I hemmed and hawed for weeks over whether I’d join my husband on a business trip to Paris. Normally I would never turn down an opportunity to spend a few days in the city of lights, but I kept imagining all of my favorite sights with a side of screaming baby. Running out of Musée D’Orsay with an inconsolable baby. Getting kicked out of Les Deux Magots because my stroller tripped someone. Paying for something expensive at Galleries Lafayette because the baby vomited on it.
I let myself be so overwhelmed with anxiety and worst-case scenarios that I didn’t even entertain the idea that Paris with a baby could be doable. Enjoyable, even.
It can be and it was. Here’s why it worked:
The baby’s age. He was 12 weeks when we were in Paris–a surprisingly great age for travel. Newborn babies are sleepy and able to sleep almost anywhere. At 12 weeks, he slept through most of Paris–either in his baby carrier or in the stroller. Babies are also super portable at this age and not so heavy that you are aching at the end of the day. If you are nursing, you don’t even need to schlep bottles and formula. As soon as I’d see his eyelids drooping, I knew I had at least an hour to enjoy a museum or shop. We visited the André Jacquemart Museum and the Chapelle Expiatoire (above).
**Bring your baby to Paris before 12 months, possibly even before six months.
The weather. Good thing Paris is known for its stunning parks, because babies love parks. They can cry it out while you stroll them to sleep in a park. They can nurse to their heart’s content (amongst the topless sunbathers already there!). They can even enjoy a diaper change al fresco. This gadget came in very handy.
As parents, we took advantage of the late June sunsets with dinner picnics and went out for long lunches at outdoor cafes instead of dinner dates. We especially enjoyed Parc Monceau and the terrace of Mini Palais. (Here is a list of outdoor dining options.)
**Book your trip from May through October.
The accommodations. Book a hotel or apartment that offers a crib on-site. If you are worried about the state of the crib ask the hotel to send a photo by email. We stayed in a hotel, but most of my parent friends prefer an Airbnb rental. I’ve also heard great things about Kid & Coe rentals since homes may include everything from strollers to toys.
**Check out every detail of the hotel–and double-check it has an elevator. Our hotel had a small courtyard which was perfect for walking the baby around when he was fussy.
The baby gear. We went to Paris without a car seat. Did I just blow your mind? Once I started mapping out how we’d spend five days in the city, I realized we probably weren’t going to use a cab. We took the train into the city and then rode the metro with the baby strapped into his carrier. Our stroller was perfect for days when I wanted to do long walks. The carrier worked well for days when we wanted to hop on and off the metro. We also picked up diapers and extra wipes at a drugstore there. It was much less stressful to travel light than to bring every creature comfort from home on the train.
**Check out my list of my favorite baby travel gear.
Where did you travel with your baby? What is your advice? I’m only four months into this motherhood thing and I am all ears. Meanwhile, a few links for today:
What does family-friendly travel really mean?
My dream Kid & Coe rental home
Why more families are traveling and home-schooling on the road
My favorite airplane shoes this summer (no laces, no problem)
What you should know before you board a flight with baby