6 Ways to Keep Kids Happy on Vacation in Paris While Enjoying It Yourself

Welcome to my Traveling With Kids In Paris series:

This year our vacation has been to Paris over the kids’ winter break. Here are my 6 tried-and-true ways to keep your kids happy on vacation while still being able to enjoy it yourself.

1. Let your kids sleep whenever they want.

We’ve been in Paris nine days and are still going to bed around midnight and getting up around 10 a.m. 

This has actually worked beautifully for us, as Paris is a vibrant nighttime city.

We can hit museums and shops from noon til six or seven p.m. then have a late dinner and time to walk the City of Lights into late evening.

Shannon Bradley Colleary
The girls and I sleeping on the RER train from Charles de Gaulle airport to the city. Let Them Sleep pour l’amour de Dieu!
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
The Champs Elysees and Arc De Triomphe at night. The best time to be there!
2. Feed your kids whenever they want.

A child fed, is a child willing to stand for hours in the Louvre without complaining.

You may even need to feed them again to combat boredom in the midst of the Grande Gallerie; or withstand freezing climates while sightseeing from un bateau on the river Seine; or jettison weeping and gnashing of teeth whilst appreciating the massive, vertical trajectory of the Eiffel Tower despite frigid climes.

Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
Bridget at Eiffel Tower Before Food…
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
Bridget at Eiffel Tower with Food!
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
Me enjoying Eiffel Tower with no one kvetching at me!
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
My girls with their gelato, shaped like flowers, during a mommy shopping spree on the Rue Mouffetard at night.
3. Encourage your kids to journal about their trip and take their own photographs.

My kids are 9 and 11, but even if they’d been a few years younger, I would’ve given them my iphone to take photos, because in doing this the trip becomes THEIR TRIP, not the trip their parents are forcing them to take.

They became invested in the environment and the experience.

Here are some of the gorgeous photos my daughters took:
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
My mother and I having lunch at the world famous Laduree on the Champs-Elysées, photo taken by Clare.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
Clare’s photo of Napolean III’s dining room in The Louvre.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
Bridget, who is already fascinated by sketching, was captivated by the nudes in The Louvre.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris, Mona Lisa
Clare’s selfie with a particular lady at The Louvre.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris, Le Metro
Bridget documenting the entity which is my naturally dried hair on the Metro at Rue Monge. My hair speaks French and was frequently able to translate for us.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris, Mode Arabe
Clare’s panoramic vista of Paris from the roof of the Institut du Monde Arabe.
4. Let your kids have their own money and buy whatever they want.

We gave our daughters a certain amount of Euros for their own purses that they were responsible for.

They became very frugal, all of a sudden, when they knew it was their money they were spending.

Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
The girls fell in love with the most expensive art store to have ever existed. But spent their own money on Derwent pencils and other high end art supplies. I couldn’t begrudge them this as they instantly fell to sketching Paris.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris, Le Gallerie LaFayette
Don’t get me wrong, they also spent their own money at Le Gallerie Lafayette on Barbies they could’ve gotten in the States for a lot less money. But those purchases made them so happy they were willing to light any number of candles in Notre Dame.
5. Let them do stuff kids like to do in any country.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
We took them ice skating at Le Village de Noël des Champs-Elysées.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
They rode the carousel with me in the rain just outside of the Hotel Ville.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
We rode the Roue de Paris ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde at night.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
… and were thrilled to see the Eiffel Tower light up from such heights.
6. Interspersed with all your kids’ eating, sleeping, spending and having fun, make them do a few things they aren’t that interested in doing.

Because even if they don’t appreciate it now, these experiences will open the world to them and stimulate interests they may not be aware they have.

Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
They must attend long, Parisian, many-coursed dinners with friends. This is me with my glamourous friend Andre Demir, world renowned for his intrepid Tango and the fine Art of Appreciating Women.
Shannon Bradley Colleary, traveling with kids in Paris
Our girls learned to climb tall sightseeing edifices to see the city from every spectacular angle.
traveling with kids in Paris
We all tried new cuisine. Here I am with a buttery, garlicky bite of escargot.

Thanks to my parents I now, at the youthful age of 48, finally appreciate art:

Although I had some explaining to do about posing for Jean Auguste Dominique's
I had some explaining to do about posing nude for Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s “The Grande Odalisque” in a previous life (circa 1814). I’m hoping my girls will be the artists rather than the muses like their mother. Sigh.

For more on our trip to Paris click HERE!

15 thoughts on “6 Ways to Keep Kids Happy on Vacation in Paris While Enjoying It Yourself”

  1. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip. Your girls are so lucky. It brought back so many wonderful memories that Harry and I shared in Paris. We loved the city so much.

  2. I think bringing your mom was a great idea. We did not, therefore Paris was much less romantic. Great pics! (also I tried to speak my lapsed French and was treated poorly. How about your experience?)

  3. Great pics and so glad you have the opportunity to share this awesome experience with the girls. They grow up so fast…

  4. All looks absolutely amazing, but for some odd reason I’m most struck by the hair au naturel. You should do this more often, let it be free! Also am loving Bridget’s chapeau – tres chic!

  5. Oh thank you for that! I feel like I just went on vacation. Merci! Especially love the photos of Bridget sans and avec food at the Eiffel Tower. Blood sugar is a real thing, people!

  6. Love all of the photographs. It was actually refreshing to see some that were not very good. I loved the ones of your family. Sleeping on the train, classic. Bridget at Eiffel Tower, priceless, as is the one with food. Great before and after. I thought gelato was Italian :). You and your mom are gorgeous, you are still known as beautiful as far as I am concerned (hope I am not being too forward). The comments could go on, but loved the blog.

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