Two Dads and a Child in Paris
David and Michael are same-sex parents who have been married for 18 years. Gay parents face the same issues as all other parents: how to keep their children engaged and happy while traveling. Their son, Zane, was only 7 when they first came to Paris. How do you deal with a child that age? David, who talks to us today, has great nuggets of wisdom on how to travel with children. Not only for gay parents, but for all parents. David’s interview starts at 11’50”, before the interview Annie gives advice on how to deal with strikes in France.
Hotel Mentioned on this Episode
Hotel Mayfair, 1st, between Place de la Concorde and La Place Vendome (Decent hotel, VERY convenient location)
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How to Deal with Strikes in France
The other topic on everyone’s mind today is the “general strike” announced for June 14th, 2016 in France. Here are the things you need to know so you don’t get caught in the unpleasantness. Take the following precautions:
- Do not plan on using public transportation such as métro, RATP, or SNCF (walk, use the bus, or Bla Bla Car.)
- Will taxis also be on strike? There is no way to tell, but so far large taxi services have not joined in.
- Don’t go on any roads that have tolls as tolls often get blocked by strikers which causes giant traffic jams.
- If you have a rental car, keep you gas tank full (you never know when gas stations will run out) and use minor roads (on your map minor roads are designated as N for Nationale or D for Départementale.
- Go to smaller private museums (the staff at large museums often goes on strike because of their quasi civil servant status).
What Stays Open Even During a Strike?
Hotels, restaurants and most stores will stay open. In France, the “public” sector goes on strike. For historical reasons this includes transportation and large public institutions. That’s it! Anything privately owned (hotels, restaurants, stores, doctors) will stay open.
Same-Sex Travel with Children
David and Michael’s Travel Profile
David‐ no international travel before 40 (other than Canada and the UK); extensive US travel; from Texas, lived for 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, now 10 years in NY. Speaks basic French.
Michael‐ traveled Europe after college; extensive US travel; has lived in NYC, LA, San Francisco, New Orleans, Sydney, Australia, and Hong Kong. No French
Zane‐ US travel to Texas, California and Florida; Traveling internationally since age 7. Will be learning French (chosen in part due to his exposure to Paris) starting next year
Trips to France (Paris):
October, 2012 (first international trip as a family)
- When traveling as a family, we think the most important thing is to experience and enjoy the city we’re traveling to, not to be on a treadmill to see sights;
- Make getting between activities as, if not more, important than the “hits”; walk as much as you can, use taxis when you’ve pushed too far
- Look for opportunities to be outside as much as possible
- Buy tickets in advance to only the most important things you want to see, and keep the schedule flexible for the secondary things; Use the internet/your hotel’s concierge to add activities as you feel your child can handle them; because we like to stay flexible, we have never purchased Paris Pass cards.
- Arrive in the AM and push through the day, retiring at Paris bedtime, to adjust body clock.
- Keep activities mellow in the morning (jet lag), main meal in the afternoon when kid(s) is not tired, dinner in the hotel so you can wind down
Disclaimer: Our son’s not a picky eater and his pallet has been broadened by travel (steak tartare, escargot, mussels, oysters).
[pullquote align=”full” class=”” cite=”David Palcheck” link=”” color=”#0000FF”]When traveling with children use taxis rather than push them too far![/pullquote]
Day One in Paris:
- Michael’s 50th birthday (last day of our trip)
Red‐eye between Newark, NY and Charles de Gaulle; land at +/‐ 7am/car service to Paris
Drizzling rain all day
Best experiences on car ride/first impressions of Paris
Zane waking up and vocalizing the differences between the differences of NYC and Paris (“Look at all these shops, Dad!”)
− Hotel Mayfair, 1st, between Place de la Concorde and La Place Vendome (Decent hotel, VERY convenient location)
1st Paris Experience
− Walking through the Tuillerie Gardens; Ice cream carved like a rose; Good way to wake up
Le Musee de l’Orangerie; came early; no tickets in advance; 10‐15 minute wait
- Option to buy ticket for L’Orangerie and Musee d’Orsay at discount
- Monet Water Lilies; quick to get in; big impact art that’s easy for kids to understand
- Make sure to go downstairs if your kids are still up for it.
Walking the Seine
Saw the iron rings; first time to see the house boats. Zane: “Paris rocks!” Great way to introduce kids to the city.
- Le Relais de L’Entrecote; steak frites, salad, dessert, and NOTHING ELSE!!! J
- First sight of dogs in a restaurant
- First misguided decision to try to use my high‐school French with no brushing
Check in at hotel
Walk the Champs Élysées
- Would not recommend for kids…
- Frankly, this was one of our first and only disappointments; International chain stores, street performers where you felt like your pockets were going to be picked
Arc de Triomphe:
Great Views‐ good way to see overview of Paris layout
Big warning to parents‐ when we were there, the elevator was not working, so the stairs were the only option.
- Haussmann; Great to see as a designer, but…Monotonous; too long for kids (in my opinion)
- Downtime: ScooBee Doo and Jersey Shore dubbed in French
Strange dinner recommendation:
Monoprix Place Vendome for bread, cheese, and charcuterie, and wine for dinner @ the hotel. Note: This has become our go to evening meal ever since, let’s everyone wind before bed
Saying goodnight to Paris: We decided to walk the 2 blocks to the Place de la Concorde to say goodnight to the Eiffel Tower. The weather had cleared, and we could see the tower for the first time. It immediately started sparkling, and Zane asked if he could go to it. We decided to go for it. To this day, I will always have the memory of seeing my son skipping along the Seine, light reflected in the puddles, his laughter, and the tower. Z wanted to go up the tower, but it was late and raining, so we said we would go back the next day.
Taxi back to the hotel
Taxis are a savior in Paris when you realize you’ve pushed your kids too far…
Solution to kids’ jet lag:
- A river cruise is a great way to orient ourselves, and let kids rest (jet lag).
- We picked Les Vedettes de Paris, which I highly recommend since there is a café on board, drink service, and they make fresh crepes on‐board. I would gladly recommend this boat tour!
- The second time we were in Paris we mistakenly took the Bateaux Parisiens, which was fine, but the only on‐board food option was vending machines (go poulet roti potato chips!)
- We have not taken the Batteaux Mouches
- There is also a hop‐on/hop‐off boat tour, but although we’ve considered it, we’ve never taken it.
Tour Eiffel/Pick Pockets:
- Eiffel Tower, first trip:
Got off the boat intending to visit the Eiffel Tower, but the crowds were fierce.
- While we were getting oriented, we encountered a pick pocket which travelers should be aware and careful.
- Decided to ditch the Tower…
Eiffel Tower, second Trip:
- We pre‐booked a behind the scenes tour of the Eiffel Tower, which was AWESOME.
- You pick your time
- Your tour guide meets you under the tower
- You tour barracks under the Champs de Mars
- You get placed at the front of the line to use the elevators
- Tour of the machine/elevator rooms under the tower
- You are whisked to the second floor
- They also have samples of the original red and gold paint that were used for the tower (it did not become grey until the mid‐Twentieth Century).
- Note: they tell you that the 3rd level is an option for the trip, but what they don’t tell you is that you only have the option of buying 3rd level tickets once you’re on the second level.
Note to parents: during the winter, there is an ice‐skating rink on the first level of the tower.
Taxi to Notre Dame/St Chappelle:
- Line looks long, but moves quickly
- We did not climb the towers
- My biggest recommendation here is to go on Sunday so that you see the bird and flower market behind Notre Dame; warning: your child will want to bring home a bird…
We walked across the bridge to Place Sainte‐Michel, where there was s street performer juggling fire with both his hands and feet. AWESOME!
Lunch in the Latin Quarter
− Fondue Bourguignonne, charcuterie, and cheese at St. Severin, Rue St. Severin; across from the church. Church bells chimes during lunch‐ a gentleman who lived across from the church came out to his balcony while the bells chimed. Great way to show an American child the differences in living
Montmartre/Sacre Coeur/SoPi/1st Arrondissement
- Walked from our hotel to Montmartre; honestly, probably too long of a walk for most kids
- Visited Sacre Coeur, good views of Paris, but no view of Eiffel Tower
- Walked back through SoPi, had our first Canelé
Michael’s 50th Birthday Lunch in the Second
- Tried to find restaurant Frenchie but failed
- Found what has become one of our favorite cafes, La Taverne de l’Arbre Sec instead
- Had our first steak tartare, now a family favorite
Michael’s 50th Birthday Dinner in the First
Boeuf Bourguignon on the Rue de Rivoli, Café Imperial
Conclusion: there was too much great information to cram in to one show. David will be back next week for the rest of their adventures!