Planning the best Paris family vacation possible can be a daunting task. But spending a little time with these books will not only help you keep your eyes on the prize as you pack up and prepare for your trip, it will also help your family enjoy your vacation all the more.
From pre-trip planning and research to daily inspiration while you’re there, here are five great books to enhance your Paris family vacation, followed by links to extra Paris family travel tips that may help in your trip planning as well.
1. Family Guide Paris (Eyewitness Travel )
I should start by saying that I purchased several Paris-with-kids-themed guidebooks from different publishers, but this was my personal favorite.
It’s loaded with the full-color photos and detail maps you’ve likely enjoyed in other Eyewitness Travel guides, but with the addition of age recommendations, tips for skipping the queues at certain attractions, and other helpful details specific to families.
I also like the extra Kids’ Corner sidebars with tips for extra things to look for at certain attractions and, what really won my heart: the inclusion of playgrounds (not just parks) on maps throughout. If you’re traveling beyond Paris, consider the Eyewitness Travel Family Guide France. Available at: Amazon.com BN.com
2. The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children: Play, Eat, Shop, Stay
This guidebook by Kim Horton Levesque is especially helpful for parents planning a Paris family vacation with very young children, although it is also a good reference for those families who hope to experience Paris more like locals than as tourists.
While it covers the big attractions, Levesque’s guide weaves in other family-friendly activities and events that may only be a footnote in some other guides, if that. It also offers loads of practical advice on finding and choosing a Paris vacation rental apartment, for example (yes, good luck finding one with a washer AND a dryer), as well as finding pharmacies where English is spoken and the all-important public restrooms where and when you need them.
And yes, it includes good playgrounds found throughout the city. Avaliable at: Amazon.com
3. Linnea in Monet’s Garden
This is a cherished book in our family and, although it is probably best suited for kids 5 years and older, my eldest daughter first sat through a complete reading of it at only 2 years old, agreeing “It would be a nice place to visit.”
I think that having read this book (many times) before our trip helped my children better appreciate all of the paintings we viewed in the art museums of Paris, but when we finally arrived at Musee de L’Orangerie, my daughters stood transfixed in the “water lily room” realizing they were surrounded on all sides by Monet’s garden–and his brush strokes.
Linnea in Monet’s Garden is rich in illustrations, storytelling, and photos and (I can tell you from experience) makes a wonderful gift for any family planning to visit France with younger children, and it should be required reading for any family planning to visit Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny. Avaliable at: Amazon.com
4. Not-for-Parents Paris: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
Ideal for the tween or teen traveler, but amusing enough to make this mom chuckle out loud, Lonely Planet’s Not-for-Parents Paris serves up bite-size morsels of Parisienne history and cultural insights one easily digestible collage at a time.
From making sense of the Pompidou’s plumbing to putting Paris’s sewers into historical perspective, the Not-for-Parents Paris guide is one to enjoy on the plane, in the vacation apartment, and back at home after your trip. Available at: Amazon.com BN.com
5. This is Paris
Though Miroslav Sasek’s This is Paris was originally published in 1959, it’s fun to look through this “child’s introduction to Paris” and see how little things have changed. The illustrations are engaging and the text moves along at a good page-turning pace that works well with kids from around 4 to 8 years.
My kids enjoyed the book all the more after our trip, when they could page through it and proudly proclaim, “I saw that…we went there…we did that…I remember that…” and finally, “Wait! We never did that, Mom!” As I always say, it’s good to have an excuse to return to Paris. Available at: Amazon.com