Spring Travel: Start Your Children early

Spring Travel: Start Your Children Early

Paris In Your Hnad

Paris In Your Hand

After a particularly traumatizing glimpse at MTV’s Spring break, I vowed to my husband that my then unborn children would never, and I mean never, as in over my dead body, be one of the kids heading to Cancun or Ft. Lauderdale for Spring Break.

And how will you prevent this? He laughed.

By taking them to Paris, to Vienna and Madrid, by taking her to London and New York, by spending our Spring Breaks at museums.

Hah! He responded. First of all as soon as they’re old enough, they’ll you’ll never go with you. They’ll want to be with their friends in Cancun on Spring Break. Second, we’ll never have that kind of money to buy flights to Paris for all of us.

As usual, my husband is wrong on all accounts.

She loves it. Her siblings love it. I think. And we afford it beautifully.

Here’s how:

Today, there are tons of cheap flights to Paris. Book online with www.bt-store.com and you can choose when to fly, how, and where your children will sit.

This Could Be Your View

This Could be Your View

FORGET HOTELS! Yes, that’s in caps on purpose. Hotels just don’t makes sense when you really want to live in a place and when you’ve got children, guess what? There’s no choice but to live. When you take your children with you, you take your life and with that life comes laundry, food, snacks, diapers, strollers, naptimes, video needs, weird food that only mom can make.

Your Living Room

Your Living Room

In the old days I just kept looking for less expensive hotels with two bedrooms but it’s so not easy. Often all they offer are adjoining rooms which means you’re paying for two full hotel rooms, two room tax, city tax, and the list goes on.

I was also tired of always telling them to be quiet. I was tired of apologizing to the front desk for the phone use, for the jumping, for the hallway games of ding, dong, ditch, not to mention the horrific room service bills, entire trays of untouched food, piles of filthy laundry.

It was time to face it, we were not just a couple anymore, and hotels in Paris were no longer doable. MTV was looming. I had to think of a better option. At first my squeamish husband thought the idea of short-term rentals to be horrific. The idea of staying in a stranger’s house was, for some weird reason, uncomfortable for him. Fortunately the idea of booking two rooms in Paris for our now family of six was even more horrific.

So I went to work. Websites on apartment swapping, rentals are plentiful. Especially if you’re a couple, studios abound in cities like Paris, Madrid, Barcelona for couples or couples with one or two children. But here are the top three that have the most to offer: We rented a place in Champs du Mars practically under the Eiffel Tower, a stone’s throw from the Rodin Museum. Two bedrooms, sofa with pullout bed for just about  $275 a night. Nothing for a family of six in Paris, AND we were directly under Rue Cler, one of Paris’s best market streets where bread starts to waft through your windows before the sun rises over the seine. The following offer the most reliable, the cleanest, nicest range of apartments as well as maps so that you know where you’re staying. The Metro here is fantastic, safe and clean.




After you’ve dragged them to the one museum a day, because that’s really all they can do, here are some of our favorite things to do in Paris with our young children:

The Tour Eiffel

Needs no address. It sticks so far out of the Paris skyline, it’s like a compass. This never gets old. The elevator ride up is thrilling in and of itself.  This happens to be the best seat in the house when it comes to viewing Paris, day or night. To see through a building, to rise to the top of a great city will just blow your kids minds. And on your way back down, grab a baguette and a block of cheese, a bottle of wine and lay back in the Champ du Mars. The grass is soft and green and there’s even a playground for the little ones.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Jardin du Luxembourg

Metro: Odeon or RER Luxembourg

People love this park. For it’s grace, it’s beauty, the fountains and sculptures. Once part of the palace grounds belonging to Marie de Medici in the 1600’s, today there are cafes, musicians, dancers, children all celebrating life here in Paris.
And for a special treat, be sure to see the Marionettes du Jardin du Luxembourg. Pinocchio is an absolute favorite for younger ones,  even if you don’t understand a word of French. The puppets alone will keep them entranced.

Sailing model boats at the Grand Basin, is another thing French children love to do. And the good news here is that the little boats can now be rented in the winter on Wednesday afternoons and weekends, and daily in summer. The pond is surrounded by garden chairs for picnics, there’s a playground for smaller children, a beautiful original carousel, and a delicious patisserie, Dalloyau, right outside the park’s gates.

Science Museum

Geode in Your Hand

Metro: Porte de la Villette
Hours 10am-6pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-7pm Sunday

Paris has so many museums to go to. But sometimes, you may find your children just won’t cooperate anymore. When mine pretended to doodle on Winged Victory, I got them out of there fast. What your kids will never want a break from though is the Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, located in the Parc de Villette. Unlike most things in Paris, this is all about interactive fun.

Take Cite des Enfants (Children’s Village).  It’s divided into age-appropriate sections for total hands-on interactive learning. For instance, here our son can program a robot, or try his hand at being a camera man on a news show. Learn how to conduct electricity.
Experience the Geode, a stainless-steel sphere with a 180-degree film screen inside. Talk about feeling like you’re in a movie! There’s also a French navy submarine dry docked there, called the Argonaut.
What better way to prepare for an early dinner, than by letting your kids blow off some steam? The Parc de la Villette has ten playgrounds all with different themes, including the Jardin du Dragon, with its giant dragon slide.
Your kids will never want to go home.

Hot Chocolate at Angelina

226 Rue de Rivoli
Metro: Tuileries

For the best hot chocolate in Paris, not to mention the pastry. But be sure to come in on off-peak times, when there is no wait and you won’t worry about the children making too much noise. Also because of it’s location directly across the street from the Jardin des Tuileries, and down the road from the Louvre, its makes a perfect rest spot before gearing up for the next thing.

115 Blvd. Charles-de-Gaulle, Villeneuve-la-Garenne
Metro: Porte de Clignancourt, then Bus 137

Call Cirque de Paris or go online to find out just when they do their fantastic children’s’ day. It something your children will never forget, a behind the scenes experience where they meet the animals and the performers. They get made-up and even get to try some tricks like the tightrope. Lunch is with the troupe and then an afternoon performance.

Impasse Berthaud (near 22 rue Beaubourg)
Metro: Rambuteau

Dolls, real dolls, made of glass and painted the ay women used to pain themselves. This is an incredible place to take your daughters if they love the world of dolls. Here it’s all recreated, 19th century dolls on original costumes, chairs, beds, linens, you name it.

Original Shop: 31, Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile
Metro: Pont-Marie

It could be snowing and the windows of Berthillon would still be fogged up. On the small isle of ile St. Louis near Notre Dame, Berthillon is one of the island’s most popular destinations. And it couldn’t be more beautiful.

Yes, there were same bumps along the way, but this path we went down led to an education for our children of living, really living in a foreign city, shopping at markets, riding the subways, walking in parks, baguette under arm, biking, falling asleep in front of an open window staring at the Eiffel Tower.

They feel like citizens of the world now and it’s all because of MTV. Thank you MTV.

And as long as there are cheap flights to Paris, and great apartments, I can keep her away from tattoo parlors and spray tans, right? I may just have won this very large battle and kept her from MTV hell.

For apartment rentals in other cities, the following offer good, clean rentals that are legal and you are protected. Oftentimes, the owner of the place will leave you a list of the “in” places to go. You really do feel like a local when you travel this way. Give it a try!

AirBnB.com. The most well known of the bunch, here you can find anything from air mattresses to entire villas in 5,378 cities in 146 countries.

Prices: From $10 and up.


IStopOver, specializes in accommodations for big events, like World Cups and Olympics.

Prices: Range from $10 to $8,000 a night.


Crashpadder.com operates mostly from Britain. Bedrooms and houses in over 898 cities, including more than 1,000 listings in London.

Prices: Range from £15 (about $21) a night, plus $5 booking fee.


Roomorama.com specializes in higher-end properties, bedrooms to houses, primarily in New York City.

Prices: Range from $30 to $5,000, add an 8 to 12 percent booking fee.

Do not do a Craig list search because you are not protected. Do not send check or cash. Use paypal or credit cards so that you have some protection.

Dayton’s priorities, essaysheaven.com will begin this fall, he said

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