Thinking about traveling to the French capital with your little one but wondering if it’s a good idea? Great parks and open spaces, world class museums and endless places to explore with kids in Paris make it a great family destination. But as with every big city, visiting Paris with your baby will require some planning and preparation. To help you get your family all packed and ready to go for a fun and stress-free vacation we compiled a few tips on visiting Paris with a baby!
WHAT TO PACK
- A stroller will be necessary if you travel with an infant, but one thing to keep in mind is that space in Paris is very limited, whether it’s on the streets, metros, buses, restaurants and even apartments. If your stroller is oversized leave it behind and opt for a lightweight stroller that folds easily.
- A baby carrier is definitely recommended for the days you plan to use the stairs a lot, or visit monuments that are not accessible with a stroller.
To help you decide if you should go with the stroller or baby carrier check out our recommendation on the five main Paris attractions.
- A backpack style diaper bag instead of a shoulder bag will be easier to carry around and will allow you to keep your hands free, especially useful at the airport.
- Changing pads are a must when changing on the go, especially because changing tables are hard to find in Paris, even in restaurants. If you are not planning on washing them, opt for disposable changing pads.
- Portable high chair: Restaurants in Paris won’t always have high chairs, or they might be too big for your baby to fit in. To avoid having to hold your baby on your lap while you eat, we suggest you bring a portable high chair that clamps to most tables.
- Wondering if you should bring enough diapers, baby wipes or baby food for the whole stay? The answer is no, as these items can be found at any local supermarket (such as Carrefour, Monoprix or Franprix). These stores offer a large variety of baby meals for children up to 24 months, baby snacks, fruit puree, cereals and yogurts. Because the formula brands can be different from the ones your baby is used to, it might be safer to bring your own.
Airport transfersThere are many ways to travel from the airport to central Paris, the cheapest being the RATP (Paris public transportation company) RER trains. However when traveling with a baby and carrying lots of luggage, you may want to consider other options as these trains are usually very crowded and not easy to navigate with a stroller.
A convenient alternative and still affordable way to reach the center of Paris from the airport would be the Airport Bus system. Each bus has room for storage and you won’t need to drag your luggage through busy subway stations.The easiest way remains the taxi. You can hop on a taxi at the stand outside of the airport, but a baby seat won’t be guaranteed. Several taxi companies in Paris will let you book an immediate taxi and request a baby seat. Taxis G7 for example will let you request a “family cab” equipped with boosters and baby seats.
For the most convenient and stress free experience, Welcome is a baby-friendly airport transfer service with a cost comparable to the cost of a regular taxi. The driver will be holding a Welcome sign with your name on it when you arrive at the airport and the car will be equipped with the requested infant carrier, child seat or booster.
Getting around the cityWhile the subway system in Paris is excellent and takes you everywhere you need to go, it is also famous for being hard to navigate for families with strollers. Most stations aren’t equipped with escalators or elevators. It is feasible to take the Paris Metro with your baby but keep in mind that you’ll need to be able to carry what you bring with you up and down many stairs. Try to avoid rush hour (Monday through Friday, roughly between 7:30 and 9:00 AM and 5:00 and 7:00 PM) when the subways are very crowded. When possible, try to travel by bus. The network is extensive and there is reserved seating for strollers. As a plus, parents will get to enjoy the view of the city during the trip. It is better to board with your baby at the rear doors of the bus and park your stroller directly at the space allocated for them.
Download the RATP map to easily find bus stops around the city and their schedule.
Children under 4 can travel free on any public transport networks!
Many find that the best way to get around Paris is on foot. In the heart of Paris distances are shorter that one might imagine. If the weather permits, try to get to your destination by foot at least once instead of taking public transportation. Discovering Paris this way makes you stop and take in those moments that you might have missed otherwise, and there will be plenty of things to capture your baby’s attention along the way! If you choose to walk around Paris for a day, plan ahead and choose an area with easy walking routes. The area around the Champs Élysées has wide footpaths making it easy to use the stroller. The banks of the Seine River are also easy to maneuver around.
However the streets in the Latin Quarter and Montmartre can be more difficult to navigate with a stroller as they can be very crowded, narrow and many of the streets are cobblestoned. This is another situation where a lightweight stroller or baby carrier will come in handy!
WHERE TO STAY
Renting a vacation rental in Paris during your stay is an excellent option as apartments provide more space than in a hotel room and offer traditional amenities and comforts you would find in your own home. Here are some amenities a building/apartment should have to make your trip with your baby easier:
Elevator: In Paris buildings average five to six floors and many don’t have elevators. The stairs in Paris’ buildings have an interesting history, but if you don’t want to lug a stroller up and down long flights of stairs several times a day, make sure there is an elevator, and ask for its size to make sure your stroller fits in!
Washer/dryer: being able to wash and dry yours and your baby’s clothes will allow you to pack lighter.
Bathtub: A shower is not a convenient way to bathe an infant. Look for an apartment that has a bathtub to make bathing easier and safer for you and your child.
All of these amenities can be found in this one bedroom vacation rental near Montmartre : a crib is available upon request; it is only a 15 min walk to the Sacre Coeur, it is located on the first floor and comes equipped with a washer and dryer!
If you wish to be closer to the center of Paris, check out this 3 bedroom vacation rental in Le Marais. Here your baby will have 160 sqm (645 sqf) of space to crawl/walk around and play! This apartment is located in an elevator building equipped with a washer, dryer, dishwasher and a bathtub. The fully equipped kitchen makes it easy to prepare meals at home so you won’t have to venture out to a restaurant every night with your baby. If you decide to eat out, you will be right in the center of Paris, close to many restaurants.
For larger families, this 4 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom vacation rental at the Grands Boulevards is on the ground floor of a building with a private backyard where your children can get some fresh air at home if your busy day did not allow for a walk in the park or a playground outing.
High chair? Changing tables? Crayons? It might be best to assume that most restaurants won’t be offering any of them! Many restaurants or cafes in Paris are also small and won’t have much room for strollers (another reason why it’s best to leave the gigantic stroller at home). But that doesn’t mean you and your family won’t be able to enjoy the food France is so famous for! Simply come prepared, bring a few of your baby’s favorite toys to keep him entertained, a portable high chair if you have one, and if possible arrive early evening when restaurants are more quiet (the French usually start dinner at around 7:30-8pm). To make the experience of eating-out even more fun for your baby, check-out these kid-friendly cafés and restaurants, equipped with high chairs, changing mats and even a play corner:
Les 400 coups, located in Paris’ 19th arrondissement is an easy going restaurant that only serves fresh food cooked on site with seasonal ingredients and has a kids-friendly space with toys, books and a huge black board.
Fan de Carotte in the 17th arrondissement offers homemade organic food in a place designed to keep your children entertained!
Monbini in the 15th arrondissement has everything so that kids and their parents can have the best time possible: a store selling baby gifts and toys, a café where parents can relax while enjoying homemade lunch and cakes, and a play area where children can try out some creative games.
Super Café in the 20th arrondissement is another cozy breakfast/coffee spot with plenty of games and space to play inside.
BABY FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN PARIS
Incorporate some playtime in your daily itinerary by checking out the Cité des Enfants at La Villette with its exhibitions all targeted at children 2 years old and above. The Palais de la Découverte has science-related exhibits and activities adapted to children’s interest, and as a bonus: they are interesting for adults too!
Children under 2 years old will love seeing all sorts of animals at the Parc Zoologique of Paris or the shark tunnel and the petting pool at the Aquarium of Paris. At the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne you’ll find an educational farm, boat rides, a funfair with mini rollercoaster, puppet shows and many more of activities for children of all ages.Pair tourism with playtime at some of the Paris’ most beautiful parks. At Place des Vosges you can admire the stunning sumptuous private residences that once were the home of famous artists such as Victor Hugo while your little one builds castles in the sandpits. The Jardin du Luxembourg hosts the oldest carousel in the city, a puppet theatre, a large playground, sandpits, and several benches to relax with your baby and enjoy the scenery.
Another not-to-be-missed green space in the 17th arrondissement: the Square des Batignolles, with its grotto, waterfall, river and pond. The spot is an ideal starting point from which to explore the surrounding neighborhood. Check out our blog on more family-friendly things to do in Paris.
In the mood for a shopping session in the fashion capital with baby? The Galeries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann department stores have a large selection of adult and children’s clothing, toys and games. In addition, they have a nursery with changing tables, a sink, microwave and a feeding chair.
Offer your baby the ultimate luxury Parisian shopping experience at one of the two Baby Dior boutiques in Paris! There is no reason why haute couture should be reserved for adults only!
The City of Love has something to offer and can be an unforgettable experience for people of all ages. All you have to do now is start planning for your trip! If you need help finding the perfect vacation rental for your family trip to Paris, send us a request through our website!