We are so charmed by Paris en Famille, a family-friendly guide/map to the City of Light written by Yolanda Edwards, Living’s executive editor, for Herb Lester Associates. Edwards, a former travel editor with incurable wanderlust, has always dreamed of living in Paris. And while this dream has yet to become a reality, Edwards, her photographer husband, and their 10 year-old daughter travel to the city whenever they get a chance. Over the past decade, the family has been lucky enough to have made numerous trips, for both work and play, for blocks of vacation time as well as short three- or four-day business trips, and this guide is the sum of hours of exploring, as well as sifting through the recommendations of others and finding out what works for them.
While we associate traveling to Paris with romantic getaways, a chance to visit high-end boutiques and museums, and dine in amazing restaurants, we were intrigued to hear Edwards describe going to Paris with a child as “having a VIP pass to the city.” Exploring Paris with her daughter allowed Edwards to slow down and really experience the city. “You stop rushing and trying to hit every museum and fancy restaurant when you’re with a child because, well, you just can’t. You end up spending more time observing when you’re forced to slow down a little bit—sitting on a park bench for an hour while your kid plays. You aren’t just checking hot spots off of a list…and I think you get a more everyday, rather than tourist, experience.”
Kids, Edwards adds, also help get past the somewhat chilly and intimidating reception that Parisians can sometimes give tourists. “When I would walk into a restaurant with a stroller, people would rush to open the door for me and then bring our stroller to the back.” Additionally, it’s a city that’s really designed with kids in mind: There are merry-go-rounds everywhere, and most parks have playgrounds or a similar activity for kids, like push boats, in-ground trampolines, pony rides, and puppet shows. Also there’s delicious, good-quality, inexpensive food all over the city.
Paris en Famille is broken down by arrondissements (loosely translated as neighborhoods), and Edwards gives activities, attractions, and food and shopping options for each. Every entry keeps both the child and adult in mind, such as recommending the fabulous Cafe Marly in the Louvre—but for breakfast, since lunch and dinner tend to be much more formal and crowded; or visiting the Pont Neuf, an architecturally impressive 400-year-old bridge that just happens to be the very same bridge featured in the well-loved children’s book Madeline’s Rescue.
We can’t wait put Edwards’s super-well-curated guide to use, and are inspired by her attitude that traveling with kids is not only doable but, at times, preferable.