When we picture a trip to Paris we envision young couples in love, strolling along the Seine with accordion music wafting from quaint little cafes on every street corner. Well, we decided to turn that idea onto its head and begin our international travels in the City of Light with two young kids in tow! I can’t believe it’s been just over a month since we’ve begun our adventures as I sit in our apartment in Rome writing this recap of our first 10 days in Paris.
Preparing for our trip was was a whirlwind 3 weeks after we closed on the sale of our house. We were so busy packing, selling, living in my parents’ house and getting all of our gear to fit in 2 suitcases and a handful of backpacks that I don’t think we took a breath until we sat on our plane!
We did a non-stop flight from Vancouver to Paris, arriving at 10am the next day. I was second-guessing booking a non-stop flight instead of a layover to stretch our legs and maybe let the kids burn off steam but I’m glad I stuck to my decision. The connection would have been at some horrible hour like 2am and there’s nothing worse than trying to wake up a sleeping kid to change planes.
Jet lag reared it’s ugly head for 5 long days as the we adjusted to the time difference and a crazy heatwave was making it hard to sleep. This led to long afternoon naps and late dinners so essentially we adjusted to European living rather quickly!
Where we stayed
We opted to stay in a self-catered apartment in the 5th arrondissement I found on VRBO. It had 2 bedrooms with double beds, bathroom and kitchen. With young children it can be hard to get us out the door for breakfasts at a reasonable time and to reduce costs we opted to cook at home for at least one meal a day. Our building has been completely converted into rental suites so there was a shared utility room with laundry facilities available.
The location of our apartment could not be beat. We had restaurants and shops just under us and an open air market was at the end of the street 3 times a week. We were walking distance to most of the city’s main attractions and we were between 2 metro stations which made commuting very easy.
What We Did
I was surprised how much the kids wanted to do, so we went at their pace and visited many attractions around the city. The summer crowds were coming to the end so we didn’t pay for any “skip the line” tickets. Most attractions were manageable, with the only one with a high crowd volume was the Eiffel Tower due to the multiple bag and security checks required.
- Open air market
I loved having the market just steps from the apartment. I got to have fresh pastries in the morning, amazing cheeses, fresh meat and produce 3 times a week! We had breakfast daily at home and I made dinners for a few nights. Meeting the vendors was so much fun and they all loved the girls. They were treated to many free samples of fruits and pastries every day.
- Luxembourg Gardens
There’s something so iconic about seeing the vintage toy sailboats around the Grand Bassin duck pond. Avery said it was her favourite thing to do in Paris. The day was very hot and unfortunately there was no shade around the pond. After about a half hour the girls were done and we headed towards the shaded picnic benches to enjoy ham and cheese baguettes for lunch.
- Jardin des Plantes
We visited the The French National Museum of Natural History for Lily’s 4th birthday to see the dinosaur fossils in the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Palaeontology. Read more about the day here!
- Eiffel Tower
It was a very hot Monday when we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower. We took the metro to the tower and cooled down with a gelato before lining up for tickets. We opted not to pre-purchase any “skip the line” tickets and it took us close to an hour to get through the security and bag checks.
- Sacré-Cœur and Montmartre
To take in one of the best views of Paris we spent the afternoon in Montmartre. Even with it’s seedy reputation there are many quaint streets and tucked away gems in this neighbourhood. We’ve visited Place du Tertre, more commonly known as Artist’s Square and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur to climb the dome.
The Pantheon was a 5 minute walk from our apartment. One afternoon a jet-lagged Lily and I napped while Avery and Thang went for a visit. Avery found it interesting to visit the crypt below. She had heard of Victor Hugo so she thought it was cool to be at his final resting place.
- Arc de Triomphe
Today was another day of stairs. Unfortunately due to the recent Paris attacks we couldn’t take our stroller up to the top so Lily and Thang had to stay behind. The last time Thang and I had visited it snowed and was so windy. This time was a much more enjoyable experience.
- The Louvre
The strategy with the Louvre with children is not to try and see everything in a single trip. We let Avery pick what she wanted to see and went with that. We focused on finding the Mona Lisa and exploring Egyptian Antiquities and it took close to 3 hours. We didn’t have huge crowds and it didn’t take long to get our tickets for the museum. The crowd around Mona Lisa was light and it only took about 5 minutes of nudging to get Avery front and centre for her to get a picture.
After taking a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tour on our Victoria trip (blog post here) Avery has been hooked. She loves the mini history lesson and opportunity to visit many attractions in one day. It’s also a great break on our feet and many times Lily has napped as we completed the loop.We also took a Seine River cruise to get a new view of the city. Unfortunately the boat’s speakers weren’t working for half of the cruise so we just enjoyed our time on the water.To keep the kids engaged I designed Scavenger Hunt printables (now in our Etsy store) and the girls loved to find items on their sheet during our tours.
- Cooking Class
I spent an afternoon learning to cook French dishes with Le Foodist. You can read more about the experience here!
And that is 10 days in Paris with kids! I never in a million years expected us to get so much done in such a short time. The kids amazed me with their perseverance and their excitement in discovering a new city. It was a great first leg of our travels.
Coming Soon…. Disneyland Paris!