The family trip to Paris is about to happen. After years of dreaming and planning, the tickets are in-hand. The suitcases are packed, and the guidebook is the most popular reading material in the household. Paris exudes family activities. The trip promises great excitement for everyone from toddler to teen. But wait! What about that twinge of longing for a bit of couple time in this romantic city by the Seine? A leisurely walk without cheerios and chatter? A café lunch with foods the kids can’t pronounce and wouldn’t deign to taste? Or a repeat visit to the Louvre for an unrushed view of paintings not the Mona Lisa?
It’s time to explore Paris babysitting options!
Paris’ Supervised Activities for Kids
One way to get a few hours of alone time for adults is to enroll the kids in fun, supervised activities. Unlike babysitting, supervised children’s activities will allow the tourist children to play with other kids. Supervised children’s activities do not offer large blocks of time for parents to go elsewhere, but they do afford necessary respite from the family-oriented activity schedule. To make the most of the kid-break, choose an adult escapade in the neighborhood where the supervised children’s activity is located. This will prevent travel time from gobbling up your couple time.
Whether your kids like the arts, cuisine, or rough and tumble play, there is a supervised activity to whet their appetite for fun while you sneak off to reclaim your adult identity. Here are some to consider:
In August, Musée Rodin, 77 rue de Varenne, Paris, Tel. 01 44 18 61 10 offers a fabulous 2- hour workshop for children 6-12. The themes and times for these popular workshops are announced at the Museum’s website. Reservations are essential and can be made by calling Tel. 01 44 18 61 24. The museum curators take children on a thematic journey through the museum collection. After the tour, children create a theme-related model in clay or plaster, with the assistance of the curators.
Some of the top chefs in Paris offer culinary workshops for kids. Here are three to consider:
At Ritz-Escoffier École de la Gastronomie, Hotel Ritz, 15, Place Vendôme, Paris, Tel. 01 43 16 30 50, offers single two and one-half hour workshops. Your 6-12 year old can stir up simple, flavorful tidbits in a Petits Marmitons beginners workshop, while Juniors 13 and up can finesse their budding kitchen skills in an intermediate workshop catering to teenagers. Each is held alternate Wednesdays from 2:30-5:00 pm. The certificate of completion documents their accomplishment and makes a unique souvenir.
La Cuisine de Marie Blanche, 18, Avenue de la Motte Picquet, Paris, Tel. 33 145 51 36 34, offers a Little Pastry Chef class for children. The little pastry chefs gather on Wednesdays at 4 :30 pm. A minimum of 8 participants is required for a class to be offered at a cost of 25 € per child.
École Lenotre, 48 Avenue Victor Hugo, Paris Tel. 33 01 45 02 2121, has special Wednesday afternoon sessions for kids ages 6-12. Since they eat their creations, the kids may even return from this class with an expanded food repertoire.
Jardin des Enfants aux Forum des Halles
For 7-15 year olds needing open space and energy release, set them loose on an imaginary tiger hunt in Jardin des Enfants aux Forum des Halles, Forum des Halles, 105 Rue Rambuteau,Paris, Tel. 0145 08 07 18, where they can catch their prey in a special trap. No adults are allowed in these supervised fantasy theme gardens (except during special Saturday hours reserved for parents and kids of all ages.) While the adults are cavorting about town, the kids will cross a canyon on the monkey bridge and stalk wild animals in the bamboo forest. They’ll maneuver through a maze into the ancient world. A team of play leaders organizes theme games during the one hour sessions. Once a week during the summer, three hour sessions are available, so Mom and Dad can scamper off and delight in a kid-free afternoon.
If a few hours isn’t enough time or you crave a night out, there’s always the babysitter service option. Some parents are understandably reluctant to hire a babysitter in a foreign country to come to their hotel room. If you can handle the idea of an in-hotel babysitter, there are agencies that specialize in babysitting for Paris hotel guests. One such agency, Baby Chou Services, 31 rue du Moulin de la pointe, 75013 Paris, Tel. 01 43 13 33 23, [email protected] will arrange a babysitter with 24 hours notice. This agency charges a booking fee as well as an hourly babysitting fee.
Feel free to have fun alone with your spouse on that family trip to Paris, knowing that the kids are having fun, too. If a flicker of guilt glides into your consciousness, reassure yourself that the kids also need a break from spending every moment with their parents. Consider supervised children’s activities an essential refreshment for the whole family.