I always wonder why we’re not more often in Paris. I love the city, and it’s not far away, but perhaps because it’s so easy to reach it’s often overlooked when we’re budgeting our travel for the year. Last time we were in Paris was when the Kid was still 5. It was the first for her, but she was completely thrilled by the fact that everywhere we go, there seemed to be a carousel waiting for her to try.
Where we stayed:
We stayed in Hotel Paris Bastille, a stone throw away from Place de la Bastille with Gare de Lyon a walking distance, and very accessible with the Metro. Not unusual for a Parisian hotel, the triple room was small, but the hotel itself was modern, clean and they have efficient staffs who spoke good English.
What we did:
We only had a long weekend, but we managed to pack quite a few things into the itinerary for the time we had, made possible by the Metro and the centrally located hotel we’re staying at. For The Kid, travelling with the Metro was a novelty (Amsterdam has a metro system, but much smaller and we don’t use if often), and she found it fascinating to learn how the map worked and excited to help finding out our stops.
It’s quite unusual for us to have full itineraries for a trip, but since it was a city trip and there wasn’t much to do back in the hotel, we spent a lot of time in the city.
- The train arrived in the afternoon on the first day, so we didn’t have much time for sightseeing. We strolled around the Bastille Market, ate some food and The Kid found her carrousel #1.
- On the second day, since it was The Kid’s first time in Paris, we decided to pay a visit to the Eiffel Tower. We took the Metro to Trocadéro, showed her the tower, and walk all the way down to the garden, and The Kid spotted carousel #2. We also found a playground in the garden, and we spent some time there. It’s quite pleasant to have a nice view of the Tower without having the throng of other tourists from the playground.
- Since we had found out on the previous evening that we had forgotten to pack The Kid’s undies, the next mission was to find her some new pairs. You would think it would be an easy task, but in the neighbourhood of Trocadéro, there were no clothes shops for children for miles. The ones that we found, didn’t carry undies. So we spent most of the day walking up and down avenues until we found a Petit Bateau somewhere along Avenue Victor Hugo.
- Undergarment problem solved, and since it was such a sunny and warm October day, we headed to the Luxembourg Garden. We were not the only one with the idea, the garden was packed, so we strolled to the outer perimeter of the garden where The Kid found her carousel #3.
- With the sunset coming, we thought we’d have a good view up the hill, so we took the Metro to Montmartre, walked up to Sacré-Cœur. Just by the entrance to the funicular, The Kid found her carousel #4.
- The following day, we started by having breakfast in one of the neighborhood cafes, where we noticed that there seemed to be a pedestrian pathway going up an elevated railway track. Curious, we checked it out after breakfast, and that’s how we found La Coulée Verte, a railway track that had been converted into a lovely garden path. It was really peaceful, lush, with flower bushes and crab apple trees along the path. I felt like I found an undiscovered gem in the busy city. No carousel, but there was a playground at the end of the path for the Kid (aside from the pocketful of crab apples she collected along the way)
- The weather turned gray and cold, so we thought we should do something indoor instead. We headed to the Louvre (knowing it was a bit ambitious for a 5-year-old), but it was closed for the day. We decided to try to find some of Parisian shopping passages instead. There are several of these covered shopping alleyways in Paris, and while I’m not into shopping, finding these passages with nothing but a paper map always feels like trying to find a way to a secret part of the city, and no matter how often you are in Paris, they are still not easy to find (there are special tours for these passages, but I consider it cheating). We found at least two, and we were not disappointed; since we found a wonderful toy shop in one of them, to the delight of The Kid. And of course, we had to buy her something because the place was so cute.
What we ate:
The Kid was 5 at the time, and she had some travel experiences and becoming more willing to try new food. That being said, Paris is food heaven, and it was not difficult to find something a kid will eat.
The obvious success:
- Pastries: There are pastries shop all over Paris offering wide array of bakes good, with pastries being the crown of the offering. She absolutely loved her daily breakfast of fresh croissant with jam and a cup of hot chocolate.
- Crepes: For short lunch stop on the go, the crepes got thumbs up from The Kid. It was cheap, filling, comes in variety of toppings (even though, of course, she always chose Nutella).
A bit cheating but working:
Alsatian cuisine: We found an Alsatian restaurant in the neighbourhood, and got some Tarte flambée (known as Flammkuchen in German) for The Kid, while we ate Sauerkraut and Sausages.
Introduction to French food which went down reluctantly, but not too badly:
We really wanted to eat French but weren’t sure how it would go with the Kid. We went anyway and started it easy with Onion soup and Beef Bourguignon for her. I think she ate them rather suspiciously, but enough amount managed to get into her stomach.