Paris With Kids (A Parents Guide to a Parisian Family Vacation)

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Visiting Paris With Kids

When my husband invited me eight years ago to accompany him on a business trip to Paris, I was over the moon. We had just gotten engaged and while he had been to Paris before, this was my first time traveling to Europe. Like most people, I fell in love with Paris. I fell in love with the opulent architecture, the monuments, the statues, the world class museums and the authentic live music (which ubiquitously consisted of an accordion, a violin or a harp). I fell in love with the iconic buildings (i.e. Eiffel Tower, The Louvre…), the painters selling their art on the streets, the history and culture of Paris, the romantic Seine River, the patisseries, the food and the fashion! Can we talk about the fashion for a moment? Paris has the most world-class high-end boutiques, the most luxurious, yet affordable boutiques as well. And the more “commercial stores” like Zara and H&M are far more glamorous than their American sisters because they have different items in stock that are only available in Europe. To say I was in heaven is a very serious understatement.

Over the last three years, we’ve taken the kids to Paris for a week vacation. I’ve researched the best places to create a family friendly vacation and I’d like to share my favorite picks.

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The kids at The Fountain of Warsaw/Jardins du Trocadero during our family’s first trip to Paris. Summer 211. © ClarendonMoms

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The kids at our hotel (Passy Eiffel) during our first trip to Paris. 2011. ©ClarendonMoms

STAY

Apartment Rentals are a fantastic option. Here are my top two websites to find a nice family friendly apartment.

© ClarendonMoms Dave and Ella peering into the window of Breakfast In America (Marais/Paris)

Dave and Ella peering into the window of Breakfast In America (Marais/Paris) Winter 2012. © ClarendonMoms

EAT

My husband and I consider ourselves foodies. We enjoy dining out at laid-back establishments as well as formal establishments—even with our kids. We enjoy trying a variety of different cuisines, especially while on vacation. However, French food is our absolute favorite. And although we appreciate experimenting with our palate, our kids tend to want a slice of home. So we do make it a point to treat the kids to a couple of American meals every time we travel overseas.  We’ve found a couple good restaurants that are sure to make you feel like you’re back at home as well as a couple places to find items for a picnic.

Grocery stores to pick up items for cooking at home away from home or to pack for a picnic:

  • Monoprix: Comparable to a Big K-mart in the US, Monoprix doubles as a very unique grocery store with fresh produce, freshly baked goods, basic dairy products, French bottled water, pre-packaged sandwiches, inexpensive wine, standard groceries while offering knock-off gourmet snacks and very interesting knick-knacks that can be purchased as souvenirs or as toys for your children. Every arrondissement has at least one large Monoprix store in addition to smaller shops, called Daily Monop’.
  • Picard: The store’s modern ice-blue colored Snowflake is powerful enough to catch your eye as you’re perusing the shops on every street. Opening the doors, you are immediately impressed with the frigid, minimalistic white ambience, as staff stroll the corridors in white lab coats, pushing silver insulated shopping carts. You have entered Picard, a grocery chain in Paris selling only frozen foods. These are not your standard American tv dinners. These are the type of gourmet meals that are made in Italy, Spain and various parts of France and flash frozen so the consumer can whip up a delectable meal in two shakes of a lobster tail. It kind of reminds me of Trader Joe’s, but dare I say it: even fancier and more delicious!

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Restaurants

  • Le Relais de l’Entrecôte: A fantastic family restaurant suited for casual tourists offering impeccable service and steak grilled to perfection. Serving only steak and fries, this is the perfect place for omnivores.
  • Drouant: Facing a very pretty city square, the restaurant has been around since 1880. Managed by Antoine Westermann, the menu offers elegantly updated classics with an emphasis on seafood.
  • Chez Georges: A popular, old school bistro serving classics like frisée au lardons, jambon persillée, escargot, and tarte tatin.
  • Le Petit Vendôme If you really want to lunch as the locals do, visit this old fashioned Auvergnate casse-croute.
  • Benoît: Opened in 1912, Benoit celebrated its 100 years anniversary. It’s a venerable age for the only one Parisian Bistro to get starred by the prestigious Michelin Guide. The restaurant has still a lot of vitality and remains the traditional Bistro cuisine in the heart of Paris.
  • Le Grand Colbert: Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicolson made this historic brasserie made (more) famous in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. And if you know anything about me–I’m a sucker for a Hollywood staples.
  • Ma Bourgogne: Serving humble French fare in a location that is anything but, Ma Bourgogne brings hearty classics to the Place des Vosges.
  • Korcarz: A kosher Jewish deli on Rue des Rosiers offering an epicerie full of nosh and a lovely terrace
  • Chardenoux: This is a 100-year-old belle époque bistro with your classic French bistro menu. It’s a quiet neighborhood restaurant, not cheap but worth it, for the food is a cut above. Charming service.
  • Le Tournesol: a modern French bistro that serves delicious, light meals at the foot of the Radio France building in the 16th Arrondissement.  The crowd is 90% locals with a few tourists lucky enough to find this trendy and chic restaurant.
  • Breakfast in America: The owner, Craig Carlson is from Connecticut with quite an interesting story. This is our “go-to” place for breakfast at least once or twice during every trip to Paris. Our kids are reminded that eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, toast and pancakes can be served anywhere in the world and yes, even in Paris.
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Ella & Logan checking out the macarons. ©ClarendonMoms

Patisseries

Patisseries are like 7 Elevens in America. They’re just about on every single corner. It’s almost impossible to find a bad one. But, these two in particular have been around forever and are two of the most popular patisseries in all of France.

  • Ladurée:  One of the top premier sellers of the double-decker macarons. 15,000 are sold every day. They are one of the oldest and most reputable makers of macarons in the world.
  • LeNotre: This is our absolute favorite patisserie in all of Paris. The pastries are very fresh and it offers a very family friendly atmosphere.
  • PAUL: is a French chain of Bakery/Café style restaurants established in 1889 in the city of Croix, in Northern France. It specializes in serving French products including breads, crêpes, and sandwiches, macarons, soups, cakes, pastries, coffee, wine, and beer.
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@ClarendonMoms

Our favorite little tot playground (suitable for 1-5 year olds) near The Fountain of Warsaw/Jardins du Trocadero/Eiffel Tower    ©ClarendonMoms

Our favorite little tot playground (suitable for 1-5 year olds) near The Fountain of Warsaw/Jardins du Trocadero/Eiffel Tower ©ClarendonMoms

PLAY

There isn’t a shortage of beautiful, elegantly landscaped and solidly built playgrounds in Paris.

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©ClarendonMoms

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Cultural Enrichment (thru Sight Seeing)

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Shopping

Rue Vavin is the shopping mecca for stylish moms. Near the Luxembourg Gardens, this quarter mile long narrow street has more than a dozen children’s clothing boutiques, including Catimini, Jacadi, Petit Bateau, Froment LeRoyer (kids’ shoes) and Marese. At the top of the street is a FNAC Junior, packed with French educational toys, books and DVD’s. Make sure to stop in for a gelato at Amorino, 4, rue Vavin (our absolute favorite gelato place in all of Paris).

Rue Cler, a cobbled pedestrian street in the seventh arrondissement, is packed with small shops for the perfect picnic (wine, cheese, bread, olives and French specialties), is truly a sensory experience for the entire family. Children will be drawn to the colorful macaroons in the windows of LeNôtre, as well as the sweet-smelling crêpe stand, where a Nutella and banana crêpe is only 3.50 euros.

Children’s Boutiques

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Women’s Fashion

 Men’s Fashion

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©ClarendonMoms

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©ClarendonMoms

TIPS

Getting Around

Getting around Paris is very easy! The best way is to walk. Paris is surprisingly easy to navigate on foot and it is only in the Montmartre district that there are any hills. Walking is the best way to see the city as you go from arrondissement to arrondissement. Paris is a compact city, no more than six kilometers at its widest point. However, when the kids begin to get tired, there are several transportation options including: Metro, Buses and Taxis. The Paris metro is one of the oldest in the world which also means that only very few of the stations have lifts or escalators for strollers. Buses are easy to access with a stroller but much slower depending on traffic and you are above ground and can really get an awesome tour of the city without the stress of driving. After living in the DC area for the last decade, we’re quite spoiled with the modern escalator and elevators. The Paris metro system is just as nice, but prepare to lift the scrollers. I recommend baby carriers if you can get away with that. The final option is to hire a taxi. The prices are very comparable to those in any major U.S. city and quite worth it.

What to Pack

Paris may be considered the fashion capital of the world. But, it’s certainly nothing to get anxious over when packing. I’ve noticed that most Parisians have a kind of “uniform” formula that they use to get dressed every morning creating a very polished, chic and classic look. It consists of: 1. A Blazer 2. a Button Down, Turtleneck or Classic T-shirt 3. A Scarf 4. Jeans 5. Flats This look is standard for both men and women throughout almost all four seasons.  For Summer: Dresses, dresses and dresses with very pretty feminine flat sandals is the perfect go-to outfit for women as well as little girls. A neutral colored tee and black or colored shorts with masculine sandals is the best go-to outfit for men as well as little boys. Here are a couple more tips:

  • Black is The New Black: It doesn’t matter what season it is, black is always in style in Paris. Black is awesome because almost everything looks dressier in this color. The kids spills and dirt don’t show up as easily and black goes with everything.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: Parisians do a lot of walking. Contrary to American culture, the fashion set in Paris wear flats over heels, especially during daylight hours. Ballet Slippers, Gladiator sandals, and dressy shoes with a low heel are great. The kids can wear absolutely any footwear and get away with it.
  • Think layers.  The weather in Paris is fickle; temperatures can swing wildly during the day, particularly in spring and fall, while the sun plays peekaboo.  Blazers, light cardigans, sweaters and hoodies are great items to pack for the whole family. And bring socks and a light anorak.
  • Jeans: Yes! Skinny jeans are very popular, especially in colors. Cherry and mustard are especially popular. And yes, even the men wear jeans in skinny cut and in colors.
  • Dress Up A Little: What’s considered dressy in the states could be considered casual in Paris.
  • Carry a Cross Body Bag with Zipper: There are tons of signs around touristy sections of Paris warning you to be aware of pick-pockets. Wearing a small cross body bag with a zipper closure is one of the best ways to ward off these petty criminals.  Men and women would do better only carrying one credit card, just the necessary amount of cash for the day and only one form of identification. Leave all the extraneous credit cards and passports in the hotel safe.
  • What Not to Wear: Workout Clothes or Yoga/Pilates GearParisians never go out in workout clothes or yoga wear. I don’t even think Parisians even know what Lululemon is. And white sneakers just screams “frumpy Americans”.

Happy Traveling!

If you have any questions or tips about Paris that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Scent of a Baby (Antica Farmacista): The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

A beautiful soft scent, inspired by the purity and freshness of baby. Built on notes of soft peach, sparkling citrus and sheer floral notes of lavender, may rose and bigarade. A powdery hint of white musk, honeyed almond and creamy Tahitian vanilla round out this sweet, calming scent reminiscent of baby fresh.

A beautiful soft scent, inspired by the purity and freshness of baby. Built on
notes of soft peach, sparkling citrus and sheer floral notes of lavender, may rose and bigarade. A powdery hint of white musk, honeyed almond and creamy Tahitian vanilla round out this sweet, calming scent reminiscent of baby fresh.

The Scent of a Baby…A Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

The irresistible smell of a newborn baby offers a really soothing, mood boosting aroma-therapeutic reaction, according to a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology. The study surveyed both, women that were mothers and women that had never given birth. In every case, the brain’s reward center lit up after sniffing pajamas worn by newborns much like it would after consuming chocolate.

The study also indicates that most people (women, children and even men) can benefit from smelling the scent of a newborn baby by experiencing the mood boost that the baby scent provides, but mothers in particular seem to have a stronger sense of attachment to their children after smelling a baby scent.

The scent of a Baby would make the ultimate Mother’s Day Gift. And Antica Farmacista has found a way to bottle it perfectly.

Antica Farmacista offers diffusers in several sizes and also a room spray ranging in price from $26 to $96. For more information or to purchase, click here.

{Disclosure: Antica Farmacista provided a line of products to sample and review. All opinions are authentic and my own.}

Top 6 Restaurants: Where Kids Eat For FREE (A Clarendon Moms Guide)

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I’ve strolled up and down Clarendon Boulevard and Wilson Boulevard at least a hundred times pushing my two kids in their double stroller or red wagon and dining at various restaurants. However, I’ve never bothered to look at the “Specials” on the chalkboards outside of the restaurants let alone inquire about “specials for kids” once inside the restaurant. That is, until earlier this week. My three year old son and I were enjoying the 40 degree January weather while walking to go pick up my five year old daughter from Kindergarten when a sign outside of The Hard Times Cafe practically jumped out at me. It read “KIDS EAT FREE ALL DAY MONDAY & TUESDAY”. What? What? What?! Really? Were my eyes playing tricks on me? As I’m smiling like a stressed out mom getting a day of pampering in a luxury day spa, I suddenly realized I’d never seen this before in Clarendon. I was a little shocked and I didn’t quite understand why I was so pleasantly surprised. Perhaps it was because of the sheer amount of restaurants in the neighborhood that seem to cater towards singletons and the double income/no kids crowd or those that care nothing about a bargain. Most restaurants in the Clarendon-Courthouse area DO offer Kids Meals. However, I’ve never seen a sign offering up “Free Meals” and I now know it’s because I never paid attention and I’ve never ever thought to look for it. After Logan and I picked up Ella, we met up with one of my gal pals and enjoyed a nice lunch for 4 at The Hard Times Cafe. There was so much food, we left with doggy bags”. And the best thing about it: It was a whopping $22 before tip. I’m still in heaven thinking about how great the food was and how much fun we had, not to mention–the bargain!

This experience inspired me to call up the 30+ Restaurants we have from the Clarendon-Courthouse area all the way to Ballston and Rosslyn. These are my Top 6 Restaurants Offering “Kids Eat Free Specials”. Happy Dining! [Read more...]

Clarendon Moms Guide: Top 15 Places to Host A Kids Birthday Party 2014 (VA/DC)

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CLARENDON MOMS (A TOP 15) GUIDE TO LOCAL BIRTHDAY PARTY VENUES 2014

[Read more...]

Clarendon Moms Guide to Catering Your Thanksgiving Dinner 2013 (You still have time to host without cooking!)

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year and interested in catering instead of slaving over a hot stove? Here is my guide to some of the best places to order an entirely pre-cooked Thanksgiving Day Feast. Wishing you and your family a very warm and fun-filled Holiday! Happy Thanksgiving!

Whole Foods Market
Offered at Clarendon/Arlington Location and many locations throughout the Washington DC Area. The organic food store offers complete Thanksgiving dinners with an organic turkey OR Vegan Turkey with the traditional trimmings stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce OR Gluten Free and Vegan Options. Orders can be placed in person at each store, over the phone, or online. And for those of you who miss the deadline to place an order, there will be plenty of pre-packaged fresh items on the shelf (while supplies last).

Boston Market Whether you need a banquet with all the fixings or a few home style sides, you can trust us with your holiday celebration. All for about the same price as your local grocery store and without the hassle of cooking.

Liberty Tavern

Liberty Tavern is offering an all you can eat Thanksgiving Buffet for only $30. This is perfect for those not interested in staying home or going to someone else’s house for the traditional dinner. Get all dolled up and enjoy your holiday at a very fine establishment in Clarendon.

City House 

The cityhouse restaurants can be found in Manhattan in New York, New York; San Francisco, California; and Arlington, Virginia. Set within some fabulous hotels, city house restaurants are ideally located near each city’s most popular events and attractions, making them a favorite choice for residents and visitors to enjoy a special dining experience for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We are very lucky to have one within the Rosslyn-Clarendon Corridor. City House/Rosslyn is offering a $29 3-Course Pre-Fixe Dinner on Thanksgiving. Call for Reservations!

Balduccis
Three locations in the DC Area: 10323 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD (301) 564-3100. 600 Franklin Street Alexandria, VA (703) 549-6611, 6655 Old Dominion Drive McLean, VA (703) 448-3828. The Thanksgiving menu showcases traditional turkey and a selection of modern side dishes and desserts.

Safeway
Offered at the Rosslyn and Lee Heights Locations and most areas in Northern Virginia. Safeway offers several different heat and serve turkey dinners with side dishes and desserts.

Rocklands BBQ  

Monday through Friday of this week, every Rocklands will be serving Thanksgiving on a Bun as our blue-plate special.  Turkey, stuffing, cranberry dressing and mayo on a potato roll, all for just $6.99.  And if you need potatoes and gravy too, well, you can add french fries and gravy on top for just $1 more.

Assaggi Mozzarella Bar, 4838 Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda, MD, and its sister restaurantAssaggi Osteria,, 6641 Old Dominion Drive in McLean, VA will offer three Thanksgiving feasts “to go.” Guests can choose from three pre-cooked options: the Italian Roasted Turkey Dinner; Italian Roasted Turkey Breast (only) Dinner, and the Italian Style Turkey Dinner Three-Ways. The “to go” menus are priced at $180, $140 and $210, and serve between six and eight people. Each “to go” menu also includes a choice of dinner rolls, two condiments, three sides and one dessert. Desserts can also be ordered a la carte, and are priced between $25 and $30 each.

EPIC Smokehouse
1330 South Fern St. Arlington, VA. Located near the Pentagon City Mall, EPIC will offer a limited supply of turkey dinners for carryout that will feed up to 10 people. Pick up a 10-12lb turkey that can be either smoked or fried. Turkey dinners cost $70 and include gravy along with a choice of three homemade sides. Selections include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and creamed corn. An extra side can be purchased for an additional $10.

 

Clarendon Moms Official Inaugural Balls Guide 2013

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Official Inaugural Balls

Inauguration Weekend is a fantastic weekend to go for a night out on the town in the Nation’s Capitol. Lots of celebrity spotting and glamourous activities. There is still time to get tickets to some of these fantastic events!

  • Children’s Concert – Saturday, January 19, 2013.Washington Convention Center. Hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to honor children and spouses of those serving in the Armed Forces. The concert will feature popular young artists. This event is by invitation only.
  • Commander In Chief’s Ball – Monday, January 21, 2013. Washington Convention Center. For members of the Armed Forces. Tickets will be free for invited guests, including active duty and reserve service members, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors, among others, with troops overseas participating via video. Performers will include Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Marc Anthony. A live stream of the event will be available online at www.pentagonchannel.mil.
  • The Inaugural Ball – Monday, January 21, 2013. Washington Convention Center. Limited tickets were distributed to the public. The ticketing process is now closed. Performers will include Alicia Keys, Black Violin, Brad Paisley, Far East Movement, FUN., members of the Glee cast, John Legend, Katy Perry, Maná, Smokey Robinson, Soundgarden, Stevie Wonder and Usher.

More Inaugural Balls, Galas and Events [Read more...]

Clarendon Moms Guide To The Presidential Inauguration 2013

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Clarendon Moms Inauguration Guide 2013

The Presidential Inauguration is around the corner. President Obama will be sworn in for his second term next Monday, January 21st, 2013. The date is also a Federal Holiday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. An entire week of festivities will include the Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony, Inaugural Address, Inaugural Parade and numerous inaugural balls and galas honoring President Barack Obama for his second term. The official theme for the 2013 inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future,” monumentalizing the United States’ perseverance and unity, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol Dome in 1863.

2013 Inauguration Schedule [Read more...]