We’re very excited to be giving away a copy of Kim Horton Levesque’s latest book, Paris with Children, on HiP Paris today. Chock-full of great recommendations for kid-friendly things to do in Paris, we can hardly imagine making a trip with the kids without it now! Not to mention, the book itself is completely adorable. To win, see instructions at the end of this post. Please note: winner must be located in the continental U.S or Canada. -Genevieve
“Children have as much to teach us as we do them when traveling — their curiosity and imagination make even familiar destinations seem new.” -Barrie Kerper, The Collected Traveler
Paris is an overwhelmingly child-friendly city. Thankfully it’s organized in such a way that makes traveling with kids enjoyable. Many of Paris’s principal sights are concentrated geographically so it’s quite walkable with young ones.
Here’s a typical day for my family when we’re visiting Paris:
I have three daughters, a 3-, 5- and 8-year old. We head out of the apartment I’ve rented, usually in the Saint-Germain district, around mid-morning, and walk towards Jardin du Luxembourg. This elegant garden is a paradise for children––an elaborate playground (it even has a small but thrilling zip line), an indoor marionette theater, Charles Garnier’s vintage carousel, pony rides and model sailboats in the grand bassin, all make it easy to idealize life in the capital.
Before entering the park, however, we stop into Boulangerie Marc Rollot, a neighborhood bakery just off of rue de Vaugirard (48, rue Madame, 6th arr.). My father (who doesn’t speak French) serendipitously stumbled upon this shop several trips ago and it’s become our family favorite for viennoiseries––especially the apricot pastry (oranais) and the pain aux raisins. Treats tucked neatly into my purse, we head into the park, find an empty bench and dig in.
My daughters’ first request is always Luxembourg’s vast playground, Le Poussin Vert. Apart from top-notch equipment, it’s also a useful stop for kids who miss speaking English with their peers. The neighborhood is full of expats and anglophone travelers; inevitably my girls make a friend with whom they can communicate. I love hearing the stories they’ve exchanged on the playground–always entertaining! (Le Poussin Vert is open 10am-7pm, hours vary with season; Adults 1,2E; children 2,5E, cash only; Closest entrance: rue Guynemer or rue d’Assas).
If there’s a puppet show performance, we’ll catch it in the historic theater next to the playground. (Adults and children 4,5E) After the show, my girls like to try their skill at capturing small rings with a baton as they spin on the nearby vintage carousel (1,5E).
We exit the park and start our walk up rue Bonaparte, towards the Seine. We may make a brief detour to the charming Il Était une Fois toy store at 1, rue Cassette, for a small souvenir. This basement-level boutique brims with kids’ favorites: dollhouses, Petitcollin dolls, puzzles, Papo figurines and snuggly infant toys like those from Moulin Roty.
It’s nearly lunchtime, so we make our way towards the casual City Crêpes, an unassuming crêperie with a generous selection of sweet and savory items on its menu, (73, rue de Seine, 6th arr.).
At this point, we’re all ready for a break and head back to the apartment for a chance to relax. I recommend parents make room for downtime in their travel schedule––it helps to calm and re-energize kids––my girls usually color, read or make arts and crafts. If you haven’t packed safety scissors and glue sticks––stop by a Monoprix–they have it all: groceries, clothing, baby care, gear and art supplies.
If all’s well after a two to three hour pause, we head back out. I like to stop at cafés in the afternoon for a drink with my daughters when there are fewer people (between 3pm-6pm). Perrier menthe (sparkling water with sweet, mint syrup), a citron pressé (fresh, mix-it-yourself lemonade) or a hot chocolate is their drink of choice. It’s a win-win for all––adults have their café fix without the time commitment a meal would typically require and the entire family shares a quintessentially Parisian moment together.
And then we’re off to the Musée d’Orsay for a bit of culture. We’ll say it’s a Thursday, because Orsay is open until 9:45pm on those days. All of Paris’s principal museums in fact, keep hours one or two evenings a week. Jet lagged children are awake and tourist traffic is significantly lighter, which can make all the difference in whether or not your child enjoys the experience. We spend a few moments admiring the glorious architecture of this former train station, then walk to the galleries to view the work of Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas and Van Gogh up close. At this point it’s only been an hour but if we need a snack, the museum has a couple of family-friendly options: the self-service Café du Lion features light fare and Café Campana offers a traditional brasserie menu.
It’s been an unforgettable day with my girls so we head home to rest up for another one–à demain!
To win a copy of Kim Horton Levesque’s book Paris with Children:
1). Leave a comment here on this blog post
2). Like Haven in Paris on Facebook, leave a comment on the giveaway post, and share it with your friends
We’ll pick one winner at random by May 9 located in the U.S. or Canada.