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Christmas in Paris: Family Fun in the City of Light

THEfunkymanMarine*B

Ahh, Christmas in Paris. The twinkling lights, fabulous holiday shopping, vin chaud and cozy nights by the fire. Isn’t it romantic? Sure, unless you have kids, in which case, copious lists for Santa, too many unscheduled hours and sugar overload can lead to a merry meltdown, turning even the cheeriest maman into the Grinch. That’s why I’m filling our family calendar with lots of happy holiday diversions. Here’s what we’ll be up to this most wonderful time of the year.

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Festive holiday windows. Parisians are accustomed to lust-worthy window shopping; faire du lèche-vitrine (literally “window licking”) is a time-honored activity here. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 2 Comments »

Kid-Friendly Travel: An American Family Visits the City of Lights

After half a day in the airport, a canceled flight and a sleepless passage over the ocean, I expected my children to nap away our first day in the City of Lights. But the magic of Paris revived us and it was 11 p.m., admiring the fire dancers at Le Sacre Coeur when my son said, “Mom, can I get an ‘I love Paris’ t-shirt? ‘Cause I really love Paris.”

A dream destination for every traveler, Paris is rarely considered a haven for families. I’d like to challenge that assumption. The first concern is usually cost. While not cheap, Parisian retreats are about the same price as a trip to Disney World. Most people think Disney World is a reasonable goal, but why visit Epcot when you can indulge in the real locale?

Deals on flights are everywhere; all museums in France are free for those 18 and under; public transportation is inexpensive and most importantly, an apartment rental saves a fortune over hotel accommodations.

Ahem, this is the moment I need to make a disclaimer that Haven in Paris isn’t compensating me in any way. I begged them to let me write about our incredible experience with HIP.

My family spent a marvelous week in HIP’s gorgeous Champs Elysées; everything from the darling girl who met us at the apartment to the plush bedding, was perfect. We gazed at the Arc de Triomphe from our window and the Metro stop was literally right outside the front door. The location made transportation easy and delightful. Adults might find subways tedious, but for kids riding the Metro is part of the adventure. My boys loved navigating the family throughout the city and the 5-day Visite pass is a steal. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living, Travel | 15 Comments »

Les Enfants Terribles? Kid-Friendly Dining in Paris

Mark and Allegra Karoski-Biava

Fresh off the plane and bleary-eyed with two kids in tow, we set out for our first family meal in Paris. Surely in this city of more than 8,000 restaurants, finding a suitable spot would be simple enough, non?

After passing snug bistros and lively brasseries, we spotted a red neon sign that seemed to scream, “Kids Welcome Here!” We made a beeline for Hippopotamus, the kid-friendly chain with outposts all over the city. Without dwelling on the gastronomic disappointment (and pricey menu) of that evening, we learned some early lessons about eating out with kids in Paris. Number one? Don’t eat at Hippopotamus.

Ready for a fancy French meal (Juliet)

In the months since, we’ve tried many restaurants with our children (ages four and six). Here are some tips and sure-fire hits when you venture out to eat en famille.

Not where but when: Successful family dining is about knowing when to go. Many wonderful restaurants will welcome kids if you go at off-peak times. Sunday déjeuner is a big one for family meals in Paris. Friday and Saturday nights? Not so much. For mid-week lunches, go earlier or later than the business crowd and you’ll likely be met with a smile. Bustling brasseries and service continu restos will suit you better than dinner at 9:00 at the cozy corner bistro.

Picnic-ing and playing on the Champs de Mars (Markus Bollingmo)

Know your kids. Know the French: French children are trained to sit quietly and eat like little adults. French parents are strict and never more so than around the table. Crying, screaming and crawling under the table are not tolerated and will prompt vocal disapproval and the not-so-subtle “oh la la.” Adjust your restaurant choices accordingly to avoid a miserable meal for all. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 10 Comments »

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