K.V. asks from San Francisco, CA on August 13, 2009
Car Seat Acceptance in a Taxi in Paris
We are heading to Paris in a little less than a month from now. One super important question and one minor one. First one; do taxi's allow for you to bring a car seat or will they look at us like we have two heads? My husband believes the latter. He thinks we should leave the seat behind, whereas I refuse but don't want to kick myself in the you know what once there. Second; does Paris have a lot of cobblestones? I was there 20 years ago and don't remember. Asking this question for stroller purposes....Thanks!
1 mom found this helpful
J.N. answers from San Francisco on August 14, 2009
Sorry I can't answer your major question. We lived in a suburb of Paris while my husband attended school, but we never had to use a taxi. We generally took public transit into Paris.
I can give you advice about getting kids around town while in Paris. For me, I found it easiest to bring my little tiny umbrella stroller as opposed to a larger stroller. For one thing, most public transit is not handicap accessible, which translates into not stroller friendly.
With the little stroller, I could just pick up the whole stroller, kid and all, and walk down the stairs. I would hold the stroller sideways against my body with one arm wrapped over the child's lap and grasping the side bar and one arm around the back of the stroller holding the top bar. This worked much better for me than trying to maneuver the larger stroller. Further, if the metro was crowded, I could easily get the child out of the stroller and fold it up and still not take up much space. The small stroller also helped because the gap between the train and the platform was often quite large--too long for the stroller to bridge. I just had to pick up the whole thing again. (It's not so bad on the Paris Metro, but the RER trains to the suburbs often have a very large gap.) I know you'll have your husband with you, but when people are running to catch their trains and crowded all around, I always felt more secure having my child (and stroller) in my arms rather than spanning a few stairs between me and my husband with people bumping into us.
I don't remember having trouble with cobblestones in Paris. The vast majority of the sidewalks are just like ours. There are some dirt walkways, but they are well packed down and easy for a stroller to navigate. The only trouble with cobblestones I remember was at the Chateau Versailles. I parked in front one time and tried pushing the stroller all the way to the tour entrance. I thought that was the longest walk I'd ever made over those huge cobblestones! My arms were burning within minutes. My advice is to either fold up the stroller and walk, or enter from the side gates (north side??) and shorten the walk. I don't think they allow child carriers in the castle--they don't in most castles and museums--so don't count on that option!
One final word on car seats. I say do what you feel good about. They have their own way of doing things in France, and they usually aren't afraid to tell you. (To me, it wasn't a big deal to feed my 7-month-old pureed vegetables in the afternoon, but other mothers in the park felt I was screwing everything up because it was time for fruit at 4 pm!) You just have to smile and thank the people for their concern, and brush it off--or write it down to laugh about later!
Finally, for me a must-see was the paid Paris opera house tour. The stained glass in Saint Chapel is amazing. A must-eat was the gyros in the Latin quarter. Oh, and we had a blast with the English-speaking Fat Tire Bike Tour. (I think that was the name.) I'm not sure if they have bike trailers, but that tour was a blast. It would be a great first-day in Paris tour to get an overview and decide what you really want to see.
Have fun! Wish I were going! Feel free to ask additional questions.
1 mom found this helpful
J.K. answers from Fresno on August 14, 2009
They may look at you like you have two heads but so what at least your baby will be safe.
M.K. answers from Chico on August 15, 2009
Onestepahead.com had travel car seats (5 point harness w/ backboard) that fold nearly flat when not in use. May not be OK on the plane...
C.T. answers from San Francisco on August 14, 2009
We just got back from Paris a couplle months ago, and this was my first time there with my son (15 months). You should definitely take the Metro and a nice, light weight umbrella stroller. It's important that you don't bring a big stroller because sometimes the sidewalks can be narrow, depending on where you're going. Also, the metro, or even the bus, is the fastest way to get around Paris. There can be a lot of traffic on some days, and you don't want to be stuck in a Taxi when it's hot! I understand that taxis are convenient, but really, you will get more out of your experience by using what the locals typically use. My sister-in-law lives in Paris, and when we had asked her about the car seat, she also told us the same thing. Now...about the metro, here's the catch: the passageway that most passengers use is too narrow for the stroller. However, there's an extra door that you just have to ask the attendant to open for you. So, your husband can go in first or you can through the regular entrance. Then, the person left behind can push the stroller through the special door, and then this person goes in through the regular entrance. We were kind of bad and got away a lot of times with not even having to use a ticket because sometimes they'd let you go in with the stroller and forget to collect a ticket :-)
Also, if you plan on traveling outside of Paris (i.e., Versailles), then you can take the train which is also fine with a stroller.
The metro is very easy to navigate through as long as you know which lines always bring you back home. Half the time, you can take nice long walks through the city and get back to your hotel that way.
BTW, don't forget to indulge in Laduree macaroons. SO delicious. Nothing in the US even compares.
C.L. answers from Fresno on August 14, 2009
I have been to Paris twice (not with kids though) and I never took a taxi. The easiest and fastest way is by Subway and you can take a stroller on their pretty easily. We did a lot of walking also, because the majority of the main stuff is close together.
B.L. answers from San Francisco on August 14, 2009
Sure they may look at you with 2 heads, but does that matter? Your concern is his safety after all.
In terms of cobblestones - I don't recall coming across any in Paris. (I was there about 3 years ago) Everything was pretty much paved with cement, and very 'modern'. I do remember cobblestones in Rome tho, if you venture that way!
K.W. answers from San Francisco on August 14, 2009
K. taking a car seat to Europe is too much. we have taken our kids to Europe twice. You may be able to request a taxi with a car seat for the ride from the airport to your hotel. In Paris, the easiest way to get around will be the Metro and you should bring a fold-up stroller for that. We hopped off and on all the time and an umbrella stroller works best. If you are traveling farther out and renting a car, the rental agencies will provide one for you when you request it ahead of time! Have fun and don't miss the Luxembourg Gardens- a great park to take kids. There are a few places with cobblestones, but you shouldn't have any stroller issues.
N.M. answers from Port St. Lucie on August 14, 2009
My husband is French and we travel there with our little ones to visit fairly often. They have car seat laws almost identical to ours. We usually rent car seats along with a car when we get there. For the youngest kids, we bring them on the plane and put them in a seat because it restrains them and they are comfy and more likely to sleep, eat, etc. If you are not renting a car, you can bring yours. Your son will need to be in one in a car, just like here. The main streets have sidewalks like ours. Paris is quite stroller friendly compared to the smaller towns in France, where it can be a nightmare (no sidewalks, steep hills, cobblestones). I found Paris to be fun with kids. Note that stores can close during lunch and at other times you may not expect (Mondays, Sundays), so don't run low on things you can't live without -- like diapers. There is always one pharmacy open 24 hours in town, even when the others are closed, in case you need medicine. The sign is always a blue and green neon cross. Have fun!