My husband, daughter and I love to travel. We scrimp together all of our pennies to be able to take weekend trips, week long vacations and this past spring even a trip to France. While my husband and I have both visited Europe a few times, we’d never gone together as a family and we’ve never taken our daughter. The thought of being far away from home without knowing a lot of French was slightly intimidating this time around being a parent. I felt all kinds of anxiety as I planned our vacation. Would the place I choose to stay be safe enough? Would we get separated trying to use the metro? I’m a self proclaimed worry wart. I wish I wasn’t but it’s just something that happened to me once I became a parent. Because I know I am not the only one (come on you can admit it), I wanted to give you a few tips to ease your mind if you are thinking about planning a trip to France with kids.
#1 – France really is a child friendly country. People can change and I think that’s exactly what has happened here. My daughter, who is 8, was welcomed everywhere we went with open arms. In fact, I was so surprised at how friendly shop owners, waiters and people on the street were to her. She was constantly being handed free goodies at shops and restaurants which I consider to be a total win since I got to nibble on these treats too. Now, with that being said, Addie is very polite and I made sure to drill it in her before we left to use as much French as possible. She always greeted people when we met, in French, thanked them and said goodbye when leaving. It was noticeable that people appreciated this coming from such a small girl.
#2 – No matter where you are staying and what company you are using, ask for the exact address before you book it. Google Earth was one of my biggest friends before we booked our apartment. I decided to use the company HomeAway and rent an apartment for us to stay in during our vacation. I simply private messaged the owner for the exact address so I could be sure of what it looked like from the outside. Now I realize looks aren’t everything but sometimes a picture is better than a thousand words. Using google earth, I was able to see the front door, the neighborhood, shops around the corner and even people walking in the streets. For me, it was nice to be able to size up the area before I booked it.
#3 – Schedule down time. That’s so hard when you are on vacation right? I mean who wants to sit in a hotel room when in France. I get it but down time is so important for children. We made sure to have a little bit of down time everyday but it wasn’t always spent back in our room. We went to local parks a lot. In France, the parks are amazing. Our favorite had a trampoline park, a play ground and an amazing fountain where you could rent wooden boats to push around in the water. It was great for Addie to be able to bounce on the trampoline for 20 minutes or run around the fountain chasing her boat for an hour. She was able to be a total kid during this time which made visiting museums and monuments a little bit easier later in the day. If you are planning your vacation be sure to work this into your daily schedule.
Knowing those 3 things – that people are friendly, the area you are staying in is great and that there are kid friendly things to do all around will make planning the rest of your vacation in France a breeze! Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing with you our itinerary, trip highlights and some do’s and don’t when traveling abroad with kids. Stay tuned!