day. We really enjoyed hanging out in the apartment while Luke napped- whether we slept or not, we needed to rest our aching legs and reenergize to go back out.
- Take snacks with you. Go to a local market or store and pick up some croissants, crackers, cheese, etc. It will be cheaper to buy them there than right next to the Eiffel Tower or Louvre. Save your spending money on sites and nicer cafes and restaurants.
- Be strategic on where and what you spend your money. Money was an object for us, so we narrowed down what we thought would be fun for all of us. We loved the Batobus and buying a 2-day ticket (kids were free) enabled us to have fun transportation to almost all the major sites. We also bought tickets for the Louvre (kids were free again), but we were not willing to pay to climb hundreds of steps to the tops of buildings b/c we didn’t want to pay for everyone to be fussy by the end of it.
- Visit some of the parks. Paris has some lovely parks, such as Jardin Tuilieres and Luxembourg. However, be aware that not all parks have play areas as you think of them. Luxembourg was by far the best play area we hit, but it did cost 8 E to get us all in. However, the kids loved it, and it was worth it to give them a fun afternoon. There is also a small park next to the Eiffel Tower.
- Stay in an apartment. We loved having the extra space and flexibility of eating at “home” whether we cooked or brought food back from a fresh market or nearby eatery.
- Take tons of pictures and have a spare memory card and battery, as well as a converter/adapter to plug in your charger.
- Keep your eye on your stuff and your kids at all times. Take no risks. Men, do not put your wallet in
your back pocket. Be wary of people trying to “help” you- they may have a counterpart relieving you of your wallet. As much as you may hate it, the safest place is in a money belt under your clothes. There are tons of pick pockets and con artists at every turn, and they will happily take advantage of you. Similarly, don’t speak in loud English on metros and in public or wear white tennis shoes or the American flag. All of those things paint a target on your back.
- Stroll by the book vendors along the river. They have a great assortment of old and new and are so different from any book sellers you’ve seen before.
- Use Madeline as a guide for little girls- it’s hard not to fall in love with Paris through the eyes of a child!
- Bring a good stroller/buggy. We brought a sturdy, umbrella stroller for Luke and had Rebekah walk. In hindsight, this asked a lot of a 3 year old, but she made it. If you have a fairly compact double stroller, you might want to bring it. On the other hand, remember that you have to lug all your stuff in and out of airports, taxis, metro trains, buses, etc.
- Pack light. Similar to the last one, remember you have to carry whatever you bring from the airport to your hotel. This is often involved several transfers. Plus, this is not your honeymoon- you don’t have to look great all the time. Make the loading easier on yourself by bringing less. *Also keep in mind that you have to check out early the last day and may need to haul all your stuff throughout the day until your flight out. The Louvre does offer lockers, though I’m not sure how much they are or how big.