The last time I visited Paris, I was 20 years old and visiting my college roommate who was studying abroad. I had a lot of time to myself, so I shopped and ate while my friend was in class. Coming back almost 15 years later, I had such a different (and even more special) experience this time because I shared the experience with my family.
This trip wasn't about what I wanted, but about what would be fun and entertaining for our whole family— including a very playful almost-two-year-old. A toddler can only walk, sit in a stroller, or shop for so long, so each day we'd put just a couple things on our list of things to do and left plenty of cushion time for Ruby to play in a park, playground, or do something kid-focused at least once a day.
The Jardin des Tulleries is mostly known for it's beautiful gardens, but it's also full of some amazing areas for kids that you just stumble upon while walking through...like this gorgeous carousel...
...this playground with the coolest swing/hammock ever...
...and this trampoline area for kids. Ruby was in heaven and cried when we said we had to leave to go get dinner. The parks of Paris are seriously the coolest I've ever seen! And I love how so many landmarks have playgrounds nearby.
Jardin des Tulleries | Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris
And soon after all that jumping, someone succumbed to a nap...
I loved visiting the Bonton—a kid's store full of clothing, home decor, and giftables of all kinds. This is the kind of store I wish I had as a kid.
Bonton | 5 boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75003 Paris
You can't be in Paris without hopping on the Metro. Ruby loved the "choochoo train", and people were always kind enough to let her sit in a seat even when it was jam-packed.
The first day we arrived in Paris, we stayed at a fancy hotel for one night before heading to Lyon for the first leg of our trip. We were dazed and tired from the flight but trying to stay up to fight the jet lag and went for a walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg. The scenery and flowers were just what we needed to stay perky and wide-eyed.
Jardin du Luxembourg | Boulevard Saint-Michel, Ile-de-France, Paris, France, 75006
You have to see the Eiffel Tower when in Paris, right? The thought of standing in line to climb up the tower with a toddler made me want to poke my eyes out, so instead we played right nearby in the park and on the carousel.
The Eiffel Tower | Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris
Even though those bus and boat rides can be touristy, sometimes it's just a nice way to sit down and enjoy the scenery and see a lot of one city in a short period of time. We decided to take this Vedettes de Paris boat totally last minute just as it was getting ready to leave. It was a one hour ride and the perfect amount of time to entertain Ruby with something new, allow us to rest our feet for a bit, and enjoy the free wine.
Vedettes de Paris | Port de Suffren, 75007 Paris
I treated myself to a few hours alone (while Bob stayed home with Ruby during naptime) and went to visit Rubi Jones for a haircut! She let me into her gorgeous Paris apartment and styled my hair with the most beautiful braid.
On the way home, I stopped by A la Mere de Famille—Paris' oldest candy shop and picked up treats to bring home for friends.
A la Mere de Famille, 33-35 rue du Faubourg Monmartre, 75009 Paris (multiple locations)
Ruby loved this shop, Antoine & Lili, full of colorful toys. They also have kid's and women's clothing within three shops that sit side-by-side near the canal.
Antoine & Lili | 95 quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris (multiple locations)
This was my favorite kid's store I visited while in Paris. It's small but has such a well-curated selection of clothing, toys, and accessories. I mean, look at that clothing rack arranged by color! I even bought a ring for myself there that I plan to give to Ruby one day as a reminder of her first trip abroad. The street that this store is on was my favorite little set of shops in the 10th District, including an amazing jewelry shop called Medecine Douce.
Centre Commercial Kids | 2 rue de Marseille, 75010 Paris
We stayed in the 10th District and loved strolling along the canals and seeing the cute shops and playgrounds along the way.
I could seriously do a post called "The Playgrounds of Paris" as we visited at least 15 different ones during our trip!
Oh, Paris! It was both fun and exhausting all at the same time. This trip definitely brought our family closer together as we navigated unknown territory, ate a ton, pulled out our high school French skills, and had the opportunity to see it all through Ruby's eyes.
Stay tuned next week for the final part of our France trip with our adventures in Lyon!
P.S. A lot of you have asked about tips for traveling with small children abroad. I'm going to work on a post about that (I learned a lot!) for later this month, too.