We had the pleasure of spending New Year’s in Paris. Even though skies can be grey, winter can be a lovely time to visit Paris. Many shops and restaurants are closed during the holiday week, but on the flip side, parking is easy (we drive from Italy so this is a plus), taxis aren’t as difficult to find and lines are short for typical activities in the Capitol. Tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower still command long lines or better yet tickets purchased in advance. You can buy those tickets here!
Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend, we were lucky to be standing right near the Champs de Mars, which is perfect for children scootering or biking, as well as offering fabulous views of the Eiffel Tower. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, we could even see the fireworks behind the Eiffel Tower from our apartment window.
One of our favorite aspects of Paris (we lived here for most of the past decade), is not just the wonderful French cuisine, but the variety of international foods available. We loaded up on hummus with fresh pita from the Sunday open-air market on the Boulevard de Grenelle lining the street between Metro La Motte-Picquet-Grenelle and running all the way to Metro Dupleix, Bo Bun from Hong Seng, delicious freshly made udon noodles from Kunitoraya just off the Rue Sainte-Anne, and Thai food from. Since going out to restaurants with our children, ismore of a stress than a pleasure (my kids never adapted to the French style of eating, despite the fact that they have lived abroad most of their lives), we usually take advantage of loading up on fresh produce from the local markets, and picking up warm baguettes and eclairs from Dominique Saibron. Clay always makes several trips to Fromagerie Laurent Dubois. Note: you can have cheese vacuum packed for travel. If you’re traveling by plane, make sure to pack it in your checked luggage. To Clay’s dismay, his Camembert and Beurre Bordier was once confiscated at security despite his insistence that it was his lunch for the plane.
Our top recommendations for activities with kids:
Cirque D’Hiver : the famous winter circus in Paris is a wonderful show for the entire family. Our girls are mostly interested in buying the glow in the dark wands on sale at the concession stand, but the circus acts are truly outstanding. You can buy tickets here.
Jardin du Luxemburg: This park is beautiful year round. The zip line in the children’s playground and the tall jungle gym continues to be one of Isabelle’s favorite activities. The children’s area is open till dark every day. You must pay a small fee for entry but they also have toilets right there (a plus when you’re with small children). Here is a link to the park's kid activities.
Cite des Enfants: The children’s area of the science museum was a weekly winter go-to when we lived in Paris and my kids still love it. You have to reserve a spot either online or you can buy tickets at the museum. Here is a link to their site.
Champs Elysees Winter Fete: During the holidays there is a large Christmas market on the Champs Elysees beginning at the end near La Concorde. Stands sell all kinds of gift items, food, hot wine, hot chocolate. There is a small children’s carousel and roller coaster as well as a charming temporary ice rink, with a special area for small children.
If you’re traveling to Paris with stroller age children (one of my challenges has always been that my kids don’t want to walk!) I recommend the McLaren stroller or one of equal dimensions. This is the one I have found that fits through the metro turn style and onto the buses, and can easily fold up when going up stairs or into a taxi. Here is a link for a site that actually rents strollers by the 3 days/week in Paris!
Any questions about traveling with kids in Paris, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Photographs are Copyright 2015, Clay McLachlan