Hi everyone, I’m Alexa Barker, the founder of the Where To Stay With Kids blog and the co-founder of tripAbrood – a new travel tech start up, on a mission to make family travel easy. I’ve got 3 wonderful children aged 8, 6 and 4 and I’m writing about something pretty amazing that happened to my daughter and I just two weeks ago in February half term.
About two years ago, my 8 year old daughter was gifted a storybook about Paris. I can’t tell you how many times she’s read the book since she got it, but it’s LOTS! For the last 2 years, I’ve been asked on a regular basis “Mummy, when can we go to Paris?”. At first, I gave her the encouraging answer of “Someday I’ll take you to Paris, sure”. Life moved on at a crazy pace, as it does with us all, and before I knew it my baby girl had become 8. A fearless, adventuring girl, someone I’m incredibly proud to say is my daughter. And the question came again “Mummy, when can we go to Paris”. The emotion caught me off guard – is my daughter old enough for a mummy trip to Paris. And the only answer I could give myself is yes.. So onto the Eurostar website I went, securing an amazing deal of £29 tickets each way. The excitement was building at a feverish pace as we started researching hotels. My daughter’s list of requirements was growing by the second the more she thought about the trip! Soon, with some help from my wonderful tripAbrood travel consultant Katie, we found ourselves the perfect hotel equipped with swimming pool, sauna and apparently delicious breakfasts. And a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower to boot.
So, in February half term just gone, our two day trip to Paris began. We’d booked a super early Eurostar to get the best rates but it was my daughter who woke me up fully dressed at 4.45am, not the alarm. Below is our diary of the trip – honestly it was one of the best things I’ve done with one of my children in years. And I hope the start of many more adventures together.
The first day in Paris was spent exploring the north of the Seine. We’d packed everything into our backpacks so there was no need to check into the hotel when the train arrived. Our first stop was Opera and Galerie Lafayette. There is an amazing viewing terrace in Galerie Lafayette that gave us both such an amazing sense of the Paris skyline, and set our adventures off nicely.
Inspired by the views, we headed to lunch at a fabulous french bistro called Le Royal Bourse Opera. This was my daughter’s first introduction to Profiteroles. To say she enjoyed them is an understatement…! Honestly, the food was incredible. I’ll definitely be going back..
Next, with full tummies we decided (potentially rather foolishly!) that it was a good time to climb the Arc De Triomphe. So off we went up the Champs Elysee and up the 200+ steps that take you to the top of the Arc De Triomphe. Again, more inspiring views of the Paris skyline as well as medal machines that dispensed souvenirs of the climb. You can imagine which one my daughter preferred!
One medal later, and having spotted the Sacre Coeur in the distance, we headed up north to visit the famous church and take a trip on the shortest funicular ride potentially in the world (well I’m not sure about this but it was definitely short and sweet!). At the top of the funicular and around the corner from the church is a lovely square, full of portrait artists. We couldn’t resist getting L’s portrait done. She quoted this afterwards as one of the highlights of the trip (along with the crepe she ate after posing for 20 minutes!).
After a wonderful and long day sightseeing, we headed for dinner at Les Flottes, a place I used to frequent many years ago when I worked in Paris. Super friendly staff, especially with kids and the food was delicious as always. Exhausted and happy we headed home to our hotel – Hotel Eiffel Blomet – for a good night’s sleep.
Day two was all about the south of the Seine. After a relaxing morning sampling the breakfast (yes it was pretty good..) and a trip to the hotel spa later, we headed out to begin the second day’s adventures.
A trip to Paris is not complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. The queues were pretty long, but we eventually got onto the cable car and up we went to the second floor. Now I have pretty bad vertigo so it was role reversal time as my daughter guided me slowly around the viewing deck. It wasn’t long before I was ready to go down! I think she enjoyed the experience far more than me, but it was pretty amazing experience suspended up in the air.
Back down on (safer) ground for me, we had a bite to eat and headed off to Musee d’Orsay. They are running an incredible exhibition on impressionist painters. Armed with audio guides, we spent a good hour walking through the exhibition, looking at some of the most famous paintings in the world. I highly recommend the museum for anyone wanting a few less visitors and more space to roam than some of the other museums in Paris.
After the museum trip, we took the opportunity to walk down the River Seine and take in the atmosphere along the river. We walked up to Notre Dame at the request of L who had learnt all about the very unfortunate fire from her school lessons. Despite the scaffolding, the facade of Notre Dame is still as imposing as ever and we took the opportunity to get a glass of orange juice (and a cheeky wine) for me in a cafe opposite.
Sugared up, we headed off towards the Latin Quarter in search of a bookshop that I’d heard rumours about. We’re a bit of a book worm family so the thought of a great bookshop was too exciting to miss. And this one was epic: The Abbey Bookshop. One beautiful version of Little Women purchased, and off we went for our last dinner before heading on the Eurostar back home. We had dinner at Les Arlots, near Gare du Nord, a very quaint French bistro. Definately call to book in advance.
And that concluded our two day girly trip to Paris. Absolutely wonderful memories that we will both hold onto for a very long time. I thank a friend of mine who inspired me to spend quality time with my children – he manages to take each of his four kids on individual daddy trips each year, and the bond between them is incredible. They are never flashy trips – it could be anything from a nearby adventure to a more far flung one. This is the magic of holidays – those shared memories that are yours, that no-one can take away and that shape your perspective on life and the world around us.
Merci pour tout, Paris. Je t’aime xx