Whenever I start talking or just thinking about something, it eventually ends up with a perspective from a mom! So here is my Paris guide.
I live in Paris, I love the city, I love taking long walks, taking photos, visiting many places… Here is Paris; a mom, strolling around!
Paris is one of the great walking cities for strolling. There are many places to go, many things to do with your kids and below I will try to accompany you on your trip to my city with my experiences.
Even though the Metro system is very good in Paris, just several Metro and RER stations have escalators and elevators, so you may need a help to go down and up the stairs with the stroller. People are usually helpful and will stop to help you to carry your stroller even before you ask. For me if you are not going too far it is easier to use buses than metro. They accept a maximum of two strollers at the same time and you can get on in the middle and there is a seat-free area where you can stand next to your child in the stroller without having to fold it up. I use the buses very often and did not have any problem so far. I just avoid using them in the rush hours though!
A trip up to the Eiffel Tower may be one of the most memorable things to do in Paris but you need to be prepared to queue for long time! The lines to buy tickets get very long, especially in the summer. Even you have an online booking, there is some waiting time to take the elevator. My recommendation is go there and walk around. If there is a long queue, your toddler will enjoy the idea of taking a ride on the carousel at the corner of street Quai branly then taking the Batobus to ride up and down on the Seine instead of waiting. With a Batobus day pass, you can get on and off as much as you like. It takes you to all the major tourist sites (Louvre, Tour Eiffel, Orsay….)
Paris has numbers of charming carousels, especially popular for toddlers. Give it a whirl at least once. You can find a carousel in each big park or near the famous monuments like at bottom of the hill of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre or in the Louvre. One of our favorite one is located in front of the Hotel de Ville. There is a very beautiful one at Parc de La Villette, the “Carousel Jules Verne”, must seen!
To find a place to change your baby’s diaper is not so easy in Paris. None of the franchisee restaurants like Mc Donald’s or Quick have a changing table but they offer you a room if you would like to change it on the stroller. We changed our baby in many places on the stroller. That is not so easy but do-able. Although there are some department stores where you can find some facilities. The 5th floor in Galleries Lafayette, there is a little area made for parents with babies and toddlers. Another option is the Les Bio Gosses organic store where you can change your baby’s diaper or breastfeed your baby in private. We mostly use the public toilets on the 5th floor with changing facilities in the department store BHV at Hotel de Ville.
There are many “Place” squares in the heart of the city surrounded with shops and cafes. You may end up in one of them easily after a great shopping, visiting a museum or just before/after a lunch. We personally love that type of places. You can have a drink or meal when your kids are running around safely at Place du Marche Sainte Catherine, located in the historical Marais district near by place de la Bastille. Just a couple of minutes by walk there is another one, the Place des Vosges, which is the oldest and one of the most beautiful square. The cool fountains, benches under the shadow and nice atmosphere, you will find yourself very relaxed here. You can stroll around, listen the street musicians and your kids love to be in the small playground surrounded by buildings with red brick and white stone facades.
If you head up to Place de la Bastille on the street called “Rue Saint Antoine” in five-minute walk you will see the Bastille Column. “Rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine” starts from Bastille and ends at Nation, is the street I go for shopping very often. The sidewalks are stroller friendly and the shops are quite big to get in with stroller. It is full of more by Parisians than tourists. There are some nice children boutiques like Du Pareil Au Meme, Petit Bateau, Okaidi, Gap kids… not the high end, but some fun stuff. I usually end up at Starbucks Bastille (rue de la roquette) after a long shopping day, it is pretty big and comfy!
Just behind the Opera Bastille you find a very nice walk on the Promenade Plantee, which runs from Opera Bastille (12th arrondissement) to the metro station Saint-Maur (11th arrondissement), 14 kilometers full of plants. The elevated portion of the Promenade Plantee on a viaduct (Viaduc des Arts) and it ends in 1.5km at the Park Jardin de Reuilly. The Garden includes a large circular grass central and many beautifully planted terraces, a playground, a rose garden, and an open-air café, we have picnic with our toddler very often there.
Around the park, on the street Henard, there is a fine Indian restaurant called Jodhpur Palace. It is a big restaurant with handicap, stroller access. If you don’t fancy Indian food, there are very good Turkish (Le Janissaire), Mexican or Italian (Bella Tavola) restaurants just near by. The common points of all those restaurants are big indoor and outdoor dinning area, delicious food, friendly stuff and pleasant atmosphere. At the Turkish restaurant you can taste the delicious Mezze and Kebabs with the pleasure flavors of Turkey, ”obviously not the sandwich Doner Kebab”
Paris is filled with wonderful restaurants, cafes and bistros. But not all of them are ideal for dining with kids. They are small and not very equipped for babies or stroller. If the weather is nice always the best option is outdoor dining. Our daughter is a tall 2 year-old girl. We use her stroller as a highchair when eating at a restaurant. Basically we place the handlebar at the back and bring the stroller closest to the table even the table is a little bit high, it works!
There are some other options if you are not so much into always eating fancy at restaurants. When the weather is nice, the best choice is having a picnic in the park among Parisians. Many different delicious long sandwiches on baguettes, salty crepes with ham and cheese or watching warmed Nutella smeared on little faces. When it is raining or too cold to be out, you may try eating at cafeterias, like BHV cafeteria at Hotel de Ville, Casino cafeteria at the Place de la Nation. They are very easy to access with stroller. They offer kids menu and highchair for the little ones!
Paris is very rich in terms of green areas, almost 30% of the surface area of Paris is public park. If you are around the center of Paris, along the Seine River in the 5th arrondissement, there is a park called the Jardin des Plantes. It is a grand botanical garden and it is just close enough to stroll there and enjoy your kids running around. There is also a small zoo and a natural history museum with huge dinosaur bones in the park. During spring, the park is spectacular with all the flowers!
If you are around the 8th arrondissement, just stroll over to the Parc Monceau. It is a beautiful informal English garden located at Boulevard de Courcelles. There is a little pond, a nice playground and of course a carrousel. Claude Monet created several impressionist paintings in the park; it is a very romantic place to be.
Jardin des Tuileries located next to the Louvre and off the banks of the Seine River. If you visited the Louvre or Orsay you might like to give a break and enjoy this beautiful park. Pony rides, miniature boats, trampolines, carousel… Parisian children have enjoyed this park for over a hundred years, now it is time for yours!
Parc de la Villette, in the 19th with its science and music museums the Cite des Enfants, is one of the most visited places in Paris. In the parc you can watch some summer shows, films on a large outdoor screen, enjoy concerts and more.
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is a very beautiful park, which is situated, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The park has cliffs and bridges, for me it is little bit hard to stroll. When your toddler is off the stroller, you need to run after her to avoid falling in the lake, from the cliffs etc.. Even you have great panoramic views over Paris, it is not in my recommendations with small kids.
One of our favorite visits is the Parc de Bercy in 12th arrondissement. When you ride any line 14 to metro stop “Cour Saint Emilion”, you arrive there in max 20 min from anywhere in Paris. It is a new metro line so it has elevator and escalators that easier going out with stroller. Park offers areas for children, garden lovers, and those who like to stroll around like us. There are some small ponds with many little ducks and different variety of birds. There are areas for sports and an education center. One of our favorite playgrounds is here as well. I can rest in peace knowing that my little one cant go out from the park when she is running with the other kids, enjoying the slide and figuring out that pedaling is more fun than using her feet on the ground! Just in front of metro station, there is a place called Bercy Village with quite a few nice little shops and restaurants. This is one of the few places that is open on Sundays, so I would recommend people to spend one Sunday afternoon around. It consists largely of small wine warehouses from the late 19th Century that have been turned into shops and restaurants. We have couple of favorite shops like Animalis, is our daughters favorite pet shop. Nature et Découvertes and of course the Oxybul Eveil & Jeux. After a nice spent day around, if you think it is nice to have some grilled meat, salad etc, you may go to Hippopotamus Restaurant. Outdoor or indoor dinning welcomes families with children. Otherwise there are more choices like The Frog at Bercy Village, is the largest English pub in Paris. The 5 frog pubs in the city have great child menus about 5 Euros, and they provide high chairs and crayons, which is very usual in the States but very unusual here in Paris. What is the perfect end to any dinner or day? Having an Italian gelato, Amarino. The ice cream is extremely rich, and creamy. And the flavors are added to the cone in a flower pattern. Mmmmm, amazing but it is also very addicting! They have multiple locations in many popular areas.
Bois de Boulogne / Vincennes are very big parks, actually we can call them as a forest. You can stroll around all day long if you want. You will find pony rides and puppet shows around.
There are many museums in Paris. Visiting museums is a good way to educate your kids enjoying art. Although some of them are very entertained for kids like Grevin Waxworks Museum. There is a mirage room and a magic trick theater in the museum. I am sure you and little ones will have a very nice time with the deforming mirrors.
There is also the Musee de la Magie (Museum of Magic) at Rue St Paul, metro station Sully – Morland. It is strongly recommended for kids but we never been there, hopefully we will visit soon.
The Natural History Museum has some wonderful displays, including their ‘Grande Galerie de l’Evolution”. I assure the animals, plants, rocks, history of science, at least one of them will amaze your kid. It is located at beautiful park the Jardin des Plantes, that I mention about before.
The Centre Pompidou is an impressive modern and contemporary art museum, is situated at the heart of Paris, in 4th, near Les Halles. It has a Children’s Gallery which is perfect for kids 2-12 year old, located on the ground floor and there are supervised activities with workshops. Hanging around at the front of museum will be enjoyable with the street performers, artists and the little pool at the corner.
The kids most favorite of all the Parisian museums is the Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie. It is located in Parc de la Villette in the 19th. This museum is seriously high-tech and ultra-modern. It has a planetarium, a submarine called the Argonaute , an IMAX theatre and special departments for children and teenagers. Our little girl is still too young to enjoy the museum but we love to go there and just enjoy the atmosphere, and yet soon she will have nice time there with mommy and daddy! Keep in your mind that the park gets extremely crowded on the weekends. You can go there easily with Metro line 7 to station “Porte de la Villette”, with bus 75, 139, 150, 152, 249 or we never did it but you can also take a tourist boat to the Parc de la Villette.
My last suggestion here is the Musee du Quai Branly, “Primitive art museum”. The museum offers workshop activities for all ages of kids during Wednesday afternoons, weekends and school vacations. Kids make their own toys, do some paintings, or listen some stories from other countries. Museum even offers birthday workshops to celebrate a birthday at the museum. I am sure you can find more information on the website if you are interested. You will enjoy discovering the traditional and modern cultures in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. In my experience kids love to play with the interactive multimedia programs and the music boxes. It is a fun way to discover the music and dances of the world. The structure of the building is very easy to stroll till to the top floor.
Last but not least, I would like to give some more information about some of our favorite restaurants and cafes and some restaurants that friends suggested to us but we haven’t tried yet!
If you would like to try some gourmet French food I suggest Aux Fins Gourmet, is located at 213, boulevard Saint-Germain, 7th arrondissement. With the stroller I guess it is better to go there for lunch and if the weather is nice have a place in the terrace. The menu with drink and desert is around 23 euros.
Another very well known restaurant in 6th is L’Entrecôte Saint-Germain. Unfortunately you can’t make a reservation. You may have to wait some time! It is worth the wait if you are a meat lover. Their desserts are worth to try as well. Main course is around 24 euros.
Brasserie Café le Cloude is located at Place St André des Arts, just next to the very well known, more touristic, Chez Clément Saint Michel restaurant in the Latin Quarter. The meat dishes like entrecote and duck is very tasty. And you pay half of what you may pay in a restaurant. I strongly suggest eating meat at the “Brasserie”s in Paris, they may not look fancy but most of the time you will be very satisfied with the food.
Chez Clément is a franchise of about 12 restaurants all over Paris and they are child friendly family restaurants. They have some high chairs, you need ask one at the reservation. We tried the one at Bastille, in the 4th. The prices were reasonable and the food was good. I am a big fun of duck dishes; it was served with delicious mashed potatoes. With drink and service charges it was about 15 euros per person.
Those three recommendations are from a friend; first Les Pekelets – Tearoom. She told me that their cakes are delicious. There are high chairs for babies and enjoyable workshops for toddlers. It is located at 20, rue Chanzy, in the 11th.
The second one is Le Cafezoide, which is very close to the Parc de la Villette. Even on FB they have more than 1000 fans. I will definitely go there soon.
The last one is Poussette Cafe, it is designed for kids with the play-area, changing room etc. And there are some courses like baby massage, French lessons for moms as well. It is located in the 9th, the address is Square Montholon 6 rue Pierre.
It is almost impossible to stop talking about Paris! I will come back…