Paris

Ah! The City of Light. In 2011 we put all of our things in a storage unit and flew to Paris France. It was one of the scariest decisions we've ever made but has proven to also be one of the most rewarding! Here is a Paris Guide a friend wrote for us when we came to Paris on our Honeymoon. I'm putting together my own recommendations as I get to know the city better. In the meantime you can read about Things to Do in Paris and Things to Eat in Paris. Thinking about making the move abroad yourself? Read about my experience moving and living in France right here.

10 Things to Do in Paris with Kids

This post is sponsored by HomeAway.com. Discover the world’s largest selection of vacation home rentals with HomeAway.com. Let’s stay together.

I just had someone ask me for recommendations on things to do in Paris with kids again so I thought it would be good to get it online on one place. So, here goes.

1. Pizza Picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. Does visiting French restaurants with kids make you nervous? Avoid the whole thing by picking up a pizza at Gusto Italia (their veggie pizza is really good) then take it across the street to the park for a picnic right in front of the Eiffel Tower.

2. Bike Rides. Velib, Paris’ public bike system is amazing, the only problem is there is no way to bring the kids along. Paris’ bicycle path system is extensive and biking is one of my favorite ways to get around especially when tourist season hits. If you are nervous about biking in a big city stick to park paths and some of the bike paths along the Seine. You can rent bikes with kids seats right here.

3. Le 104. This is one of the most special places in Paris. It is part art installation, part interactive museum. The installations are made to play in and “experience” and are perfect for both children and adults. In addition to the changing exhibitions Le 104 is also home to my favorite carousel in the world.

4. Seine Boat Tour. Pick up a ride at Ile St. Louis for an hour long cruise through the center of Paris at sunset. The kids love the boats and you can see the big sites in one fell swoop.

5. Puppet Show. Some of the bigger parks like Jardin de Luxembourg and Champ de Mars have the classic old marionette shows. They are in French but have a lot of physical comedy that any 3 year old will think is hilarious. Check for exact times but they are usually in the afternoons on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

6. Carousels. There are as many carousels in Paris as there are Starbucks in Manhattan. That might be a slight exaggeration but really, they are everywhere. It is so great to be able to stop throughout the day and treat your kids to a carousel ride.

7. Toy Sailboats.  Some of the parks like Jardin de Luxembourg and the Tuileries have adorable toy boat rentals run by equally adorable old men. You choose your boat and send it off into the little pond with a stick to guide it. It is surprisingly entertaining and makes for great photos.

8. Parc Floral. A friend introduced me to this impressive park last year. It is enormous and has the best toys of any park I’ve been to (they are really awesome!) If Disneyland were a public park  it would be Parc Floral. Mountains of slides, ziplines, fields of flowers, and snack bars aplenty.

9. The Cité des Enfants is one of our favorite kids museums. It’s especially great for younger kids and toddlers. Lots of science related toys to play with. A really well done children’s museum.

10. Ferris Wheel. In the winter the Ferris Wheel sits prominently at the bottom of the Champs Elysees (and during the summer months there is one in the Tuileries.) Hop on for a ride and a 360 degree view of the city.

all photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day

ps Here are my tips for traveling with kids and tips for traveling on airplanes with kids. Plus 6 tips for planning the best vacation ever.

10 Things I Love and Don’t Love about Living in Paris

One year! It’s been one year since we moved to Paris. I can’t believe it. Moving here was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I’m SO glad we did it. People always ask what it is like to live here and honestly, it is better than I imagined. Not to say there aren’t hard things. Neither Paul or I speak French (we’ve picked up a little since we moved here) so that has made some things a lot more difficult. In general I’m an optimist who tends to brush over the bad parts of things so I made a list of my 10 things I love and don’t love about living in Paris. (You know, to be fair and balanced.)

10 Awesome things about Living in Paris

-Cheese. There is nothing like the quality and the variety of choices.
-Bread. Fresh warm bread is available on most streets to the average person for about 1 Euro.
-People Dress Well. Wearing yoga pants in public isn’t acceptable. You put on lipstick just to go around the corner to get bread.
-The city is beautiful. Light reflects off the white stone buildings in the most amazing ways.
-The French expect things from their government (in a good way.)
-Have you a had a croissant from the bakery first thing in the morning? It is life changing.
-People are well trained for their jobs. Even a vocation like a florist has years of training before they work.
-The French average 10 weeks of vacation a year. Americans average 3. (They got us on this one guys.)
-The Eiffel Tower sparkles. It sparkles!!!
-I feel much more supported as a mother. (There are places on the buses for moms with strollers, people will always stop to help you carry a stroller up and down the metro steps. Preschools are excellent and are state supported so they are free or cheap.)

 

10 Hard things about Living in Paris

-Washers and Dryers take forever. Really, all day.
-Dryers don’t really dry, so you have to iron everything.
-Customer Service involves power struggles and pouring out your heart about a personal drama.
-Moses’ teacher gave him a frowny face on an assignment. He’s three. (ha!)
-People feel a need to conform or “fit in” here.
-I have a hard time drinking milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
-They don’t let you sit on the grass at parks. (It’s so pretty and green and you can’t touch it.)
-Efficiency isn’t a thing, it takes all day to run just a few errands.
-Stores close early and have inconsistent hours.
-I have a renewed compassion for anyone who moves to a new country without speaking the language. You feel powerless.

photos by Paul Ferney

 

Little Paris Paintings

Paul painted this small series of Paris storefronts last year. I love how they look close up. They are available for another few days online before he sends them off to a gallery, so get ‘em while they’re hot.

Little Paris Paintings

Paul painted this series of little Paris paintings over the summer and just offered them for sale today. They come framed and ready to hang (and make beautiful presents!) A lot of these are from our neighborhood so they make me nostalgic. PS: For Christmas delivery they must be purchased by December 14th.

Staying in a Paris Apartment

This post is sponsored by Haven in Paris, a boutique, luxury, vacation rental agency with more than 15 years of experience in the tourist industry in Paris, France and Italy. See all of their properties right here. They also run a helpful Paris blog right here.

When we first moved to Paris we rented this apartment in Montmartre from Haven in Paris while we looked for a permanent house. One thing I started noticing when I traveled here is all the Europeans would recommend apartments to stay in when we told them were were planning a trip. In Europe renting an apartment when you travel instead of staying in a hotel is very common. And I came to learn there are major perks from traveling like that.

One. It’s a reality that most hotel rooms in Paris, are itty bitty. We stayed at a few fancy hotels on our honeymoon and I was shocked to see how small they were compared with how much we were paying a night. Apartments in Paris, while not known for being enormous are much larger than a standard Paris hotel room.

Two. It is a more authentic Paris experience to stay in an apartment. It gets you off the tourist grid and into the adorable Paris neighborhoods. You say “bonjour” to your neighbors while you walk up the stairs and nod your head at the old woman sitting on the balcony next to yours. You get to experience what its like to live in another culture.

Three. Having your own kitchen when you travel is the best! We bought a rotisserie and some beautiful side dishes from a deli and set up a large spread while we watched the sunset off the balcony. It was fantastic. My Haven in Paris greeter Evelyne, took me around the market in Montmartre and taught me how to shop and showed me all the beautiful things that were in season. It was so inspiring that I ended up cooking in our apartment and trying new dishes all the time.

Four. You have more control over your vacation. When you book a hotel they show you the best pictures of their best room but somehow the room you end up in looks a lot different than those pretty pictures. When you rent an apartment the place you see is the place you get.

Have you ever rented an apartment instead of a hotel? What did you think?