Well, given it’s Paris I figure I can save a ton of time writing this post because I don’t have to convince any of you that is beautiful and a must see. I will give it 1 additional minute to say Paris in winter is still worth visiting if you are questioning the time of year to go. Two words for winter visitors: Christmas lights. As my idol Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea!” And she’s right.
Now, Paris with a baby… it’s still a good idea, but it’s definitely not easy. I’m going to do a highlight of the setbacks and how we overcame them for now because you know all of the great reasons to go.
- There are no highchairs. I’m not exaggerating here. We knew of 1 restaurant with them and that is because my friend worked there and ordered them two high chairs after talking to me and constantly saying sorry to many American tourists from the hotel it was connected to requesting them. This is fairly easily solved with either keeping your child in the stroller and eating outside on the sidewalk seating (beware lots of smoking happening here) or getting an over the seat highchair cover thing. We did both, but our chair cover really caught the eyes of Parisians. Just a note as well, you won’t find any Parisian babies out at restaurants really. Saturday morning/lunch maybe, but it’s just not the culture. The heavy use of crèche, nannies and babysitters is very common. To the point of having a few long conversations explaining our parenting style with my friend’s friends and explaining why I/we take my baby places and why I/we spend so much time with him. Attachment parenting has not hit France yet. Personally, I loved proving everyone’s opinions wrong by having a happy well behaved little man while eating out. If you are a bit sensitive be prepared for a less than gracious host once they discover you plan to eat avec bèbè.
- Elevators do not mean no stairs or that you can keep baby in a stroller it is highly likely you will still encounter some stairs even if your building has an elevator. Newer buildings you’re ok, but older buildings usually have a step or two before or after the elevator. In many places you will have to fold your stroller to use the elevator (the Eiffel Tower, small elevators in residential buildings if you don’t want to wait forever) even umbrella or compact size strollers. Sometimes it’s just easier to fold and do the stairs or carry the stroller with baby in it because you will not get the courtesy of people who are capable of taking the stairs getting off and letting you on because you have a baby. Nor will you find people who will let you on before them. We had a particularly bad experience at Les Invalides with the elevator. There were quite a few young adults there that day and young children with their parents (and all I will say about the french children we encountered is the book Bringing Up Bèbè must have been inspired by some very different Parisian children that we never saw because the ones we were around were not inspiring us to follow their parenting methods.) despite not really being busy, and they all used the elevator. Even just for 1 floor. They showed no care for the fact we had to use the elevator, and they didn’t considering they spent each floor chasing after their offspring who many times while waiting for the elevator went running up and down the nearby steps trying to coerce their parents into just taking them instead. Then, when we did fit with one family on the elevator their little girl pushed every button. No punishment, no telling her to say sorry, one elevator. The Louvre was not much better once you are in the galleries, but you do get to skip the entry line if you have a stroller and that lift is nice and controlled! Yay!
- Smoking is everywhere. Our son had never really been exposed to it, we aren’t used to it either, bring allergy medicine for you, baby saline drops and a travel humidifier. Shouldn’t be as bad is summer when it doesn’t linger as much. The air pollution was also terrible while we were there, but hey, they made the metro free!
- Hardly Any Changing Stations we have this problem here in Chicago too, so I’m not afraid to do it right there in the stroller wherever I am. Don’t like it? Install facilities for babies! The museums do have some great changing areas, usually in a private family bathroom or at least a separate area for just the station with its own sink.
- Crappy Diaper Selection the diaper selection is pretty small. If you use pampers you’re in luck. I ran out of day time diapers literally 24 hrs before our flight home. Finally found a sensitive brand I had never seen before. It took 4 stores and every pharmacy along the way. Plus side of packing diapers? Lots of room in your suitcase by the end of the trip for your new purchases;)
- Just not that baby friendly like other places we have traveled. I believe this is because of the cultural differences in how babies and children should be treated and should spend their time. Like I said before, I don’t think attachment parenting is big in Paris. I wouldn’t say anyone was directly rude to us, but on a few occasions we were given a cold shoulder. We did have a welcoming experience at the children’s emergency room, but that is obviously considered an appropriate place to bring your baby. The nurses (who all spoke English!), the facility, everything was very nice and affordable! No insurance, 56€ for the hospital visit and 2€ for all three of his medications!! One stale note about the experience, our doctor stopped speaking English once he realized I spoke french and did so well enough to clearly understand everything happening to our son. My husband asked him if he would please speak English again, and he straight up ignored him continuing only to talk directly to me in French. I translated it, no big deal to me, but hubby was pretty upset. So we did have one stereotypical French snobbery experience, but that’s it.
- No Kids Menu at most places sorry if you have a picky eater, there is McDonald’s there and frites are a french norm. I don’t really believe in the “kids” menu anyway. We just share our food with Sebastian or order him a small dish of something to supplement our sharing.
And that is really all I can think of. We rented an apartment from A la carte Paris. It was in a fantastic location for us, beautiful, clean and fully equipped. We will definitely be staying there again. Apartments are definitely the way to go in Paris with or without kids. We had a good trip despite some personal obstacles and illness. We will hopefully be back in the city of light in the near future, and actually get to use our Disneyland passes and not spend that day sick in the hospital instead!
Leave me some comments with questions or your own experiences!
Buon viaggio amici!