Strollers and diapers are typically not what come to mind when planning a visit to one of the most romantic cities in the world. But having a baby shouldn’t hold you back from visiting Paris.
I’m glad I took the opportunity to take a city break in Paris last spring with my 13-month-old. Having traveled with our son since he was two months old, we were aware of planning our sightseeing to accommodate his schedule. We knew this trip was going to be different from our action-packed schedule from two years ago. In fact seeing the city at a slower pace helped us feel more like locals. Here are the highlights from our visit – and what we learned about visiting Paris with a baby.
Getting “Lost” Along the Cobbled Streets
Though we never could actually get lost with my direction-savvy husband we took our time in exploring the city by foot. Since our son was used to regular walks in the stroller he enjoyed being outside. Though we had a general idea of where we wanted to go, we let instinct guide us as we stopped to marvel at architecture or grab a bite from a neighborhood bakery. Making our way from the tourist heavy Champs-Élysées to the Eiffel Tower, we waked through Avenue Montaigne, a beautiful tree-lined street which epitomizes the elegance and sophistication of the Right Bank.
The peaceful ambiance of classic buildings with understated décor that house high end fashion labels provided us a window to a truly chic Parisian lifestyle. Rue Cler, a lively market street with bistros was a great rest stop on the Left Bank for grabbing a bite outdoors and people watching. Steeped in history and full of energy, the Latin Quarter and Montmartre were two of my favorite neighborhoods for experiencing Parisian life. Though the cobble stoned streets can get a little tricky for navigating strollers, we had a great time window shopping and sampling cafes.
Visiting Paris Museums with a Baby
It is impossible to be in Paris and not visit an art museum. We visited the big two; The Louvre and Musée d'Orsay. Since each museum can easily take days to explore, it was important for us to select a few collections we wanted to focus upon. We planned our visit to coincide with our baby’s nap time to avoid potential distractions if he were awake and fussy. We made sure to keep him on a full stomach with enough exercise and fresh air to ensure a long uninterrupted nap.
Visiting Paris Parks with a Baby
There is easy access to many gardens and parks that come especially handy when visiting with children. You can plan the day around visiting a park in a specific neighborhood or use a park as a rest stop in between activities. If eating at a restaurant is too stressful you can easily buy some provisions and picnic at a park. Tuileries Garden was the perfect rest stop for us after a visit to the Musée d'Orsay. We also visited Parc des Butte Chaumont and discovered the Asian immigrant neighborhood of Belleville.
Seeing the Famous Sights in Paris
Paris is full of iconic landmarks such as The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral and Sacré-Cœur Basilica that make it to every visitor’s must see lists. You can see nearly all of them with baby in tow. You may be limit ed with climbing up or touring inside depending on the policies for taking young children and finding storage for strollers. But observing these iconic structures from various vantage points during different hours of the day is easily doable with a baby.
We were treated to a visual spectacle during the day, upon seeing the Eiffel tower amidst the backdrop of the deep blue sky along with spring flowers on the side lines. But seeing the tower glow at night and act a beacon of light to the city was a completely different experience. If you are thinking of visiting Paris don’t let your baby get in the way of your plans. Paris has so much to offer families and every corner is a new neighborhood waiting to be discovered.