a guide to Paris with young kids

eiffel tower

hello friends!  sorry that i’ve gone missing for a few weeks.  after returning from colorado, i was prepping to take both kids, sans hubby, to beautiful (and chilly) Paris.
young boys looking at airplane
that’s right…you read correctly….a 2 year old, a 4.5 year old, 3 iphones, an ipad, lots of snacks, a few diapers, some benadryl and i went to the city of love. no husband….no husband.  

we met up with my folks, aunt and uncle…but it still was a ton of work!
4 year old in stroller
hubby was secretly stoked to be able to make a huge mess and not have anyone nag at him about it….until he started sneezing b/c the dust bunnies.  🙂
tree reflection on pond
through my amazingly well-traveled friends, i collected the best nuggets of advice for this type of trip…

French countryside with hay stacks

passports can be expedited in 3-5 business days. visit the US State Dept for more infoif you’re getting a passport for your kid and your spouse can’t be there with you, be sure to fill out and notarize the proper documentation.

French countryside with stunning chateau
get your photo taken at a place that takes passport photos…Costco comes to mind.  i tried to do this myself, but the background was a teeny bit too gray (not white) and they kicked it back.  i ended up trekking 6 blocks with Big A in my arms to a nearby place to get this redone on the day of our appt.  didn’t want it to denied and returned to us with such a short travel window!  not sure why the gift shop in the building doesn’t offer passport photos….seems like a no-brainer!  
boys looking over a lake
a double umbrella stroller worked beautifully.  i picked up a MacLaren for a great deal on Craigslist.  it’s fairly easy to collapse and stays folded together unlike our unruly BOB.  don’t get me wrong…i love our double BOB, but it just screams “American coming through with the SUV of strollers” and no one wants that….esp in France.i tried the Phil and Ted double, but since we went to sight see, i didn’t want anyone missing out.

mom and sons at Jardin du Luxembourg

the MacLaren performed well on the cobblestones….in fact, the kids loved saying “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah” while on those streets and were cracking themselves up.
family at Disneyland Paris
i picked up an REI Traverse day pack to replace my beloved pink Jansport from Costco circa ’98.  pinkie was packed to the hilt on our Colorado trip and it just wasn’t gonna cut it for a hop across the pond.  this was key in keeping my hands free and allowed me to push the stroller, carry kids, take pictures, etc.  the hip and chest straps were particularly important in off-loading the weight from my shoulders.  the redistributed pack made it a snap to carry 15-20 pounds throughout the day.

meesh pierce in Paris

mom asked why i wanted a picture in front of this ugly door. it’s not ugly…check out the chippy paint!!!  but seriously, the backpack and purse are a bit much!  geez.

bring the stroller all the way through to the gate. they’ll tag it and check it there for you. you’ll have to fetch it at oversized baggage claim once you land, so be ready for the loooooong walk from the gate to customs.

when traveling with a stroller, intn’l security and customs will let you skip the line. smile and say merci!
mom and young boys at eiffel tower
in France, people don’t line up. they jam in front of you, so be ready and be patient.  as you can see, Big A didn’t appreciate the line cutting. 🙂
toddler meltdown in Paris
there are bulkhead seats on these intnl flights that have very cool.  you can see a cool picture of one here at Moira’s Travel Blog.  i saw babies as old as 2 sleeping in them.  definitely choose those rows when flying. the baby is directly in front of you on the wall. babies and parents seemed happy. 

Arc de Triomphe

the 9 hour time change surprisingly didn’t affect my kids bc they slept a few hours in the flight and i was able to keep them awake the day we landed. they hit the sack at 7 pm the first night and slept 14 hrs.  it stays light in western Europe until around 10 pm in April, so black out the room if possible. 

enjoy the foods.  crepes and churros with nutella were our favorite.  churros?  right, lil G reminded me that we’re next door to Spain.  oh yes, we are.

Parisienne man pouring Nutella
exchange euros before you go. exchange rate at American Express places in US seems to be best, esp if you have an AmEx card.

toddler feeding ducks
load up the iPad and iPhone. Air France had USB chargers and video monitors on each seat. bring the requisite transformer and adapter!  mom’s hairdryer starting smoking during our trip.  not sure why she brought it back to the US, but she did.  🙂

most electronics these days are 110v/220v safe which means you just need the plug adapter, not the transformer. 

boys waiting for flight in Charles du Gaul
test the Benadryl before you go. my friends’ daughter had the reverse effect on the plane and was wound up the whole flight!!!

cherry tree blossoms close up
bring lots if snacks for the kids and yourself. the flight food, while interesting, may not satisfy, and you need your energy!!! i had enough for our day outings, too.  goldfish aren’t easily attained in Paris!  my friend was once on the tarmac with her two kids for 8 hours with no food from the airline. 

young boys eating churros
bring a good rain jacket with a hood. the rain comes out of nowhere even in the summer, and the last thing you want is to push a stroller while holding an umbrella as the rain is coming in sideways. i used a rain poncho to cover the stroller, though MacLaren has a zip on version for their strollers. 

Mickey Mouse poncho over a stroller
Skype was great for us especially at the hotel.  make sure whomever you want to call back in the US has Skype downloaded, buy some credits, and make calls for $.10/minute.  We also got 25 free video messages. the kids enjoyed leaving video messages for Daddy and particularly loved receiving his.  it also comes with free IMing to other Skype users. 

boy standing in front of French Senate at Jardin du Luxembourg
btw, make sure your texting is set to iMessage (default setting), then texting to other iPhone users is free if you’re on wifi!!

Charles du Gaul airport's luxury mall

Charles du Gaul airport’s luxury mall

i got the AT&T world plan for emergencies, which came in handy for google and metro maps. like an idiot, i spent 30 minutes cursing my phone because it wouldn’t pick up the signal.  finally, I rebooted and voila!  it worked.  put the international toll free # for you carrier in your phone in case you have issues.

get your rest and have snacks near the bed for when you and the kid wake up hungry in the middle of the night.  the time change will get ya via stomach.  your body will be tired when it’s dark, but your stomach didn’t get the memo.

churros with nutella

remember to have a sense of humor.  this won’t be easy, but if you can’t laugh, then you’ll be miserable!French countryside with gorgeous yellow blooming flowers

day 1, we went to Disneyland.  it’s very similar to the one we enjoy in Anaheim, but the Hollywood Studios park has a Toy Story area, which was a lot of fun for the boys.  interestingly, there aren’t height requirements in the same way we’ve got them in the US.  so Big A was able to ride many more rides than he typically does in the US!

young boys with Rex from Toy Story

day 2, we schlepped into Paris to see the Eiffel Tower.  and by schlepp, i mean SCHLEPPED!  walk 1/3 mile to the #34 bus from the Marriott Village, get off at Disneyland, get on the RER A train, then the B train, then the C train.  exit Chatelait des Halles.

selfie up into Eiffel Tower

all that took 2 hours.  painful.  unfortunately, if you’re staying out by Disneyland Paris, you’ve got no real option unless you want to take a cab, which will run you about 130 Euro each way.  probably is worth ponying up for a more spendy hotel in Paris if you want to head into the city more than 2 days during your visit.

when traveling with a stroller, look for the larger gate entrance for wheelchairs and strollers.  lifesaver!

family in front of Eiffel Tower

the train/metro/bus deal is exhausting to say the least. BUT, i bought each of us the Paris Visite pass for zones 1-5, which was much cheaper than buying single day passes or trying to cab it.  i even splurged to have the passes mailed to us in the US.  otherwise, you’ve got to hoof it downstairs to the train depot to pick it up beneath the airport.  not easy.  totally worth the shipping to have it once you’ve landed from a monstrous airplane trip.

beautiful Parisienne water fountain

no way i could’ve done the trains without my folks.  two helped hold the kids’ hands while i carried the stroller up and down escalators/stairs and navigated us to the right trains.

bus stop at Disneyland Paris

day 3, we walked about 20 minutes to the Disneyland Golf Course.  we rented a few irons, got a few baskets of balls, and went to the range.  the food at the grill was excellent and well-priced.  here’s the beautiful entrance to the course.  i loved seeing these pretty pink cherry blossoms all over the city!

cherry tree lined street

day 4 we headed back into Paris to see the Louvre, Pont des Arts love lock bridge, and Jardin du Luxembourg. we got a kick seeing all the locks on the bridge.  there’s even a vendor selling locks on the bridge.  the story goes that lovers attach locks and toss the keys in the Seine.Pont des Arts love lock bridge

despite numerous visits to the Louvre through one’s lifetime, i’d argue it’s as exciting each time you visit as it was the first time you go!

view of Louvre pyramid through arched walkway

the architecture is simply amazing.  the kids ran around in the massive courtyard while i took in the incredible sense of “holy cow, this stuff is stunning!”  boy in front of pyramid at Louvre

Jardin du Luxembourg is a MUST.  the grounds are incredible, and i found it refreshing to see Parisiennes just sitting in lounge chairs reading books and relaxing.  i’ve never seen anything quite like it in the U.S.

thinker statue at Jardin du Luxembourg

people were actually sitting, enjoying the day, and hanging out.

Jardin du Luxenbourg flowers

when was the last time you actually did that?  never?  yeah, me, too.

sunlight pouring through tree at Jardin du Luxembourg

the flowers and trees literally took my breath away.  i was in awe at their beauty.  rather than try to take a billion pictures, i actually tried to enjoy it in person.  🙂 what an idea!

toddler going down slide at Jardin du Luxembourg

the kids loved renting (3 Euro for 30 minutes) little sailboats that floated across the gigantic water fountain/pond.  these sailboats are purely directed by the wind.  the kids get a bamboo pole to guide them a bit.

of course, i asked the guy “What happens if we can’t find our boat or if it gets stuck in the middle of the pond?”  the guy just smiled at me in his “Look American, it’ll be just fine” look and said “Don’t worry, that won’t be a problem!”  and sure enough, it worked out just fine.  Jardin du Luxembourg boat water fountain pondthe kids LOVED the playground.  it’s massive, has a zillion options, and has a single entrance, which i loved.  they played for about an hour and a half and didn’t want to leave.

playground at Jardin du Luxembourg

slides.  merry go rounds.  see saws.  a zipline.  sand pit.  trains.  monkey bars.  you name it, they’ve got it.  it’s probably the size of a football field.

preschooler playing at playground in Jardin du Luxembourg

here’s my gorgeous mom enjoying some sun.  isn’t she so super stylish?

my gorgeous and stylish mom

day 5 we went to the awesome outlet mall and aquarium in Serris, which was a short shuttle ride away from the Marriott next to Disneyland.  it was fun for the kids to see the fish, hear the different languages being spoken, and play at the playground within the outdoor part of the mall.

Outlet mall in Serris France

day 6 we spent avoiding this gal and her boyfriend as we explored the large Marriott property. her partner would chase you if you got too close.  hilarious!

swan on her nest

this was an incredible trip.  the boys still talk about it.  we read lots of books on France from the library before we left, which provided us with nuggets of info the boys enjoyed putting together once we arrived.

i opted not to bring my big camera and see what i could pull off with just my phone and a small $60 Canon from Costco.  the iPhone definitely outperformed the Canon.  for those wondering, i use the SnapSeed app for iPhone editing.  a bit of a learning curve, but offers tons of editing options.

au revoir!


About meesh

Meesh has a passion for people, creative projects, and technology. She enjoys painting furniture back to life, gardening, playing with her kids, and connecting people.


  1. off site and looking for a hotel or condo as close as poslibse. We found a hotel rooms for just $27 a night and this included breakfast and Internet (only 2 miles from Disney). You can still have a great time on a small budget!! /* /* Filed