Two Perfect Days Visiting Paris (kids in tow and engaged!)
We are as lucky as it gets to have a special two-part post written by certified Francofile Suzie Cornell publicist extrodinaire and frequent visitor to the city of lights. The best part of these two days is that it incorporates meaningful adventures for children as well as parents “tout ensemble.” So, no more wondering about planning your itinerary. It’s all done! Merci mille fois Suzie!!! Let’s get right into le premier jour, Day One!
Madame Suzie Cornell Takes it Away…..
J’aime Paris! Love is in the air and it’s summer in Paris!! For the past three years, our family has spent the infamous “April in Paris.” To clarify family, this included myself, my husband and our two children, Eli and Piper, who are five and under.
My husband and I are true foodies, we actually pick our vacations based on where we would like to try the food. So we are gluttons for punishment when we bring our children to the culinary capital of the world and want to experience all the Michelin starred restaurants that Paris has to offer. However, we have come to find out that even your local bistro or café for that matter has fabulous food… in Paris, it is very hard to go wrong.
Where to stay: Left Bank vs. Right Bank
Think Upper East Side vs. Union Square or Beverly Hills vs. Los Feliz? You have several of the same stores and restaurants in both areas.
But, then in Paris, you also have Arrondissements on both banks that cater to both the upscale and the more casual lifestyles. As a tourist, you will walk them both but you must pick one to stay on. The right bank holds your larger, classic Parisian hotels (many of which have been given the title “Palace”). The left bank hosts the smaller, hipper, younger boutique hotels. All are family friendly, however I suggest the right bank hotels near the Tuilieries gardens.
So grab your Louis Vuitton (or Chanel diaper bag) and let’s enjoy two days in Paris avec les enfants….
Le Premier Jour (Day #1):
If you have arrived from the states the day before, there is a chance you will sleep until noon.
I suggest requesting a wake up call so that you can get up and out. You will want to adjust to the time zone as quickly as possible. However don’t fret if you do sleep past noon as the sun will be up until around 10 pm.
Put on your most comfortable walking shoes (I recommend cute sneakers or flats in summer, open sandals don’t fare well in large walking cities) and get ready for une journée incroyable.
Quick breakfast—Don’t waste time on a long breakfast on day one. That will only slow you down all morning. Grab a croissant and cappuccino along the way, but please!!! don’t take it to go Starbucks-style… be Parisian. Tables on the sidewalk abound come summer, so grab a seat and take in the fresh air, the local scene and the fact that you’re in Paris, before you hit the cobblestone.
Jardin du Luxembourg (6th Arr.) – Our kids favorite park… ever, is your first stop!
If you take a taxi, have it drop you off at the south western end of the park, where the playground is located.
It’s NOT your typical American playground, starting at the ticket booth to enter (approx. 2.60 Euros for 18 months+ and 1.60 Euros per adult).
But, what this does give you is access to sit down and relax while the kids get their turn to do what they love. The playground has a life size spider web to climb, structures with slides for kids of all sizes and even a zip line for the older ones.
Now it’s your turn…
Head east and north from the playground and stroll through the garden.
There is a pond, where you can rent boats and push them with long sticks in the water.
Afterwards leave the park and walk up Rue Bonaparte and you will soon enter the heart of the St. Germain, one of the best areas to stroll and shop.
You will quickly encounter La Pharmacie on the corner of Rue du Four and Rue Bonaparte. Any and all French and European beauty products are here under one roof so come with list in hand and go crazy. (Send your husband and the kids to Ladurée across the street and let them pick some of their fab macaroons to snack on while you shop).
Continue exploring the area and make sure to take side streets off of the St. Germain-des-Prés.
I came across the adorable children’s store, Happy Garden. This quaint and very Parisian store carries trendy, well-made clothes that designer Marie-Laurence creates just upstairs.
For the latest in high fashion for yourself, head to the nearby Carven on the Rue Saint-Sulpice. While you can find the brand in high fashion stores in the states, this small boutique carries the brands latest pieces and full collection. The men in the store were also adorable and spoke perfect English… it’s a winner.
Grab lunch at one of the infamous cafes that were home to historical literary masters, our favorite being Les Deux Magots. Cafés are also a great place to log in to free Wi-Fi and check in back home—they don’t offer it though, you have to ask for a card with the instructions and password (tip—each person needs their own card/code).
Spend the rest of your afternoon exploring the left bank. The little streets offer so much charm and you will find yourself coming across amazing churches, gardens and even small playgrounds where the kids can run with le petite français.
Another fun adventure is Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. You could taxi or metro to the bottom of Sacré Coeur. Take the funicular up to the top for the most gorgeous view of Paris, it may be a little packed but the kids will definitely enjoy the elevator ride!
Do a quick walkthrough of the church but make sure to prep your kids first, you must be quiet. We were followed by the “church police” last time as the man continued to hush my children over our shoulder. Exit and walk down the street to the left of the church and make your first left and wander through Montmartre.
Splurge for a chalk portrait of the kids, but stop at the artists down the hill, the ones at the top are pushy and not as good. (tip: just outside Sacre Coeur is the Little Train, which takes you on a short-guided tour around the area. It is a great way to see Montmartre and learn it’s history and the kids will love riding on the motorized train.)
Restaurants in Paris don’t serve food until 7 pm, unless they are an all-day restaurant such as the familiar Le Pain Quitodien. Smaller markets also close around 5 pm so if you are going to do take out, go early. If your kids can stay awake, many restaurants in Paris are kid friendly (at least if they aren’t screaming and are entranced by the iPad). Go at 7 pm when doors open though so you won’t get too many looks. I suggest a local bistro in your arrondissement so you have a quick escape back home. If you are still on the left bank, I recommend restaurant Shu (8 Rue Suger, 16th). It is Japanese, not French, but its all fried skewers and if you have the kids, they will love it.
Stay Tuned for Le Deuxième Jour (Day #2) coming soon from Madame Cornell. Sip decadent hot chocolate with her at her favorite breakfast haunt, find her ‘little gem’ museum, explore the lobby at Le Meurice with its “Ice Wall,” and see what to do with the kids when the sun goes down and the city lights shine.
Who is Suzie Cornell?
Suzie is an entertainment publicist by trade and proud wife and mother of two. In her youth, she grew up taking family vacations to Europe and studied the French language in Switzerland. Determined to continue her love of travel and share the world with her children, the family has traveled together to Paris and other other European cities over the past three years. A self-declared Francophile, she hopes to continue the tradition of yearly trips to Paris and pass along tips to others traveling abroad with children.
How can we all learn to travel as effortlessly and gracefully as her?
Read more of her posts!!!