An American Mom in Paris: Little Ones in the City of Light

Paris has something for everyone including the little ones.  Beth McLaughlin tells us what it is like to be an American mom in Paris, sharing her favorite places to eat, activities for kids, and how to fit in like a local, enjoying the best of the City of Light.

My favorite neighborhoods have changed since starting a family.  Before I had my daughter, I would often go to neighborhoods like Le Marais, Republique, and Oberkampf.  Everything is constantly changing in these neighborhoods. You have amazing new restaurants that keep up with all the international trends, bars and boutiques.  Now I stick more to St. Germain or the 16th where I live.  They are filled with lots of great parks and playgrounds.

If you don’t want to stick out as a tourist make sure you bring a scarf, and wear basic neutral colors such as black, navy, cream, tan, grey.   The Parisians liven it up with a bright lipstick, or a colorful hand bag or scarf.  Leather jackets are also a must.

For beauty, I head to the pharmacies on every corner which are loaded with products that are coveted by all.  The Parashop is a chain located throughout the city that carries all the must-have french products.  For fashion I like brands such as Maje and Sandro.   St Germain and Le Marais are shopping meccas filled with tons of boutiques.  Le Bon Marche in St Germain is a great place for one-stop-shopping.  They have an amazing epicerie attached to the department store.  For kids I love Petit Bateau.  If you can afford to spend a lot, Bonpoint has ridiculously cute clothes.

For antiques the Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen is worth seeing. Philippe Starck even designed a restaurant there called Ma Cocotte. In the summer months antique markets are set up every weekend around the city.  The Conran Shop in St. Germain is a nice place for furniture.  Merci in the 3rd arrondissement is also a great place to find furniture, clothes and even a restaurant that is serving super healthy food, which is not always easy to find in Paris.

I love renting a bike using the Velib system and biking along the Seine, taking the train out to Versailles for a picnic and spending the afternoon in the gardens, and visiting my local farmer’s market on Avenue de President Wilson.  There are so many museums worth visiting.  I love the L’Orangerie located in the Tuileries, as well as Rodin Museum.  Something only the locals only seem to know about is the Parc de Bagatelle.  It’s one of my favorite parks inside Bois de Boulogne. They have peacocks roaming freely and one of the most beautiful rose gardens.

Hungry?   Some people come to Paris just to eat.  French sweets from croissants, eclairs, and macarons from Pierre Herme, to classic french food such as croque madame, crepes, steak au poivre with fries, french onion soup, lots and lots of bread and cheese.  I enjoy the traditional french restaurants like Carette, La Closerie des Lilas, La Rotonde Montparnasse, and Balzar.   Monsieur Bleu is also has an amazing view.

The parks like Tuileries, Luxembourg, Monceau, Vincennes are amazing for kids. On weekends most have pony rides and puppet shows.  Le Jardin D’Acclimatation inside Bois de Boulogne is also great for kids.  It’s an amusement park that mixes nature with fun rides and farm animals.  Admission is only 3 euros, but some rides cost money.  The zoo just reopened as well after two years of renovation.  Good rainy day activities for kids (as it rains a lot in Paris) are the museums at the Jardin Des Plantes, as well at Cite Des Enfants and the aquarium in Trocadero.

Extra, extra!   Native Parisian, Florence Elbaz, has secret tips to an insider’s Paris:

For amazing teas and sumptuous brunch, head to Mariages Freres in the Marais.  This is the only neighborhood where the shops are open on Sundays around Rue des Rosiers.

For fashionistas, don’t miss the Palais Galliera between Trocadero and the Seine which has the most interesting exhibits for people who love the history of fashion.

For a cool selfie, go to the Pont Mirabeau in the 16th arrondissement with the Eiffel Tower in the back, and take the stairs where you will see the mini version replica of the Statue of Liberty.

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