Paris: where to stay, what to do, can we bring the kids?

Kids climbing on L'Écoute

The Mr has a chance to head to Paris for work next June, and I’ve never been, so I figured why not?  I expect hotels will be insanely expensive so we are wondering about some non-traditional arrangement like air bnb.  Does anyone have any experience or suggestions?

As for activities, I love food and wine and wandering through cities, but we’re likely to bring our 4.5 year old (the 10 month old will almost surely come), so any ideas for how to have fun with her while still getting a taste of Paris?  Or am I crazy and we should wait until she’s older?

There are lots of great responses– here’s one with a good round-up of suggested activities:

Museums – If you think you’re going to want to see a few museums, I’d look into the Paris Museum Pass.  This would help because while you might have to wait in entrance lines, you wouldn’t have to wait to buy tickets which I would think was a huge plus with kids.

I think if you really like impressionist art (it’s my favorite) then go to Musee D’Orsay which is one of the best.  It’s in a cool looking building with an easy to follow layout and has a little cafe on the top floor.

I would probably skip the Louvre.  It is often just overrun with people and things are REALLY far apart and I’d feel like trying to keep track of a little one in there would be a nightmare.  I had a hard enough time keeping track of my husband.

If you’re already buying the museum pass, you might pop into the Cluny.  The main draw there is tapestries – specifically unicorn tapestries.  I don’t know what your daughter is into, but they are beautiful and for some little kids could be quite appealing, plus the museum is relatively small and comparatively uncrowded.

Rodin Museum – there are works inside the house, but the main museum is actually the gardens of the house – the Thinker is outside.  So, your child can run about the grounds and not worry about being still or quiet or anything else you’d normally associate with museums.

Getting Around – if you plan on taking the Metro (one of the easiest ways to get around Paris) you might want a Paris Visite metro pass. It’s a tourist pass, which lasts for a certain number of days.  There’s a cheaper pass, but it goes Sunday to Sunday (which isn’t helpful if it doesn’t line up with your dates) and is really complicated to purchase if you don’t speak French (and just slightly complicated to purchase if you do speak French).  The reason you’d want a pass is to avoid having to purchase tickets each times and to avoid the trouble of holding on to the tickets.  In Paris, you have to hold onto your ticket until you leave at your destination.  There are REALLY high fines for losing/misplacing your ticket.  I would not want to deal with getting myself and my children through the turnstiles, collecting everyone’s tickets, handing them back out, etc.  The pass is harder to lose!

Eiffel Tower – The lines can be long, and it might be more fun to see from the ground than to go up.  There’s also a carousel right nearby which might be fun for your daughter (I can’t remember what the situation is with lines for the carousel, but I do remember thinking it’s really pretty!)

Arc D’Triomphe I would avoid this. I’ve never been up it, but the access to it is shit.  You have to go through one of the busiest train stations (Etoile) and then find the underground walkway to get to the Arc because it’s this huge dangerous intersection.

Luxembourg Gardens – Huge win!  Pick up some picnic supplies at La Grand Epicerie or at a little boulangerie and then go to the park!   They have lots of things to do there.

Want the travel writer take on what to do in Paris with kids? Check out Ten Great Things to Do With Kids in Paris by Paul Bennet, featured on David Lebovitz’s site Living the Sweet Life in Paris. (Which, how did I not know about this blog? I can’t wait to read more of it.)

Looking for a place to stay? Try one of these leads:

We found a place through VRBO and it’s excellent. The owners also have a separate website here:

I have no idea where they live, but they have a very competent property manager and our payment to them (via credit card) was processed via an affiliated entity in California (and in USD). The apartment is exactly as advertised.

Feeling bitten by the travel bug? Read the whole thread at Paris – where to stay, what to do, can we bring the kids? or check out some other recent travel questions (log in to read):

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Gifted Education: What’s Best for Your Child?

EducationWhen your child is academically ahead of the class, it can be hard to know the best way to proceed. How can you make sure that your child’s academic needs are met while nurturing their social and emotional needs? Should you seek out a program for gifted children or handle all enrichment yourself? What options are even available to you?

Looking to chat about all issues related to parenting a gifted child? Stop by the Gifted & Talented thread.

Talk to the Teacher

A great first step is to Talk to the Teacher. Your child’s teacher can make a great ally!  By starting with the teacher you’re letting him or her know that you appreciate their input and expertise and you are able to get a better picture of your child’s abilities in the context of school. The teacher should be able to point you in the right direction for any formal programs and services that might be offered by your school. Additionally, your teacher may differentiate instruction.  Teachers can often provide alternate assignments or enrich the existing curriculum to best challenge your child.

Learn about your School’s Program

Next up, Learn about your School’s Program – There are no national requirements about how schools provide services to gifted children.  Many school districts do have some ways of helping your child’s needs be met.  Find out if they have a formal program for gifted education and what it looks like. This means talking to the school but also reaching out to other parents.

Do you have friends with kids in the upper grades at either school? I ask because I’m learning that what the district or school says they offer can be drastically different from the reality. You would probably get the best feedback if you could talk to parents whose children are in a gifted program (or at least were identified as eligible) at those specific schools.

It can be easy to focus on the requirements for entrance to a program. Much of the focus is on evaluating your child, but make sure that you evaluate the program as well, and that the program offered is the best fit for your child’s needs. An ideal gifted program will not only address your child’s academic development, but spend time on building the executive function skills necessary to be successful and addressing their social and emotional growth as well.

A lot of the time I don’t know how I feel about much of this. What I want my kids to get most out of their primary and secondary education is strong executive function, a good work ethic, and good study skills. I think it can be hard to teach those things to some of the kids who learn very quickly in the absence of a gifted program, because they either don’t have to work much to be successful or they’re not engaged enough to care.

Even an excellent program might not be be a fit for where your child is right now. There’s always the option of waiting until your child is older before enrolling.

She is in a full day accelerated program now, and seeing how much she loves it I have pangs of wondering if we should have sent her earlier, but on the other hand I would say she had a great first few years. And if we’d sent her earlier and she hadn’t kept up being ahead/academic, it would have been sort of a disaster…

If your school’s program doesn’t seem like the best fit for your child, for whatever reason, you might need to explore other options.

Become an Advocate; Get Involved

The National Association for Gifted Children has a wealth of resources available to parents about many topics that affect the lives of families with gifted children. Many states have their own NAGC affiliate. These groups can be invaluable. They offer workshops and seminars on how to navigate your school’s bureaucracy and have your voice heard by district officials. Additionally, they offer enrichment materials that you can use at home with your child or share with the schools. Often they provide great opportunities for your child, such as contests and activities that will allow your child to meet other gifted children while igniting their passion for learning.

Enrich and Enjoy

Some of the best things you can do for a gifted child are things that can be fun for your whole family. Read together, visit historic sites, go to shows and performances, travel, explore parks, use your local library and check out museums together. Tip: Many libraries have museum passes as part of their collection. Check out a pass if museum fees are too steep! Having a deep cultural base is often helpful for children as they make connections and seek build an understanding of their world.

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Debunking Anti-Vax

Don't rely on herd immunity.Last month on Facebook, I posted a link to the HuffPo article I’m Coming Out… as Pro-Vaccine with this comment:

If you are relying on herd immunity because you are afraid of vaccination side effects, do you know what you’re really saying? “Vaccination is risky. You do it instead. My kids are more valuable than yours.” I have a response to that, but I’m trying to cut back on profanity on Facebook.

I’m lucky: my kids are fully vaccinated and attending a school where vaccination exceptions are rare. (How do I know this? We procrastinated on our fall vaccinations until the week before school started, and fielded many increasingly annoyed phone calls from the school nurse as a result.) But not everybody is that fortunate. The (really active) topic Vaccinations is full of stories like these:

What is the percentage of vaccine-exempted kids that would make you unwilling to send your child to a particular school?

G is starting public first grade next year, and we’ve been looking at schools.  So far, the leading contender has been a school that is close to our house and has a Montessori mixed-age program, which would be a good fit for her academically.  However, about 13% of the students there have filed a personal exemption from vaccination.  I’m not sure exactly why this is (maybe the Montessori program attracts more “alternative” parents?) but it’s been consistent for at least the past few years.

I know 95% vaccination is the generally quoted figure for herd immunity, but does anyone have a concrete sense of the risks of dipping below that?  It will really be a bummer if we have to rule out this school on this basis, but of course I don’t want to expose G to risk.

I have a great moms group in my area with lots of fun, fairly crunchy “alternative” moms.  Along with that, many of them are delaying or abstaining from standard vaccinations. We’ve been on schedule for the most part with my daughter, so I’m not too worried about her.  But I’m pregnant now, and there’s been a measles outbreak in my area, so I’m worried that I need to make a whole new set of friends who actually vax their kids.  Anyone been in this situation themselves?  what did you do?

If you’re in a similar situation, you might be interested in all topics tagged “vaccine,” particularly Vaccinations, Vaccines and Autism – Belief, Science, “Debate”, Vaccines, 9/11, and Climate Change: Confronting Conspiracy and False Belief, and Has anyone here chosen not to vaccinate their kids? You’ll find lots of thoughtful discussions on how to handle unvaxed friends and families around your newborn, how to determine the risk of attending a school with a large unvaxed population, and how to debunk anti-vax studies and articles.

Feeling a bit more on the fence about vaccinations? You might check out Vaccination scheduling – is it kind of flexible?Has anyone here chosen not to vaccinate their kids? or is anyone NOT getting the seasonal flu and h1n1 vaxes for their kids?

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Keeping Kids Entertained When You’re Injured

Kids and PuzzlesAny ideas for a quiet time toy/activity for a rambunctious 3.5 year old boy? It’s an injured parent situation… I don’t think he’s the type to sit quietly for any length of time no matter the enticement Smiley so I want to find something that might keep him occupied but not running around?

Try Parenting While InjuredQuiet/restful activities for young toddlers might have something that would work (even though it skews a bit younger). You could also try Simple activities that are keeping my kid/kids self-entertained today, or possibly even We need a date night — fun activities for an evening with the babysitter, which lists some “special” quieter activities. Oh, and Thing That Occupy Toddlers/Pre-Schoolers (while you try to get something done). Actually, try browsing the whole Baby/Kid Activities and Amusements board– there are many more threads that might catch your eye.

Image credit: Dinosaur Puzzle Play by jen_rab

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