Last week, we returned from Paris. We were there earlier in the Spring, but because Yan had to be in Europe for work, we were very fortunate and got to go back! This time, we brought my sister and Yan’s parents!
Traveling to Europe with a toddler is not easy. Traveling with a toddler who has cochlear implants is an additional challenge. Sonya often takes off her CIs when tired or when it’s just too noisy, so I wear her Roger Phonak whenever we travel. It makes it easier for Sonya to hear me above the background noise of the airport. It also doubles as a way for Sonya to watch videos on the airplane (either the screen attached to her seat or her iPad). We simply bring a double-headed headphone jack (see photo below); plug one end into the Roger and other end into the headphone slot. Note – I think the N7 bypasses the need for this – and a child using the N7s would be able to listen to their iPad directly without a third piece of equipment, but we still have the N6s…)
You can also use the Cochlear Mini Mic 2+ instead of the Roger. It’s less costly for sure if you use it. I discuss how to sync the N6 CIs to the iPhone / iPad here by using the MiniMic. (Again dismiss this if you are lucky and have newer equipment!)
At the airport, we walk around as much as possible. Sonya loves to ride on her JetKids Bed Box aka “pony”.
Our flight out was delayed a couple hours, so we spent some time at the XpresSpa (which was super kind and didn’t even charge us for letting Sonya sit on a massage chair for 30 minutes!)
When we finally arrived in Paris, it was amazing to notice how Sonya picked up on all of the different sounds of this city. From the water splashing in the Seine, to the ambulance and police sirens, to the musicians in the street.
Here is a list of our top ten favorite places to visit in Paris with a three-year-old!
The Louvre: You can skip the lines if you bring your child in a stroller. Massive time saver. We devoted an hour to art and an hour to eating at the food court. Next time, I think I’ll pack her a snack and we can find food elsewhere. The food that we found at the Louvre was pretty meh.
Sonya had a brief tantrum in the cafeteria. I love the below photo. Look at her clenched up fists! It’s cute after the fact, right? 🙂 So yeah, traveling with kids is not easy. Once fed, Sonya was a much happier camper 🙂
Musée d’Orsay: Situated in an old train station, Musée d’Orsay is home to many important impressionist works. The fifth floor is where everyone goes (there is a lovely view and a great cafe there) But don’t miss Manet’s Olympia on the first floor.
Musée de l’Orangerie: Houses one of Paris’ most loved treasures: Monet’s water lilies. The museum is small and accessible. Loved taking Sonya here.
Deyrolles: We visited last time we were here in April, but we can’t get enough! Not for the faint of heart (as it has a huge taxidermy collection), but Deyrolles is one of the most beautiful and interesting stores I have ever seen. Sonya loved it too. This time, we spent a lot of time in the butterfly/insect area picking out butterflies for Sonya’s Poppy (my dad, who used to collect butterflies as a kid). Each drawer holds hundreds of bugs, butterflies, moths, etc. It’s truly a magical place.
Giverny: Taking the train out of Gare Saint Lazare (which is a beautiful place to visit in itself) was an exciting adventure! Sonya loved seeing the trains and looking out the window. The SNCF trains are clean, on-time and quiet! Basically the opposite of any experience taking a train in NYC. Once we arrived to Vernon, we took a shuttle to Giverny, where Monet’s garden is located. It was packed full of tourists, but still, breathtaking and lovely. We toured the garden and house (it only took an hour or so) and then walked in the small town for lunch. Such a lovely day trip! Sonya picked out a few beautiful picture books in the gift shop (that you can also find on Amazon). See here, here and here.
Le Jardin de Luxembourg: When I studied in France (a thousand years ago), I always imagined having a daughter and letting her play here. This is by far my most favorite place in Paris. Situated in the sixth, the garden is quite extensive. There is a large pond for sailing toy boats, an apple orchard, a bee-keeping area and greenhouses. Statues spread around the park are incredible. The garden hosts tons of activities for kids including puppet shows, a playground, a carousel (that is the oldest in Europe!) and pony rides. We loved relaxing by the fountains or going to one of the restaurants in the park (which are great!).
Musée Rodin: Again – you can skip the line with a stroller. Musée Rodin is a small and wonderful museum with a beautiful outdoor garden full of his most famous works. A great cafe is located in the garden. We spent an afternoon here in the spring and a morning here during this summer trip.
Le Jardin des Plantes: I would be remiss if I didn’t include this great museum and zoo. It’s like the American Museum of Natural History in New York, except the animals are much closer and not behind glass.
Saint Chapelle: Truly a gem to behold. Both Yan and my sister weren’t sure about making this stop (there is a line – and you DO skip it with a stroller 😉 but once inside, they were amazed. The stain glass windows are breathtaking. Sonya loved the colors (despite her being a three-year-old moment).
Batobus: In Paris, we walk even more than in NYC. It’s crazy. The Batobus is a great way to rest your feet and still see all of the sights. There are eight stops along the Seine and you can buy tickets at each stop or online. You can get off and on at any of the stops. The boat comes every 20 minutes or so. We bought a one-day pass, but I would recommend a two-day pass so you don’t have to rush and can take full advantage.
And here is the list of places we went to, that maybe we shouldn’t have with Sonya…
Versailles: Absolutely a must-see. Just maybe not with a toddler. They do not permit strollers in the palace (understandably). The gardens are incredible but without much shade in the hot summer. So we were left to carry Sonya who was in the heat, and it was a bit much…
Fondation Louis Vuitton: A striking piece of Frank Gehry architecture in the middle of the Bois de Boulogne, Fondation Louis Vuitton is a center for modern and contemporary art. Some of it was a bit out there for Sonya (e.g. a once-live horse hanging from the ceiling – and Sonya noticed a tear running down its eye…), but we loved it. I would definitely come back here for another visit sans Sonya.
Musée Saint Laurent: A must-see for any fashion lover (over three years old). Sonya wanted to touch the beautiful clothing (who can blame her?!), which apparently isn’t okay. Really a gorgeous and interesting place to see into the home and collection of Yves Saint Laurent.
Overall, we had the best time and wish we could have been there to see France win La Coupe du Monde! Allez les bleus!
2 thoughts on “The 10 Best (and 3 Worst) Places to Visit in Paris with a Toddler”
I live in this city and i feel like you know it better than me (You actually do!) and you describe it WAYYYY better than i would!
I love the pictures too! You really got an eye… Thanks for all the advices, now if oneday we get the courage to take Hortense on a cultural afternoon we will definitely know what to do…
It was so nice to have you again, now everytime Hortense scrolls my phone and get to the pictures of that night she says « c’est mon amie Sonya!! » I love it that our girls get to know each other, this is amazing! Sonya is such a cute and funny little girl, you can be proud of her and yourself.
I really hope we come to NYC soon and have the opportunity to see again.
We just LOVED seeing you and Hortense! It was a true highlight of our trip! It makes me so happy that our girls love each other so. Please let us know if you come to NYC! We might be in London in the fall….will keep you posted. xoxox