Do those two words even belong in the same sentence? I was a little bit worried for our trip to Paris and whether we would be able to enjoy ourselves. I read some blog posts in the months leading up to our trip outlining all the inconveniences you experience when traveling with a baby in Paris. But I have to say, after all my worrying, it was actually a pretty easy trip!
Paris is not as baby friendly as London, but you can still get by. We had to do a couple of park bench diaper changes because most coffee shops and restaurants don’t have baby change facilities.
However, Parisians really love babies. In fact, William got us VIP treatment when shopping at Galeries Lafayette. We were brought past the red velvet rope of people waiting to get into stores, given a seat and offered coffee, tea or coca cola until a salesperson could be with us.
At restaurants, they are also quite accommodating and usually make a big fuss over your baby. That being said, William happened to be well behaved or sleeping during all of our meals, so I’m not sure they would have been as friendly if he was crying!
First off, it helps to have baby friendly accommodation. We rented a place that provided a travel crib, stroller and highchair. However, we did not need to use the highchair or stroller. We felt William was still too small to travel in the maclaren stroller and it lacked the large UV and rain cover that our stroller has. Our place had a lift, but as you would expect from a European apartment, it was very small. It actually only fit our stroller when it was folded up, so we ended up carrying it up the stairs anyways. We made out ok on all the small, quaint streets of Paris with our oversize beast and it probably handled the cobblestone better than an umbrella stroller would.
When taking the metro, it did not fit through the gate, so each time we had to press a little button and speak to someone over an intercom and then they would automatically open the gate for us. We chose to use the carrier when we went to Montmartre because of all the steps getting up to the church and to navigate the busy streets.
We chose restaurants that seemed spacious enough to fit the stroller beside our table, or had booths that we could lay William down beside us. Paris has so many great restaurants, which often don’t take reservations. That’s great for unpredictable schedules and if you don’t want to be tied down to a reservation, however not so great if you don’t have a lot of time to wait around for your table to be ready. Because we are on a bit of a baby schedule now, it was no problem for us to eat shortly after the restaurant opened for dinner which is earlier than most Parisians eat and therefore we beat the line ups. When the weather is nice, it is really easy to pack a blanket, grab some snacks and have a picnic outside. However, something you will soon realize whether you are at a park, or on a terrace is that a lot of people smoke!
Other than that, we made sure to be flexible with our plans because you never know when your little one will need some attention. We made lots of little stops along the way to take William out of his stroller and let him stretch and play for a bit.
But in a city like Paris, who’s complaining about stopping at the cafes for an espresso and some people watching!