02 October 2009

Enjoying Romantic Paris....with the kids!

It is evident that Paris is for the beautiful, the luxe fashionista, the intellectual, the art connoisseur, the food and wine lover, the architecture enthusiast and the party-goer. But the million dollar question is if this city can also extend its welcome to an audience that is demanding, moody and hyper-- KIDS!!? 

Answer: Bien-sûr!! But of course!

                           Louvre's courtyard (window view from the museum)

La belle France loves them, kids! All the time I notice how the streets are filled with happy-looking children strolling with their parents particularly on Wednesdays, the official day granted for working mothers to spend time with their kiddoes either at home or in the office. When I was working, I remember how it pleased me during lunch break to see 4-year olds eating in the cafeteria beside their mothers or in the hallways, to cross a line of toddlers holding hands as they would walk towards the office playroom. Now that's what I call real benefits for families raising their kids  in France!

                               New Yorkers at the bazaar of Hotel de Ville

Although now, let's consider families on vacation in Paris. For parents who are wondering how to keep their kids satisfied and entertained without destroying their time in the city, do not fret! Below are some spots or activities that you could consider inserting in your itinerary.

                      almost itching to get out of her stroller at the Louvre

  • If you notice that they are feeling stifled in their strollers after being in their best museum behavior for hours in the Louvre, get their blood circulation going and have them run freely in one of the many parks or gardens of Paris!  

                                      at the Pavillion of Place des Vosges

 I personally love the Luxembourg Gardens, with features like the center-piece fountain facing the Senate Palace, the Italian style Medici fountain and the garden's botanical diversity from orchids to stylized trees. It is definitely a kid-magnet park as it has an installed carousel and junior playground. Many times I have also come across performers sing and play music at their mini stage. 

       the  fountain of Jardin du Luxembourg encircled by happy sitters

              exterior of the Luxembourg Gardens and the Senate Palace

     a cocoon feel at the Fontaine Médicis with its cave and statue nymphs

                                             its manicured trees

And if the kids need their sugar fix, right by the entrance of Luxembourg (next to RER station, Luxembourg) there is an ice cream vendor.

                                         its gates of steel closing us out

  • Take them to Bois de Vincennes where you have fun-filled activities like canoeing  on Lac Daumesnil ( I tried this with my husband it was an enjoyable workout!) , bird watching with the help of several poster boards illustrating the species found in the area, pony-riding through the oval path, merry-go-round-ing in the gardens and biking on fun paths. 

    for 2 persons/boat is 10,80 and 11,80 for 3-4 persons for an hour

Take note that boat and pony rentals(2,50 euros for one round) are offered all year round on Wednesdays and weekends (except for winter).

my jogging path around the lake      

                       I missed my nieces and nephews when I took this photo

                                           feeling at home in parc de Vincennes

  • Regarding museums, I would suggest the Pompidou, Paris' museum of modern and contemporary art. Your children will be instantly drawn to its eye-catching tube facade and playful, trippy showcases at the exhibit halls. 

                                           the museum's industrial architecture

                                                        the modern facade

The Pompidou is perfect for children as it hosts educational workshops and events  related to music, visual arts, drawing and basic art appreciation.  Click on this link to check out the kids' activities which vary each month. You will also be able to buy your child's atelier tickets online.

                colorful art pieces at a place/mini fountain beside the museum

    Wednesday Courses - 3 sessions (1 child): full rate €30 / concessions €24
    Workshops for 6-10 years old (1 child + 1 adult): full price €10 / concessions €8
    Family workshops: full price €10 / concessions €8
    All tickets give access to the Children's gallery and the museum right after the visit.
    Impromptu workshops: free / no reservation
    And  for an enjoyable meal after some hours in the museum, head to the rooftop where you will find an outdoor/indoor stylish restaurant, George, with a magnificent view of the city!


                                       George's creamy rissotto lobster

                                                            truffle ravioli

    This roof-top view of Paris is second best after what you see from Sacre Coeur in Montmarte. For table reservations, call  +33 (0)1 44 78 47 99.


                                   heading up to the roof-top restaurant via escalator 

                                                     George on a sunny day 

    •  For nontraditional modes of transport , consider L'Open Tour with its open top deck buses for an outdoor ride to see Paris' important monuments and sites. Also, Batobus will get get the children excited as they get to hop-on and hop-off the boats along the Seine river from one important site to another. You can check my previous entry to get more details on L'Open Tour and Batobus. 
    In terms of practicality, the most kid-friendly way to get around would be the bus. First, the bus lowers for easy lifting of strollers and more important is its reserved space for the parents and their kids in the strollers. 

                                                          Bateau Parisien restaurant                         

    • An idea I would propose for a different family dining experience, is the lunch cruise along the Seine river. Yes, call it cliche but it is seriously a worthy event! I did it with my parents and we were very pleased (and tipsy) with the service of Bateau Parisien

    posing against the boat's glass canopy--very camera friendly

    taking a pause from his meal for a shot

    The cruise runs from 12:45 to 2:30 and within that period expect a great view of the Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel etc.. that is, from the river's perspective; and the quality of the food and wine is surprisingly good considering its 'touristic' value. Depending on where your table is located, cost per person is either 53,  63  or 73 euros.

    If restaurants seem too stressful for you and the toddlers, there is always the grocery/ hypermarche--found in almost every other street-- like Monoprix. It has enough to satiate your appetites and simultaneously gives you a chance to re-load with some bare necessities like diapers, milk etc... There are fresh sandwiches, pastas, salads and pastries that are inexpensive and a solution to emergency feeding of your children.

    •  For good ol' ice cream to reward your kids with, you must take them to either of these 2 places. Berthillon boasts of healthy ice cream without preservatives/stabilizers and is extra enjoyable while watching some performers show-off their talent on the bridge of Île Saint-Louis.

                                           musicians performing on the bridges of Paris

    Another yummy place is Italy's finest gelateria, GROM  which uses all bio products!My   husband--a non ice cream fan--and I couldn't  stop eating it everyday in Florence thinking we had to relish every opportunity! And all of a sudden, bang, we discover 2 branches here in Paris!  Must-try parfums: vanilla, pistachio, strawberry sorbet, melon sorbet


             Boulevard Beaumarchais, 111 - 75003  (12pm-7pm)
             Rue de Seine, 81 - 75006 tel: 01 404 69 260 (12pm-12am)

                                      GROM's vanilla cream and strawberry sorbet

    I actually got inspired to write this entry for a good friend who asked for some help concerning her dining itinerary in Paris. Important factor of course, was the presence of her 3-year old son and 18th-month old daughter (obviously I got side-tracked with the insertion of activities).

    To end, I , as a non-parent, wish that these basic suggestions will be useful to parents who will one day,  also venture to the city of Light with their hyper, moody, and lovable monsters.

               the miracle worker, frites, solving all kiddie dining tantrums

    Useful Tips:
    • If your kid tells you that nature has called, go to the nearest brasserie, order a drink then head straight to the toilets usually located one floor below ground level. Take note that they rarely have areas for diaper-changing. No need to wonder about the ever-so abundant toilet paper and liquid soap for cleaning.
    • There are also capsule-like single public toilets on main avenues which automatically clean up the entire surface with a water shower after the door is shut.


    Tricia Matoto-DeSanto said...

    lovely!!!!! pero kala ko ending mo would end with a 'someday with my child....'!!!! someday soon we all hope, like next year!!!!!!!!!!!!! also love the photo of mader. she so pretty our mama.

    Ryan said...

    damn that lobster risotto and ravioli. MUST. EAT. AT. GEORGE.