Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paris by Playground

For Father's Day we took Tom on a Playground Tour of Paris.  In between playgrounds we managed to sneak in a bit of sightseeing, too.  Our 9 year old served as our tour guide on this trip.  She read The Lonely Planet Not For Parents book about Paris and was able to tell us something about nearly every place we visited.   ("Hey, is this the Place de la Concorde where Marie Antoinette was beheaded?"  or "Oh, that's a Wallace Fountain!" or "See that flame?  It's a duplicate of the one the Statue of Liberty holds.")  That girl is a real gem!

We stayed in a family suite at the recently renovated Hotel de l'Empereur which was located right behind Les Invalides and within easy walking distance of many sights, including the rue Cler market and the Eiffel Tower.  We soon learned that navigating the Paris Metro with a stroller and 3 kids is a real challenge, so we did a lot of walking.

Day 1

Catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa
After a "quick" tour of the Louvre (the kids used this book as a guide) we made our way across the Seine and added our own padlock to the Pont des Arts.  (Read the story of these love padlocks here).

We marveled at the rose windows inside Notre Dame and imagined the hunchback up in the tower.

The center of Paris.  In front of Notre Dame.
Our driver had suggested  Relais de l'Entrecote for dinner and it was amazing.   Diners start queuing up 20 minutes before the restaurant opens. There's no menu, the waitress simply asks how you like your meat cooked.  Then the food comes out- the most delicious salad, frites, and steak.  Unlike most French restaurants, it's fast so it was a good choice with 3 hungry kids.

Queuing up for a delicious dinner
We wrapped up day one with a little playground time, of course!

Day 2 began with a walk through the rue Cler market where we bought the most delicious strawberries to munch on our way to the Eiffel Tower.  We ate them so fast I didn't even get a photo- but trust me- they were gorgeous!

It was a clear, sunny day and the crowds at the Eiffel Tower were huge.  The wait for the one working lift was several hours long so we opted to take the stairs (nearly 700 to the second level).  If only we had known that you cannot leave your stroller at the bottom!  Poor Tom not only had the baby on his back, but the stroller in his arms as well.  It was quite a workout but the views from the top were amazing.  It was definitely a highlight we will all remember for a long, long time to come!
The view from the top!
We spent the rest of the day recovering with carousel rides, cotton candy, crepes and ice cream cones. 
We tromped through the playground at the Trocadero and bounced on the trampolines in the Jardin des Tulieres. 

Well, some of us bounced.

Day 3
We saved the best (playground) for last.  Sure, you have to pay to enter the playground at the Jardin du Luxembourg- but it is worth it.  The kids spent hours running around, riding the flying fox, sliding and digging in the sand.  They took a spin on the old carousel and tried to spear the rings with a wooden sword. 
We strolled through the beautiful manicured gardens. On the weekends you can sail a toy boat in the pond or go for a pony ride.
It seems everywhere you look in Paris the view is simply breathtaking.

Before meeting up with some California friends for our final dinner, we stopped by Les Invalides where we saw the impressive tomb of Napoleon.  My daughter remarked, "That's a pretty big coffin for such a small man."
Napoleon's Tomb is beneath the gold dome.
The kids are already talking about the "next time" they visit Paris.  I don't know when that will be, but I am so glad they got to see this amazing city.  It wasn't a weekend full of museums and late night leisurely dinners at Michelin-star restaurants but it was a weekend full of family fun and happy kids.  It's the kind of trip we do best.

Planning Paris with your kids?  Check out these cool city walk cards.  We found them really useful and fun!


  1. Jenny, looks like we both have some kind of telepathy cause right after your trip we head over to the same place..:-) We are headed to Paris next month when the schools close for summer. We have booked our tickets for the Eiffel tower online and have chosen the late evening slot since we love to look over cities as the sun sets. I have been doing a lot of research on a book for the kids and after reading quite some reviews I narrowed down on the Lonely Planet book. Just got to place an order!! The kids want to visit Disneyland, though I am not too keen on it. I am not a Disney girl..:D

  2. May- what a coincidence! I hope you and your family enjoy Paris as much as we did. That Lonely Planet book is great- do order it. We passed on Disney since we are from California. I wanted to spend my time in Paris seeing things we can't see at home. But I've heard from others that it is a lot of fun. Looking forward to hearing about your trip. xx

  3. Paris has the best playgrounds! Love all your pictures!

  4. Loved every minute of this post :-)

  5. I LOVE reading all of your adventures! You and the kids will have amazing memories and tales to tell for the rest of your lives! :)

  6. i absolutely love that you did this and let the kids be the guides...what a great way to foster independence, travelers curiosity and create great memories- kuddos to you parents!

  7. Jenny, I absolutely loved this post! You guys are getting out and doing such cool and interesting things! I will definitely be checking out the books you mentioned-- when we went to Paris Amelia was just four, but she loves knowing about what is all around her, and she really loved Paris. We'll have to get the books and plan a trip soon-- I loved all of your daughter's insights. This was really cool!

  8. Thanks for these great suggestions! Our son is not really looking forward to our trip to Paris in December because last time we were there we went to lots of galleries. We will definitely hit the playgrounds this time, if it's not snowing that is!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  9. This is WONDERFUL! I'm bookmarking those guides for my son when he's old enough. I love Paris and cannot wait to share it with him :-)

  10. Thanks for your comments, friends. Natasha, since you've already seen the galleries, you should have more time for kid-stuff this time around. All ages will love the park at Luxembourg. My 9 yr old spent hours on the flying fox/zip line set up there.
    Jenny G.- Paris is fun for all ages- don't wait too long to take your little one.


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