Some time ago, I answered an “Ask Shelly” question regarding airport transportation in Paris with child safety seats (a.k.a. car seats). Here is an update on my recent findings…
As you might expect, having and traveling with three kids has been a real game-changer. Just figuring out a rental car that will fit two booster seats and a car seat—plus our baggage—can be a nail-biting and ultimately expensive challenge. And of course, there’s the thrill of driving in a different country after 24 or so hours of travel!
Taxis don’t offer much relief either when there are five of you needing seats. And in some cities, such as Paris, taxi drivers will not take more than 3 passengers at a time.
So for our recent trip to Paris, I was ecstatic to successfully plan more than a week’s vacation with zero driving required on my part. And no, we did not schlep all of us and our gear at night on the RER, nor did we walk from the airport.
After comparing a number of Paris airport shuttle services, I discovered Allonavette would not only provide a car seat and safety booster FREE for our trips, but they would also not charge for children under 5 years old! This fact alone shaved roughly 30 Euros off the each-way rate for us compared with quotes from other services.
Better still, we would not have to pay a dime until we were delivered to our destination (not so with some others), and even that we were allowed to pay by credit card rather than cash.
How did they perform? I received multiple emails from the company confirming our car seat/booster requests and travel details before both arrival and return trips. We had the option of calling the driver at the airport on arrival to have him meet us right at the curb outside, or to pay 7 Euros extra and have him meet us inside the airport with a rock star “name sign.”
Not sure what our cell phones (slash internet phones) would be doing inside Orly, we went with the rock star greeting (okay, I’ve done enough train and public transportation trips with baggage – I’m a sucker for the name sign!). The van, which in fact seats up to eight passengers, was parked just outside in a special waiting area. With a car seat already installed for my little guy, we were swiftly on our way.
Would I recommend Allonavette to my friends visiting Paris with kids? Absolutely. And no, they didn’t pay a dime nor provide a discount to be mentioned here. Thanks, Allonavette, for easing our family’s arrival in Paris. Find them online at www.allonavette.fr.
How about you? Are you planning a trip to Paris with your family? Have a great arrival tip to share? Please post a comment below!
More help for your trip? Remember, you’ll find more trips for Paris travel with little kids (and other European destinations) in Travels with Baby Destinations, plus all the help you need preparing for overseas travel with your baby, toddler or preschooler in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide.
Paris is known as one of Europe’s “greenest” cities, having more than 400 parks and gardens scattered throughout its urbanscape. If you are lucky enough to visit Paris with your children in the fall, when tourist crowds thin while the weather still welcomes one and all for strolls through the falling leaves, you won’t want to miss your chance to explore a few of these garden treasures. In today’s guest post, Parisian mother Karen Bras, owner of 2 Kids 1 Bag baby gear rentals serving Paris and the Ile de France, shares with us her three favorite autumn outings in Paris with little kids.
In between the many monuments you no doubt plan to visit in Paris, plan time to explore some Parisian gardens. During fall, it will give you the opportunity to share with your family the light and the color of the trees, the fun of walking or jumping in crisp leaves–and don’t forget to bring a bag for collecting chestnuts with your kids! Here are 3 gardens that I personally like for their locations and family-friendly highlights.
1. Near the Champ de Mars garden (located between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire), after a pleasant 15 minute walk, you will find a typical Parisian street (with almost no cars) called “rue Cler”. All food shops are here : cheese, delicatessen, pastries, bread, hot chocolate … which you can share with your children and take away…. After all this walking in the leaves, pamper yourself with a delicious crêpe at the Ulysse shop (I admit I like the Nutella one) or icecream in the Martine Lambert shop (my favourite flavours : melon and bitter orange).
2. Inside the Luxembourg Garden (Saint-Germain-des-Prés area), you will find a place where everything is made for parents and kids. The choice of activities is very large: puppets (in French, and for children aged 2 and older), a recreational park for 7 and older … You will also see some petanque and tennis players.
What I specially appreciate (and my kids too , 2 and 5 year old) is the model yacht you can hire to make it sail in the large artificial pond. The model yatch must be pushed thanks to a wooden stick and then have fun racing around the pond to get back it. A real entertaining time for the whole family!
3. Inside the Jardin des Plantes (Quartier Latin district), you’ll find the principal botanical garden of France, with much to explore outdoors and also indoors. While there, you can visit the Menagerie (equivalent to a zoo) with around 1,000 animals and among the most impressive: orangutans, crocodiles, panthers, huge tortoises,and pink flamingos. Created in 1794 as part of the royal gardens, this menagerie is one of the oldest zoos in the world!
Thanks, Karen; what I wouldn’t give to be back on Rue Cler right now!
How about YOU? What is your favorite outing in Paris with little ones? Share with a comment below!
For any of you planning travel to Paris with your baby, toddler, or little kids, be sure to check out these related features, too.
Related posts and pages:
- France – Car seat advice for Paris airport shuttle with baby
- France – Paris: 5 Best with Children Under 5
- France – Best baby-friendly cafe in Paris
- France – Finding diapers in France
- France – Tips for juggling toddler naps while visiting Paris
- France – The captivating carousels of Paris (with some free in December)
More Travels with Baby Europe tips in Destinations.
Even if you start your next adventure in a big city—as you’re likely to do if flying in to a major airport, you may be able to extend your family’s vacation by staking a claim for short while in a small town off the beaten path. And it could be well worth it, for more reasons than one.
Think about it: For what you might pay for two nights in Paris or New York City, you might afford to stay a week in an apartment in a smaller city or a cottage in a lesser-known village.
Does that mean you’ll have a less interesting or worthwhile vacation? Not if you play your cards right. Especially with small kids along for the adventure, smaller towns often offer a more relaxed pace and better chances to acquaint yourselves with the culture and locals in residence.
Take Spain as an example, and the small town of Nerja on the Costa del Sol. This April, a 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment where we stayed is 450 Euros for one week (yes, that’s two bedrooms, with more than one toilet, full kitchen, and a washing machine). Surrounded by Andalucían charm? Yes. Walking to any of three beautiful beaches on the Costa del Sol? Yes. Strolling to shops, cafes, and (inexpensive) groceries? You bet.
Which reminds me of another reason you might prefer small cities to big for that next break: Walking to most locations vastly simplifies vacations with a baby or toddler. No loading and unloading and reloading the car, no navigating a crowded subway. Just push that stroller along the street to the next cafe or park.
So how can you find the perfect small city for your family’s next vacation? In addition to these few I’ve highlighted, check out these links:
- America’s Top 10 Coolest Small Towns, from Budget Travel Magazine
- America’s Top 25 Small Cities, from American Style Magazine
- Best Small City Vacation Destinations, from RatesToGo
- 100 Best Midwest Small-Town Getaways, from Midwest Living Magazine
- The Best Small Towns of Spain, TripAdvisor.com
- The Best Small Towns and Villages in Southeast Asia, Frommers.com
Do you have a big crush on a small town you’d love to visit again this year?
Know of a great little city you’d recommend for travelers with kids?
|Paris has lovely carousels year round, with an extra 20 carousels offering free rides the final 2 weeks of December.|
Today, the Travels with Baby Traditions series takes us to Paris, where resident mom Camille Spanjaard whisks us past the loveliest carousels in all the city – a definite highlight of Paris in December. Camille is the founder of Baby’Tems baby equipment rental agency in Paris, and she recently partnered with Babychou, a long-term and short-term babysitting specialist.
Actually there’s a multiplication of carousels in Paris at this time of year. And besides those present all year round, kids will discover various other merry-go-rounds appearing in addition to those from December 17th till January 1st of 2012, during which time Paris is making 20 of its carousels free for everyone (note: the carousels listed here are not among those free).Since I (or more precisely, my kids) have repeated experience with a lot of them in Paris, here are my children’s top 3 favorite carousels, chosen because they are special… and with one on each side of Paris…
2nd Place is for the oldest one in Paris: after visiting the Eiffel Tower, have a walk in the Champ de Mars … with the Eiffel Tower in your back, go to the right of the park, you’ll find a tiny (but so cute !) merry-go-round with wooden horses only…and no electric engine. 2 guys are needed to start it…pushing it manually. Once launched, one turns the handle while the other one is installing the game (rings that kids need to catch with their stick).
3rd Place (but certainly not the last place…it’s so hard to make a selection among all Paris carousels tested) is the traditional one at bottom of Sacré-Coeur (place Saint Pierre)… for its view on the basilica and its proximity to great baby friendly places. ok, this one is rather my favorite rather than my kids’ one…
All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli 2007 – 2011
I have a 14 month old that we are taking to France in the fall (he was there when we was 4 months old, too!)
I have a copy of the Travels with Baby book and was reading about the car-seat alternatives (Eddie Bauer plus others). We are renting a car with a car seat but I would still need something for the baby when we ride on the shuttle bus and thought the portable /collapsible seat would be ideal due to its size and weight, etc. I was looking at the website but I do not see mention (except for one brief reference to the Eddie Bauer version under the CARES description) of these seats.
Did these portable seats get banned or recalled or are they just not available/popular?
Thanks very much,
The Eddie Bauer portable car seat, which was classified as a travel vest for use in motor vehicles only, was unfortunately discontinued. For now the RideSafer vest is the closest alternative, though it’s not suitable until around 3 years of age (see more in Car Seat Alternatives and my RideSafer review).
If you are flying into Paris (CDG, Orly, or Beauvais), you might consider using Mondial Shuttle Service, which will arrange to have an appropriate child safety seat for you upon request (one provided per van). You can book them for a shared, lower-cost ride for your family, or pay more and have private door-to-door service. They also provide shuttle service to Disneyland Paris (Eurodisney) for those interested.
Otherwise, for your son at 14 months (who I suspect may have more travel ahead of him in the next few years?), you might consider the Sit N Stroll child safety seat, which can be belted in with the shuttle bus seat belt, assuming there is one (see my detailed review here) . At times when I’ve found no safety belts in airport shuttle vans and taxis abroad, I have appreciated being able to set my Sit N Stroll rear-facing with my child strapped into it at least (wedged against the seat back if possible), still giving some level of protection over riding on my lap alone.
It would mean traveling with a car seat the entire way, though one that will roll through the airport (gate check it, or use it in a spare seat on the aircraft if they have one for you) and then right to the door of the shuttle bus or taxi. You would also have the advantage of knowing what car seat you’ll be using on the other end. As well, a handful of baby gear rental agencies rent the Sit N Stroll. If you’re interested, you can check the agencies near you (see worldwidedirectory of baby gear rentals).
For more help, see these related posts and pages:
All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli 2007 – 2011
Let me start by saying… I’m so excited about this new project for TravelswithBaby.com! Okay, whew. Now let me add… I’m so excited for my next trip to Paris! Because like you I will be so much better prepared for visiting Paris with a toddler. And when I do, you can bet I will be ordering up one cafe creme at this most child-friendly cafe I have just learned about thanks to Camille Spanjaard, founder of Paris-based baby’tems and the contributor to Travels with Baby’s 5 Best with Children Under 5: Paris.
Sure, Paris is full of fabulous places to stroll your baby or tot, but when it comes time to break pain au chocolate or even sip a mere coffee, it can be hard to find a suitable place to park a stroller–or a toddler-in-arms. Les 400 Coups is a cafe that “gets it” and stands ready to receive parents and wee ones alike with open arms–and high chairs, and toys, and children’s books–and for Mom and Dad? Newspapers and free Wifi. (Click here to see it on the Travels with Baby 5 Best map.)
Sound good to you? Head over to the Paris Tips page at Travels with Baby.com for more details and recommendations of the best places to visit in Paris with your baby, toddler, or preschooler.
How about you?
Have “Paris with tots” tips of your own you’d like to share? Post below or see details on our Paris page.
First, I’d like to applaud you for managing a regular nap routine at home with two toddlers! (Brava!) In Paris, I hope you will have a good double / twin travel stroller with seats that recline, if possible, so that they might both nap while you are sightseeing—and catch the zzz’s they need when they need them. One that folds compactly and can be carried through the Metro when needed will be ideal (like Maclaren Twin Triumph or Combi Twin, click here for more info). Inevitably, there will be jetlag, and on the off chance that you have to resort to taking them for a stroll in the night, you’ll be ready!
As for getting on the “new routine,” try to encourage fresh air, sunshine, and exercise in the mornings so they can kick-start their internal clocks in the new timezone, even if they need a small catnap before a picnic lunch of goodies gathered along Rue Cler. Encourage them to burn off their energy after breakfast running laps around the fountains at the Jardin des Tuileries and Jardin du Luxemburg, and laughing at the “Big Head” for pictures outside the Pompidou. There is also a nice playground for toddlers at the Place du Vosges in the Marais, and also in the Jardin du Luxemburg.
With the children feeling amused by Paris and physically free in the mornings, it should help you fit in some of the grown-up things you’d like to do while in the city in the afternoons. When they get sleepy eyes later on in the day, after the tour groups have made way through and lines are shorter, load them into the stroller and make way for Musee d’Orsay or L’Orangerie (at the Louvre you’ll even get a special grand open-top elevator entrance just for having a stroller—though the kids might not want to miss that!).
The “mid-day lag” may also be the best time to plan train rides and ventures farther afield, so they are happier and more ready to recharge their batteries in transit, and be refreshed for the next adventure.
Also, know that as with sleeping schedules, their eating clocks may be off too, and meal-size hunger may not surface during the new meal times. So watch for their cues and stand ready to beat the blood sugar blues before they strike with a few favorite snacks on the go. Fitting in the daily calories during waking hours will also help them rest better and longer when it’s time to sleep.
If you have a question for me, feel free to post to the Travels with Baby page on Facebook or email me at Shelly at travelswithbaby dot com, with “Ask Shelly” in the subject line.
I’m also pleased that I finally got a post together in time for “Mondays are for Dreaming” at the Mother of All Trips blog. Am I ever dreaming of being back in Paris this morning, where I could be sitting in a gorgeous park with a pain au chocolait watching the kids play this morning! If you’re dreaming of being somewhere else today (or any other Monday), join the dreamers with a blog post of your own.
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
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