When people find out I’m a travel writer they typically say that they know where they’re going from now on for travel information, but the truth is, said people seldom learn more from me than I do from them.
That was the case a couple weeks ago after learning from a mom at my kids’ school that she had just arranged to take her husband and two young sons to Paris over the winter break. Amid the yelling of hundreds of winter-weary, cabin-feverish kids in the school cafeteria I extracted the mom’s lodging strategy, which I thought made a great deal of sense – so much so that I also solicited complementary tips from Trip Chicks co-owner Ann Lombardi (www.twitter.com/thetripchicks), whose advice you’ll find herein and in Paris with Kids, Part 1.
So let’s go to the mattresses – specifically, those at Disneyland Paris, where my friend is taking advantage of a kids stay free deal that permits kids to stay free with their parents in one of seven hotels and get into both Paris Disney parks – Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios – for free, for the length of your stay. Free breakfast is included, too. There are two similar deals: one for kids under 12 through April 5, and another for kids 7 and under running from April 6 to November 7. Three of the seven – the Disneyland Hotel, Davy Crockett Ranch, and Hotel Santa Fe – have family rooms that will accommodate two adults and three kids, and the Santa Fe’s got one with a double bed and two sofa beds that permits four kids.
Now if you’re actually bringing four kids to Disneyland Paris and can get that family room – you’re to be congratulated on your fortitude and for not incurring the expense of a another guest room. But what if you’d actually like a little more space during your stay in Paris? That brings us to my friend’s strategy – after Disney, she’s treating her family to a decidedly more Parisian experience by spending a week at hotel apartment property Citadines Louvre, where she’ll have a one bedroom suite with a double fold-out bed in the living room, a kitchen, maid service once a week, and free breakfast. On site there’s also a laundry room and, perhaps most importantly, a reception desk staffed at all hours.
Apartment rates at Citadines Louvre are upwards of $400 per night, but if that seems steep, factor in the potential cost savings from the free breakfast and fixing a few meals yourself. “Eat breakfast in the apartment before heading out for the day, and pack a picnic lunch,” recommends Lombardi. "Then buy dinner supplies downtown at a French store like Monoprix, Franceprix, or Atac – neighborhood corner groceries are more expensive. Ed l'Epicier (Ed the grocer) or Auchan are good choices for families staying on the outskirts of Paris." She adds that you should allow yourself to "splurge on the occasional restaurant dinner – student areas around the Sorbonne and Left Bank ethnic eateries can save you money at meal time."
Whether or not you took Ann’s advice from Part 1 to pack some sports equipment, you could of course rent some – and if you’re in Paris with teens, she says renting them rollerblades may be the ticket so they can "join the skating crowds at Trocadéro for fun and exercise." Aside from skating, "the whole family might get a kick out of swimming indoors at the year-round Paris Aquaboulevard Water Park. Pack your bathing suits."
One last tip for your Paris travel planning: My friend booked her Air France tickets with the carrier’s “Time to Think” option, which for about $20 a ticket permitted her to hold her reservation and booked fare for up to two weeks. And a good thing, because during that thinking time she changed her mind and moved her trip from February to April, so it was money well spent.
For general trip-planning information, see our Paris Travel Guide.