Missing one-on-one time with her eldest daughter, Maria Lally treated her to a bonding trip to Paris…
As most mums of two (or more) will know, alone time with your firstborn is hard to come by. Sophia, now five, had me all to herself until just before her third birthday when her little sister Rosie, now two, came along and took away a huge chunk of my time, energy and attention.
Sleepless nights aside, one of the hardest parts of Rosie’s first year was how much I missed alone time with Sophia.
Since then Sophia’s become an independent, self-sufficient little girl who loves school and has lots of friends. While Rosie, being a typically demanding two-year-old, still requires a lot of my attention.
I knew Sophia would love the child-friendly restaurants and the sights
Earlier this summer, when Sophia broke up for the holidays, I decided to take her away for some time just the two of us. I’d recently been to Paris for work and while city breaks and five-year-olds don’t seem like an obvious mix I knew Sophia would love the child-friendly restaurants, the sights (she loved hearing about the Eiffel Tower after my trip) and most importantly, just being with me. The two-hour train ride also appealed.
I found a lovely little hotel called L’Hotel Tourisme Avenue (recommended by a school mum) which was less than a 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and surrounded by lovely little pavement cafés, coffee shops and flower stalls.
The big day arrived and despite the 5am start Sophia was excited from the moment she woke up. Without Rosie there to keep a constant eye on, my stressy mum persona disappeared and Sophia, loving my undivided attention, was more content and well behaved than I’d ever known her.
She loved the Eurostar ride and we tucked into croissants and hot chocolate, played ‘eye spy’ and read our magazines as we sped towards Paris.
Sophia tried out her newly learned French on the cab driver
When we arrived we took a cab ride to our hotel and Sophia tried out her newly learned French on the cab driver (the trip was a great chance to teach her basic French phrases, which she picked up quickly). We checked into the hotel, freshened up and then hit the city. First stop was the Eiffel Tower, which she loved.
We then took a two-minute wander down to the River Seine and bought tickets for a river cruise (around 15 euros). The hour-long cruise along the river gave a by-now-tired Sophia a chance to rest her legs plus we got to see several sights we would have struggled to if we’d been walking, including Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre and Paris’s beautiful bridges.
The next morning we picked up warm pain au chocolates from a bakery near our hotel
After the cruise we found a little café overlooking the river and tucked into a late lunch of pancakes topped with melted chocolate and banana, then we headed back to the hotel, via the Eiffel Tower where Sophia rode a pony (20 minutes cost 2euros). Dinner that night was in one of the lovely pavement cafés close to our hotel, and the next morning we picked up warm pain au chocolates from a bakery near our hotel and took one last walk around Paris’s beautiful streets.
As we sped back to London later that day I couldn’t wait to see Rosie but I also made a promise with myself to take Sophia away every year for some lovely alone time (and Rosie too when she’s older) and leave that stressy mum persona behind.
Need to know
- Where we stayed: Tourisme Hotel Avenue, 66 Avenue de La Motte-Picquet, 75015 Paris, firstname.lastname@example.org. From 84 euros a night.
- How we got there: Eurostar operates a London St Pancras International to Paris service with return fares from £72. Child fares start from £49 return and children under 4 years-old travel free (not allocated a seat). Visit eurostar.com or call 03448 224 777.
Top 3 city-breaks-with-kids tips:
- Plan! Pre-kids, my husband Dan and I loved wandering around cities without a plan and stumbling across lovely parks or restaurants. But with little ones you need a plan (even a loose one) because a) they can’t walk for miles and miles and b) they become bored easily.
- Stock up on water. Don’t make the mistake I made and end up in the centre of Paris on a sunny day with a thirsty 5-year-old. I had to spend 6 euros on a small bottle of water just because I didn’t think to buy a big bottle for 1 euro in the supermarket right opposite our hotel.
- Write down the name and address of your hotel and keep it in your handbag. If you get lost (or forget the address) you can hand it to a taxi driver.