London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Back again from wonderful 4 days in Paris with toddlers and thrilled to confirm the city that I love and used to live in is absolutely feasible and gorgeous with kids! Furthermore, ever time I get to re-discover through their eyes new thrills and joys, so added delighst! End of May in Paris, temperatures have been between 28-32 degrees Celsius, one shower of 10 minutes and otherwise uninterrupted blue skies; so we all loved the break from London grey landscapes. Mid April 2022 we had mixed weather, but Easter week-end was gloriously warm and sunny.
Best area to stay in Paris with toddlers and/or kids? I love picking my old neighbourhood as a pied a terre : 8eme, 16eme or 17eme are all glorious and the best of it all is L’Hotel du Collectionneur, 2 minutes from Parc Monceau and overlooking Paris’ iconic 8th Arrondissement, 5 minutes away from buzzy Champs-Élysées and the emblematic Arc de Triomphe. 1930s elegance mixed with authentic Art Deco architecture and furnishings, a trendy bar stocked with great wines and fab cocktails, a superb spa, gardens and terrace, Le Collectionneur left us all in love again with the City of Lights.
April 2022 Le Collectionneur treated us also with an royal welcome for the kids and adults: ballons and bespoke cookies, bubbles and a stunning suite upgrade, gorgeous terrace and layout.
This has been by far my best stay in Paris (and the standards are very high given the business travels and suites at Four Seasons on George V!) and even whilst kids asked in the past Airbnb flats with toys, have agreed that Le Collectionneur was just the best. It’s also a great place to see friends over coffee, bubbles or dinner, it’s chic, it’s very Parisian and their team is looking after guests beautifully.
Few years ago we have stayed also on rue Belles Feuilles – Hausmanian building, the little restaurants and myriad of fashionable shops and boutiques downstairs: patisserie, fruit shop, butcher, rotisserie and even sushi. The flat was great for the kids: belonging to a French family with 2 boys relatively similar ages to ours, good set up for beds, black out blinds, amazing toys and books, gadgets and tools.
But of course we were too well looked after at Le Collectieunner and after long walks the hamman, sauna and jacuzzi were the perfect treats as well as the room service, fab breakfasts and afternoon cocktails.
And whilst in Paris, the parents love their evenings as well, with a balcony or terrace is magic to have al fresco dinners overlooking the lively but still residential 8eme/ 16eme or 17emese, indulge into French savoury delights as well as my favourite soundtracks: Yann Tiersen (Amelie Poulain amidst others), Mylene Farmer, oldies and goldies like Joe Dassin, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf and Dalida (prompted by the exhibition hosted by Palais Galliera and visited earlier in the day). With kids in bed more or less 8pm exhausted from so much sightseeing and French goodies, we had delightful evenings, feet up and rose down. Somehow I also managed to read a couple of French books: La Tour Eiffel – fascinating stories, from concept, design and construction as well as Comment ne pas devenir Parisien – a hillarious guide book, laughed hard at the sections of Pregnancy, style and blooming required in Paris; dating and love affairs; Raising kids in busy, cultural and merciless trendy city. La Tour Eiffel book also proved very popular with our almost 4 years old and prompted us on our last morning to take a trip by stairs – we managed just a bit higher than the first floor as our young Spiderman decided that was high enough for his liking.
Le Collectionneur was the perfect base for our Paris with toddlers daily trips: 25 minutes by foot to Trocadero, 30 minutes by foot Tour Eiffel, 40 minutes to Jardin d’acclimatation and La fondation Louis Vuiton, 10 minutes by Arc de triumph and the top of Champs Elysees.
So first evening, barely arrived, we’ve done Trocadero – evening picnic, with kids wondering for the first time at la Tour Eiffel and after the initial surprise and delight, just running after pigeons and chasing each other.
The second day, we took the scenic route to Bateaux Mouches base at Pont d’Alma. A little playing break at Palais Galliera for some chasing, hide and seek, admiring and talking. On Saturday there’s a market on Avenue Wilson – felt very nice and non touristy, a great break before the busy boat ride Paris with kids.
Pont d’Alma and Bateaux Mouches logistics were very smooth and efficient, the trip a visual feast with Parisien sights. Great day to be cruising on la Seine, with perfect blue skies and temperatures over 30 degreees C. We tried up and down, inside and outside during the 75 minutes trip – lots of great pics and stories but also quite a bit of mischief and playing from the little monkeys. Little E had also lunched on the boat, certain other small people just snacked and juiced.
Thereafter we picked the leafy streets of 8eme arrondisment for more walking and scooting and once a little person decided it was nap time, we settled for a nice terrace, steak, salad and rose. The other little person happy for French fries and icecream break. Hydrated, refreshed and napped for 1.5 hours, we headed to Place de la Concorde and Jardin de Tuilleries.
The big wheel / ‘Paris eye’ which has been disgracefully assembled at Place Concorde was now gone, so our boys had lots of fun instead on the funfairs and playground. 7 hours of walking around we called it a day and caught a taxi from Place Vendome.
Next day, a similarly hot summer day, we headed for the greenery of Bois de Boulogne. For families like us keen on both modern architecture, art as well as kids entertainment, recommending La Fondation Louis Vuiton entrance – where you could get a Euro32 entrance for all the gang for both Jardin d’acclimatation and the museum. The building is the most incredible piece of modern architecture, a playful and bold interlace of wood, glass, water and mirrors huge bird/ ship taking off Bois de Boulogne. We took the elevators upto its 5th floor and soaked in the views, took the stairs to the 4th and 3rd floor and thereafter played for a while in its huge cavernous basement, by the water and mirrors: reflections, hiding, playing. The exhibition was South African themed and the led designs fascinated our almost 4 years old.
The jardin d’acclimatation itself is barely manageable in a full day out, so we tried and balanced modern art (French mothers day afterall!) and little pleasures for our little people. The train to Porte Maillot was a hit, La Riviere Enchantee another one, the playgrounds very nice and not as busy as expected, the trampolines great for energetic boys, the pianos to be played everywhere great to listen to some very talented spontaneous acts and good for our boys practising. The water play and steam was incredibly popular at 30 degrees and have to admit – quite fun. A second change of clothes comes very handy as all kids and some of the parents were completely soaked – we left it as the last activity of the day and caught a taxi straight after 5pm for a proper bath & shower.
Friends reunion with their little one – delightful to see them after so many years and catch up on their new lives as parents over more rose and pattiserie. Time flies when you have so much fun, so our last day was dedicated to climbing La tour Eiffel, ‘Spiderman’ playground on the right hand side of Trocadero gardens and a bit more of strolling in the 16eme.
Best chic Paris restaurants in 8eme and 16eme with kids? One is spoilt for choice, from chic brasseries to fusion cuisine. For a cool yet classic Parisian brasserie, check La Rotonde de la Muette. Behind the Ace Hotel and the Standard High Line, La Rotonde charms with walnut paneling, gleaming surfaces and rich textures, great brasserie food, mixing cool with comfort. Brasserie Auteuil is another 16eme favourite, trendy covered rooftop, heated and transformed into a chalet in winter. Set in a former train station (the Gare d’Auteuil) , the old line that circumnavigated Paris at the end of the 1800s but fell into decline with the arrival of the metro. The décor is modern and industrial yet cozy and inviting, with plenty of lovely corners to delight any interior design fan. The tiled bar, beautiful bathrooms (both upstairs and the one in the basement that’s also worth visiting) and lighting and plant arrangements pop against the architecture of the original building.
Brasserie Auteuil makes a great restaurant with kids or friends, large enough to accommodate and offering something for everybody, from charcuterie platters to pizzas and pasta, from salads to meat or fish and, of course, plenty of cheese and cocktails. Also in the 16eme and a former Gare, Andia (formerly Restaurant La Gare) takes one on a culinary voyage, including favorites from France, Spain, Argentina, China, and more. Sunday brunch buffet ( between 12:00 and 15:00, €58 per adult) is raved about , one can linger for hours, playing the French boules game pétanque on the back patio and taking the time to really enjoy the food and drinks. For something closer to les Champs, Kinugawa on Matignon is a great Japanese inspired choice. The second branch of Kinugawa Vendôme, same obsession with precision, fusion cuisine in an intimate setting as well as a sushi bar. Friends also rave about Bambini, the new trendy Italian trattoria at Palais de Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art: chill-out, good sound, sunset facing the Eiffel Tower , cool cocktails and pretty clientele. More for adults only, great Peruvian food, innovative pisco infusions, Latin American music and contemporary art, check out COYA on Rue du Bac (7eme arrondissement). Since bursting onto the scene in London in 2012, COYA charmed our socks off with innovative dining, live music, DJs and artists.
We caught an Ubber to Gare du Nord at 14:30 for the Eurostar at 16:40. Very messy and long check in, passports and luggage disorganised queus, but we completely excused the French authorities once they have given us a private coach at the Standard Premium and I got to dine and wine peacefully, read magazines and looking at an exhausted baby napping for 1 hour and a half. Standard Premium tickets at Eurostar proved just a great choice, all of us enjoying the food & the drinks, the wider seats, helpful and playful personnel.
La vie en rose (and rosé!) over now, back to our 50 shades of grey aka London. For more French inspiration, head to a Springtime in Paris: March, April or May?; our dedicated post on best chateaux hotels and a fabulous France road trip; Provence with kids or Dordogne luxury family holidays. For other European cities breaks, check our articles on Thrills in Copenhagen with kids; luxury stays in a seafront superb chateau in Marseille; fun and cultural weekends by the sea in Mahon; summer days in Bucharest or Rome with a baby.
PS: Many thanks to Hotel du Collectionneur Paris for their royal welcome, bubbles, cookies, ballons and beautiful executive suite upgrade and Bateaux Mouches for the complimentary tickets.