Hello, Bonjour, Olá! This melange of a greeting pretty much sums up my fluency in French and Portuguese and is precisely why I’m now finally taking French lessons (Nova can speak more French than I, although I’m not competing or comparing myself with my toddler, I can’t help but feel I want to contribute to the French conversations happening in our home and amongst our family and friends). I found an excellent teacher Omar with a unique approach to language learning here in West L.A., if you’re looking for a fun and reliable way to learn French then I highly recommend you check out French In Mind. These classes, along with our annual visit, and Nova’s books should have me fluent in the near future. I’ll keep you posted! 😉
In the meantime, I’d love to share with you some highlights of our trip since a few people asked me what places and activities I recommend in Paris as a family. Although, I must admit there are suggestions in this post that are great whether or not you’re traveling with a family or decide to go solo. Thanks to my fabulous Belle Mer (Mother-in-law) I have a lot of goodies to share as she was an amazing tour guide! Taking us to raw vegan restaurants and classic bistro’s, hidden gems of activities we would have never discovered on our own, and exploring places that were just perfect for a toddler/family to enjoy!
Let’s explore, shall we?
Le Mosque/Hammam/Restaurant de Paris Want to be treated with sweetness from head to toe inside and outside then head to Le Mosque. This beautiful Mosque features a Hammam (ladies only) and lovely garden restaurant open to the public. Mon Belle Mer and I enjoyed a steam, scrub, and massage at the Hammam and then we met up with the fellas at the restaurant to enjoy beautiful food from appetizers, entrees, tea, and desserts. This visit was a real treat, I can’t wait to go back!
Jardin des Plantes These grounds are full to the brim with playgrounds, flowers, zoo, museum exhibits, carousels and more. I believe it’s impossible to be bored here. Bring a book as it’s the perfect spot to read if you get the chance. Pack a picnic while you’re at it as it’s all too easy to spend an entire day leisurely exploring the area.
Paris-Plages Yes, Paris even has beaches in the Summer, can you believe it?! I personally love how they switch it up every year, it’s an exciting change along the Seine that I personally look forward to with ma petite famille. This year we enjoyed a playground that housed a zip line, submarine, and attendants that ensured safety as parents were not allowed in the kids only terrain. Don’t worry though there’s plenty for adults to enjoy close by so autonomous fun can be had by all.
Parc de la Villette– A fun and expansive urban park with plenty of cultural institutions to keep you in the area for the day. This is another one of those areas in Paris that humans of all ages will find something they can enjoy. We spent a whole day exploring the area and because it was Summer, Paris Plages was happening along the Seine here too. Speaking of the river Seine that’s how we got to La Villette, we took a boat ride by Canauxrama that gave us the underground history of Paris we literally went under passages of Paris that Alex who grew up there didn’t even know existed. Maybe it was our boat guides personality or the music she chose to accompany us on our journey, or the excitement of seeing Paris in a whole new way but it was just so charming and exciting. Highly recommend you give this a try!
Fontainebleau is a must, visit the chateau, take a boat ride on the pond, ride the beautiful carousel, take hikes in the forest, forage for berries and mushrooms, have lunch in town. The Thevenot’s family home is situated close by which is why we always make a trip to the forest part of our Paris adventures. It’s a gorgeous area to reconnect with nature, slow down, and marvel at history and beauty. This was the first time I finally visited the Fontainebleau castle grounds and town, I don’t know why I waited so long because I simply can’t wait to go back. We spent three days in the area but could have easily spent a week. Although in smaller towns surrounding Fontainebleau boulangerie’s, patisserie’s and specialty shops were closed for Summer which is really only a bummer when you anticipate having your favorites from the previous visits.
If you are in search of a rainy day activity with kids in Paris you might find yourself at L’Aquarium de Paris. Nova greatly enjoyed the shark tank. While I was marveled by the shark eggs at different stages of their growth cycle. The jellyfish exhibits were pretty marvelous as well.
“Another day another carousel and or playground” seemed to be our slogan this trip. Which Paris is definitely one of those cities that makes traveling with a toddler simple due to the numerous parks, activities, and playgrounds to keep them exploring. The playgrounds at Champe Marse and the 100-year-old hand-cranked carousel in which you are given a baton and attempt to catch rings with your stick as you pass by is one of the must-see parks for toddlers. Adults will love the view of the Eiffel from the playground and capture precious photos as your kid(s) frolick about.
For the most fun, a kid (even us grown ones) can have at a Museum Musée des Arts Forains is not to be missed. It really is a local experience and even though the whole tour was guided and spoken only in French I understood plenty and got a wealth of joy from our visit. It was unlike any museum I’ve ever experienced, we were teleported to a magical world and I felt privileged to ride on some of the most interesting and antique carousels plus participate in sweet carnival games. What a treat, it’s definitely a must do for those who enjoy carousels, antiques, quirky fun, charming off the beaten path activity that’s full of fun for the whole family or solo!
Montmartre is always a treat, but even more so taking Le Petits Trains de Montmarte up and visiting Musée de la Vie Romantique once back down. Try to make it to the museum at least an hour before it closes to enjoy the pretty exhibits and cafe in the garden afterward.
As you see, there is no shortage of wonderful things to eat, carousels to ride, parks to picnic in, and museums to visit while in Paris. Paris is one of those cities that I never go with an itinerary and allow the trip to unfold day by day. Traveling all throughout Paris on foot, train, or bus you’re guaranteed to get a taste of the enchanting city and make many discoveries along the way.
Oh and something I realized that not everyone visiting Paris knows about the Eiffel Tower is that it lights up with twinkling lights on the hour, every hour just after dark for five minutes, so if you find yourself in the area either on schedule or by surprise I have a feeling you’ll be dazzled! 😉
For my foodie finds you can check those out on my Instagram. One thing I’ve found to be true about Paris over the last 9 years is that it’s constantly changing, depending on when you go, the places I’ve visited might not exist. Gluten-Free, Green Juice, Vegan, Raw, Vegetarian, Paleo, it’s all ever present, you’ll have no trouble finding what you want in Paris.
Oh, last but not least, hands down my favorite grocery store find were these crazy good cashews, the best I’ve ever eaten friends. Trust me I’ve had a lot of nuts in my time!
That’s all folks, stay tuned for Portugal!