Paris with a Baby

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Francophile. While my French is rather abysmal, there are few places that make me as happy and at ease as France. However, (and may I say, to Darling Husband’s GREAT dismay) I speak excellent Menu French and Shopping French. Darling Husband always jokes that I can spend money in French, but can’t actually earn money in this gorgeous language. C’est la vie!

With myself and Darling Husband loving France so much, and the relative ease at which one can travel between Montreal and Paris, we knew that we wanted to visit with madam as soon as our schedules allowed. Around madam’s eight-month mark, we were able to take off for a week in Paris. At first, I was rather daunted to be flying with an infant and spent a good deal of time before we left researching and asking every mum I know for their tips and tricks. Typically, my travel research is centered around what new restaurants to try, museums to discover, and boutiques to visit, but for this trip my biggest concern was how to do this all with a baby in tow. Fret not my travel-loving mums, it’s all quite possible and not nearly as daunting as you might assume! With just a little extra care and consideration, your traveling days need not be over. I’ve put together some of my favorite tips, tricks, and travel goodies that made our first transatlantic adventure (avec bébé) totally enjoyable. While this article was written with Paris in mind, many of the suggestions and items that we found helpful would be useful for many countless other destinations.

For the flight. Call the airline and book the bulkhead seats, if possible. The extra leg room will come in handy with your little one, and give you a little extra breathing space. Also, depending upon the age of your child, you might even be able to request a basinet. We had this on the flight to Paris and it was incredibly helpful. We purposely took the red-eye so that madam would stick as close to her sleep schedule as possible, with the hope of her sleeping most of the flight there – and she did! But on the return flight, things did not go the same way… I had to employ every single toy, song, game, and snack to keep her occupied and happy on the seven-hour mid-day flight home. For takeoff and landing, breastfeeding, a pacifier, or drinking from a bottle or sippy cup can be useful for combating the popping sensation in your little one’s ears.

Rent your big baby gear there. Besides her clothing, travel sized toiletries, some toys to keep her entertained on the plane, a carrier, and the bare feeding necessities (a travel bowl, spoon (this one in particular is AMAZING, and two bottles), we tried to pack as light as possible. I knew we would want a stroller upon arrival, so I rented one with a local company. It was delivered directly to our hotel along with a friendly guide book covering some local locations that would be of interest to families and was waiting for us at check-in. Our hotel also had a crib waiting in our room all ready for madam. I suggest calling ahead to see if your hotel can provide one – and pack an extra swaddle or crib sheet to use just in case the linen provided by the hotel isn’t to your liking. The service that I ordered the stroller from also had a wide selection of other baby items for rent, from cribs and car seats to baby bathtubs and toys. They also quite helpfully retrieve the rented items at the end of your visit directly from your hotel, so you need not worry about returning them.

Book family photos. No matter your location, a family vacation is special and absolutely worth memorializing. Knowing that we would go to Paris during madam’s first year, I held off taking professional family photos and instead opted to wait for this special trip. We used Flytopgraher and were connected with Olga, an amazing local photographer who shot the most gorgeous photos of us that I know we will always treasure. You can find out more about Flytographer from my post about them {here}, and check out the many locations around the world where their photographers are available.

Be prepared to improvise. You’ll quickly realize that outside of some major tourist attractions like the Louvre, changing tables in public bathrooms are rare at best. Also, be prepared for a lack of high chairs and booster seats in most restaurants and cafés as well. I highly recommend packing a clutch style changing pad that will fit easily into your diaper bag or purse, and get used to the fact you will most likely need to create your own changing areas in restrooms, frequently on the floor of a bathroom stall. Another great and totally compact travel item to scoop up before you travel is the Minimonkey Minichair which allows you to turn almost any chair into a child safe seat for your little one. It has a three-point buckle that keeps your little one secure, and rolls up into a super compact size that barely takes up any room in your diaper bag, backpack, or purse.

Plan to walk or possibly take the bus as much as possible. Paris is a city that lends itself to walking and with the lack of elevators in the metro, this will most likely become your preferred mode of travel around the city. Enjoy taking in the gorgeous sights and avoid lugging your stroller up and down the many stairs in and out of the metro. Also, if your stroller can recline your little one will be able to take naps on the go and this will allow you to get in some extra time taking in the sights, lingering at a café, or sneaking in a little extra shopping. I personally LOVE the Baby Jogger City Tour for travel and even find flying with it incredibly easy thanks to its intelligent design and compact size. You can find out even more about it from my post {here}.

Enjoy the gorgeous parks and many carousels. Paris is quite child friendly in this respect, and there are countless parks that dot the city’s landscape. From the grand Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries, to small neighborhood gems, there are so many wonderful parks and playgrounds for your little one to enjoy and spend some of that energy. And don’t forget the carousels! For a few euros a ride, you and your little one will enjoy a turn around these beautiful local landmarks.

Be realistic in your sightseeing. Before madam, most of our European vacations were spent museum hopping, eating, and shopping. While we were still able to do all of these things with her while in Paris, I had to be much more realistic in the time spent indoors hunting down the works on my personal art bucket list. Typically, Darling Husband and I will hit two or even three museums a day, and enjoy walking the city to take in the sights as much as possible. With madam, we’re lucky if we hit one museum a day and that’s just fine. For this trip, I knew I wanted to visit the Rodin museum since neither Darling Husband nor I had visited before, and I also figured madam might find sculpture a bit more interesting and dynamic. This ended up being a great choice and the grounds of the museum were just as enjoyable for her as well. I’m so happy that we’re introducing her to museums and have been doing so from her first months. Like any little one, she loves bright colors and bold shapes, but her attention only lasts so long. Don’t shy away from taking your little ones to cultural sights, but make sure to take cues from them. When they start to fuss or loose interest in their surroundings, it’s probably time to end your visit. I also suggest checking ahead with any museum you might be visiting to see if they allow strollers or carriers. Some will allow both, while others might only allow one or the other.

Shop local. Who doesn’t love discovering local gems when traveling? And now that you have a little one, there’s a whole new category of shopping for you to enjoy! I’m a total sucker for European baby and children’s brands – on the whole, I find them to be incredibly well-made, and the styling is totally gorgeous. One of my favorite brands is the French classic Bonpoint. While I’d love to dress madam in their beautiful pieces every day, the price point and Darling Husband don’t really allow for it. On the other hand… Being in Paris is the ideal time to indulge since you can get your VAT back, and the pricing just seems to be better in France (cue Darling Husband’s eye roll just about…. now!). In fact, I find this to be true of many French brands, so it’s also the perfect time to treat yourself as well!

Bon voyage darlings! I hope this info has been helpful to you. If you have any tips and tricks that you’ve found particularly useful, feel free to shoot me an email on DM me on Instagram, I’d love to know what works for you!

I’ve also rounded up a few of my must-have travel items and gear for you below as well, happy shopping!