If you haven’t read our last few articles, we’re traveling big time this summer. We spent 6 days in Paris, before flying to Germany for a day until we arrived at our final destination in South Africa where we’ll be spending a month or so roaming the Western Cape area.
I was so worried about the long haul flights, that I broke the trip down into manageable chunks because my boys become easily overwhelmed and start to meltdown when they’re overstimulated. One gets manic and the other becomes almost impossible to deal with. Nothing says fun like a kid in the middle of a power struggle with no way to self soothe. FASD is fun like that. Aside from the FASD issue, they’re pretty young at 4 and 5 but are quickly becoming seasoned travelers.
Today I wanted to share a bit about our time in Paris, where we stayed and how we managed Paris in what is likely the worst heat wave on record. We’re not touristy so you’re not going to hear much about the Eiffel Tower or anything like that. I figure you can read that stuff anywhere. We’re all about keeping things real. Also, I wanted to share how I keep costs down because travel, particularly with kids, can be expensive.
PARIS WITH KIDS
We left Canada on an overnight flight to Paris on June 23. As much as I wanted to limit ourselves to one suitcase, it wasn’t possible since we were traveling between blazing heat in Europe and winter in South Africa. We had two suitcases and everyone had a carry on backpack.
The boys are really good about carrying their own packs, which are is full of things they need on the plane and when we first land. We usually add a blanket, travel pillow, and toys and sleep cuddlies along with some snacks and activities. I probably shouldn’t have bothered with the blanket and travel pillow since the airline provided both because of the overnight flight.
I also decided to use a backpack instead of a carry on bag since I was lugging my laptop, our ipad, and our brand new tablet along with the various chargers and travel adapters so that everyone could watch or play without me having to set timers to take turns. Best idea ever.
HINT: Buy more than one travel adapter. I only had one initially which meant I had to run around plugging and unplugging things. I fixed that quick and we now have 3 of these handy fellows.
Before we left I also ordered the cutest cross body messenger bag. Love. I’m surprised by how much I love this bag since, I usually carry an enormous purse crammed full of stuff. This bag this forced me to whittle down all the junk I lug around. I may never go back to big bags after this.
I was really anxious about sleeping on the plane, jet lag, and how we’d function when we landed in the morning at 9 AM Paris time which was 3 AM for us. In addition that worry about the kids, I struggle with insomnia pretty much all the time so this was a significant fear for me. Ugh. It was kind of bad, I can’t fluff that up at all.
The boys use Melatonin to sleep. Aiden fell asleep quickly and didn’t wake until we landed. Perfect! Liam? Not so much. He couldn’t sleep at all despite a double dose. He was a bit out of it for the next day so we all went to bed at 7 PM and he slept until noon the next day. Do you know how hard it is to let a kid sleep when all of Paris is waiting outside your door?
I worried most about jet lag but it took all of one day before everyone was caught up on sleep and on regular time. The upside of this trip so far is that we’re all sleeping til well past 9:00 AM since we left home. I crawled out from under this morning at 10:00 AM. So nice!
We stayed at a really nice and perfectly located studio apartment in Montparnasse which is officially my favorite neighborhood in France.
Our only issue is that it was blazing hot the entire time and Paris doesn’t much believe in air conditioning. We were able to leave a window open at night but it didn’t do much to cool things off. Cafes were the same so you just try to sit outside in the hopes you’ll catch a breeze.
We booked through AirBnb for the first time and, while I was nervous about it not measuring up to the photos or that it might be in a crappy area, it was a terrific experience. We were able to do an early check in as well for this apartment and that helped settle the boys tremendously.
By the way, AirBnb has a little bonus for our readers. You can use our AirBnb link when you travel and you’ll get a sweet discount off your first confirmed booking. I used to use VRBO or HomeAway but I’m finding AirBnb to be way more cost effective. The discount makes that even nicer 🙂
Montparnasse, or the 14th arrondissement, is a wonderful area of Paris. Way less touristy than other areas and no lack of beautiful and tasty cafes to eat at and bakeries, oh, excuse me, boulanger to buy that morning baguette from. There’s a law in France banning preservatives from bread which means you have to eat it within the day. I have no problem with that. We bought one every day and walked around eating it from the bag. Good Lord, I’ve never had bread like that in my life.
The cafe at the ground floor of our building, Le Maine Cafe, was absolutely delicious and we ate dinner there at least twice and had one really nice breakfast on our last day. Well priced and super tasty food.
We used Viator to book a Hop on Hop Off bus to see all of Paris without having to walk all over the place. This was a great way to see the entire city. The tour bus made it possible to see most of the city in the blazing heat without melting the entire time. We were still hot since the buses aren’t air conditioned but the breeze was nice when the bus was moving.
Also, my boys are terrible walkers so a bus tour is the way to go. I think we paid around $142 Canadian which is about $108 USD. For three days! This also included the boat tour hop on and hop off up and down the Seine which the boys loved. I wasn’t feeling terribly happy at this point because of the heat and the smell of the river made me a bit nauseous.
If you can get over feeling like a tourist dork, these buses are a great way to see most of Paris. Your pass is good for however many days you purchase it for and includes the hop on hop off boat tour. You can get off and on as often as you like which saves a fortune in taxis and avoids having to figure out the subway (or metro) in a foreign country. I didn’t feel I could cope with managing my boys and trying to learn the metro in my God awful French.
We skipped the tourist destinations because they’re simply too much for the boys and I’m largely uninterested in that sort of stuff. The boys really wanted to go to the top of the Montparnasse Tower which we did on our last day there. The view of Paris from 56 stories high is pretty incredible!
Total cost for one adult and two children plus the glass of champagne I wanted was around $54 USD. It was really the only touristy thing we did and I booked through Aviator again which is probably the easiest way of booking just about anything when it comes to tours and activities.
Time for some Paris photo overload. Je t’aime Paris!
I became crazy obsessed with the doors of Paris. They probably deserve an entire post of their own. And you’ll be seeing them on my Instagram page in abundance.
Have you been to Paris with your kids? What are your favorite things to do?
Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more travel eye candy and tag me if you add your own #summertravel2017 photos so we can share.
Affiliate links are included in this post because we’ve used these services and products ourselves. See our disclosure page for more information.