Paris is on everyones to do list for a weekend or short break. But what if you just haven't gotten around to it and now you have kids? That was my sentiment and predicament. Although Siobhan had lived and breathed Paris in her younger days, having lived in the city for 4 months and now speaks fluent French, I had only ever passed though it en route to somewhere further afield. Now we had a one year old and my desire reached fever pitch and so on my birthday the card read “Hope you enjoy Paris” L’amour Siobhan. We were off the next day!
As a famous philosopher once said...
If there was a sign that this was going to be a great trip it was on the flight on the way to Paris where one of my icons was on our flight... none other than philosopher (and more) Noam Chomsky. I have only ever asked for a selfie / autograph with one other person in my life but I couldn't help it.…
Where to stay...
Our recommendation is to avoid the hotels, which are almost always tiny rooms for very large rates. Go for the Airbnb option. Paris is renowned for having a huge selection of rentals available. We chose the locality of nation, a trendy yet distinctly Parisian enclave. This area of Paris has great cafe culture literally on your doorstep, a fabulous farmers market everyday where you can truly find the french passion for food and coupled with the many local boulangeries for your fresh pastires and baquettes along with a fabulous farmers market that operates every day of the week. This allows you to experience more of the Parisian lifestyle and to have all you need for the majority of your meals which you can prepare in your own kitchen, thus saving considerably. Then use the savings to enjoy some fabulous french evening meals at any of the many restaurants within walking distance. If you want to travel further afield then the metro station is also one of the main transit metros allowing you to travel around the city with ease.
Where to eat
On our first day we went to a recommnded family restaurant near the Eiffel Tower called Les Freres Bretons at 117 boulevard de Grenelle Métro la motte picquet grenelle, which was a fantastic suggestion with a rare find... friendly waiters.
If our daughter Erin ever decides she is vegan she may hate us for taking this pic!
To visit Montmartre, we begin at the Abbesses metro station instead of Anvers, the one tourists typically use. Kids enjoy Le Mur des Je t'Aime, the huge tiled mural with the words ‘I Love You’ written in over 250 languages. It's tucked into the easy-to-miss Square Jehan Rictus on the north side of Place des Abbesses.
After climbing the many steps needed to make the viewpoint truly spectacular we stopped at a fabulous little restaurant called Coquelicot its large terrace is the perfect spot for people watching while you slip your hot choclate or coffee from a large bowl as per the french style.
On our way towards the white domes of the Sacré-Coeur, we pass through picturesque Place Emile Goudeau, where Picasso, Matisse and Braque once lived.
I offered Erin a choice of playgrounds - the compact Square Suzanne Buisson or the impossibly romantic, tiered Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, better-known as Parc de la Turlure. We paused to watch the artists on Place du Tertre while having a small beer at a little bar and then wind our way to the basilica's main plaza to take in the impressive vista. Then it's time to descend the hill towards Anvers station for a metro to Buttes-Chaumont.
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a magical park with rocky buttes, sweeping trees, a mysterious grotto and the curious Temple de la Sibylle, mounted high atop a peak in the middle of the lake. The temple is accessed by two bridges; kids can channel their inner Indiana Jones to cross one 21m above the water or opt for the lower-lying suspension bridge. Buttes-Chaumont has a carousel, several playgrounds, a puppet theatre and picnic-friendly lawns.
Eiffel Tower... of course
With found the Eiffel Tower by walking along the seine river and decided that a picnic under its shadow ticked a box on the bucket list that we didn’t know previously existed.
Sadly the tower was closed to visitors but we will be back for certain and pictures from the summit will flood social media!
Pere La Chaise - Where all the celebrities end up!
Being a big fan of The Doors and Oscar Wilde I just had to see the Père Lachaise Cemetery where both are buried along with several other iconic names such as Edith Piaf and Chopin. This iconic cemetary was also the backdrop for Interview with the Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt and is near the eastern edge of Paris, in the 20th arrondissement. (You can easily see it on any map). I drank some of a bottle of wine in Jim Morrisons honor as our youngest breast fed! Not very rock n roll but it was the closest I could get.
The main entrance is on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant, with the nearby Porte du Repos pedestrian entrance being convenient to the Philippe-Auguste station of the Paris Métro's Line 2. Other Métro stations near the cemetery include Père Lachaise (Line 2 and 3) and Gambetta near the north or back entrance (Line 3).The Gambetta entrance is worth considering if you have the kids in tow, since it's at
the top of the sloping cemetery and you can you can walk downhill toward the main entrance (although you won't be able to pick up a map until you're almost ready to leave).
You can also reach the cemetery by public bus lines 60, 69, and 102.