I can’t believe we’ve been back home for over a week now. I probably shouldn’t have followed the instagram #walkinginparis because now my feed is FULL of people’s photos as they stroll through Paris and I’m dying to go back.
But today I’m sharing the second part of our tips and experiences from our trip to Paris with our four kids ages 8, 7, 5 and 2. It was a crazy adventure and we LOVE traveling with our kids – even if it is a lot of work.
If you haven’t read Part 1, make sure you read it first, and now we’ll pick up with transportation and how we got around the city.
We took at Uber van to and from the airport, because 6 people + luggage, but other than that we just took the Metro. We got a pack of 10 tickets (it’s cheaper for kids, so that was nice) and we bought them right at the train station. The kids LOVED taking the metro – except at rush hour in the afternoon on a weekday, it was SO packed we were squished into that metro car tighter than I thought possible. You really can get anywhere via the metro, and it was very easy to navigate.
Of course we did a lot of walking. My kids typically complain if we have to walk a LOT – but maybe it was all the amazing buildings and people to watch, they barely complained at all and walked a TON and didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all.
We brought a cheap umbrella stroller with us – because the metro stations don’t have elevators and we wanted something light we could carry up and down the steps. It did break after just three days of using it – but we did let our older kids ride in it when the baby didn’t want to, so that might have been the really problem with that. A lot of the “paths” in the parks and even at Versalles, are small stones, so it can be a little tricky to have a stroller.
I did get to borrow a toddler sized baby carrier for our 2 year old and she slept in it every single day for her nap, it worked out really well. We absolutely got a workout, carrying a 35lb baby most of the time, but we made it through.
We stopped at a TON of parks. Every day we stopped at least 2 to 3 times. This was a good idea for several reasons: first, the city is packed. It reminds me a lot of New York. People everywhere, trying to get where they need to go in a hurry, no patience for kids or strollers or large families trying to figure out how to get places. We all needed a break from that every so often. And Paris has some amazing parks. Instead of one massive one in the middle of the city, like New York, there are a few large ones and lots of small ones. Once again, being there in the spring had it’s perks, flowers were blooming like crazy and it was so beautiful.
Here are a few of our favorite parks:
Bois de Luxumborg – This was by far our favorite of all the parks. It’s big but not too big, lots of chairs to sit, beautiful statues, and buildings all around. We visited here more than once.
Gardens of Versailles – The gardens of Versailles are gorgeous – a little big, but breathtaking and two large fountains. Plus, it’s right in the middle of all the action. The open space over by Antoinette’s cottage is beautiful, peaceful and enchanting. I know this isn’t TECHNICALLY in Paris, but make sure, if you head to Versailles, you give yourself ample time to explore the grounds.
Park by Cathedral of Notre Dame – This park was gorgeous, and right by a super fun coffee shop and book store called Shakespeare and Co.
Park at Saint-Jacques tower – We loved this little retreat in the middle of a busy shopping area, and the ancient gothic tower is pretty cool too! You can actually go to the top of it I believe.
Park in front of Eiffel Tower – Just lots of open space, kids can run and play and let off some steam. We had the BEST ice cream here at a little stand, and there are some fun playgrounds here as well.
I hope this helps as you plan your trip to Paris. There is so much to see and do, and even thought I wouldn’t call Paris a particularly “kid-friendly” city, our family was impacted and changed because of this amazing trip. I will cherish these memories forever.
One last thing to share – on expectations – at the beginning of the trip I was a little disappointed because the kids were fascinated by finding random bits of trash on the streets, bottle caps and broken souvenirs left behind by other tourists. I kept saying “Guys! look up!! Look at these buildings! What do you think of that statue?!” I was so deflated because we spent all this time and money and I felt like my kids were missing it, focused on dirt and garbage!! And then I realized, I can let their narrow focus ruin MY trip to Paris and constantly nag them to stop, and look, and pay attention, or I can be happy they are entertaining themselves, realizing this may be a coping mechanism they need to handle all the stimuli, and enjoy the heck out of Paris and not require them to enjoy it the same way I do.
It helped SO much – for all of us. So what if they enjoyed sketching Pokemon characters in the park, when there is a thousands year old gothic tower right next to them? So what if they are more interested in kicking a rock through the streets than admiring the architecture? They got from the trip EXACTLY what they needed to get from it, and I was going to be fully engaged in MY experience, no matter what.
Later in the evenings, when discussing the day, I would be amazed at the things they remembered from exploring the city, I thought all they were looking at was the ground, but they picked up on so much more. And I didn’t need to force them to pay attention or look up, they were fine.
If you do take some travels with your kids, whether to Mexico, Paris or anywhere else you decide to go, I hope you reach out to me! I’d love to hear about it and follow along, and CHEER YOU ON, because so much of life is EASY, and traveling with kids is not….but when we make the effort, we get the reward <3
You can follow me on Instagram @van_fernan and I hope you do introduce yourself, tell me about your travels and say hi!