Travel with kids can be tough, especially when you’re headed to an amazing destination and want to make sure that everyone has fun. Navigating a big city like Paris with kids in tow is difficult enough without tossing in the additional challenge of figuring out what to do while you’re there.
Paris: Take One
On our first trip to Paris, we had our three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son on board. For the first day, we decided to take the approach our friends had suggested: “Don’t take a tour! Just stroll! Get lost in the sights and sounds!”Photo by Pedro
This style of family travel does not work when you are toting a stroller, a toddler, and an easily-bored five-year-old, it turns out. A few hours in, we were lost, hot, tired, hungry, and our son was desperate to find a restroom. We stopped into a brasserie and purchased food that both kids refused to eat and he used the restroom there.
The next day, we decided to join a tour group – you know, one of the many you see wandering around exploring historical and noteworthy sights in any large city? Who would have thought that a five-year-old would be completely uninterested in the history of World War II in Paris and that a three-year-old’s whines and protests could disrupt and nearly disband an entire tour group?
Paris: Take Two
After two years, we decided to try it again. This time, I started researching things to do in Paris with kids. That’s how I stumbled upon withlocals. It provided an amazing alternative to wandering around clueless and lost or ending up on a tour bus/in a tour group with a pair of uninterested children and no way out.
You see, withlocals offers small, private tours that are hosted by locals in the area you’re visiting. Instead of generic tours like “See the Eiffel Tower” or “Walk Around Luxembourg Gardens,” you find tours that are highly customized to your specific interests.
In the case of our family, we needed a tour guide with a total understanding of travel with kids under the age of 10 and things that would hold their interest for more than five minutes. Although this seemed like the holy grail of all tour guides, as I began browsing withlocals, I immediately sighed with relief. The local host had plenty of fun games ready to entertain the kids, and us adults learned some interesting stuff about the city too. One of the big bonuses of choosing a local company is that the hosts can suggest all sorts of things to do even after the tour ends.
There they were: a whole lineup of tours that seemed custom-created for our little ones. The list of things to do in Paris with kids is endless, it seems – you just have to know where to go. And the locals offering these tours most definitely do! There were kid-friendly tours that involved tastings, treasure hunts, and all sorts of adventures. Best of all, kids under the age of 10 get to join the tours for free!
We chose two tours for the week we were to be in the city. The first one was a Family Introduction to Paris that was custom-designed to give us (and our kids) an appreciation for all aspects of Paris – from architectural elements like the bridges to the food and cool landmarks like Notre Dame and the tiny, historic Shakespeare & Co. bookstore.
With that tour having been a stunning success, we were more than excited for the second one: a food tour (the kids loved visiting a boulangerie for French pastries) that promised family-friendly eats in various spots in city. The local/guide was wonderful and customized the tour to my kids’ specific tastes. Everyone ended the day full and incredibly happy.
Our next family travel adventure will be in a couple of years, and this time we’re headed to London. We’ll definitely be using withlocals for a memorable and family-friendly tour experience while we’re there!