Bonjour Paris, it’s so good to be back! Last week we spontaneously headed to Paris for a few days, only a 1,5 hour flight away from Salzburg. Not only do I absolutely j’adore this city, the food, the elegant (mostly window) shopping, the cafés and endless amount of art and history, and as someone famous once said ‘Paris is always a good idea’. But we also thought it would be perfect for the 3 of us to celebrate Matilda’s first birthday in this city that means so so much to us.
As much as I imagined myself sitting in a bar with a café au lait or coupe de champagne in hand, admiring the elegant Parisians walk by, the reality with a one year old is quite different. Au revoir to window shopping at Chanel and Celine along Avenue Montaigne, admiring the galleries and furniture shops on Rue Saint-Honoré or taking my time choosing a new candle or two at Diptique in Saint Germain.
Quickly we realized that Matilda’s agenda looked quite a bit different to ours. When not sleeping, our one year old toddler decided she had no intention of spending too much time in her Bugaboo Bee anymore, without regular stops to exercise, crawl and explore. When we tried to stop her from picking up and eat pretty much anything she could find on the streets of Paris our petit pain au chocolat quickly turned into a petit enfant terrible.
We have visited many of the famous sights on our previous trips, so this time was all about strolling around the quaint streets of Marais with lots of (take away) coffee stops, finding shady spots along the Seine for when it came to naptime for M and parks for her to crawl around. The beautiful thing was that this made us see Paris through different eyes. A city that we had experienced as young lovers, drinking cold and cheap Rosé in little bars, and a city that we had enjoyed as excited parents-to-be on a romantic baby-moon. Now we saw a city as a world of parks with nice playgrounds and shops with cute kids areas for Matilda to crawl around or play.
While I knew the Parisians were good at food, fashion and pretty much anything to do with style, I had no idea how well this city actually caters for little ones. Some of my favourite parks all had beautiful, clean, smartly designed playgrounds for kids of all ages, where we enjoyed sitting around with other parents admiring our kids (and me secretly admiring their oh so chic outfits). The grass is kept clean and is perfect for a toddler to crawl around on. You can stroll the path along the Seine for hours, which has long been made car free and enjoy a crepe or ice-cream in one of the many little food stands along the way. So strolling we did, often carrying M on our shoulders, and we loved every minute of it.
We particularly enjoyed a mid-day break in shady Jardin the Tuileries on the freely available deckchairs and then moved on past (and totally ignoring) the Louvre for Place de Vosges, where we, on a previous trip, had fallen in love with a cute little breakfast cafe in its quaint surrounding arcades. Here M fell in love with the fountains, happily playing with her little hands in the water on this 30+ degree day.
In the end there was only one sight we really wanted to „do“ or more so „show“ Matilda on this trip. So on the morning of her first birthday we headed towards the big Monsieur E. Matilda of course deep asleep in her pram (she has a nap-timing that never seizes to amaze me), we found a spot we liked right in front of Paris‘ most iconic sight. We put down a little blanket on the grass, unpacked the petite tarte aux framboise for M and a petite bouteille de champagne for us and couldn’t believe our luck – there was hardly another tourist in sight on this warm and sunny morning.
So there we sat, cheering to our baby turning the big ONE and to ourselves to having survived, enjoyed and sometimes mastered the art of being her parents for the first year of her life. When she woke, our little girl happily crawled around and was even happier when she was allowed to spread her little raspberry cake all over herself. So while this get-away was certainly a lot less laissez fair than the past, I would do it all over again. Paris mon amour, I can’t wait to be back.
Here are a few petite tips if you are planning a get-away to Paris with a baby or toddler:
– If you pre-book, you can get a chauffeur with a baby seat for your trip from and to the airport to avoid waiting in line for cab, the price is almost the same.
– A light weight buggy is perfect for a city like Paris, our Bugaboo Bee was great but I did admire the parents on the plane that had their Baby Zen YOYO prams with them on board and available straight after leaving the aircraft. We did most of our exploring by foot and it can get really hot in big cities, so M was kept cool and protected from the sun in her buggy. Also a lot of cafes or restaurants don’t have highchairs, so it was handy that M could sit in her pram (even if only for a few minutes) for us to have a bite to eat.
– The metro is a very practical and cheap way to get around in Paris, but beware not all stations are pram friendly! It’s a constant up and down on stairs to get to the station with no lifts available, which can be a bit annoying and quite tiring at the end of the day.
– Hotel rooms in Paris can be teeny tiny, so be careful to find a hotel with a family room with a bit more space to fit a pram and baby cot.
– Bring some „Baby activewear“ or spare pants so your baby can crawl around in the grass without getting you stressed because of dirt and stains. M had a nice little pair of blue trackpants that we could slip her into and let her loose in the parks of Paris without ruining her little outfits.
– Last but not least, a Paris trip wouldn’t be complete for me without a little bit of shopping – a lot of my favourite children brands like Bonpoint, Bonton and Petit Bateau have their beautifully designed and styled flagship stores there. I’ll show you some photos in a later post.