A toddler in Paris

Paris is among my favourite European Cities.
Christina giving birth to our first child 14 month ago, have not change that one bit. It has changed how I perceive the city and present itself with a new set of joys and challenges.

This blogpost is an attempt to share a few helpful piece of advice to others travelling to Paris with a toddler, based on our experiences. It may be parenting 101, but hey, some may find it useful :)
family time

Parisians in general are amazing and very open towards families and kids. I know we were an involuntary nuisance on a couple of occasions, but staff, employees and locals seemed totally at ease with it and on top of us and the situation.

A cup of coffee
One of the things we like about Paris is the food, sidewalk cafes and the coffee.
Did I mention the coffee?
Unlike in Northern Europe where a good coffee is a massive jug with half a liter of milk, a bit of coffee and if possible massive amount of syrup or sugar.
Paris is like most of France and Italy a place where a normal coffee is an espresso and most places seem to be passionate about providing a quality cup of coffee.
I am not hating on people preferring coffee the Scandinavian or American or what it might actually be, way. My preferences are just different and more in sync with the French/Italian style of coffee.
What is not to love about it :)

Gotta start them early

Toddler chairs:
Now as Scandinavians we expect every restaurant and café to be armed to the teeth with toddler seats and toddler chairs. We may have to leave our stroller outside, but a seat for our toddlers are expected. Paris is the exact opposite, they almost always have room for your stroller, but toddler seats or chairs are a very rare occurrence. Probably down to cultural differences, but if you still like a chair or seat for your toddler then we found these 4 places fabulous.
I'm a straw

Le Sancerre
Toddler seat, excellent service, excellent food, the risotto with whiskey flambéed Prawns were to die for and stroller friendly to boot
Trattoria Rim Café
Toddler seat, stroller friendly, excellent pizza, Tieramisu to die for (It literally tasted like Italy) and great service
Le Paul Bert
Toddler seat, stroller friendly, decent burgers, friendly staff, and good selection of red wines
Le Voltaire
Stroller friendly, not sure about toddler seat, but coffee was amazing and the waiter a star
Morning ride

Toddler priorities:
Travelling with a Toddler also means a shift in priorities, having been to Paris a lot the Eifel Tower, Triumph Arch and other basic sightings are a little less important. Centre Georges Pompidou and to some extend Louvre are still places I aim to go whenever in Paris though.

For a toddler, being in Paris is very little about exhibitions and more about travelling in their pace and make sure they have a great time.
Chasing Pigeons

A few toddler friendly things to do:
Square Louis Michel (just below Sacre-Ceour)
Super turisty, but a really beautiful place and it has a really nice playground at the lowest level
Parvis Notre Dame – Place Jean-Paul II
Square just in front of Notre dame, heaps of tourist friendly pigeons and a heaven for our toddler to just chase pigeons for a while. Probably his best experience in Paris
Les Halles
A construction site nightmare at first sight, but a massive shopping mall below grounds and towards Rue de Viarmes is a really nice playground area, not sure when it reopens to the public though..
Marche aux Puces
Not really a toddler destination per se, but while browsing the various markets, we had nothing but stellar service and total toddler friendliness. Most importantly our little one had a ball.
Skip metro and trains and walk everywhere
It is a lot of time on your feet, toddle paced and no rush. In our case around 20K per day.
But it allow plenty of time to investigate that really interesting twig in the park, or that totally exciting fence or whatever grabs your little ones attention or just a stop at that random playground you walk by

Random playground in Montmartre

Other helpful things to know:
Public transportation is great and mostly reliable, but do not expect to see a lift and if you find one expect it to be out of order, so be prepared to negotiate a lot of stairs and escalators.

We travelled as a couple and were on our feet +12 hours a day and averaged around 20K of walking daily, so a good stroller and the fact we were two to carry it when negotiating stairs and escalators ,made it perhaps the most useful piece of kit we had with us.

France is great food country in general and the super markets carry a great organic selection, thus a good selection of toddler friendly snacks and in between meals are available, you do not need to really bring anything, most things can be bought while there.

If you travel alone with a toddler you want the smallest and lightest stroller you can find and a backpack for all your stuff, because there is a good chance you will be negotiating a massive amount of stairs with your toddler on one arm and the stroller in the other.
A stroll along the Seine

The terror threat thing:
Now there is no doubt that the terror attacks in Paris has changed Paris. Armed forces were visible in pretty much any part of the city, it does not make for an unsafe Paris at all, just a changed one.

The soldiers we met were all very friendly and tried staying out of the way as much as possible, but having your son chasing pigeons in front of Notre Dame Cathedral just does not feel as relaxed when it is under supervision of four heavily armed soldiers.

I remember Paris as a different place, at the same time it is perfectly understandable why it has changed and why precautions are being taken.

Overall Paris is an amazing destination with and without a toddler. Go see it soon!


Documenting family life

On december 2015 I became a dad for the first time and fair to say it completely change my life, in a good way. Every parent in the world have gone through that revelation, so let us not delve too long or much with the diaper changes, lack of sleep, inexplicable joy of every tiny new thing our off-springs are doing.
One of the many gifts we as parents are able to give our children is in my opinion a set of images from birth to becoming a young adult.
I know that my own photo album holding images from my childhood is among my most cherished possessions, a sentimental value increasing as time go by

Beach life

Already during pregnancy I did as a photographer spend way too much time probably, thinking through this important aspect of growing up and on the state of our digital reality.

New life beginnings
More pictures are probably taken on a daily basis right now than ever before, many are shared instantly online, to be cherished for a short moment and instantly forgotten or worse yet slowly disappearing as internet platforms merge or disappear, memory cards, phones, computers and hard drives, and various other storage media fade or fall apart.
Todays generations are by far the most photographed, but precious few will have any photographs left 10 years from now.

Lunch time nap
One of the very conscious decisions I made was to continue shooting film and to make sure a film camera has been and will be used to document our life with our son for as long as possible.
The other has been a dedication to continue printing images from our life and cataloging these postcard sized prints.

Summer memories
It is my way of ensure that our son is a lot more likely to have a record of his childhood available and images of his life with his parents as he grow older or as we fade away.
What I cannot help to wonder is how much of this deliberate thinking and decision making is brought on by the fact that I work with photography and thus perhaps place too much emphasis and importance on it. It is worth giving some thought regardless of whom you are I think.

Wine Country
So whether you are a film photographer doing darkroom wet prints or someone just rocking a cell phone, take this as a perhaps unwanted advise to print a tiny bit of those images for your own and your children's sake.

Winter moments
Photographic family memories are not judged by technical quality, but by sentimental value and emotional connection.
And no the irony of me writing a digital post on the subject is most definitely not lost on me ;)