Tips for travelers with kids in Paris based on own experience. I don’t pretend to take the role of travel expert but I gladly share my tips and experience of traveling in Paris with our toddler. Before going to Paris I read lots of travel blogs and guides which I can say were very helpful and now I am happy to present my contribution to the huge travel community.
In my post I would like to give top 10 tips for travelling with toddler in Paris based on my own experience:
1. Bring a stroller with you. This is the most important thing. Get light but durable stroller. Light because you will carry it a lot in a subway and in museums (very few elevators) and durable because cobblestone roads of Paris streets and major attraction sites can destroy cheap stroller from Wal-Mart in few days. Our Uppababy lightweight stroller is only 11 pounds and was able to survive even the cobblestone square of Versailles, although couple times I thought that it was done. Stroller is free in a plane and doesn’t count as a piece of luggage.
2. Fold stroller when go trough Subway and RER gates. Entrance gates are very narrow in Paris and without enough place for manoeuvre, a stroller could stuck and squashed by gate barriers. Imagine child sitting there in that time. There are special gates for people with stroller/luggage on some station, but not everywhere.
3. Get a Paris Museum Pass. In every museum there is usually a long line to buy a ticket. Sometimes you can spent from 30min to 1 hour in line to buy a ticket to one museum, multiply it by the number of museums you plan to visit and get how much precious time you will save. The Pass doesn’t cover all museums, but at many of must-see attractions you can skip big line and preserve your vacation spirit.
4. Get RER tickets from zones outside of city core in advance. Paris transit system divided on several zones. Regular subway ticket works only in zones 1, 2 and 3. If you plan to go to Versailles (zone 4) or Disneyland (zone 5), buy ticket back in advance. Imagine thousands people trying to buy ticket back to the city at the end of the day. Even with several kiosks available, it could take over 1 hour to wait, taking into consideration that many people using a kiosk first time and have to understand prompts and get answers before buying the tickets.
5. Buy tickets to Paris Disneyland from the tourist bureau. Prices for Paris Disneyland are the best there. If you buy online you have to commit to the specific day. If you buy tickets in Tourist Bureau you can get them cheaper then online and they are valid for any day. Price difference at the gate of Paris Disneyland and in Tourist Bureau could be around 20 Euro for 1 ticket. It is hard to find tourist bureau though and sometimes all tickets sold out closer to the end of the day. There are two of them on the way from Versailles to RER station.
6. Buy ticket to Eiffel Tower online. When you buy ticket to Eiffel Tower online you have to provide exact day and time you will come to the entrance gate. If you are late – you have to go to the end of the line. Considering that the line usually is super long and you have to wait very often more then 2 hours so it is the best choice. There are 2 alternatives – come earlier (it opens at 9:30) or to buy as a part of package from tourist agency with a group of people and a guide.
7. Use shuttle service from and to airport. Shuttle service is a minivan that you may share with someone else. It cost twice less then taxi, you guarantee that your luggage and stroller will fit there and it works like a watch. If they said 5:45 car will be there exactly at that time. From Paris airport you have to pay online and get a code and telephone number that you have to call after arrival and tell the code and place when you are waiting. To book a shuttle service to airport you can ask your hotel clerk.
8. Buy souvenirs and clothes in official museum boutiques or brand name stores. Try do not buy anything in boutiques that close to official museums or from street vendors (except fridge magnets perhaps). Price there 20-30% less then for similar items in museum boutiques, but quality is not comparable at all. Imagine you buy T-shirt for your friend and it destroyed after first laundry. Your friend will be upset for sure.
9. Don’t go to café with patio after 8PM with kids. With dusk all café patios become a big smoking cloud. It is prohibited to smoke inside café, but doors are always open and cigarettes smoke is everywhere. Be ready discard all your clothes until next laundry because they smell like nicotine.
10. Always have snack and juice for your child. Café in museums sell mostly fast food and it is not fact that your child will eat it. It may be a good idea to take crackers, fruits, yogurt and juice. In this case you don’t need to change you plans suddenly and frantically search what to buy to feed your picky toddler.