So I recently returned from my first trip to Paris with my baby. This trip was extra special for us because I had spent a month in Paris when I was pregnant with him and it was there that I found out I was having a boy.
Many people were skeptical of me traveling to Paris with my 15-month-old baby without my husband. They thought it was a waste of a trip to Paris and couldn’t possibly understand how I could enjoy myself and see the sights.
Well I’m here to tell you that we had the BEST time in Paris. It is possible to enjoy Paris with your baby or kids and I’ve put together a great post filled with loads of practical tips and advice to help you plan the ultimate trip to Paris with your baby.
In this post you will find:
- Tips on Navigating Paris with Baby
- Where to Stay in Paris with Baby
- Where to Eat in Paris with Baby
- Best Parks in Paris for Kids and Babies
- Best Clothing Stores in Paris for Kids and Babies
- Best Toy Stores in Paris
So let’s get started!
Tips on Navigating Paris with Baby
In general, I recommend skipping the touristy areas of Paris to avoid the crowds. There are far more interesting things to see in Paris with your baby other than the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe anyway. Check out my list below for my best tips on getting around Paris with your baby.
1. Pretend like elevators don’t exist…because they don’t
Elevators in Paris, whether to access the metro or your 4th floor apartment, are scarce. If you’re traveling alone to Paris with your baby, consider not bringing a stroller at all because you will need help carrying it up and down the many, MANY stairs you will undoubtedly encounter. (Exception: Metro Line 14 does apparently have elevators, but it’s not a line I’ve ever used.) A few times, I encountered some very nice Parisians who helped me carry the stroller up and down the stairs, but you can’t always count on this. If you’re lucky, there might be an escalator to exit the metro.
If your baby is young and small enough, a baby carrier will be your best option. I noticed that most mothers in Paris had their babies in carriers. A baby carrier is an indispensable item to help your baby nap on the plane ride over and to carry him hands-free through airports or train stations.
We were advised by our Air BNB hosts that we could leave our stroller at the bottom of the stairs of our rental apartment without fear of theft, as there was no elevator in the building. Check if this is the case with your rental or consider bringing a small lock with you to avoid schlepping the stroller up and down the stairs.
2. Do not bring your North American-sized stroller to Paris
Paris was built a long, long time ago. Well before the advent of cars and modern roads. So everything in Paris (the streets, sidewalks, elevators, etc.) is smaller than what we are used to in America, including the roads. In general, Paris is not a stroller-friendly (nor wheelchair accessible, for that matter) city.
This means your American-sized stroller will most likely not fit on the sidewalks of Paris (not to mention that Parisians would not take kindly to such a monstrosity). So bring a smaller, light-weight, umbrella stroller with you or see if your Air BNB host can lend you theirs (as it will already be the suitable European size). I borrowed an Uppababy G-Lite stroller from a friend and it was just what I needed.
Another essential feature of your smaller stroller is a fully reclining seat and shade cover. You’ll need these so your baby can nap on the go while you see the sites of Paris. At 15 months, my baby was still napping twice a day for 1-2 hours at a time. There was no f-ing way I was going to hole up in my apartment while he napped when I had only a short time to explore Paris.
So, without ever doing this before at this age, I put him in the stroller and he had no choice but to fall asleep when he was tired. When he started to fuss, I reclined the seat and pulled out the shade cover. Very quickly, he would fall asleep and stay asleep for about an hour to an hour and a half, twice a day. Let me stress that, at 15 months, my baby does NOT typically nap in his stroller. He hasn’t really done that since 6 months old. But he was a trooper and obliged me, which made mommy very happy and allowed me to make the most of my short trip to Paris.
3. You don’t need a car seat in Paris
If you fly to Paris or arrive by train, it’s possible to reach your destination without ever setting foot in a taxi or car. Paris’s Charles-de-Gaulle Airport connects easily to the city via the RER B train line and is the preferable way to travel from the airport. Arriving at Gare du Nord also connects you to the metro to take you anywhere in the city.
I primarily used the metro and walked to get around Paris, but I did take a taxi on occasion. A very friendly Parisian taxi driver informed me that babies are not required to be in car seats when traveling by taxi, though car seats are required for children in personal vehicles. Although I didn’t make a habit of taking my baby in a taxi, I did make sure to hold him on my lap or strap him in the carrier. Europe has a much more relaxed view on car seats than in North America.
Where to Stay in Paris with Baby
When in Paris, I love staying in the Marais, a trendy neighbourhood located in the 3rd arrondissement.
Why the Marais is the perfect neighbourhood:
- It’s affordable.
- It’s very safe for families.
- It’s authentically Parisian.
- It’s full of trendy cafés and restaurants.
- It has some of the best shopping in Paris.
- It’s non-touristy and not overly crowded like some areas.
- It’s centrally located and within walking distance to other popular neighbourhoods and attractions, like the Bastille, Seine, Notre-Dame and Louvre.
So how do you find the perfect place to stay in the Marais?
Book with Air BNB
Air BNB is the perfect solution to finding accommodations in Paris for you and your baby. Bringing your baby with you to Paris means needing a home environment. Traveling to Paris can be tough enough, so why not make your life easier by booking an apartment with Air BNB rather than a hotel?
Benefits to booking with Air BNB:
- Cheaper than a hotel
- More space than a hotel room
- No sharing one room with your baby! (Everyone can have their own bedroom)
- Most likely in a better, more authentic Parisian location
- Access to a kitchen and fridge (can store baby food, snacks, and cook meals)
- Access to a washing machine (don’t have to pack as many clothes!)
- Can include all your baby items (no need to bring a travel crib!)
- Free access to Wifi
For my first trip to Paris with baby, I decided to book an Air BNB apartment for the first time as well. I was nervous about the outcome, but ultimately I knew it would be a better, cheaper option than staying in a hotel for three days.
By booking an Air BNB apartment, I had more space for my baby to run around. I specifically searched apartments that were set up for a baby, i.e. included a crib, change table, toys, etc. To narrow down your search to baby-friendly apartments, click More Filters and scroll down to Keywords.
Remember, France typically uses British English, so some apartment descriptions might use slightly different terms for baby items. To make sure you aren’t missing out on the perfect Parisian apartment, search a broad range of keywords in both English and French.
Here’s a list of keywords to search on Air BNB to find a baby-friendly apartment in Paris:
- high chair
- baby carrier
- lit bébé (crib)
- lit d’enfant (kid’s bed/toddler bed)
- chaise bébé (high chair)
- porte-bébé (baby carrier)
- pousette or promeneur (stroller)
- ascenseur (elevator)
I was able to find a fantastic 2-bedroom apartment in the Marais (Enjoy Paris Oberkampf with a baby) area of Paris rented out by a lovely Parisian family with a baby. My baby slept soundly in his own room, my mom in the other bedroom, and my pregnant-self on the very comfortable pull-out couch in the living room. It came equipped with a crib, change table, high chair, toys, books, extra diapers and wipes, a baby carrier and stroller. The host even offered us the services of her nanny in case we wanted to go out one evening without the baby. She also provided me with an extensive list of local family activities, shops, restaurants and sites.
I cannot stress enough how helpful it was not to have to bring all these baby items with me. As mentioned, I traveled to Paris 4-months pregnant with a very active 15-month old baby. I packed only one carry-on suitcase for both of us. By choosing an apartment that included laundry and all the essential baby items, I was able to pack extremely light, which caused less strain on my pregnant body and less stress in the airports, trains and taxis around Paris.
If you’re interested in how I managed to pack so light for my baby and me for a week in Europe, check out my upcoming post on How to Pack for you and your Baby in One Carry-on Suitcase (coming soon!).
Where to Eat in Paris with Baby
Finding a suitable baby-friendly restaurant in Paris can be a little stressful. Especially when your little one acts like a feral beast in comparison with meticulously well-behaved Parisian babies.
Here are some tips on where to eat and how to enjoy meals out with your kids or baby in Paris:
1. Eat in the Park
Purchasing your lunch or dinner from a boulangerie (bakery) and enjoying it in a park is a very French thing to do indeed. You will find some of the best and most affordable lunches at boulangeries, many of which offer la formule, which is essentially a combo that includes an entrée (sandwich, quiche, etc.), drink and delicious pastry for under 10 euros.
Take your lunch to the park and enjoy eating outside like a Parisian while your baby sits next to you or runs around. Or, if you’d prefer, assemble your own lunch outdoors by buying a baguette, some meat, cheese and veggies. You will surely be mistaken for a local.
2. Respect the Hours of French Dining
The French may have a love-hate relationship when it comes to their many governing principles, but one thing every French person seems to agree on is when to eat.
The French respect a strict eating schedule:
- Breakfast at 8:00 a.m.
- Lunch from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m.
- Le goûter (afternoon snack) at 4:00 p.m.
- Dinner at 8:00 p.m. (never earlier)
You will rarely see the French eating outside of these hours. And if you deviate from these meal times with your little one while in Paris and, heaven forbid a tantrum erupts, you may be met with a lack of sympathy or even hostility. So try your best to fit into Parisian life by following their rules.
The 4:00 p.m. goûter is a particularly forgiving time to take your kids or baby to a café, where you will find most French families enjoying an after-school snack with their children.
3. Time Bedtime Around Dinner Time
Since most restaurants in Paris don’t open for dinner before 8:00 p.m. plan to have your baby fall asleep on your way out to eat. My baby’s bedtime is usually 7:00 p.m., though I don’t mind pushing it for special occasions or while traveling.
I found it particularly helpful to put him in his pj’s and stop at a nearby park to tire him out before heading to a restaurant in Paris. Once your baby shows signs of tiredness, put him in a reclining stroller, pull the shade down, and cover the stroller with a blanket to shield out additional light.
Walk your baby around until he falls asleep then find a nice restaurant with room to park the stroller beside your table. Avoid noisier brasseries or terraces to help keep your baby asleep.
We had a fantastic dining experience while my baby slept in his stroller at La Petite Table, located at 27 Rue de Saintonge in the Marais (3rd arrondissement).
La Petite Table was a lovely restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere, Parisian décor, outstanding food, and extremely nice and attentive waiters. Don’t take nice waiters in Paris for granted. Believe me, they’re a rareity. I parked my sleeping baby in his stroller beside our table and he slept for 2 hours while we enjoyed a delicious, leisurely meal. My baby woke up just as we were finishing dessert. I walked him home and put him down in his crib for the night with no fuss.
4. Arm yourself with French Reading Material
If you’re really worried about how your baby or children will behave in restaurants in Paris, you may consider checking out two of my favourite books on French-style parenting:
Both books are an indispensable part of my parenting library and provide extensive tips on how to get your children and baby to behave in restaurants in France or at home.
Best Parks in Paris for Kids and Babies
Either when traveling alone or with my little one to Paris, I always make a point of visiting my favourite parks. Relaxing in a park is an authentic Parisian pastime. Whether on the weekends or after school, parks in Paris are filled with families enjoying the surroundings.
There are dozens of fantastic parks in Paris, but here is my list of the best ones to visit with your child or baby:
1. Jardin du Luxembourg (closest Metro stop: Luxembourg)
Located in the 6th arrondissement on the Left Bank of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg, or Luxembourg Garden, is a magical place to take your kids or baby. This stroller-friendly park is massive and offers a number of hidden treasures to entertain your little ones.
Kids of all ages will enjoy playing with model sailboats in the park’s central pond. Available to rent for a small fee, sailboats are non-motorized and steered using a long pole.
The gardens also include a large fenced-in play structure, sandlot, vintage carousel, pony rides and marionette puppet show. Other activities include tennis courts, bocce ball, volleyball and basketball courts. There is a café in the park, as well as food stands, pay toilets, and free musical performances in the main kiosk.
There are a number of relics hidden around the park. My favourites include the 17th-century Medici Fountain, 19th-century vintage scales, and 20 statues of French queens and princesses lining the main pavilion. Explore this amazing park with your family. You won’t want to leave!
2. Place des Vosges (closest Metro stop: Chemin Vert, Saint-Paul or Bastille)
Located in the 3rd arrondissement in the Marais district of Paris, the scenery surrounding Place des Vosges is breathtaking. Perhaps I’m a little biased because I stumbled upon this park by accident during my honeymoon, but stepping into Place des Vosges is like stepping back in time to 17th-century Paris.
This is a very popular destination after school as many families live in the Marais area. Place des Vosges has a large sandlot and plenty of space for kids to run around. The park is a square surrounded by 17th-century houses which now comprise a collection of art galleries, shops and restaurants. I recommend grabbing a bite or coffee at Café Hugo located in the park’s north-eastern corner.
Place des Vosges is in the heart of the Marais, nestled among some of the best shops and restaurants in Paris. It’s a great place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing and soaking up Parisian culture.
(There are a number of other great, but smaller, parks for babies and kids around the Marais, including one at Rue de Sévigné and Rue du Parc Royal, and one at Rue Oberkampf and Boulevard Filles des Calvaires. Recommended ages for play structures are 2-6 years old, but my 15-month-old baby really enjoyed playing on the slide under my supervision.)
3. Jardin des Champs Élysées (closest Metro stop: Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, Jardin des Champs Élysées is one of the oldest parks in Paris dating back to 1667. Running along both sides of the Champs Élysées, it is a massive park filled not only with numerous historical features, buildings and monuments, but also great entertainment for toddlers and kids.
The north side of the park definitely has more to offer kids. It includes a fenced-in play area with play structure, modern carousel, and the famous Guignol marionette puppet show that has been running since 1818 (€4 per person; shows run Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays at 3, 4 and 5 p.m.).
The park also features two restaurants, free public toilets, several theatres, and of course the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, which now houses an art museum. For a special treat, visit the north side of the Jardin des Champs Élysées along Avenue Gabriel on Saturday to peruse rare collections at the vintage stamp market.
Best Clothing Stores in Paris for Kids and Babies
Paris is the undisputed fashion capital of the world and its well-dressed citizens include even the youngest Parisian. Parisian parents like to dress their children like mini adults. In all likelihood, they unknowingly invented the microfashion trend (dressing kids up like mini adults). Even kids playing soccer in the park are likely to be wearing a collared dress shirt, cardigan and smart trousers.
If you want to cash in on the microfashion trend for your little one while in Paris, put these three kid’s clothing stores on your list:
Petit Bateau ($)
Petit Bateau is a French institution for children’s clothes. It’s a great store to shop for chic and well-made basics that have a distinct French flair. It’s been a tradition of mine to buy an outfit from Petit Bateau in Paris after finding out the sex of both of my babies.
Petit Bateau’s price point is reasonable (in comparison to other stores) and the quality is top-notch. Petit Bateau carries a newborn, baby, children’s and even adult line. Multiple locations across Paris and online shopping available at petit-bateau.us.
Jacadi Paris ($$)
Jacadi Paris is one of my favourite clothing stores for kids and babies in Paris. I just love visiting this store and imaging dressing my son up like a sophisticated little Frenchman. It’s a great place to shop for nicer occasion children’s clothing.
Jacadi Paris carries a baby boy and girl line (0-36 months); a boy and girl children’s line (2-12 years); and a pre-teen girl’s line (10-14 years). It also sells the nicest shoes for kids and babies. Multiple locations across Paris and online shopping available at jacadi.us.
Princesse de Paris ($$$)
If you’re looking for a special occasion or keepsake outfit for your little boy or girl, then you must visit Princesse de Paris. Prices are high, but this specialty children’s boutique sells handmade, high-quality clothing in sophisticated prints, like toile (see photo below).
Princesse de Paris carries baby to children’s sizing, and they even sell matching doll outfits! This boutique is a must-visit if not only for the window displays. Located at 11 Rue Tronchet in the 8th arrondissement.
Best Toy Stores in Paris
1. Pain d’Épices (nearest metro stop: Grands Boulévards)
Located within the Passage Jouffroy, the Pain d’Épices toy store is a very special place to take your baby or child for a one-of-a-kind Parisian experience. It specializes in vintage-style and rare toys, but also sells modern and unique toys from age 0 and up. It’s a great place to find a special souvenir to remember your baby’s trip to Paris.
2. Bonton (nearest metro stop: Filles du Calvaire)
One of two shops in Paris, located at 5 boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, Bonton is a colourful concept store specializing in everything from toys to décor to clothing for kids and babies. Although prices can be high, you are sure to find really cool and unique children’s gifts. This is a great shop to find specialty items for birthdays and Christmas.
3. MERCI (nearest metro stop: Saint-Sébastien – Froissart)
If you’re looking for an interesting shop to tell your friends about after your trip to Paris, then look no further than Merci. Located at 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais in the Marais, this once 150-year-old wallpaper factory now houses a massive lifestyle store that brings together fashion, design, household goods, art exhibits, and restaurants under one roof.
More modern boutique than department store, Merci has something for everyone and every budget. It’s children’s section sells practical and interesting toys for kids and babies, like pint-sized cooking utensils for your bébé gourmet and over-sized colouring posters of Paris. You’ll be hard pressed to walk out of Merci without buying anything.
So there you have it, my complete guide to Paris with baby!
Let me know which Paris with baby travel tips worked for you or share your own baby travel tips by leaving me a comment below.
You may also like to check out my tips on flying with baby in First Class to Paris: How to Survive Flying with Baby.
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À la prochaine chic moms!