Many Americans dream of going on vacation to Paris to see the world’s finest museums, visit castles and cathedrals, and take in French cafe culture. Many visitors believe that Paris is either for young lovers or retired people with grown children. It is intimidating to imagine planning a trip to Europe that includes all members of the family. Fortunately, with some planning ahead, a trip to Paris can be an amazing adventure for the whole family. Some areas to consider when planning travel with smaller children:
Choose the Right Hotel
For most people when they think of booking a hotel in Paris they assume that the only types of hotels they can book in Paris are either very expensive five star hotels, or backpackers’ hostels. If you are traveling with children neither one of these is likely to be the best fit. Parents should be careful about booking rooms at youth hostels. While cheap, many of these are shared bedrooms in a dorm-stye setting, not an ideal setup for a family. There are hostels with large four and five person rooms, but they are sometimes hard to locate. Fortunately Paris is full of hotels at all price points and families can easily find the right hotel at the right price. Things to keep in mind are whether the room has a private or shared bathroom and how many people the room will fit. Even the most generous Paris hotels will be small in comparison to American rooms.
Where to Stay
As long as you stay in Central Paris you will be in a safe area. Each arrondissement in Paris has a different feel to it, so read up and look at Youtube videos to get the feel of the area you are considering. Montparnasse is a great choice for families as it is convenient to the Metro and in an authentic French neighborhood away from the majority of tourists. Marais and Montmarte are also good areas for families, close to interesting sights, but safe and a little quieter than central Paris.
What to Eat
Paris is the city of food, and fortunately it is possible for a family to find things that will make even the pickiest eater happy. Many hotels offer a free continental style breakfast as a part of the room charge. For lunch there are many affordable canteens and cafeterias in the main tourist areas that are affordable for families to visit. With all the markets and vendors everywhere it is also possible to assemble a picnic to eat in one of the beautiful free public gardens in Paris. For dinner you could go for a classic Paris Bistro most of which welcome well-behaved children. Of course there are always crepe stands on nearly ever corner for a truly French snack.
Kids in a Museum
With some preparation, children will enjoy visiting the Louvre, Orsay, or other museums in Paris. Before you go, look at a virtual tour of the museum and plan a route so you can be sure to see the sights that are most important to you. Talk to your kids about museum behavior before you go. Stop frequently to rest little legs and to eat. The Louvre has many affordable cafes throughout, be sure to stop and rest and pace yourselves as you tour. Most importantly, when it is obvious your kids are tired, stop and leave before the meltdown occurs.
Other Sights for Kids
Paris has so much more than just museums and food. Children love sailing model boats in the Tuilleres, watching the ubiquitous puppet shows, climbing the tower of Notre Dame, and just walking around taking in the sights. With planning, there is no reason not to take your kids with you to Paris for your dream vacation.
Kevin Caldwell is a writer who built Chicago River North Hotels to help people visiting Chicago. Click here to learn more about their services. Kevin often writes about travel and his experiences. Connect with him on Google+ to learn more about him and his work.