Traveling to Paris with a toddler is no joke. High chairs are scarce, using a stroller can be a nightmare, and restaurants don’t even open for dinner before 7PM. But… it’s Paris. And as Audrey Hepburn said, Paris is always a good idea.
Last fall, Kirk and I visited the City of Light with our nearly two year old daughter, Ingrid. With only 4 days and a small child in tow, we knew we’d need to plan our excursions in bite-sized chunks. (Most days, we’d return to the hotel for her nap and early in the evening for her bedtime.) Luckily, Kirk and I had been there before, so we didn’t feel a need to hit all the big monuments. Instead, we decided to organize outings around certain neighborhoods where there would be things for all three of us to enjoy. (I stumbled onto this idea here.)
Our first excursion was to the Tuileries gardens, the Pont des Arts, and a river boat cruise.
Right around where the Rue Castiglione meets the Tuileries gardens is a gorgeous carousel. (It’s fun in the day, but even more magical at night. I think we took Ingrid to it on three separate occasions since we were staying nearby and she LOVED it.) After the carousel, we stopped in at the playground. (There are also trampolines and ropes courses for bigger kids.) We walked up through the gardens to the Louvre, which we admired from the outside.
Next, we made our way along the Seine and crossed over on the Pont des Arts, Paris’s only pedestrian bridge. It’s known as one of the most romantic spots in the city, and is covered with “love-locks”. Ingrid loved running wild from one side of the bridge to the other. (Didn’t love posing for a picture, however, even though I tried to explain that with the Eiffel Tower, the River Seine, and a sunset in the background it was maybe the best photo op ever!)
We walked along the other side of the Seine for a bit, passing by the bookseller stalls (including a few that were still open) and then crossed back over the Pont Neuf to the tip of the Ile de la Cité. That’s where we boarded the Vedettes du Pont Neuf, which took us up the Seine to the Eiffel Tower and back. These river cruises are very touristy, but Ingrid loved it, and Kirk and I were happy to rest our legs and see the sites from a different perspective.
In general, strollers are not the best idea in Paris. But on this outing, with the wide lanes of the Tuileries and Pont des Arts, it was perfect. For food, there are little cafés and food stands in the Tuileries that would be fun to check out. And there are some grand cafés on neighboring streets if you want to veer off course. I’d recommend packing a picnic for this excursion, though, and enjoying it on a bench in the Tuileries or in the Square du Vert Galant on the tip of the Ile de la Cité. As for timing, walking from the carousel in the Tuileries to the tip of the Ile de la Cité would probably take about a half an hour walking by yourself. With a toddler in tow, and all our little stops, it took us about 2 hours.
I’ll be posting more of our adventures in Paris with a toddler in the weeks to come… – Eva