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City Breaks - Paris with Petites

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parisA great Article from Holiday with Baby -
City Breaks - Paris with Petites
 
Take a visit to the most magical city in Europe, Paris. With springtime fast approaching there is no better place to be than in the City of Lights.

Getting there
Paris is the perfect place for a quick weekend break with the family. Hop on the Eurostar service and you can be in pretty Paris in just 2 hours. No airport hassles needed! The Eurostar service leaves from Kings Cross St Pancras and the little ones will love the excitement of going under the sea! The Eurostar arrives at Paris’s main station, Gare Du Nord, which is located in the center of Paris. From the station, you can take the metro to your destination with ease as all major lines run through the station. If you don’t feel like the hassle of the Metro, take a taxi which are plentiful outside the bustling station.

Getting around
Paris is a large, spread out city so make use of their underground system, the Metro. Get a map as it can be quite confusing with all the French names. The Metro is the best way to get around the large city as taxis are can be expensive and you could sit in traffic; Paris is a city with alot of traffic congestion. The best option is to purchase a carnet of 10 tickets, from any Metro station. Just ask for ‘’ Ask for "un billet, s'il vous plait" or "un carnet, s'il vous plait." The best way to acquaint yourself with the city is to take a hop on/hop off bus tour. You will see all the main sites of Paris and the little ones will love the open air ride! Paris is also an incredibly walkable city,with many of the attractions located within walking distance of each other. The wide boulevards are in good condition, making it smooth to push a stroller on.

Where to stay
When travelling to Paris with little ones in tow, the best bet would be to stay in a hotel that caters to families. Staying in the center of it all is the best option but avoid staying on the Champs-Elysees which is very expensive. The area of Madeline is a lovely place to stay, close enough to everything but not too noisy and there is a park with a playground in Louis XVI Square for the kids. There are some great family friendly hotels in this area. Try Hotel Le Mathurin which has family rooms and babysitting services or try the Best Western Sydney Opera Hotel which is located in a quiet side street; they also offer family rooms and babysitting.

What to see and do in Paris
Paris is plentiful with things to do with the little ones! The city is filled with charming little parks, open to everyone. Wherever you go, breathe in the delicious smells of pastries and fresh bread from the nearest patisserie or boulangerie, and stop in to sample the sweetness of Paris, the kids will delight in the atmosphere!

Take the kids to the Paris Story, near the Galeries Lafayette . This fabulous multimedia show is a good introduction to 2000 years of Paris history in a virtual reality theatre that makes you feel like you're there. The little ones will love Paris Miniature, a huge detailed model of Paris with interactive buttons to locate sights on the model.

Head to the Rue de Rivoli and there you will find the beautiful Jardin Des Tuileries. This magical garden is an absolute treat complete with a pond filled with ducks, they can feed! Head for the Donkey and Pony rides, a treat for the kids. The kids want to ride the Donkeys/Ponies endlessly around the gardens. The Gardens also have a Trampoline Ride (for older children) and a carousel! They will be amused for hours!

See Paris by water and take the Batobus! Ride up and down the Seine, stopping off at "must-see" sightseeing spots, such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower. With a day pass, you can get on and off as much as you like.

No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. The atmosphere here is wonderful! Take the elevators to the top (strollers can come too!) and see the breathtaking views of the city. Have a cup of hot chocolate at it’s lovely restaurant, the little ones will love it. And don't miss seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, all lit up. It’s magical!

If mum and dad want a bit of arts and culture with the kids in tow, head to Centre Pompidou in Marais District, which houses National Museum of Modern Art and Children's Gallery. They will love the actual building which is all metal and bright colours inside and out. Ride the exterior tube-like escalators to the top floor – there's a panoramic view of the Marais and the kids will enjoy the ride!

The Galerie des enfants (Children’s Gallery) has an exhibit just for kids, e.g. artworks with heads in all shapes and sizes that they will love! Also check out the plaza in front of the Centre Pompidou there's always something going on – mimes, buskers, marching bands and other street performers.

A real treat for little girls is a visit to the Musee de la Poupee, the Museum of Dolls. This is a great way for kids to see how the French looked and lived from the the 19th century to the present. The doll museum has a collection of porcelain dolls, displayed in settings from different time periods. A real treat!

A visit to Montmartre is an absolute must! This little neighbourhood is absolutely delightful and filled with character. Take the little ones in the cable car up the incredible Sacre Re Cour, for amazing views of Paris. There is also a quaint carousal for them to play on!

A visit to the Bois de Boulogne is a must with little ones in tow, there is lots to do here! In the Jardin d’ Acclimatation take a train ride on the Le Petit Train, the 19th century-style miniature train will delight the kids! Also check out the Fun House Mirrors and Riviere Enchantee. The whole family will get a laugh at the fun house mirrors, or take a boat ride on the "Enchanted River". The under 4’s will especially love the Maison Enchantee, a discovery space, just for them!

There is also the Village des Maneges to enjoy. This small amusement park has a merry-go-round, bumper cars and"les petits chevaux" – carousel horses on a mechanized track. Also pop into the Les Animaux, the animal farm and petting zoo. There are also playgrounds, mini-golf, boat and bike rentals and ice-skating in the winter!

A wonderful hands-on science art and multimedia museum is also housed there. Kids can experiment with light and sound, music, building arches and optical illusions. Take in a puppet show at the Le Theatre de Guignol –this place is kiddies paradise!

Where to eat
Parisians are known for their love of fine dining but do not fear there are plenty places to eat with your little ones. Many French restaurants will happily bring an extra plate for children to share with parents, or cook up something simple on the spot. Crêperies and cafés with omelettes, frites (French Fries) and croque monsieur are easy fare for kids.

Visit Le Cafézoïde, a unique restaurant catering to exclusively to families. Le Cafézoïde on the Champs Elysees, is more like a nursery and while very appropriate for families with smaller children, as they can play in an activities center or enjoy one of the restaurants frequent child shows while mum and dad enjoy traditional French cuisine!

Also on the Champs Elysées is L'Appart cosy which is renowned for their brunch menu featuring eggs, sausages, salmon, brioches, croissants and fresh fruit. While you sit back and enjoy brunch, the children can be whisked off to their own corner of the restaurant to bake cakes under expert supervision!

For a real treat, take the little ones to La Charlotte en l'Ile a quaint and charming tearoom near the Notre Dame. The hot chocolates made with pure melted chocolate, are famous and will be a hit with your children. The room is decorated with fairy-lights and masks and puts on a children's puppet show.

A must-do is a visit to Bertillon which is known to be an authentic Parisian experience. At Bertillon you’ll find what’s considered by locals to be the best ice cream in France. No doubt the kids will love this place!

Hints and tips
Keep in mind, many of the Paris Metro stations do not have lifts or escalators to take your stroller down but the French are a helpful bunch, so an extra hand is never far away.

Like most European cities, Paris has it's fair share of pickpockets, especially by the Notre Dame.

Happy travels...

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