I sat talking with a mama at coffee when the kids first started school here. She was a seasoned ex-pat with several kiddos of her own, and she had that fabulous, confident aura of wisdom about her.
So I asked, "Where would you recommend we take our kids first for a long weekend?"
"Paris!" was her immediate response, and she started rattling off all the amazing things that are kid-friendly in the City of Love.
I listened a bit doubtfully. Paris? From what I remember on my high school German trip, it was kinda crazy, with a bunch of museums, masses of tourists, and crazy drivers. (Thankfully we were in a tour bus!) However, I had once told Finola, my almost five-year-old, that I would take her to the Eiffel Tower and we would have a picture together there -- just here and I! She loved the idea and we subsequently talked about it on a regular basis.
Now was our chance!
Despite my doubts, our first long weekend here - Easter! - we were hopping in our newly-acquired station wagon and driving across the border to France.
First, let me say, driving across Europe is a delight - if for the gas stations alone! Forget dirty truck stops with Icee machines and an obligatory Subway or Mickey D's. French gas stations are gourmet! I was pleasantly surprised to find a hot food cafeteria, which sold fresh bread, IG-worthy desserts, and next to the checkout...bottles of wine! Which they will uncork for you, but not re-cork...so...might want to have a wine stopper in your purse. Just sayin'. I threw away some perfectly good rosé.
And if you are judging me for drinking wine at a gas station while on a road trip with kids...then you probably don't have kids. Or you don't have three kids. Or your kids have devices which keep them quiet in the car. And hey, I wasn't driving, so, I indulged. Viva la France!
Without further adieu, here are a few mama tips for seriously enjoying Paris with your three small kids...
1. Stay within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. We walked about 30 minutes to get there, taking in the charm of the Parisian streets, and stopping for crepes if we were hungry at the cafes that abound. We have three kids - ages 6, 4, and 6 months - so thirty minutes was about our max. We pushed the baby in the sit-n-stand and the older two took turns riding, too. We also brought a baby carrier along to be able to mix things up!
|One of the days stopped for crepes + coffee at Le Dome, a cafe super close the Eiffel Tower.|
|A mama-daughter 'cheers' to Paris!|
|we had a lovely terrace with city views.|
|our place was beyond adorable. you cannot get this charm at a hotel.|
|the blondies adored their bedroom.|
|Baby Whit probably enjoyed himself as well.|
|hubby did breakfast runs to the market each morning.|
|most of our meals were purchases at a little market across from the street. oh, and we ordered pizza twice. #noshame|
5. Buy some cheap felt berets and then head to one of the two BIG carousels beneath the tower. Buy a ticket and hop right on with your kiddos! (There was no line when we went, even on a busy Saturday!) One of my favorite moments was on that carousel, going around and around and looking up at the Tower. It was pretty surreal. I kept thinking, Is this real life, or an Audrey Hepburn movie?
6. Take a leisurely walk along the Seine River. You could also take a river cruise if you've got the time. We simply walked from the carousel to the ferris wheel, which wasn't that far (maybe took a half hour) and there was a lovely little playground along the way. If you are walking on the same side of the Seine as the Eiffel Tower, towards the ferris wheel you can't miss it.
|taking a break as we crossed the Seine.|
|I was legit terrified but did it for the kiddos!|
|Our only family pic not taken with a selfie stick.|
9. Bring a selfie stick. This is my favorite advice to give for traveling anywhere with tiny kids. You're gonna want some family pics, obviously. Sure, you can ask strangers to take them. That could turn out completely fine. But with tiny kids it is hard to get a good one in one or two shots. Also, they love to see themselves in selfie mode, so you'll tend to get better smiles/expressions. Also, you can take a billion photos and not feel like you are bothering anyone (except your family...but that's okay, they love you!) Bonus tip : the best pics are when you yell "Everyone look silly!!!!!!" but then you and your partner do NOT act silly but smile happily. Your kids look adorable and will more likely be smiling, and you will not look annoyed because you're trying to coerce them into taking a nice family pic. Win-Win.
So was a weekend in Paris worth it with three littles? YES. Every moment. Sweet memories were made, without any crazy drama from either parent. Hurray!
That is what our kids will remember - that we were happy.
And maybe the Eiffel Tower, too.