A few months ago I woke up and the first thing I thought of was “Wow, I would really love to go to Paris”. At first I didn’t put much thought into it since I wake up with ideas all the time, but for some reason this one seemed to stick. After all, Paris is always a good idea!
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I posted about it on Instagram and received a few comments, but mostly you all thought I was losing my mind or maybe I was still quite hormonal since Kate was only 3 months when I thought this up. I happened to mention it to my mom on one of our walks and she casually replied “I would like to go to Paris”. That’s all it took for me to get the trip planning in motion.
Although I would love to have paid for Mom’s trip, being on maternity leave made this impossible, but her paying for her flight and offering to split the cost of the accommodations suddenly made the trip within reach. Over the past few months I have been very frugal with my purchases, using coupons, coupon apps and finding deals wherever I can to help cover the cost of going to Paris. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t coupon my way to Paris, but every little bit helps. Ironically, following Weight Watchers the past couple of months has also saved us a lot of money since we rarely eat out right now or buy coffee shop coffee. It is so surprising how much $2 coffees can add up in only a short time.
With all of that, we decided to take a girls trip to Paris! Mom, Baby Kate and I.
Preparing for the trip I read several blogs about travelling with a baby in Paris all of which made me instantly question my decision to bring Kate along. The advice they gave was not wrong, but I would say to take everything with a grain of salt and know your own tolerances before getting “freaked out” by what others are saying. Everyone is trying to be as helpful as possible, including myself.
Table of Contents
Some of the things that scared me
- No baby change stations
- No high chairs in restaurants
- No admission to restaurants with a stroller
- Limited accessibility to Metros
The only one of these things I found to be true was limited accessibility to the Metro system. You can find accessible routes by using Citymapper App, but they are far less convenient than the “regular” routes. If you are travelling with two adults and are willing to carry the stroller up and down many different sets of stairs, use the metro and the Citymapper App to figure out the best route. If you are alone with a baby in a stroller it will be near impossible without the help of strangers to use the metro. And sadly, only two people offered to help us the whole time we visited Paris.
No baby change stations was also “kind of true”. I would say there are limited baby change stations. There were change stations in the Louvre museum and in some of the restaurants we ate at, but if there wasn’t a change station available the staff did what they could to accommodate by offering a booth in the back of the restaurant or on another level where people were not eating. I have to say that in the absence of a change station or counter to use in the washroom I was impressed by the staff’s willingness to help. Don’t be shy to ask! Asking is the only way you will get help.
During our trip Kate was fed on park benches, changed on benches with as much privacy as possible and really we made due with what was available without trying to schedule ourselves to be anywhere at any given time. Especially with the time change, it was impossible to guess when she would eat, nap, etc. She stayed somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (time zone wise, haha) which suited us just fine because we didn’t want to be back for a 7pm bedtime.
High chairs were available every single place we went, but again, you have to ask. If you are sitting for a quick coffee or snack my lulujo blanket hack also works perfectly for babies that can sit on their own. I also had no problem bringing the stroller into any restaurant – I asked before we sat each time to ensure it would not be an issue and the host always sat us somewhere that would be convenient for the wait staff and have the stroller out of the way. Having the stroller in restaurants was not a problem at all.
Formula, food and diapers
This was the part of the trip I knew I had to get right in order to completely eliminate my mama stress. Luckily I have friends who have lived in Paris (thank you Vero and Nat!!) who were very helpful before we departed to give some tips and ideas of where we could buy baby items that I wasn’t going to bring with me from Canada.
Formula, baby food, distilled water, diapers and wipes can all be found at Famprix as well as Monoprix. You will find MANY of both stores throughout the city so you really do not have to worry. There are also diapers and wipes available at the pharmacies which are plentiful and clearly marked with a green cross outside the stores. The diapers and wipes come at quite a premium however. I recommend bringing along what you think you will need if at all possible to save a few Euros for something much more fun.
I brought powdered formula with me and my calculation before the trip I thought I would have just enough (with a little to spare) but it turned out I had enough left to warrant bringing the leftovers home. Throughout the trip I used this formula dispenser and brought along bottles (2) with 8 oz of distilled (or demineralized) water in each. It worked perfectly and it was a great way to travel with powder formula! PRO TIP: the Distilled water will be found in the section with cleaning supplies and likely be marked demineralized water. For the trip I had two 10oz bottles and one 5 oz bottle. If I was doing it again I would have brought 3 10oz bottles and left the 5 oz one at home. I also brought my boon travel drying rack which was useful but if you are tight on space I would just bring the bottle brush and use a towel to let things dry on. The drying rack was was nice to have especially with the limited counter space in our hotel room, but not necessary.
I brought 6 diapers per day and 3 wipes per change (i.e. 18 wipes per day) I ended up with about 12 diapers to spare and LOTS of wipes left over. That said, I would stand by this calculation as you never know when poop explosions (10 wipes at a time, haha) might happen. We were fortunate during this trip to have everything contained if you get what I mean 😉
Lastly, I used ready-to-use formula for both flights with the nipples that go directly on the bottles. I carried the ready-to-use formula in my carry-on in case of luggage getting lost etc. Again, this was a nice to have and made things pretty convenient on the plane but wasn’t necessary. I could have used distilled water and powder – the difference would be the dirty bottles/space in the back pack. With the ready-to-use formula I kept the nipples and rings to wash later but the bottles go to the recycle.
Carrier VS. Stroller
I think parents will debate this very question for ages and it’s completely a personal preference or possibly a matter of what we, as parents, can handle. I opted for both.
I used the stroller (with a car seat attached to it) in the airports and every other day during our visit in Paris. It was convenient to have the car seat to/from the airport and for any Ubers we decided to use. My mom and I like walking so it was also a good option for us on days when we were on the go a lot but not too to far from our home base.
The carrier is a must for certain parts of visiting a city like Paris however. Visiting Sacre Coeur Basilica, especially climbing the 300 steps to the top of the dome would have been impossible with a stroller. Also the river cruise on the Seine would not have been impossible but it would not have been ideal. I really wanted to sit on the balcony (open to the sun) and the strollers had to stay downstairs. The carrier was perfect for Kate to be comfortable and Mom and I not to sacrifice our views. PRO TIP: When you cross the Pont Neuf, turn left from the bridge and you will see a small tourist office on your right almost immediately. If you have data look up “Mizen Fine Art” on google maps – the tourist office is very close to that location. The River Cruise tickets at 10 Euro per person here instead of 14 Euro at the wharf (it’s about a 2 minute walk from the wharf… worth saving 4 Euro per person in my opinion!).
Time Zones/Jet Lag
As I mentioned, Kate didn’t ever fully adjust to Paris time. This was largely my fault as I didn’t really want her to fully adjust. I kept joking that she got about half way ?
Going ahead 5 hours meant it was easy to keep her up later than usual and her not be really cranky which gave us the flexibility to do things like late dinner and see the Eiffel Tower at night. It also meant Kate slept in later in the morning which was also fine by us. We had a 10am start almost everyday and then maximized every minute until about 9:30pm.
For her eating, I would feed her when she woke up in the morning and then feed her every 3.5-4 hours after the first feeding. She napped in between as we walked around and that was how we made her schedule for the 5 days we were in Paris. It is not “by the book” but it worked. Let’s hope it helps going back to our time at home a little easier since she didn’t fully adjust to Paris time!
Travelling in Paris with a baby was certainly easier than I anticipated but I was prepared (mentally) for the worst. In conclusion I would leave you with these tips that apply to Paris but would apply to many travel destinations:
- Ask for what you need
- Don’t assume the worst but be prepared for it
- Baby cuteness and charm goes a long way
- Be patient (this is by far the hardest one for me)
- Be flexible
- Stop to smell the proverbial flowers
If there is something you are wondering about that I didn’t cover don’t hesitate to ask!
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