Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)


[Continued from Paris, Part One]

On our fourth night in Paris, we met the babysitter we had arranged months earlier. Ana came over around 6:45 in the evening—we met her outside the apartment as we were coming home from the park, in fact—and I could tell it was going to go well immediately. I think Hudson thought she was our friend, Rhiannon (“Ana” sounding a bit similar and there being a resemblance), because he immediately reached up for a hug and asked after Rhiannon’s son. So they were off to a good start, with him eager to show her his toys.

I had actually written Jordan (who I’ve been lucky to get to chat with on a few occasions at blog events), about her experience with babysitters in Paris and she sent me a suggestion. In the end, that woman wasn’t available, but she passed along Ana’s contact. Ana only had experience with small children in her own family, but she struck me as intelligent and warm and I got a good feeling about her. In the end, she came three nights (Wednesday Thursday, and Saturday) and her friend came one night (Friday). I communicated with both over email before our trip, did a little web-stalking, and sent documents with all of our rules and routines ahead of time so that we could address specifics and be more brief about such things in person.

By the time the evening came, we knew that Hudson was waking in the middle of the night but that he was falling asleep and staying asleep during the babysitter’s hours easily—a big relief—and that he felt comfortable in our new home. We also purchased a cheap mobile phone for use in France, so that the babysitters could reach us in case of emergency and asked that they text us an update at least once while we were out.

If you’re considering using a babysitter, this book and our Rick Steves’

guidebook had additional babysitting resources they recommended. I would also suggest asking your hotel concierge for help, if you have one.

As much fun as we were having as a family of three, it was such a relief to leave that evening and step out into the glowing light as a couple, to know that we would have the chance to experience the romantic side of Paris (that we had once so loved) again and linger over wine and flickering candles.

As I alluded to in Part One, I never saw children out in restaurants at dinner (save for the occasional tourist), and it really seemed a challenge to bring ones as young as Hudson. We mentioned this to our babysitter, and she—without missing a beat—agreed and said “yes, you can bring the dog but not the child.” Ha! If you’re living in France, I’d love to hear if you think this is accurate.

In any case, though it adds a significant expense to pay for babysitting (around 10euro/hour seems normal), for us it was worth it.

That first evening out, we headed for Restaurant Le Gaigne, just around the corner from these stunning vertical gardens on rue Pecquay. The restaurant was booked (and now appears to be closed until a new location opens), and their chic wine bar across the way had a wait for tables, so we headed back up rue des Petits-Carreaux a bit and popped into L’Assiette à Carreaux just as the rain started falling; it was buzzing with people smoking cigarettes outside and drinking champagne inside. It looked promising, and we were happy we stayed.


The next morning, we took the Métro to the Place de la Bastille to begin Rick Steves’ Maris Walk tour. While I often prefer looking to sources like blogs, magazines, and the TimeOut Guides

for a few hip spots (and like mixing references), I have to say that I’m a big fan of the Rick Steves’
European guides. They tend to have really wonderful, very practical walking tours, with plenty of history, and they are a wonderful source for comfortable yet affordable lodging. One note: I believe his Paris guidebook is one of the best-selling guides to Paris on Amazon, so do be prepared to see plenty of other American readers at the restaurants he calls his favorites.

Our plan was to stop pretty early in the tour and have our usual pastry breakfast in the Place des Vosges.


We asked around a bit and got a recommendation for the boulangerie Le Moulin de Rosa (32 Rue de Turenne). Of all of the bakeries we randomly stopped in, this remains one of my favorite. Especially wonderful were the buttery, almond-y financiers. I had bought some to put in my pocket and slip to Hudson when needed but Aron and I found ourselves reluctant to share. Everything was delicious.

No one sells small cups of milk for children, by the way, so we would also usually stop at a small market and pick up an UltraHeat Pasteurized (shelf-stable) milk to keep with us in the stroller until needed. Once opened, however, they have the same need for refrigeration as any milk would.

We found some other children there! Hudson “borrowed” a shovel briefly… the cute girl in grey was none too happy about it, though.

The Place de Vosges is a beautiful square, Paris’s first planned one, that is flanked by early 17th-century stone buildings with pitched roofs. Victor Hugo once lived there, so there are a few establishments that make reference to the writer.


From the Place de Vosges, we continued the Marais walk past fashionable shops on Rue des Francs Bourgeois (that I mentally bookmarked with hopes of returning to later) and into the Jewish quarter.


And though we had barely finished breakfast, Aron couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to try the famous L’As du Fallafel before a line had formed. I’ve heard equally good things about Chez Hanna, down the block, which seemed like a slightly nicer atmosphere if you’re planning on sitting down to eat your shawarma or falafel.


Our tour ended in front of the Centre Pompidou (or Beaubourg), the modern art museum which is one of my favorite museums to visit in Paris (of the larger sites, the Musée D’Orsay is completely wonderful, too). Even if you don’t make it to the collections, be sure to pay to take the escalators up to see the incredible view from the restaurant. (We took this photo from there on New Year’s Day in 2004).


I’d heard nothing but raves about the vendors along Rue Montorgueil for years and couldn’t recall ever visiting, so this was where we ended our morning and picked up lunch. David Lebovitz, the food writer and a former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, shared a wonderful food guide for the street on his site, and we followed in his footsteps.

Highlights were the beautiful flower stalls, the bakery, Pâtissier Stohrer (from where we brought home more pastries and a delicious sandwich) and the cheese shop, La Fermette (of which I knew from Nichole’s visits). And we stopped to get Hudson a sandwich at the always reliable chain, Paul.



We took more taxis than usual on this trip, “throwing money at the problem” of rushing around for nap times, but it was sort of fun to do so: Hudson was obsessed with them! He took his time in the back seat very seriously.


Bread & Roses is a beautiful, if pricey, chain boulangerie/épicerie, and we were happy to find the one in our neighborhood had outside seating (a wee bit chilly, but probably the only place we could fit our stroller and watch the street sweepers over a delicious croissant and café au lait).


After breakfast, I couldn’t help but take Aron and Hudson back to the neighborhood around the Tuileries where I’d gone shopping without them that day. More Ladurée macarons and more window-shopping ensued.


We found these cheeky folks cutting leather for Hermès. Pretty incredible.

This time we wandered toward the far end of the Tuileries, where the Avenue des Champs Elysees begins. While we shared a Nutella and banana crêpe, Hudson had a ball chasing pigeons and stomping in puddles. At first, all of the school children were quietly sitting on those benches watching him. Soon, they were all up. I think he inspired a lunch-time mutiny!

We didn’t venture up the Avenue on this trip, but it’s a stunning view—looking down the wide path to the Arc de Triomphe. Walking the length of it is something everyone should probably do, but whereas most of the city didn’t seem too crowded this spring week, the Avenue was packed with tourists.


When it was time to go home for the midday nap, Aron and Hudson caught a cab, and I stayed out a bit longer for some shopping. But the rain grew heavy soon after they left and I came home earlier than planned to find a serene scene and a wedge of my favorite Bleu cheese and a glass of red wine waiting.


It’s funny: St. Agur bleu is one of those specialty cheeses you only find at nice counters here, but in France it’s on every grocery store’s dairy shelf. It’s creamy and delicious and pairs perfectly with honey. Yum!

That afternoon, we boarded Bus #69 for a cheaper alternative to one of the city tour buses (again, Rick Steves’ Paris

comes through with a self-guided tour), but miserable traffic prompted us to cut it short. It’s supposed to be a lovely route!


For our dinner date that night, Aron and I walked across the Seine to the Ile St. Louis, with its narrow streets and pretty views across the river, for dinner at Mon Vieil Ami. I loved the modern fixtures inside the stone and beam-filled old room, and appreciated the vegetable-emphasis on the menu. In fact, there was a really creative vegetarian tasting menu available, which can be hard to find! As the large slice of seared foie gras atop my asparagus suggests, I’m not a vegetarian, but I love to see restaurants putting the emphasis on seasonal, fresh food over meat.


We decided to return another day to the Eiffel Tower, arriving early enough to get in the separate line for the inexpensive tickets for the all-stair-climb to the second level (though we did take the elevator down). If you’re planning on taking the elevator all the way to the top, be sure to consider reserving in advance online (far in advance). The lines are enormous, and they close them after a certain number has been reached. I remember being thrilled by trip to the top as a child, visiting with my parents, but I have to say that the views are pretty spectacular from the 2nd deck, too! (And Aron is emphatic that, health willing, you at least climb as far as they let you—”it’s part of the experience.”)


There was major renovation work going on while we were there, as a glass-observation floor is being added to the first deck. Eek!


Afterward, for lunch, we ducked into Bar du Central on Rue Saint-Dominique (a wonderful little street). It reminded me so much of the Keith McNally-style of restaurant in New York (though I think it is supposed to be the other way around). I had a delicious aperatif with elderberry and a giant Croque Madame.

Le Bon Marché, the city’s oldest department store, was not far from our apartment and it was a beautiful place to browse. I could have spent hours more looking around. There are two buildings, one featuring a giant (amazing) gourmet food hall, and another where we found women’s fashion and a children’s floor.

Some of you warned that the toys sold there are priced higher than elsewhere (perhaps like at FAO Schwarz?) but it was a lot of fun to browse. Many of my favorite toys were ones by Vilac, which are also sold in the states now.



Alone again in the evening, we debated renting Vélib’ bicycles, but strolling around in the amber glow proved too enticing. On my solo shopping sojourn, I had sought out the address of a sort of temple to Truffles we’d found once before on a previous trip to the city. I knew that the establishment was around the Bourse and was the all-truffle outpost of a winery in Provence. I was asking after it at a cafe that I thought was nearby and another customer overheard me and walked over an address! What luck!


Turns out the name is Un jour à Peyrassol, Bar à Truffes (13, rue Vivienne). Last time we were there, I was getting a cold and—as you must know—having a stuffy nose in a truffle bar is like a cruel joke! I was so happy to return. (I’m a big fan.) Our reservation was for 8:30 and it was fairly empty, but when I went at lunch to make the reservation it was packed. So if you’re looking for a scene, you might go for the midday formule instead.


Our apartment wasn’t available for our final night, and while we considered letting this prompt us to return on Saturday rather than Sunday, I can never stand to leave vacation early. So we booked a night at the Best Western (Le Jardin de Cluny location). They had a junior suite that was perfect for families, or large groups, with a curtain on a sliding rail to partition the room.

Sunny days returned, thank goodness: perfect for markets in the 5th…


… and boat rides along the Seine. We took one of the Vedettes de Pont Neuf (from the tip of the Ile de la Cité), which pleased Hudson tremendously as he’d been asking about boats every day.

Really it was a pleasure for everyone, and would make a nice introduction to the city (perhaps at sunset). And then you’re close to Berthillon for an ice cream cone!


The Palais Royal was our next stop and we opted to see if we could run Hudson to the point of exhaustion so that he’d sleep through a lunch out in his stroller. Also, how awesome is this older woman’s all beige, chic ensemble? Right down the high-tops?!


We were successful in our efforts and settled into a cafe just outside of the gardens, where it was a bit quieter. Had we not been, we would have chosen a spot on the garden’s square—where we observed many parents eating while their children played adjacent to the tables.

In fact, the entire Palais was hopping with children (literally) on this weekend afternoon. The Cour d’Honneur was especially popular for its pillars, many perfect for toddler jump fests.


Next we made our way to the toy boats front of the Louvre, at the start of the Jardin des Tuileries. You can rent a sailboat for a euro or two and do your best to sail it with the push of a stick. Completely charming.


We skipped the inside of the Louvre but enjoyed the scale of its courtyard (it really is magnificent, crowds or not), before waving farewell to all of the statues and making it back to the hotel to meet Ana.

Aron and I opted to travel up to Montmarte for our final evening. The “Butte” of Paris was independent from the city for years, and its distinct village character remains. It can be crowded with tourists, but it can also feel completely apart and romantic. On a visit as a freshman in college, I chose an unpleasantly seedy street at the base to start my climb to Sacré-Coeur, and I admit that it scarred me a bit about hanging around this neighborhood too late. It’s silly how these things stick with you, but what can you do?  Anyway, there are some stretches around the Pigalle area at the base that require a sturdy composition. Your traditional guide book will generally bring this up, too.

No matter what route you do take, the view from the steps of the bright white Sacré-Coeur are worth the hike. We joined the crowds on the steps, bottle of wine in hand, and took in one of the best street performances I can remember.

Men offered cold bottles of Heineken to anyone without a drink, and this guy performed the most incredible series of soccer maneuvers (many while suspended from a lamppost)! Someone needs to go offer the guy a contract. He was incredible. In fact… and I’ve never seen this before… people were lining up afterward to shake his hand. That’s how good he was!

We had talked about watching the sun set, but that would mean sitting there all night! Much better to explore…


We mistakenly didn’t think of making reservations ahead of time, and the place we’d hoped to go (Le Miroir, which looked amazing) was completely full.

Another place we stopped inside had a table at 11pm, but the host told us that his favorite place to eat was in a restaurant fronted by a rotisserie/épicerie (exactly like one of our favorite restaurants, Marlow & Sons). Sounded perfect, and it was.

Jeanne B (on Rue Lepic) is fronted by a deli counter with a few tables around; then you walk into the back and find another charming room with menus on giant wine magnums and a lively crowd sharing plates of charcuterie and scooping paté out of small jars. Better than the address I started with, it really was all that I could hope for to end our week in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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  • Niken

    Oh wow,
    again, your photos just amazing. i think now paris had me by the time i saw le pain, boulanger and cafe. they have great bread, cakes and coffee, aren’t they?

    • Ashley

      Thank you! The bread there is really just amazing. So true.

  • Lillian

    I have just returned from Paris for 6 weeks of study, and your pictures capture the beauty and magic of the city perfectly. Although they make my heart ache a bit : )

    • Ashley

      How lucky you were! Thank you for the nice note!

  • Bianca

    This was a beautiful post. The photos and writing were lovely. Might I ask what umbrella stroller you were using? We travel quite a fair bit and I’m finding schlepping the old Bugaboo around is getting very tiresome.

    Many thanks,

    • Ashley

      Thank you! That’s the Bumbleride Flite ( I talk a bit about it in the first half of the travelogue; Bumbleride let us try it out and we thought it was great! Nice and tall, easy to fold, and could have used with an infant car seat from the start, apparently. Recline wasn’t quite as much as on our Bee, but it was perfectly ample for H to fall asleep in it! Small under-basket, but nice sun cover.

      • Bianca

        Thanks very much, I’m a bit of a stroller (researching) junkie and I’ve been comparing umbrella strollers all week, now I can go ‘test drive’ a good variety.

  • michelle

    looks wonderful! I love the balance of kid-friendly activities with romantic ones for just you two. Good tips on babysitters too!

  • Kim

    Your photos are so amazing. Those pictures make me want to hop the next plane to Paris. It’s absolutely one of my favorite cities on earth. Thank you for sharing.

  • Emmy

    This was a really fun read. I really appreciate all the thoughtfulness that goes into your long-form posts, especially- you are a great writer!

  • Vickie

    Wonderful Travelogue! Inspired me to start planning my next visit to Paris!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Jen

    Thank you so much for posting these Paris travelogues. You educated me on quite a bit about the city that I didn’t realize when we visited last year. You truly captured the beauty of Paris and I’m now dying to go back. We may even try the apartment rental next time.

  • Kristin

    Between your travelogues and the article in Sunday’s NYT about Paris as an up and coming “runner’s paradise,” I am dying to get back!

  • Jana

    I just LOVE your travelogues! I’ve been twice in Paris before, but to be honest, I would never think it is possible to make a holiday in Paris with a 2-year-old toddler. And your photos are lovely…

  • Sara

    Thank you so much for sharing these amazing travelogues! The pictures and detailed writing are so helpful. Especially considering my husband, 4 month old son and I are visiting Paris next month!! You could not have posted at a more perfect time. Two questions for you, what camera do you use and would you mind sharing the contact information of you babysitter Ana. We have a potential babysitter set up but it would be nice to another as a back up. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Karen Dwyer

      Yes would love to hear about your camera and settings!!

      • Ashley

        Hi guys, Thank you so much! Email me separately about the babysitter. I’m not sure she’d appreciate me posting it. Regarding the camera, our primary camera is a consumer-level Canon DSLR, the Rebel T2i. Of course the iPhone gets a lot of use, too. The lens is probably more significant: it’s a 24-105mm zoom and really takes lovely photos. I tend to use an automatic setting and then use lightroom to improve light balance etc. afterward. Hope that helps! Thanks again!

  • Leanne

    I was smiling the whole time I read this post. It made me miss Paris so much!

  • Marija

    Lovely! Trench source?

    • Ashley

      Thank you! It’s from Zara. And would you believe I can’t find the belt?! Argh!! So if you get one, be sure to knot it around a loop. Wish I had! xo

  • Megan @ Pink O'Clock

    Ashley, I can’t get enough of this Paris travelogue. I’ve never been abroad but after six years of French in high school and college, Paris is at the top of my list. I love all the details you’ve included, and your photographs are amazing–thank you for sharing!

  • little t

    I love your photos. You’ve captured Paris so beautifully.

  • Karen Dwyer

    So… we booked 10 days in Italy flying into and out of Rome with our 7 year old and 2 year old. I had thought about cancelling the flights (too far, too long, is it selfish of me to bring a toddler that far for my own travel interest, is there a better place to bring kids, will I be frustrated, will the kids be frustrated etc etc etc) and then I read your Paris Part 1 post and your advice to yourself “JUST GO” really resonated with me.

    I am going to JUST GO and we will enjoy Italy on our terms.
    Thank you.

    • Ashley

      So glad! And I just read that Rome is a great city with kids, so that’s good news! And the 7 year old will no doubt love thinking about the chariot races and the gladiator sport etc. It’s like visiting a history book! Enjoy!

  • indreams

    oh, i stayed in montmartre, on my first (and only) visit to paris, and fell in love. i was literally right around the corner from sacre coeur! it was a dream to walk to + from my destinations, and around the neighbourhood, at various hours of the day + night. (at the time of my visit, i was living in london, and my roommate was from paris, so he basically booked the place for me, when he heard i wanted to go! i got lucky.)

    it would be such a lovely city to live in! a girl can dream…

    • Ashley

      Sounds incredible! I’d love to stay up there sometime and really get a chance to explore more.

  • bisbee

    Loved your travelogue! DH and I are planning a trip next May – we are in our early 60s, so no children to contend with, but it will be the first European trip for both of us! I want to be sure to at least see Paris once while I can still get around easily!

    We are flying into Paris, staying for 4 days, then over to London for 2 days, then we’re booked on the Queen Mary 2 back to NYC! We’re still working on most of the details, but I do have Rick Steves’ Paris and London books – glad to see you found that useful!

    I’m really getting excited after seeing your lovely photographs!

    • Ashley

      Thank you! And that sounds amazing–you’ll have such a great time. Some friends recently took the QM2 in the opposite direction and raved about it. What a glamorous way to end your trip. I’d recommend seeing whether Bon Appetit or Budget Travel, Nat’l Geo Traveller… one of the recent issues has any supplemental food tours/walking tours. I always found it’s nice to have looked at a few recent articles in addition to Rick Steves’ books. But I do think he does such a great job, and he updates those books annually which is fantastic.

  • Kristin

    Ashley, you really made this look like a ton of fun! I think I really just ended up with date night envy. You could have written a travelogue about a week at Rikers Island and if it had 5 date nights in a row I would have thought, “great! I’m there!”

  • Katie

    I’ve loved this trip review! It’s making me want to return to Paris sooner rather than later! And although I don’t have kids yet, I still find it really inspiring how you’ve made it work – and managed to get the romantic alone time that any trip to Paris needs. Thank you for sharing!

  • kat

    Lovely Post. I need to go back to Paris again!
    You should come to Barcelona – perhaps more kid friendly? Especially in my neighbourhood – Gracia, during summer, the kids are out in full swing until 1 am eating and hanging out with parents in the plazas at restaurants.

  • Eva

    Great travelogue, Ashley! We went to Paris last fall with our toddler, and while wonderful, it was also quite the challenge. I really should have planned ahead and hired a babysitter for a couple of nights… We ended up picnicking in our hotel room for dinner each night. We went to Stockholm on the same trip and it was MUCH more child-friendly… Stroller ramps up every staircase, earlier dinner hours and high chairs! That said, we still had a great time in Paris eating pastries, walking along the river, frequenting playgrounds, the flea market, the zoo… It made remember how much I love Paris and how much I want to go back! Maybe without kids next time, though. 😉

  • dervla @ The Curator

    aw i love this, Ashley. Makes me want to go back with the girls. I’ve only ever been there as a young couple with no children, so it would be fun to see it through the eyes of my children now. Also, after looking at all these pics, i say stick with the bangs for now. so pretty 🙂

  • Reina

    this was sooo wonderful to read and view! mmmm Paris…

  • Fawn

    I stumbled across your travelogue because of your husband’s post on the NY Times article on kids in Paris…so happy I did! This is wonderful information and the pictures make me even more excited to go. We are traveling with four kids, 18, 16, 11 and almost 2. Your entries gave me the motivation I needed to finish planning the trip. And I went ahead and purchased the stroller in your post, as I’ve been struggling to find one that travels well. Thanks so much!

  • Vanessa

    I have just returned from a trip to Paris – my first time! – and just now, reading through your travelog, I have traveled with you! What an amazing description and images! I laughed and I almost cried! Thank you for experience!

  • Camille

    Hi Ashley,

    I am French and live in Johannesburg South Africa. I have been there for nearly 7 years without ever feeling the need to go back to France to live there. But wow…this post made me seriously nostalgic and made me miss home so much. I am not even from Paris, I am from the south but the way you describe things and your photos are so wonderful. Thanks for this, it made me so happy 🙂

  • Rosie Linebaugh

    Beautiful photos, lovely travelogue!

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  • Anne

    Great travelogue! We’re traveling to Paris in a weeks time and just struck me to think about the stroller problem – we have a stokke V1 but don’t think it’ll be very sturdy for this trip as we want to do France, Italy and Switzerland.

    Would you say the Bumble was comfortable for a toddler to nap in? I ask because my daughter really needs to have her afternoon naps but I notice you seemed to go back to the apartment for those.

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  • Lauren

    Hi! Chanced upon your blog while searching for Paris travelogues because I’ll be in Paris for a semester this fall 🙂 I really love your photos, and how you capture the lights and tones of the city. Makes me jealous I won’t be experiencing Paris in spring!

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