Join Kristen, her husband Eric and their two daughters Elodie and Honor on their trip to Paris. Follow their daily itinerary and find inspiration for your own family holiday in France : museums to visit, best boutiques, kid-friendly restaurants, advice on where to stay...
To learn more about Kristen, her love of France and discover additional Parisian travelling suggestions as well tips, you can also read her previous article.
Thursday : L'arrivée (The arrival)
Settling in - Walk by the Seine - Lunch at Les Deux Magots - Metro - Dinner at the Café Montparnasse.
Flying in from the US, we arrived early in the morning and took a taxi straight to our apartment. This visit we decided to rent an apartment vs. staying in a hotel. Staying in Paris more than a week with our two young girls, we had anticipated the need for more space. Having separate rooms and our own kitchen was indeed much appreciated and allowed us to rest after our busy days exploring the city. Having a local point person welcoming us upon our arrival and checking in on us during our stay was also very reassuring. I recommend Paris for Rent or Haven In to find an apartment to best suit your needs.
We chose a three bedroom flat in the 6th arrondissement on the Left Bank because that is the neighborhood where I lived as a student. I love returning to it annually. It is a very peaceful, family friendly district. Staying close to Jardin du Luxembourg, a favorite garden and playground of ours, was also part of our criteria.
Keys in hand, luggage dropped, we headed out to walk by the river Seine which always feels like the heart of Paris to me. After our stroll, we had lunch at Les Deux Magots. Initially considered as THE place to meet for the intellectual and literary elite of the Left Bank, it is secretly loved by tourists. It is the ideal spot to soak up Paris’ vibes. Watching the Parisians strolling down the boulevard Saint Germain whilst enjoying a tasty bite is a most pleasant experience.
Feeling rather tired, we decided to take the metro back to our apartment (the metro is the underground means of transportation allowing you to get all over Paris). The girls LOVE taking the metro : so mundane to most adults but very exciting to little ones. It is fairly clean but does have a lot of stairs so having a folding stroller is a must!
After unpacking, we walked to our favorite Parisian brasserie in the neighborhood : Café Montparnasse. Our youngest Honor fell asleep in the stroll on the way! It is a great place for a light French meal, the ambiance is cozy and the service pretty fast. They also have a great kids' menu.
Friday : L'Île aux Fées & journée en extérieur (Fairy Island & day outdoors)
Smocked dress photo shoot and shopping - Luxembourg garden - Lunch at Bread and Roses - Boat cruise - Tea time at La Rose de France
Our day began with an unexpected message from L’Île aux Fées (meaning fairy island), the Charlotte sy Dimby childrenswear boutique. Sybille was requesting Elodie to model their famous Princess Charlotte dress! We jumped at the chance, and it was a truly magical experience and a wonderful start to our holiday.
L’Île aux Fées is very close to our hearts. Among the beautiful hand smocked dresses, darling stuffed animals, one feels instantly transported to an enchanted world!
My girls are so fond of this boutique that we visited several times throughout our stay and our youngest daughter said it was her favorite part of the trip because she felt "just like at home" there. And of course we wore our Charlotte sy Dimby dresses all along the trip!
After the photoshoot we all headed to our favorite family retreat : le Jardin du Luxembourg which became part of our daily routine. We visited at least once a day if not more! Entrance to the grounds is free so it was a great and easy way for the girls to burn some energy and be around little Parisians. Not only is it known for its tree-lined paths, beautiful lawns, Medicis Fountain and hundreds of statues including that of the Liberty but also for its kid-friendly activities (there is a nominal fee for those).
The girls have always loved the playground and the carousel and this time we discovered a zip line which was great fun! They also enjoyed picking out their favorite boats and then trying to sail them around Le Grand Bassin.
After all that playing, we were excited to return to one of our favorite local spots for lunch, Bread and Roses. It has a very welcoming ambiance which is highlighted with sweet roses on each table.
They also have an épicerie where you can buy tasty local gourmet products to bring back home. Everything on the menu is delicious but their quiche is perfection! That along with a glass of Sancerre makes me one happy Mommy! Elodie adores the quiche, and our little Honor just loves a fresh baguette with jam. There’s something for everyone!
In the afternoon we did a boat tour on the Seine with Vedettes du Pont Neuf. The cruise is approximately one hour with a guide giving a brief history of each monument (in both English and French) sailed by. It's a great way to get an overview of the city.
We then found the perfect spot to stop for the “goûter” (French children's afternoon snack). La Rose de France located Place Dauphine on Île Saint Louis is a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. It has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, the staff is exceptionally friendly both to children and dogs. We enjoyed watching the bocce ball players from our table.
Saturday : Versailles
We spent our Saturday in Versailles, it is definitely worth planning a full day to enjoy it properly. We first had lunch at my “French brother’s” home and then spent the afternoon chatting on blankets laid on the grass by the beautiful Grand Canal waters while the children played games. I lived with Charlie’s family 20+ years ago and we have remained friends to this day. After our rest we all had dinner at the most delicious Italian restaurant, Il Cilento, which is right down the street from the château.
We then experienced the Night Fountain Show and Musical Gardens at the Château de Versailles which takes place every Saturday evening in summer. It was a magical experience being able to wander around the illuminated gardens, to discover the fountains lit up in beautiful colors whilst listening to classical music playing in the background. The evening finishes with stunning fireworks. We returned to our apartment around midnight so needless to say we were all tired but thoroughly filled with joy after that most exciting day!
Sunday : Une journée de repos (A day's rest)
We took a day off from visiting and enjoyed a day just living as a local Parisian soaking in the local ambiance. It was a much-needed rest day for all of us and allowed us to do the basics such as picking up groceries at the local Monoprix, etc. Monoprix are found all over Paris and are the perfect one stop shop.
A favorite of our girls is the delicious French treat “Lulu” chocolate bear cakes. We even bought several boxes to bring home with us! They even have a wonderful selection of wine should you be interested.
It is important when traveling with kids to let them have some down time and having this apartment truly made that easy for us this visit!
Monday : A la recherche de Mona Lisa (Searching for Mona Lisa)
Monday’s adventure was to bring the girls to Le Louvre for the first time! We had booked our tickets in advance which I highly recommend otherwise you may end up waiting outside in the sun for 2+ hours.
In order to make the experience a fun one for my 4-year-old, we created a game of “Find Mona Lisa”. The museum has small pictures guiding people along the path to this famous painting. She loved playing detective and eventually finding the star of the show.
After the museum we went across the street and had lunch at Angelina. I always recommend this to friends who visit Paris as it’s known for their famous decadent hot chocolate, yet we had never brought our girls. They were very excited and loved the Belle Époque setting making them feel very grand.
Tuesday : Journée Shopping
Chanel Avenue Montaigne - Lunch at L'Avenue - Shopping at Le Printemps Haussmann
Tuesday morning was dedicated to a Mommy Daughter Chanel Avenue Montaigne excursion with my eldest daughter, Elodie. She accompanied me last year when I purchased my first classic flap bag and was excited to return!
We had a lovely shopping experience and followed that with lunch at L’Avenue. It is great for "people watching" especially when seated by the window overlooking the tree lined avenue and their tuna tartare is delicious!
Since we were in shopping mode, we decided to pick up little sister and Daddy to go to the Le Printemps Haussmann department store. July is the sale month in Paris so it’s a great time to shop and their children’s section carries the cutest lines of clothing.
Bags filled with treasured purchases, we headed up to la Terrasse du 7ème ciel, which is the department store's open-air rooftop terrace. Eric and I enjoyed a cocktail, Elodie a snack and Honor a nap in her stroller... It was nice to enjoy a quiet moment taking in the gorgeous Parisian views.
Wednesday : Journée mode et culture (Fashion and Culture Day)
Galerie Dior fashion exhibit - Lunch at the Plaza Athénée - Arc de Triomphe - Notre Dame
Having read much about Dior's newest museum I was so happy to finally discover the Galerie Dior with my own eyes. Upon entering the girls were captivated by the three-story colorful display of mini handbags and dresses. My eldest daughter was squealing in delight how everything was sorted so perfectly! They wanted to immediately go up the big white spiral staircase but quickly learned that’s how you exit the exhibit. To begin each family or group takes a private elevator up to the top floor which was a very enchanting way to start this adventure.
After traveling through the dreamy world of Dior we decided to have lunch at the beautiful Plaza Athénée. "Where true luxury is the time and space in which to appreciate creative, incredible food."describes it perfectly!
The girls enjoyed our walk to the metro from the hotel because they could see the Arc de Triomphe in all its glory. We completed this day with a visit to Notre Dame which is closed but still breathtaking. An exhibit allowed us to see pictures of the fire and rebuilding project. With children merely stopping by the sights and taking time to admire is an experience in itself.
Thursday : Tour Eiffel
Our main activity for Thursday was to visit la Tour Eiffel. This is the first year we bought tickets in advance and let me tell you from now on it’s the only way to go! They are extremely prompt on the timing of it so there’s barely a wait in line.
This is one activity that my husband could pass on seeing as he doesn’t love going to le sommet (the top), but I insist on it each visit and so do the girls. There’s a sense of accomplishment to get through any fears and end up at the top overlooking this stunning city.
While Eric stayed within the enclosed space on the top (this is good to know for anyone who feels okay when inside yet doesn’t like to be outside up high) the girls and I braved the steps to the outdoor tippy top of the Eiffel tower!
To commemorate our bravery I had a "coupe de champagne" and the girls shared "une limonade". We did a cheers “santé” together. This is special memory I will love forever.
Friday : Fête Nationale (Nationale Day)
Musée d'Orsay - Lunch at the Lutetia
Friday was our last full day in Paris, and it was also Bastille Day! We decided to skip the military parade to avoid the crowds and we walked to the Musée d’Orsay instead. All of the streets were closed to cars and filled with military officers making it the most surreal walk! I couldn’t believe we were walking down St. Germain without a single car in sight! It was another gorgeous day with the sun shining and we were able to see the military airshow flying above.
After enjoying the Musée with their great kid's audio and finding Van Gogh’s “A starry night” we enjoyed lunch at the Brasserie Lutetia which is part of the famous hotel. It has a cool art deco vibe and the waitstaff were all extremely friendly and doting on our girls.
Saturday : Le départ (Departure)
Sadly, this was departure day. We were all feeling so blessed and grateful for this beautiful family vacation in the city that we all love. This trip was filled with so many firsts for our girls and their desire to use the French language as best they can melts my heart. The best gift we can give our children is that of traveling and learning about different cultures.
I will end with my favorite quote about Paris “To be Parisian is not to be born in Paris, it is to be reborn there.”- Sacha Guitry
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Follow Kristen and her family on Instagram @kristenbabsmiller