Traveling with a baby in Paris was perhaps not the most relaxing way to spend a weekend, but it turned out really well. I knew any plans I made would depend on the weather and his mood, so I kept things very basic (= see stuff, eat stuff, take cute pictures.) The main reason we went was so that my husband could take an exam, so I was my own on the train, since he went up Friday night, and for most of the day on Saturday.
I know Paris pretty well, having studied there for a summer in college (which included studying the history of the city, old street maps, and lots and lots of walking around), and we’ve been a few times together as a couple. There was no rush to see everything or disappointment when timing didn’t work out. While it would have been nice to make it into a museum or two, there will be other trips, both with and without bébé, that will be more culture-focused. This weekend was mainly about getting away and navigating a big city (and public transportation!) with a baby in tow.
The TGV ride up went very well, though bébé was obviously very interested in everything about the train, so he didn’t fall asleep until we were halfway there. To get everything to the station in the morning meant putting him in the baby carrier, and our bags in the stroller. I picked a hotel close to the train station so we wouldn’t have to deal with bags + baby on the metro.
I didn’t want to attempt the metro on my own. After reading other posts about bringing babies to Paris, I tried the bus. I think before this weekend I’d taken the bus maybe twice in Paris, and I was a little nervous. But the routes are well indicated on the bus stops, and since I know the city pretty well, it was just a matter of finding one that went in the general direction of where I wanted to go.
For example, I had planned on meeting my husband at the Champs-Elysees metro station, and originally I was going to take the metro to Concorde and walk from there. But then I found a bus that went from the train station to the Louvre, and then walked through the Tuileries Garden instead. Much more enjoyable than hauling the stroller up and down a million stairs.
So bébé didn’t get his first metro ride until Sunday, when my husband took him in the baby carrier and I was on diaper bag duty. In general I prefer the carrier, but he’s just so curious now (and big!), I only use it on my own for short trips, when I won’t need a diaper bag. But with the two of us, it meant we could take the metro and explore a little easier and faster than I had the day before with the stroller.
I only breastfed in public once, in a café near the Musée d’Orsay, and no one said anything. I was a little more self-conscious than usual, since bébé was being so fussy and popping off every two seconds to whine, thus making me feel quite exposed and drawing attention to us. I also fed him on the train on the way home, but I had the window seat with my husband next to me so I was a little more comfortable.
Though some of the pictures are quite grey, Saturday afternoon turned out very nice, and bébé got some applesauce in a park. I don’t think he’s ever eaten outside like that, so yay for bébé’s first picnic! I even changed him on a park bench, which he just loved for some reason.
I originally wanted to eat at a Korean Barbecue place for lunch, but it was so tiny, and they just weren’t that friendly. So we left before we even sat down and went to Hippopotamus instead and got both excellent burgers and excellent service. They had a high chair and a coloring book (which he mostly just tore apart, still too little to color!) and waitresses who just loved him. He even got a kiss from one, he was being absolutely adorable.
I know we won’t be able to go to certain types of restaurants for awhile as a family, but I didn’t fully realize it until this weekend. At first since he was so small and slept so easily, we go almost anywhere. Now that he’s bigger, it’ll be more of a challenge finding places that will work for all of us together. Just another reason to look forward to our date nights – grown-up restaurants! But if everywhere can be as nice and welcoming as where we ate this weekend (with good food no less), then I don’t really see it as much of a sacrifice.
The café we went to Sunday morning had a high chair, though it would have been fine if they didn’t since we didn’t stay that long. Bébé managed to grab a croissant off the table when we weren’t looking and started gumming it to death, so this was a trip for firsts! First picnic, first croissant, first metro ride . . .
I always expect him to be cranky and difficult when we go out for long periods of time in public, but I think I am just anticipating toddler tantrums. Babies are easier I think, or at least ours is, since he loves anything that’s new. Nothing scares him, not loud noises, not dogs, nothing. The only times he cried or fussed was when he was tired. We’ve done a little too well in the “get baby to sleep in his own bed” area, and pretty much anywhere else is a play zone (including our bed, so even if we wanted to cosleep at this point, it would never work). He eventually napped in the baby carrier, and in the stroller, but for much shorter periods, and much later than usual, once he was totally exhausted. This made nighttime sleep a little harder, but not that much worse than usual.
I think the only thing I would have done differently is not taken our portable cot. It’s not that heavy, but it’s larger than an average suitcase so getting it on the train was a little awkward. The hotel had one, but I was worried about safety and hygiene. But we can always bring out own sheets, and I don’t have any good reason to think the hotel’s cots are less safe than ours, since I’ve never tried one before.
So our first trip to Paris as a family of three can definitely be called a success. I’m happy he seems to enjoy exploring France as much as his parents (trips to Beaune and Strasbourg also went well), and it will be exciting to see how he reacts to each new place we take him.