My love affair with Paris began more than 20 years ago when I took the amazing opportunity to study abroad and live with a French family. I was lucky enough to be placed with the most generous and kind family living in a gorgeous apartment in the 6th arrondissement. That stay changed my life forever!
Countless trips returning to the city I now call my “second home” began long before my eldest Elodie was born and continue to be a deep source of delight!
Paris as a family
We usually come to Paris annually but the pandemic disrupted our habits. This summer trip was thus Elodie's third time to the capital and Honor’s very first…even more exciting for us!
Seeing the girls fall in love with the city at such a young age fills my heart with an indescribable joy! Travelling as a family is a beautiful gift : it allows me to discover the city through the eyes of a child which is an entirely different (and even more pleasurable) experience!
Traditions in Paris
We always start our trip with a boat cruise down the Seine! It’s the easiest way to get immersed in Paris after the overnight flight from the US! This visit, we chose a children’s tour on Vedettes de Paris. The crew gave the girls little treats to enjoy as well as some coloring books and information on the monuments along the river.
Best place to stay in Paris
We always stay on the Left Bank near the Jardin du Luxembourg.The area brings back all of my wonderful memories from my days as a student. Having the park nearby also makes it a great location when traveling with young children.
For this trip we stayed at Hotel le Six on Rue Stanislas. It is very central, close to several metro lines, surrounded by plenty of cafés and a small Monoprix supermarket which is helpful in a pinch! The staff is multilingual which makes it easy no matter where you’re traveling from. We stayed in a suite which consisted of two rooms allowing us to have a peaceful retreat at the end of our exciting days of adventure! We will definitely be staying here again next year.
Favorite family activities in Paris
Bringing the girls to the Jardin du Luxembourg, 5 minutes away from the hotel was a daily treat. They especially loved riding the carousel and playing the “bâton” game with the local children. The aim is to catch a ring with a little stick, a bâton.
Place des Vosges in Le Marais is another spot we enjoy! The girls can run on the grass and enjoy the beautiful fountains. The most wonderful shops as well as the Victor Hugo museum can be found under the archways!
Of course our girls had to take a ride on the carousel near Metro Saint-Paul. Cars, motorbikes and helicopters, fantasy spaceships... They loved it! It soon became a game for the girls to find carousels throughout the city to try!
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower! Our girls had no fear of heights and loved seeing Paris in all of its beauty from above.
This inspired us to try out the Grande Roue de Paris which is a big ferris wheel, Place de la Concorde. I was more frightened than my children but so happy I did it! The view from the top is breathtaking!
One additional fun activity to do with children just outside of Paris is to spend a day in Versailles. We didn’t get to visit on our most recent trip, but when Elodie was younger we rented a golf cart and explored the grounds. An easy way to make it extra exciting for children.
Favourite children's boutique in Paris
Our favorite boutique is of course L’Île aux Fees! What a blessing to be strolling down the street and discover this fairyland. (The store name actually means fairy island). We were instantly transported to another realm where everything is beautiful and whimsical.
We made several stops in as our girls kept asking to get another dress to wear. They fell in love with the beautiful patterns and felt like true princesses the moment they put the dresses on!
Our youngest picked a cute navy and white dress with a window embroidery and had to wear it straight out of the boutique and into the Jardin du Luxembourg! I love how children in Paris dress up even when going to the park!
The handmade traditional smocked and embroidered dresses can also be purchased only at charlottesydimby.com and shipped worldwide.
Favourite cafés and restaurants in Paris
French food is always a big highlight when visiting Paris! We make sure to have dinner at least once at our favorite restaurant, Le bistrot des Campagnes in the 14th arrondissement. They serve traditional French dishes made with fresh products and the setting is lovely, it has a very traditional feel.
The staff is lovely and always very welcoming whenever we visit! My girls said they had the most delicious chicken for dinner!
Bread and Roses near the Jardin du Luxembourg was a new find. Again, the staff was extremely friendly and it was the perfect spot for lunch! We stopped by several times during our trip to enjoy a slice of quiche and a glass of rosé before heading back to the Jardin with the girls!
This visit we were able to meet up with my “French brother” Charlie, the son of the family with whom I lived with so many years ago. He invited us to the most amazing restaurant : Le Train Bleu which is situated in the Gare de Lyon. It has a majestic setting with stunning chandeliers everywhere you look. The food was divine as was the service. It is an experience I will cherish forever!
For a casual dinner we enjoyed taking the girls to Café Montparnasse. We would sit outside and enjoy being a part of the hustle and bustle of Paris! They have a great kids menu and delicious ice cream!
I must also mention our lunch at the chic and trendy L’Avenue located Avenue Montaigne! It is perfect after our traditional visit to the Arc de Triomphe (I highly recommend climbing up to admire the view) and luxury boutique shopping on the right bank (Louis Vuitton, Chanel...). It is a fancy experience for all the family!
Our girls love the goat cheese and spinach omelette and I adore the tuna tartare with a glass of Sancerre!
Sweetest moments of your trip
A special memory from this trip was taking my oldest daughter to the Chanel flagship on Avenue Montaigne. My husband was gifting me my first classic flap bag! I was beyond excited and knew that I needed to share this moment with Elodie as a special treat. Hearing her tell of that experience is such a joy! She remembers every detail of the boutique, the people, the fashion…it was a wonderful experience for the two of us!
Teaching my girls a few French basic words and hearing them speak was the sweetest. Those "bonjour", "merci" said with huge smiles will remain in my heart for a long time! Nothing makes me happier than to see them fall in love with not only the city but also the language and culture!
Another rather unexpected highlight of the trip was the métro! Our youngest squealed with delight every time she was lucky enough to ride an “ascenseur” (escalator) and the more crowded the train was the happier the girls!
This is another thing I love about travelling with children. What we adults see as mundane or negative, they see as exciting and consider an adventure! So in addition to our long walks (My husband tracked us as walking 30 miles during our visit!!) we were sure to take the métro at least a few times.
A favourite French saying
Joie de vivre! It embodies what I feel each time I set foot in the city I love. It’s the reason I keep coming back. It’s contagious, enlightening and oh so fulfilling! Paris gives me that beautiful gift which I love all the more now that I can share it with my children.
French IG account which you enjoy following
I love following @parisiensinparis which features Parisien captured in the street for their effortless style which I am so fond of! It transports me instantly to the streets of Paris.
I also enjoy following @ruerodier (a Brit who lives in Paris). It is fun to see her acclimate to a new culture and city. She also has great style!
Follow Kristen and her family on Instagram @kristenbabsmiller