A Non-Touristy Winter Weekend In Paris
Paris is three-hours from our house in Delft door-to-door. The weather is quite similar to what we have here in the Netherlands this time of year. We figured we could be cold and wet at home, so why not be cold and wet in Paris?
Booking 90 days out on the Thalys, the high speed train gives you access to their lowest fairs (<€40). The Thalys leaves out of Rotterdam Central (also Schiphol & Amsterdam Central). There is no need to arrive early in this direction. We were not sure what the routine was so we had some time to spare. By “time to spare,” I mean we were standing on the platform for 30 minutes waiting for the Thalys to arrive. With train loving kiddos it’s never a problem to have extra time at a huge train station.
Once on the train we settled in and enjoyed the ride. The kids played with sticker books, an Ipad and enjoyed walks to the snack car. (Here are some other ideas on traveling with kids by train.) Before we knew it we were pulling into the Paris North Station. In order to get into the Paris North station you need to have a valid Paris Metro ticket. These can be purchased on the Thalys from the snack car.
We found the Metro in Paris easy to use, lines are clearly numbered and marked. The Metro Map and Route Planner App can help you navigate the system. (Here are a few more tips and tricks for navigating the Metro with kids.)
We found a wonderful Air B&B property in Paris. The location was perfect, right on the Seine, affording views of both Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. It is convenient to almost every Metro line. It also has a small elevator, making this a real find! On our last visit (without kids) we stayed by the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed the quiet neighborhood feel. This time though it was good to be close to home for naps and other kiddo emergencies.
Our first day we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and headed to breakfast.
We hopped into one of the many bakeries and tried a sampling of pastries.
The day quickly morphed into rainy and cold. I had an appointment to go get my hair done, which you can read about here. Jeff took the kids to the Museum of Natural History. Each section of the museum is paid for independently. Jeff decided on the Hall of Evolution. The kids loved the different animals and it was a great way to keep them entertained on a rain day.
In the afternoon we headed to the Pompidou Center. Numerous places had named this as a place to take the kids. The activity for children was sand sculpting and was open to kids 4 and older. We took H in to make a sandcastle based on his drawings. O meanwhile ran around and put his hands in the sand. It was not very crowded on a Friday afternoon. After the 10 min that he was engaged in building his castle we headed into the galleries.
H looked for paintings for all his friends and a few for his room. I let him take my phone to take pictures of his favorites. We had a scavenger hunt for shapes and colors. The kids were exhausted and it was still raining. We popped into a pizza place across the street. It was there and it was open. The food was fine and the kids liked it. Not my top pick for Paris, but sometimes you just need to get something and get out.
Saturday, we were up early so we walked to Notre Dame. Early in the morning we had the place to ourselves. We picked up some breakfast pastries at the first bakery we saw, sat on a bench and enjoyed our morning in Paris.
The morning was spent at the Cite Des Enfants with our Parisian friends. There are timed tickets for the kids exhibits so booking online is advisable. The tickets sold out just 13 minutes after opening the day we went. Currently, since some of the exhibits are still under renovation after being destroyed by a fire, your Cite Des Enfant tickets are good for seeing the permanent exhibitions upstairs as well.
The Cite Des Enfants was a huge hit and a great way for our kids to get reacquainted with each other. The kids’ favorite was the area where you could fix a car. O just liked to sit with his seat-belt buckled and watched the action.
We grabbed lunch at the cafe in the museum. The sandwiches and quiche were perfect and the cafe was kid-friendly.
We returned back to the apartment for naps. At 4pm we met back up with our friends at the Eiffel Tower for some ice skating. The skating is free to all visitors of the Eiffel Tower (with purchase of a lift ticket). Our friends purchased our tickets to go to the second floor in advance. (We’ve been to the top before and decided it was lost on the kids.).
The Eiffel Tower was on H’s 2016 travel wish list. The kids loved the elevator ride. H was amazed at how many trains he could see from the tower. On the first floor you can peer down through the floor. H stood amazed looking down below at the people. Then he saw the ice skating rink!
The rink is small but perfect for the little ones. There were plenty of skating assistance devices that doubled as chairs for the little kids. O even got a few laps being pushed by his brother.
The only trouble at the Eiffel Tower was the bottle of wine we had in the bottom of the stroller. We tossed it in there to give to our friends for inviting us over for dinner. Turns out, you cannot bring a glass bottle of wine up the Eiffel Tower. Who knew? Well, it’s pretty obvious, but we didn’t even think about the security check. Our friends were not daunted. The husband took the bottle and hid it in the park. He skillfully picked it up on the way back to his house for dinner.
Sunday we met up with our friends at La Cachette theater for a long running puppet show. The shows are also turned into books which are available to purchase with a CD. We saw “Pitou L’Enfant-Roi.” Pitou the Child King is about a little boy trying to be king but the show was of course in French. The actor makes sure to incorporate the kids in the performance. The kids did hand motions and sang along.
Our friends gifted us with a book and CD that the kids have been enjoying ever since. (I burned the CD onto our MP3 players so we can listen to it anywhere we are.
We enjoyed some more play time and lunch with our friends before it was time to head back to Paris North to take the Thalys back home. It was an amazing weekend in Paris with kids. Jeff and I have been to Paris before pre-kids and we saw most of the big tourist attractions. It was fun to see a more residential side of the city on this visit. We did not feel like we had to spend seven hours at the Louvre.
If you are thinking of getting the Paris Museum Pass check out Babies with Backpacks’ review of the pass to see if the pass will work for you.
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