Paris with Children, Episode 129

Paris with Children


Paris with children, Alex and her family

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A lot of people wonder, should I even take my kids to Paris? Will they get anything out of it? Alex Dionne and her husband decided to bring the kids and they were pleasantly surprised how child-friendly Paris is.  Alex shares that when the kids are old enough and like to experience new things, you can make wonderful memories in Paris as a family, including some places that are totally off the beaten track. Thanks for the great photos Alex and family!

Air b&b  Recommended in this Episode: Rosier 5 étoiles

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Behind the scenes tour at the Eiffel Tower, Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée des Arts et Métiers, Musée des Arts Forains, Musée du Quai Branly, Parc de Bercy, Museum of Hunting and Natures, Paul Klee Exhibit, Place des Vosges, Promenade Plantée, Rosier-Joseph Migneret Garden, Sunday Bird Market behind Notre Dame, the Louvre


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Kids Love Paris!

Paris with children, Alex and her children
Alex and her children in front of the Pantheon.

Alex Dionne visited Paris with her children (10yo boy and 8yo girl) and if you’re asking yourself if it’s a good idea to bring your kids to France, she says unequivocally, YES, do it! The children had a great time and they learned how to say, in French, I would like a crêpe please, and they used that a lot!

Is it better to go to France with children or to Italy with children?

Alex was nervous about Paris. She had been there alone with her husband before, but she didn’t know what it would be like with children. She didn’t remember how many parks there are, how many wonderful things to see, how kids love the food in Paris, how the people were fabulous in Paris, etc. She and her husband were shocked how kid-friendly it was. More than Rome, for sure.

Children holding ice-cream cones paris-with-children

The AriB&B Experience in France

Alex wanted to stay in the Marais area, so she found an AirB&B apartment there. The apartment was great and had kind-sized beds, which is unheard of in Paris! You can check it out right here.

We’ve heard reports of instances where the owners of AirB&B apartments rent year-round without paying proper taxes and that is not allowed in France. When that happens, the neighbors may make life difficult for the renters.

Alex enjoying a glass of white wine paris-with-children

A Few Paris Restaurant Recommendations

  • As du Fallafel restaurant came recommended before, what did you think? They liked it enough to go back a few times and the lines aren’t bad when you’re taking away. It’s tasty and cheap, so even if you don’t love it, it’s not a big commitment.
  • You tried La Droguerie, it gets good reviews. What did you think? Do you like savory crêpes? The adults loved both the sweet and the savory crêpes. The kids preferred the sweet stuff. Savory crêpes often have an egg inside, if you like your egg completely cooked, ask for “oeuf bien cuit”.
  • Restaurant Chez Robert et Louise: It was also recommended on Episode 112 as well and they Loved it! They serve a lot of meat, it’s grilled on the flame right in front of you, their son loved the place. A great place in Paris for meat-eaters. This restaurant does not feel like a traditional French restaurant, it feels more rustic, more like a Brazilian barbecue.
  • Dell Angelo (6 avenue Rapp, 75007 Paris)—this one gets several « rude » reviews, was that your experience ? Alex and family liked it, it was packed with Euroleague visitors and they had a good experience. Italian restaurant with good pizzas. This restaurant is probably a 10 to 15 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.
  • La Mangerie du Marais, 7 rue de Jarente, 75004. This was more tapas-style and really good. The tables are the kind that you may have to share with strangers (unless you get there when it’s not super crowded), it has a bit of a communal feel to it with an unusual décor, and the downstairs feels like you’re in a wine cellar.
  • Bastille Market on boulevard Richard Lenoir. This is one of the large and lovely open-air markets that you can find in Paris. market.  This market is held over the covered parts of the Canal Saint-Martin. Alex and family tried some Paella and oysters. This market is on Sundays and Thursdays.

Alex and children at the Bastill market

Visiting France with Kids

What if the kids are picky eaters? Won’t that make your life difficult in France? Alex’s take on this is that she tells her kids to trust the parents who only want to give them good food. The kids have to trust and try.  Because they’ve been raised that way, food is not a big problem. Very often, once they try it, they want to eat the whole thing! Sometimes it’s a matter of manipulating your children properly so they’ll try things.

Alex’s son learned to say “Je voudrais une crêpe au sucre avec du citron” just so he could get himself a sugar and lemon crêpe any time he felt like it! Both children also tried oysters on the half-shell while at the Bastille Market, which goes to show you that France has a way to encourage kids to experience new things! When in France, do as the French do! Just don’t tell them that a lot of French kids won’t eat oysters.

Alex recommends that parents get the audio guides when available because children, when they are old enough (probably around 8-10 years old) will get into the game and want to point out things to the parents, make them listen to something again, etc. Most places the audio guide makes the experience much better than wandering around aimlessly.

Children listening to audio guides at a museum

Children-Specific Activities in Paris

Review of the activities Alex and her family did together and what they thought about them.

  • The Rosiers – Joseph Migneret Garden. It is a new public garden which opened in 2007 as the fusion of several private gardens. It is named after the principal of a nearby elementary school (Joseph Migneret) who saved many children during WW2. It is surrounded by Hôtels Particuliers, it is probably gorgeous. How is the playground there?
  • Place des Vosges. It’s a stately place, but is there much for the children to do there? Not very much, and what’s there is mostly geared towards kids under 10.
  • Centre Georges Pompidou. This is not the first place that most people would think to take children in Paris, but this was an excellent choice for Alex and her family. They enjoyed the current Paul Klee exhibit because his art is colorful and approachable.  They enjoyed the “inside out” nature of the building and the sloping plaza that leads to it. It’s fun to hang out on Place Georges Pompidou and listen to the musicians. Alex recommends that you DO get the audio guide. You sometimes have to pay a little more for it, but it’s well-worth it! Riding the exterior escalators at Pompidou is also fun for everyone. The name of the feature we couldn’t remember is the Fontaine Stravinsky, of course!
  • Another unusual choice was to go to the Paris Museum of Hunting an Nature (http://www.chassenature.org/). They went because a friend from New York recommended it, saying it was really cool and weird. It’s all about animals, nature, they have a large collection of taxidermy and paintings having to do with animals. During the interview I said “stuffed animals” but the word I should have used it taxidermy. They also have a lot of implements used in hunting. This museum didn’t have very much in English, but it is so visual, you can get the idea without reading very much.

Boy at the Museum of hunting and nature in front of a lion

  • Yet another “off the beaten track museum” in Paris is the Musée des Arts et Métiers. They decided to visit this museum on the recommendation from the two dads in Episode 111 and Episode 112.  That was another great recommendation they got from listening to the show. For instance there is a whole room in this museum dedicated to the computer, early machines, then mainframes, etc.  There’s another area of very early photography. There are old planes hanging from the ceiling. Going to this museum takes two to three hours, but it is well-worth it. Art et Métiers has English signs for sure.
  • The Paris Catacombs are a more conventional choice for a family visiting Paris. Alex recommends getting the tickets in advance, not only because it saves you waiting in line, but it also anchors your days. You can get tickets in advance from their official website and you can go to the front of the line, no problem. It’s a little daunting getting the tickets because the ordering is done in French, but it’s worth taking the time to do it from home. The children were fascinated by the whole experience.

Girl visiting the Catacombs

  • Going to the Jardins du Luxembourg with children. Le Poussin Vert playground is free, mostly for kids under 12, but really unique and kids love it. The fact that you cannot walk on the grass or lay a blanket down on the ground and lay-out is not a problem because there are so many comfortable chairs.
  • Review of the Eiffel Tower behind the scenes tour. Philippe was their guide and he worked in costume and in character.

Philipe the tour guide talks to children

  • You chose to walk-by Notre Dame and the Pantheon, it makes sense to me with children, but why did you decide to do that? It wasn’t intentional: long day, closed when we walked by and sometimes you can’t go back to that side of town. They did go back to Notre Dame on another day and saw the inside.
  • The Musée du Quai Branly is again an unusual choice, and they went a little bit by chace, but Alex’s  kids got into it. It is not the first place one would want to go on a first visit to Paris, but the building is beautiful with a vertical garden on the outside of the building, it’s not far from the Eiffel Tower. It contains a lot of striking African art. The audio guides were really helpful again at the Quai Branly museum!
  • Walk along the Promenade Plantée, starting near the Bastille Market. You are above ground the whole time and it’s a little bit like the Highline in New York, but the Promenade Plantée was first.

Overpass at the Promenade Plantée in Paris

  • Alex’s family also loved the Musée des Arts Forains. It has the feel of an old factory building with vines and mysterious athmosphere, you feel transported to a different time and place. You have to join a tour and it’s best to book in advance. The tour is in French. On your way there (or afterwards) plan on some time to enjoy the Parc de Bercy (see below).
  • Sunday Bird Market behind Notre Dame. The kids wanted to take a bird home in spite of the fact that they had been warned it was not going to happen!
  • The Louvre: Alex can’t believe she didn’t mention earlier, but yes, they went to the Louvre and stayed for 6 hours which was probably too long. They stayed so long that they ate there and she woudn’t necessarily recommend that, but again, with the audio guides the time just flew by.
  • Parc de Bercy is also great, you can go visit it on your way to the Musée des Arts Forains. In Bercy they have the Musée de la Cinémathèque which they didn’t have time to see but would have liked to, there’s also Bercy village

Conclusion

Audio guides can do wonders with kids who enjoy them. They got a lot more out of the visits than they would have otherwise and it kept their interest longer.  Those guys did a lot in Paris in their 5 days, it’s hard to believe that they could cram that much in, but they did! They did it by anchoring each day with specific activities that had been booked in advance. That way, they got going and got a lot done in a short time.  When you’re in Paris, it’s really hard to do less than 20,000 steps in a day, so build up your stamina before you come! What would she recommend people skip in Paris with children? The Place des Vosges. Nothing much there for kids. It is pretty and full of history, but not everybody’s cup of tea.

Alex's children eating oysters

 

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