Travel Stories: How to Survive Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler

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Visiting Paris with a toddler is a dream for many, so I’m delighted to publish another story by my dear friend and former co-worker Andrea Chrysanthou. Andrea works full-time and has two big kids and a little, so she is definitely a busy mom who needs and wants a proper vacation with the whole family! I loved her Nickelodeon Punta Cana Review, and I’m so pleased she offered to share another family vacation story with us!

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Tips for Visiting Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
or
How I Took My Four-Year-Old to Paris … and Survived

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The City of Light at night | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Paris is gorgeous. It’s been on my bucket list forever so, when I had a chance to go earlier this year, I didn’t hesitate–even though I would have to bring my four-year-old along.

The trip was amazing.

Yes, it was exhausting and, I definitely had to compromise. But with some planning and patience, we all had a magical time.

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to the City of Light, here are some tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your visit…

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The vast city as seen from the dome of the Sacré Cœur Basilica | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #1: Download a City Map App

I downloaded the free CityMaps2Go app. It’s much more conspicuous than a fold out map and I used it many times to orient myself and figure out how to get from point A to point B.  

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The views cruising along the Seine | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #2: Jump on a Bus … or a Boat

Both my toddler and I loved using the Big Bus Paris Hop-On Hop-Off Tour through Trip Advisor. He loved being on a double-decker bus. I loved being able to see all the major attractions in the city while he was safely beside me. The bus also has wi-fi, so your little one can watch a show if he gets restless (no judgement here). We also used the bus as transport, and hopped off every time there was something we wanted to have a closer look at.

Equally fun was the cruise along the Seine. The views of the city and the Eiffel Tower were beautiful, and our toddler just loved that he was on a boat.

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Clowning around at the top of the Eiffel Tower | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #3: Pre-Book your visit to the Eiffel Tower

I knew my son would also love climbing the Eiffel Tower but I had heard horror stories about the long lines for tickets. I tried to pre-book tickets through the official website but even two weeks before our trip, all the allotted time slots were sold out. I opted for a third-party, more expensive site, to avoid lines but even then, time slots were limited. Book your visit to the tower observation decks as soon as you book your trip to avoid disappointment.

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He may not appreciate it now but he’ll post this on Instagram one day… or whatever replaces Instagram | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #4: Get a Museum Pass

The Paris Museum Pass is available in 2, 4 or 6 consecutive day options and gives free entry and ticket line by-pass to over 50 of the top museums and monuments in and around Paris including the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, the Crypts at Notre-Dame and more. Bear in mind that while it allows you to skip ticket lines, you will still have to wait in security lines, which can also be quite long, so make sure to account for this in your planning. For parents, the pass allows you to go leave and reenter the museums and attractions when your little ones are tired or need a break. Our little guy loved climbing the Arc de Triomphe at dusk (we could see the Eiffel Tower in its lit glory) and, surprisingly, the Musee de l’Orangerie featuring Monet’s Water Lillies. The museum is small and can be visited in under an hour.

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Clowning around outside the Palace of Versailles | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #5: Go to Versailles

Riding the train to Versailles was part of the excitement for our little guy. Once you leave the city-centre, the train goes outdoors and you can see other trains whistling by. While I have to admit that my son was not impressed by the absolute extravagance of the Versailles palaces but once we entered the gardens he was enthralled. There are beautiful secret rooms with fountains and sculptures that you can discover at the end of long, winding tree-covered paths and there’s wide, open areas where he could run around and release some of the energy after walking through the crowds inside the palace.

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The carousel below the Sacré Cœur Basilica | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #6: Ride the Carousels

There are merry-go-rounds seemingly everywhere in Paris. At only 2 a ride, I let my son go on whenever we saw one. It gave him something to look forward to and it was an opportunity to sit down for a few minutes during our often, long walks.

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Crowds gather outside Shakespeare and Company, across the street from Notre Dame | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #7: Visit a Bookstore

Shakespeare and Company, near Notre Dame Cathedral, is a quaint bookstore that has been in Paris since 1951 and had been a home away from home for many famous authors at the time. The store is reminiscent of an old house, with wooden-beamed rooms and beds tucked in between bookshelves. We bought a 1950s-era illustrated storybook on Paris that we have been reading as a bedtime story.

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Angelina is a must stop for anyone with a sweet tooth | Photo courtesy Andrea Chrysanthou

Surviving Paris with a Toddler or Preschooler
Tip #8: Stop for Ice Cream or Hot Chocolate or Both

Paris’ Berthillon is famous for its ice cream and sorbets. There are more than 70 all natural flavours to choose from. You’ll recognize the shop from the long lines that typically spill out onto the sidewalk out front. Equally famous is the Angelina Paris tearoom, which has been open since 1903 and boasts the best hot chocolate in Paris, not to mention beautifully-crafted pastries.

andrea-chrysanthou

Andrea Chrysanthou is a mom, avid traveller, and freelance blogger. You can reach her on Twitter @CallMeAndreaC

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