My husband and I have each been to Paris separately and it’s a place we’ve both been eager to visit again. This Spring, we decided to head to Europe with our kids for our first trip as a family of four. We went with family friends to Madrid and Barcelona and enjoyed ourselves. Our last stop was Paris and it was the best way to end our trip! We were worried that Paris might not be the best city to visit with small children, but our fears were unfounded. See how we explored the city in just 3 days.
Paris with a Baby and Preschooler 3 Day Itinerary DAY 1: PARIS GREETERS WALKING TOUR & PARIS BY TUKTUK PARIS GREETERS:
We enjoyed a free 3-hour private walking tour of Boulogne (suburb of Paris) through Paris Greeters. This was a great way to see how real Parisians live. We put the baby in our Tula baby carrier and our 3-year-old rode in the stroller.
After the walk, we enjoyed coffee at a cafe in Boulogne before heading pack to our flat via Metro. This gave us time to use the bathroom, change a diaper, and reload our backpack. Then, we grabbed sandwiches on baguettes from the shop next to our flat and waited for our TukTuk driver to pick us up.
PARIS BY TUKTUK TOUR OF REAL LIFE OF PARIS:
Our Paris by TukTuk driver Arnaud was very knowledgeable about the city and our 3-year-old had fun waving at motorists and pedestrians from the back of the TukTuk. We were also able to drive on the sidewalks to avoid major traffic jams!
We stopped at a scenic lookout where my husband showed our 3-year-old how to take photos of the Eiffel Tower. We hopped back in and finished our tour driving on major streets in the heart of Paris. Arnaud dropped us at Saint Germaine neighborhood where we grabbed an early dinner of beef bourgignon and steamed mussels.
DAY 2: PHOTO SHOOT, ARC DE TRIOMPHE, SHOPPING & EIFFEL TOWER FLYTOGRAPHER PHOTO SHOOT:
We had arranged for a Flytographer photo shoot at 7:30am. It was insanely cold for April and we didn’t pack warm enough clothing. We layered clothing on the kids and my husband and I wore souvenir jackets we picked up. Not exactly what I had in mind but the photo shoot itself was a good experience and our photographer Olga was so sweet and personable! We got family photos at the Eiffel Tower, inside a warm cafe (which perked the kids up) and at the École Militaire.
After our photo shoot, we had breakfast at a very pricey cafe near École Militaire (hint: if you only see businessmen eating somewhere, you might look for a different cafe.) But, our kids were freezing and we needed to thaw everyone out before heading back to the flat.
Then, we walked along the Seine river while our 3-year-old slept in the stroller and our baby slept in the Tula until we got to our flat. This almost felt like a mini-date as my husband and I could just enjoy Paris and chat uninterrupted. We got back to the flat and layered more clothes on everyone and packed up our backpack.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE:
From our flat, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe. They had a spot to park our stroller and invited us to use the elevator since we had a baby (in our Tula) and a preschooler. We still had to walk 42 steps in a narrow staircase to get to the observation deck, but our 3-year-old managed easily. The observation area felt very safe for our 3-year-old and we were able to let him explore. My husband helped our preschooler look through the telescope to see the Eiffel Tower better. There was also an elevated spot for selfies. We headed back down to the base of the Arc de Triomphe and my husband took photos while my 3-year-old ran circles around me to get out some energy.
We started to get hungry, so we strolled down the Champs-Élysées to find food. This is one of the busiest tourist areas, but we had a hungry preschooler with us. We enjoyed crepes at a place right off the Champs-Élysées. We also used this time to plan the rest of our day.
SHOPPING IN PARIS:
We decided to go shopping so we wouldn’t have to worry about it on our last day. I had a long list of items to get at Monoprix and Monop’ and we had shopping lists from family members for specific items and specific stores. We ended up shopping for a few hours while the boys slept. We packed everyone on and in the stroller and realized we had to take a taxi back to the flat just to transport everything.
My husband was on the lookout for Duck Confit so we headed back out in search of this dish. He had checked Yelp and found a few places near our flat that were supposed to offer it, but none of them ended up having it. So, we started walking toward the Eiffel Tower hoping to find somewhere along the way. We didn’t find anywhere.
We arrived at the Eiffel Tower around 8:30pm and explored the base. The line for the elevator was 45 minutes long and we were all getting cold. Our 3-year-old spotted the carousel across the street and had his heart set on riding it. We decided that would be a better memory for him that standing in the cold. So we crossed the street and our son thoroughly enjoyed the carousel ride. We were hoping to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle but we weren’t sure when it happened. We saw it sparkle about 1 minute after we got in our taxi to head back to our neighborhood. While my 3-year-old and I were mesmerized, my husband was lamenting the fact that he could have photographed it had we stayed just 5 more minutes! C’est la vie!
We had the taxi drop us off at a restaurant who had a line out the door the first night we arrived. It was an awesome restaurant that only served steak with an amazing sauce and french fries. We sat down and the waitress asked us how we like our steak. She then wrote it on the table and came back with freshly cooked steak and fries! She just kept coming around refilling everyone’s plates with steak and fries and it was amazing! When we couldn’t eat any more, we wobbled back to our flat.
DAY 3: NOTRE DAME, SAINTE-CHAPPELLE, SACRE-COEUR, JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG NOTRE DAME & SAINTE-CHAPPELLE:
On our third day, we slept in a bit and then took the Metro to Notre Dame. We looked at it from the outside and debated waiting in line to look inside. I’d already seen the inside, but the rest of the family had not. We decided since it was our last day to just enjoy it from the outside and continue on.
We walked a few blocks to Sainte-Chappelle. I remembered being in awe of this church on my first visit to Paris and my husband had never been. There was hardly a line and we were able to park the stroller on the first level of the church. It was just as gorgeous as I remembered and our 3-year-old kept saying “wow!” and our baby just kept staring at the beautiful stained glass. There were chairs available so I sat with the kids while my husband took photos.
We were all getting a bit hungry so we walked across the street to a cafe for an early lunch. I thoroughly enjoyed my Croque Madame sandwich and shared it with our preschooler. Spirits were good, so we planned the rest of our day.
We took the Metro to Sacre-Coeur and walked up the back streets to get there. That’s when our son spotted the little train that tours around and he decided we HAD to ride it. When we got to the front of Sacre-Coeur, we found out that the next train would leave in 35 minutes, so we had plenty of time to look inside the church. We were also able to see a beautiful panoramic view of Paris. Had we not been so tired, we would have climbed up to the Dome to get an even better look. At this point, our 3-year-old was worried that the train would leave without us, so we decided to get on board.
The little Montmartrain toured us around Sacre-Coeur and throughout the artsy area of Montmartre and the burlesque area of Pigalle. We saw the famous Moulin Rouge and many stores featuring lingerie, etc. Our 3-year-old was fully passed out at this point. The train ride was about 35 minutes long.
We got tickets to ride a little gondola down to the base of Sacre-Coeur. It was a quick ride but saved us many steps. At the base, we decided to grab some crepes and drinks and headed to the little park on site.
It was late afternoon and the park was filled with French children who were nibbling on sweet treats before playing. After awhile, our son noticed the carousel and was eager to take a spin. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to let our baby ride his first carousel, too!
JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG:
Next up was Jardin du Luxumbourg. We tried to take the Metro there but at the connecting station, there was an issue with the train and it wasn’t moving. It was insanely crowded and my husband almost had his wallet stolen. But, we got out of the station and looked for a taxi. We were at Gare du Nord and things felt sketchy to us, so we quickly walked a few blocks and then grabbed a taxi to take us to Jardin du Luxembourg.
This was one of my favorite stops in Paris! My son had been thumbing through a guidebook for Paris with children for the past 2 months and every time he came across the Jardin du Luxembourg, he told me he wanted to “do the boats.” As we entered the garden, he spotted the boats in the little pond and gleefully shouted “Mommy! They have the little boats here!” For just 3.5 Euro, we were able to rent a vintage toy boat for 30 minutes. We got there just before they closed and our son was in pure heaven for those 30 minutes! We also hit the sandbox area after and our 3-year-old played with French children who were so kind to share their sand toys.
For our last dinner in Paris, we were determined to find Duck Confit and we found a place near Jardin du Luxumbourg. We enjoyed our last dinner in Paris and grabbed a taxi to take us back to the flat so we could pack.
7 Tips for Exploring Paris with a Baby and Preschooler
Accommodations: We rented a flat through AirBnB that was a 10 minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe. It was much cheaper than any hotel I could find that was near a Metro stop and near attractions. We were on the 6th floor and while there was an elevator, we were only able to fit 3 people total (with no bags.) My husband usually sent me up with the kids first and then he’d take the stroller and backpack with him second. I liked that there was a microwave and fridge so we could eat a bit in the flat. It was also near a taxi stand, which was helpful when we headed to the airport with all our luggage.
Food: We found that almost every restaurant we went to assumed we’d want a hamburger and french fries for our 3-year-old. This was a bit frustrating as our son usually tries new foods and doesn’t really eat hamburgers at home. But, once it was offered, he seemed to think that was his only choice and he primarily just ate french fries. I’d recommend just sharing whatever you order with your preschooler, if they are interested in tasting new foods. And we found freshly squeezed orange juice (at a range of prices) at almost every cafe and restaurant and our 3-year-old LOVED it. You can squeeze it yourself at Monoprix for a fraction of the price and drink it at your flat.
Nursing: I wasn’t sure about the reaction I’d get nursing my 6-month-old son in public. I had heard that it’s unusual to see French women nursing their babies (and I never saw anyone else breastfeeding in Paris.) I’m usually pretty discrete and wore nursing tops but didn’t use a nursing cover. I didn’t get any weird looks and felt comfortable nursing on the Metro, in cafes/restaurants, and at parks.
Formula/Baby Food: My youngest son is breast-fed but I ended up getting the stomach flu early in the trip and my milk supply dropped. Thankfully, I had brought some formula with me to help supplement. When we ran out, we checked the supermarket for more and were surprised to only find flavored formula (chocolate or vanilla.) I was also shocked to find baby food pouches that were 5x more expensive than the U.S. I had been hoping to try French baby food, but at those prices, I refrained. I’d recommend packing your own formula and baby food.
Bring a Lightweight Stroller: We were really 50/50 on whether to bring a stroller to Paris. We usually wear our baby in a carrier and our 3-year-old has no problem walking around all day. However, my husband and I both were glad to have it. After walking all over Madrid and Barcelona, our 3-year-old was tired and needed breaks in the stroller. Plus, he was able to nap while we were out and about. It was a bit cumbersome to carry it up and down the Metro stairs but we made sure to keep the stroller storage area empty so we could quickly fold it up. And when we went shopping, it was great to load our bags on the stroller and then just taxi back to our flat. Many restaurants also held our stroller at the front or advised us where we could store it while we ate.
Souvenirs: We found that many attractions had a machine of souvenir medallions available for 2 Euro each. Our 3-year-old loved these. He not only enjoyed the process of actually buying the medallion, but he loved holding them and looking at the pictures on them. He started looking for the machines everywhere we went and it was kind of like a fun scavenger hunt. I’d also recommend visiting Monoprix for affordable food souvenirs (like cookies, dijon mustard, chocolate, etc) and Monop’ for fantastic beauty/health items and the cutest baby/children’s clothing.
Potty Training: We ended up having our 3-year-old wear Pull-Ups when we were touring around Paris. There were often lines at the bathrooms at attractions (expected) and most of the restrooms at restaurants seemed to be down spiral staircases that took awhile to get to with a preschooler. By wearing the Pull-Ups, we saved ourselves from having multiple changes of clothes for each outing. We didn’t use Pull-Ups for the first half of our trip and we went through almost all the pants we had brought and didn’t have an opportunity to wash/dry them.
I definitely recommend Paris as a great destination for families with babies and preschoolers. We found the French people to be so nice to us! Three days is just not enough to really explore. If we had a few more days, we would have spent half a day at Jardin d’Acclimation in Boulogne, got tickets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, eaten ice cream at Berthilon at Ile Saint Louis, rode The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde and done a Seine boat cruise. We specifically didn’t go to any museums this trip because we’re hoping to come back when the kids are older. This will give us a good excuse!
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