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We are considering a trip to France next summer with our six year old. Possibly 5-7 nights in Paris,and a few weeks in a low-key beach town in the south of France somewhere. We are looking for suggestions on where to stay in Paris, and also where to stay in the south of France. we are trying to combine some relaxing beach time, with getting to experience French living. We are not interested in the big resorts, etc. in Nice or elsewhere, but would prefer renting a cottage in a small village where we could walk around, enjoy some beach time, and possibly take day trips to other local towns. anon
I can also offer a very offbeat suggestion for a place to stay outside Paris -- not beach per se, but wonderful. In the early 70s, when I was a young teen, I stayed with a French farm family, the Daviets, near Annecy in Haute Savoie. They are wonderful folks. The parents are now gone and the kids have turned the farm into an Inn. They have little cabins that are cheap -- like $400 Euros a week -- and a swimming pool. The area is beautiful, in the foothills of the Alps, and Annecy (20 minutes away) is a gem of a small French city on a gorgeous lake. Geneve is an hour away. There is a mountain to climb within a short drive (or long walk) of the Inn. This is real France -- the Inn caters to French visitors, and I suspect my friends speak little English (we speak French with them). The Inn is Auberge de la Caille, in La Balme de Sillingy. The proprietors are Marie-Claude Sottas (nee Daviet) and her brother Jean-Paul Daviet. website is: www.aubergedelacaille.com/ Tell them Leslie sent you.
We didn't go to museums much (my husband and I visited Paris before, and my son wasn't that keen on them). If you ask my son, the best thing about Paris was Parc Asterix (he happened to get into the Asterix comics books right before we went). It's an amusement park centered around the characters from Asterix, with rides and shows for kids. Beware: if you buy tickets in advance and it happens to raing, THERE IS NO WAY to exchange them though.
Tour Eiffel is a must, and we all enjoyed the Paris Canal boat tours of Canal Martin.The nearby metro stations are Porte de la Villette and Porte de Pantin. The guide book recommended taking it from Parc de la Villette. I don't remember why they liked that direction better, but it could be because of the way the locks can be seen. One can also take the same tour from Musee d'Orsay though. Here is the link to the tours by Paris Canal, and also by Canauxrama which is another boat company: http://europeforvisitors.com/paris/articles/st-martin-canal-cruises.htm
OTher kid-friendly destinations are Versaille where our son loved the boat ride on the lake with swans (there was a swan nest right on the edge of the lake!). France Miniature is a little ways away from Paris, but you get to see the whole of France at once and it's kind of nice.
The only issue was that our son really missed playing with kids, and we were so happy to find a huge playground at Jardin du Luxembourg, next to the puppet theater. There's a small admission charge, but the park is large and clean, and full of kids from ALL countries. My son managed to communicate by pointing, laughing and trying to speak whatever language other kids knew. That also happens to be the park with the old fashioned carousel I've mentioned. take us with you!:)
I would also recommend the Dordogne. There are 1000 castles, where some have knights jousting (in summer only) which makes it really fun for kids, it brings that fairytale to life. The caves are very cool, and the cromagnon art might be less capitvating, so I bought my girls a coloring set where they got to make their own ''lascaux'' painting on a rock. they loved it.
We are a former Berkeley family, but now we live here, and I run a house rental: les gites fleuris. we are kid friendly and have lots of outside space to play after the sight seeing...and local farm animals etc...it's not just another city experience for them. we have been reviewed on tripadvisor. We had a Berkeley family with 2-6 year old boys come here and loved it! They wanted to know if my daughters would babysit them in Berkeley sometime :)
You would be surprised just how much a 6 year old will enjoy and remember their trip to France! Renata
Our (more or less all adult) family has a chance to visit this area of France in late September. Have any nice but sensibly priced references for accommodations -- B&Bs, small modest hotels/chambres -- to share? Seeking sane, sensible surroundings
Hi. My family and I are doing a house swap with a family in France. After the house swap we have a final week that is still unplanned. We've thought about heading back to Paris but then caught onto the concept of a 'child friendly/family focused' gite in the countryside. Our house swap will be more 'city' focused between the Loire and Brittany which is why the idea (and the gite farm pictures) seem so appealing to swim, relax more (if it doesn't rain of course) and have that bonus of being surrounded by vineyards and/or sunflowers for our final days. Has anyone out there gone to France and stayed in one of these 'family focused' Gites? Which interestingly enough seem to be managed/owned by Brits. And if so which one? We are paticularily looking at/around the Poitou-Charente area and the Dordogne (West/South West France) Thanks Hilary
Hi. Next summer I will have the luxury of a 6 week sabbatical from my employer (I'm hoping to negotiate 2 more additional weeks to make it 8 so we'll see :+}) . My husband is going to try and negotiate 4+ weeks off from his company. We already know we want to do a house exchange in France and the extent of the time exchange of course will be dependent on the other family as well. My husband and I have been to France a few times by bicycle (sans enfants) and every city and petite village was absolutely enchanting that we stayed at or cycled through. This time we now have 5 1/2 year old boys so we need to think a bit differently so right now we're just in an information gathering mode regarding this swap. We've already posted our profile on one of the house exchange networks -- it's addicting to just look at all the potential places one can go -- so to kick start our efforts we wanted to reach out to the BPN community for some input. Here are our questions 1. If you've done a house swap through one of the house exchange networks - how did it go? And what advice would you give about what went right and what could have been handled better? 2. How soon did you start either contacting families and how soon did you start receiving inquiries assuming you did your swap during a summer 3. What cities/regions might be suggested in France for us to consider with 5 1/2 year old kids? Paris is one option and if so which arrondissement should be considered? 4. While many of these swaps offer a car exchange -- we're okay with the idea of being in a city/town where much of our time is spent walking or hopping a train/bus. And where the car may be used to get a bit farther out of town for a day trip or overnight. But the goal is to stay local to where the house exchange is occurring. 5.If you are from France or visited France for 3+ weeks at a time what cities might you recommend/suggest we consider that will keep our kids (and us) engaged so we are just living like locals. We're measuring this from our current daily life of living in N. Berkeley. 6. My husband and I have been taking French lessons and our kids currently attend Ecole Bilingue so high on our list is the desire for us to practice our French and for the kids at their age to more likely listen than speak (and yes, we are getting input from EB families but like the idea of casting a wide net for perspectives). So a city/town where we'll need to communicate alot in French is okay by us. Thanks so much for any advice you can provide. Hilary
Paris had my 5 year old's attention 100% and now we have to go back as we did not nearly do all the things that we wanted to. I found parks I never knew existed there (previous 2 year resident) and made friends with Parisiens for the day while we were at these various cool parks. Can you imagine a 5 year old dragging an adult to the Louvre? ''I love old stuff mommy!'' Who knew?! Anyway, I was thinking I chose the right way to go, but once there I wished I had planned differently and spent way too much time at internet cafes trying to change the plans, which were majorly cost prohibitive so I could not change anything, other than to live with the decision and pass words of wisdom on to anyone else who may be considering this kind of trip.
That said, I think you are talking about time in July/August, in which case try to avoid Paris (and Cannes for that matter!) in August. Happy planning and best of luck to you - it will be a wonderful experience I am sure. sb
You should also consider Lyon. It is beautiful country but still cosmpolitan. You can get anywhere from there. You might not need a car. To me it is more French and the people are nicer. Fantastic restaurants. I'm jealous! have a GREAT time.
Oh, and when you do get to or go through Paris, the Musee d'Evolution (I think that's its name) next to the Zoo on the other side of town from the 16th, has a huge amazing display of animals (dead but still cool) from around the world.
Oh, oh and also ... Paris just put in city-owned bike rental locations (this past summer) all over town. You can rent in one spot and return in another, or just rent for a short period of time (once you set up an account). They are right on the street. Might help you meet your need to bike without schlepping and storing your own. Have Fun!
We are doing a home exchange this summer for 2 months in Monteux, near Avignon and Marseille, France. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to visit or eat (we are primarily vegetarians but do eat seafood on occasion). We will be travelling with a 2 year old boy and a 14 year old boy. Our preference is to stay in the within 3-4 hours or so of our home base, and are interested in travelling to Spain or Italy as well. om
My husband and two daughters and I are in search of finding ways to get a home or villa to rent in St. Remy, France (Provence) next summer. Probably for a one month stay. I was hoping to get input on good websites or even referrals on specific persons/entities that might help our search. Doing a simple google search is simply overwhelming! JM
I'm trying to get two adults and four children to France as cheaply as possible this summer. Tips on cheap travel often advise one to find a travel agent or consolidator that specializes in one's destination country. Can anyone suggest an agent whose specialty is France (but not high-end travel)? The agent need not be local. We're also willing to travel via a third country (Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, U.K. etc.) to get lower fares. Any and all money-saving advice is welcome! (I did check the website before posting.) Siobhan
www.kayak.com www.sidestep.com www.farechase.comThere was an article about them in the NYT. Expedia, Orbitz, etc. searches airline sites but requires you to buy through them, as they are online travel agents. These sites above act as search engines, searching airline sites PLUS other online travel agencies, so you're not having to go to Expedia, then Orbitz, etc. to comparative shop. They also have you book directly with the whichever vendor you choose to fly with, so they aren't tacking on additional charges. anon
Can anyone recommend a method for buying train tickets for France before leaving home? (I don't want to use RailEurope.com because of the large markups and the difficulty in using their particular site to arranging exactly the itinerary I need.) A travel agent would be fine, and a website even better. I do know about the SNCF's website, but given that I'd have to pay with a credit card with a U.S. billing address, and the U.S. is a country that the SNCF site does not serve, I can't see how to actually do it. (If you've found a way, please tell me!) I also know that I could probably buy the tickets much cheaper and more reliably after I arrive in France, but the timing of my trip is very tight, and I am afraid to go without a reservation. Siobhan
Even if your ticket goes farther than you plan to travel, perhaps the convenience will be worth it. You can click on a train number and find out every stop it makes.
Even if you are not going to/toward Germany, the site is FABULOUS for info on almost any train in Europe. You can use it to check schedules, connections, how long different options take, etc. You can also link to a page that tells you every train leaving and arriving at a particular station for each hour of the day - for every station in Europe! Enjoy your trip. R.K.
My husband and I are considering taking our 2.5 year old and our 6-month-old to France this summer. We'd like to spend about 5 days in Paris and then rent a house somewhere in the country. I checked the website and read the reviews about things to do in Paris with little ones. But I'm wondering first if we're nuts to think this might be a good idea. Second, can anyone recommend a place outside Paris to stay for a week or so with kids? Thanks in advance. Dreaming of Paris
We then took the train to Aix en Provence and drove from there to a little mediviel village called ansouis where we stayed in a little house with a pool and a little plot of land in the shadow of the grand chateau. Everyday we would pack up and go to a different market somewhere. We spent a day on the beach in cassis tasting wine and bouillabase and playing in the sand. We went to the Rhone Valley. It was all great. I rented a car seat with the car so I didn't have to drag mine through the airport. I used my stroller more than the backpack I brought but be warned they don't usually allow you to bring the stroller to the airplane as they do here in the states. I had to make special arrangements to do this and they put it with the regular baggage it isn't waiting for you at the runway like here.
Get a bulkhead seat so the kids can play at your feet on the plane. We foudn our apartment in Paris and the house in Ansouis on www.vrbo.com. They have some great places- the hard part is fidning the right one! I have a friend that rents an apartment in Montmare so if you were thinking of staying there let me know and I'll get you in touch with her. I thought the trip was great and was so glad I got to share it with my son. Even though I know he won't remember it exactly it will still be meaningful and certainly is for me. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy every moment! Juliette
I have several friends (Americans) who have places in Southern France, especially the Dordogne, which they rent. This is a fabulous area for families because of the terrain, the food, the prehistoric sites, canoeing on very gentle, shallow rivers, etc. At most campgrounds, one can find a swing set and an inexpensive eatery. Pizza is everywhere, as well. The main caution is that once you are out of the urban areas, mealtimes are pretty strictly observed, and you may not be able to get food whenever you want it. A place with some kitchen facilites can be quite helpful. If you want info about my friends'places, feel free to contact me. kim
I took my son (and my mom!) to Paris when my son was four. He loved going up in the Eiffel Tower (we went at night) and visiting the many playgrounds (there are playgrounds in great places like the Jardin des Plantes, the Luxembourg Gardens, even a rudimentary one at the Place des Vosges, etc.) There were little carnival rides at one Metro stop (I can't recall which one right now), pigeons to chase on the square in front of Notre Dame, crepes to consume (with Nutella!), Orangina, picnics in really great places for kids to run around (the Rodin Museum -- great garden!). The puppet theater in the Luxembourg Gardens is great -- no knowledge of French required for Punch and Judy (some tolerance for mild violence required, however). If they've been very good kiddles, you can take them to Le Nain Bleu (The Blue Dwarf), toystore heaven. The boat rides on the Seine are OK but can get long for little ones (yes, I do give in to their demands on occasion). But subway rides and train rides are great entertainment. My son liked the heavily armed police on the Metro trains :) Even the Louvre is OK if you head straight for the mummies and don't linger long.
In short, the stuff they love here, they'll love there, and you'll love it more 'cause you're in France. Bon voyage France 4-ever
Bon Voyage -- you are not crazy to go! Email me if you'd like more specifics. Nancy
Here are the tips I can provide about our travels:
1. Our kids' allowable baggage was a stoller only (I think this was because we bought both girls a space in an infant bassinet that hangs on the wall, so their luggage allowance was minimal). But because we were flying internationally, we (the two adults) were allowed two 70 lb. suitcases EACH, and one carry on each. In our carry-ons, we packed all the food, books, diapers, and toys the girls would need for two days. (we also managed to carry on my purse and my husband's camera case without anyone seeming to care that we really had two carry-ons each.) We each packed one suitcase only. In both were clothes for all four of us. This allowed us another ''bag'' each used to check two infant/toddler backpacks (instead of the second 70 lb. bag). We also checked the stroller as luggage.
2. The wall-mounted bassinet was a lifesaver. It allowed more storage space, a place to set the baby down and let her play, and a sleep space. Our girls were about 21 lbs., so they didn't sleep very well in the bassinet (especially on our return trip, when they definately outgrown the bassinet), but it still allowed us loads of space to prepare food, let a girl play, etc. The alternative would have been exhausting: holding a baby each for hours, kicking our carry-ons under our feet, preparing baby food in our laps. Air France charged us on 10% of an adult fare for the bassinet.
3. We used the stoller and the backpacks the entire trip.
4. We found that flying at night worked much much better than starting a flight at the beginning of the day. This was because everyone in the plane, on an overnight flight, settles down and tries to get some rest. This allowed for a quieter environment and our girls slept about five or six hours on the overnight flight. The day flight was much different. As we returned to the US, we found we would land around 5pm SF time, but we were on French time still which would have been around 1am. However, everyone on our plane stayed awake, socialized, mulled around, bumped into us in the aisles while we tried to rock a baby. (I assume everyone stayed awake to integrate themselves onto SF time which was still daylight.) Our girls slept about 45 minutes because of the background noise and the bussle-about everywhere. It was exhausting for us all.
5. We rented convertable car seats from our rental car agency for the price of about $25 for the entire three weeks were rented the car! This was a great deal! Since we wanted to travel with stroller and with backpacks, we didn't have the added luggage allowance to bring car seats.
6. Airline staff were very helpful for the most part, regarding the special needs of our kids and the lack of sleep we were getting. The let us keep the bassinets attached to the wall for the longest possible time before we landed (you have to strap kids without their own seat into your lap on take off and landing) so our girls would sleep (they noticed our girls had been asleep only a few hours). They also kept our dinners warm until our girls went to sleep since we had to hold them much of the time they were awake.
7. The single most difficult travel detail I can remember was that we had no stroller to roll kids from terminal to terminal when we connected from Paris to the south. This was because we *had* to check the stroller as luggage. We begged to carry it on but the airline could not store it on the passenger deck. The lack of a stroller in connecting airports was a real ''bummer'' because we were dragging carry-on's and sleeping kids through an airport (one of you can push the luggage but the other can't really carry two kids).
8. Jet lag: keep your expectations low about getting out and sightseeing for the first four days. Your kids will be jet lagged and waking at California times for two - four days. This is tiring for you too, needless to say. They do adjust though so plan your more ambitious plans for mid trip and late trip. Allow for jet lag when you return too. I'd not recommend returning to work the day after you arrive home.
Hope this helps! travelled with twins
We had been to Paris before and so decided that that part of the trip was our son's. Up til then we took him in to all the tourist places, one of us leaving when he was cranky. He often fell asleep in his stroller, and didn't mind being carted round such places as Mont St Michel (make sure there's two of you to carry).
In Paris, we had ice cream across from Notre Dame on the Ile St Louis - Berthilland, I think is the name. We explored the parks and playgrounds behind Notre Dame, by the Invalides, and by the Eiffel Tower. The latter is terrific - a hand cranked carousel that children can ride without adults standing by them (safety belts) There were also tons of children, all multilingual - Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Italian and English being the most common languages. The Rodin Museum sculpture garden is free and has all the best sculptures, and the kids love to run around in it. We ALL had a magical time.
For a slightly older child there are many things of interest in the museums - the mummies and big sculptures spring to mind. The three day pass to the Louvre allows you to go in and out as you please, and avoid the queue of people buying tickets, once you have bought it.
Packing - by all means have two days supply of milk, snacks, and diapers if required. Don't overpack though - you can buy EVERYthing you need from diaper wipes to diapers to toothpaste to whatever there, and half the fun of the trip will be the odd side trips to find said items in some small town or out of the way corner in Paris. We took one big suitcase with wheels for our clothes, a small duffle for our son, two carry ons, the stroller, car seat, and a ''food bag'' with our sons on board stuff. We were gone for over a month and had a PC and telephone too. That and the cameras took up most of the carry on space. Nancy
We will be traveling in France this summer, and plan to rent a car for about two weeks. Two questions: Does anyone have a positive experience with a particular consolidator or discounter? And, what about rental carseats? We will have to lug our giant Britax with us if we can't rent a seat for our soon-to-be-two-year-old. We'd like to have a carseat rental included with the car, but I'm concerned about the safety and reliability of the seats that are provided. Does anyone have experience with a French childseat rental? Alexa
Also, you might want the Britax for the plane. We were able to use it on every flight we took. Just ask if there's a free seat just before boarding, and you might get lucky. It's a long ride to hold a little one...
Good luck. Again, I say, haul the Britax with you. anon
I am planning to go on spring break to a village in France called Noirmoutiers which is on an island near Nantes. Does any one have suggestions on travel and places that are interesting to a 7 year old girl in that area. Restaurant suggestions are also appreciated. Also what is the best route, fly into Paris and train to Nantes or Fly into Rennes and drive from there. Thank you in advance for your help. alan
As for getting there, I highly recommend taking the train in. We took it to Rennes, but from the SNCF site, it seems like the train from Montparnasse to Nantes is just a bit over 2 hours. I found it easy (except for my mom beating me at Gin Rummy). Have a great trip! Jennie
I am sure you can find info. on parks, events, museums, local craft studios and other stuff on line. Search under ''Brittany'' and follow links to the different ''departements'' (?) within Brittany. Recently I was able to find a lot of stuff on line regarding Normandy for a friend.
You have probably been to France before and you proably know this already, but just in case....make sure your daughter knows to say ''Bonjour Madam'' to the proprietor when she goes into a store and ''Merci Madam'' when she leaves. It makes such a difference to the French! Have a wonderful time! anonymous
Tom also provides car rentals and train tickets. He found both families terrific deals on cars. I work for the airlines and usually my rates are really great but he got a better deal for me. We paid less than $200 for a station wagon. His number is 1 800 999 0244 or 510 253-7514. His web page is :http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/french_escapades. Lastly, his email address is:email@example.com. He will also be able to help you out with places to stay in Paris. Have fun! Gloria
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