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1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

Boulder, Colorado
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1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

My husband is attending a conference in Montpellier in late May and we decided to take our 4.5-year old daughter along. I have been to Paris twice before but this will be the first time for my husband and daughter. None of us speaks French and I get very nervous about dragging a preschooler around a big city (we live in a small town in Colorado and drive everywhere). I have tons of questions and would really appreciate your help! This is our first big trip as a family. So any tips on family vacation will help!

Travel time: the last two weeks of May (total 16 days).


-Day 1: fly from US to Paris (CDG)

-Day 2-7: stay in Paris: Any recommendation of family-friendly place to stay? What neighborhood to stay? Where to eat? We will skip most museums or galleries as the little girl wouldn't enjoy it. So what can we instead? Would 6 days in Paris be too long in this case?

-Day 8: take TGV train to Montpellier

-Day 9-11: Husband in conference. I do hope to do some sightseeing. Is Montpellier a good place for 3 days? What day trips can I and daughter take from there?

-Day 12-14: Take train to Nice and/or Lyon. Should we visit both or just one city? Will this be day trips from Montpellier? Or should we stay in Nice and/or Lyon?

-Day 15: Go back to Paris via Train

- Day 16: Fly back to US

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

Montpellier is a small city and very manageable on your own with your daughter. In May the weather should be good and you can take a tram to the beach (I think about 1/2 hour). It's a very easy tram ride and the beach is big, nice sand and plenty of places for food and drink. In the city there are a couple of kid friendly outings:an aquarium Mere Nostrum (quite big and worth a visit) and an amazonian Hot House called Serre Amazonienne (I haven't been there though).

I'm sure you'll get good advice for Paris but a 4 1/2 year old will probably enjoy the playground in Luxembourg Gardens. It costs 1 or 2 euros and my kids both loved it when we visited.

Paris, France
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2. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

I would suggest getting your TGV tickets ASAP. They go on sale 90 days in advance, and the best fares sell out quickly. You can book at www.capitainetrain.com do not use Rail Europe.

6 days gives you a chance to absorb Paris instead of rushing around.

Nice/Lyon are not day trips from Montpellier.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

I would not underestimate a child's capacity to appreciate art and Museums, of course in a very limited time frame. A few hours at the Louvre will open her eyes, specially when she sees the room full of jewels. Af afternoon at the Rodin and a visit to the gardens. Has she read the classic series by Bemelman, Madeline, you can tour her around Paris with Madeline on mind. If she hasn't , do get her a copy or two.


Edited: 07 March 2014, 22:33
Paris, France
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4. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

Hello Microhe and welcome to my hometown!

I am glad you have the opportunity to come back to Paris.

All your questions depend on your budget!

I would definitely recommend staying in Paris.

Staying in the outskirts of the city mean more time spent on commuting and less nights spent in Paris.

I can"t imagine a tourist going to Paris and not spending at least one evening waiting to record a film with a lighting Eiffel Tower in the background.

I am myself a Parisian and enjoy my daily commuting (home<>work) by bus while crossing the river Seine and looking straight to the Eiffel Tower on one side and the Grand-Palais on the other.

I bet your little girl would be delighted to see some lights or enjoy a sightseeing riverboat cruise on the Seine.

You have plenty of places you could visit while in Paris.

If you give some advice on what you like I may be able to give you some ideas.

We have some great parks : Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, Monceau, Vincennes, ...

You want to eat? We usually know how to cook. So, it shouldn't be an issue.

There again, what do you like to eat? or what do you fancy eating while abroad especially in Paris?

What have you eaten during your 2 previous stays?

Where to stay? apart from the budget, would you prefer to stay in a hotel (which range) or rent a place to live on your own?


As I have just been twice to Montpellier I will not be able to recommend a lot of tips but given it is know as a city with several universities, I guess practicing the English language should not be an issue there.

There are several restaurants there which are great. I also guess you may find some great tips on TA.

As for day trips from Montpelier, I think Palavas-les-Flots, Nîmes, Béziers, Sète .... even Carcassonne are recommended. These sports are easy to reach (considering you're traveling with a little one) and easily reachable with local trains (called TER).

For travelling by train in France, visit : http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/

In Montpellier, if the weather is good, try to spend an evening on the Place de la Comédie (pedestrian center square) where there are plenty of cafés and terraces to enjoy the lively place sipping a drink and enjoying the little breeze!

Nice or Lyon?

I would definitely go to Lyon. Nice in my opinion is a bit overated. I visited it last year and apart from the tiny Old Town which reminded me of some italian villages, the Promenade des Anglais is a large concrete pathway overlooking a large pebble beach.

Lyon is THE town to discover great cook. There, they know how to promote the French cuisine.

PS : my compatriots tend to be lazy on learning foreign languages and shy on practicing them.

Then, I know we have a bad reputation on welcoming foreigners... that I am suite ashamed of!!

I personally love learning languages, traveling and talking to people... that is why I try to go abroad very often.

Anyway, a good advice would be to learn some vocab and usual sentences.

You know, the ones that you find in phrasebooks.

They're useful and will have quite an impact on people who - in return - should normally be more willing to help or at least welcome.

Edited: 07 March 2014, 23:43
Seal Beach...
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5. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

I have a suggestion for something your daughter (and you!) could definitely enjoy. In the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg is not only the playground (small fee to enter), but also the pond, places to eat, and especially the marionettes. Here's the website for someone's blog who describes how kid-friendly the gardens are (note: it's a couple of years old, but still very valid): hipparis.com/2011/…

Also, here's the website for the marionette theatre itself. It's all in French, but should be relatively easy to navigate anyway. Don't know the exact dates you'll be in Paris, but I see from the 'Programme' that on May 17 and May 18 they're playing The Three Little Pigs. Later in May it seems to be just something called the Metamorphoses of Prince Charming, no info yet available. But whatever, it'll be fun. If you search the Paris forum for 'marionettes Luxembourg', you'll find lots more information.

Have fun,


Boulder, Colorado
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6. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

Thanks! Which town would you recommend- Nice or Lyon for family trip? Will 2 days be enough for either Nice or Lyon?

Seal Beach...
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7. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

Oh, microhe, my apologies. I see that I forgot to include the marionettes website in my previous post.


I know your daughter would love it.


Boulder, Colorado
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8. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

Hi, Everyone, You are so AMAZING! Thanks so much for your help! Per your suggestion, we have adjusted our itinerary and came up with more questions :)

- May 14: Fly out from US to Paris (tickets booked!)

- May 15-20: Paris

- May 20: Take train to Lyon

-May 21-25: Lyon

-May 25: Take train to Montpellier

May 25-28: Husband in conference. I will just hang around and take it easy with daughter

-May 28: Fly via Air France back to Paris

-May 29: Return to US (tickets booked!)

Questions are:

1) hotel or rental in Paris: We want to stay near to bus routes and tourist attractions such as Eiffel or Luxemburg. Our budget is $100-150/night (of course even better if we could go under $100). Which neighborhood would you recommend? We prefer rentals with a refrigerator, microwave and hopefully a washing machine because of the little girl. Any good rental website?

2) Train station. There are multiple stations in Paris and Lyon. Which ones are in the city?

3) Are 5 days in Lyon too long? We have a total of 10 days before husband's conference. Should we squeeze one or two more cities besides Paris and Lyon, without becoming too exhausting?

4) What about Nice or Cannes? From Colorado, any beach or blue water sounds like paradise.

San Diego...
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9. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

A couple of suggestions - take your daughter to Jardin D'Acclimatation- www.jardindacclimatation.fr. My 4.5 year old loved it - just take Metro Line 1 to Sablons - about a 5 minute walk to the park from there. There's plenty of beach around Montpellier - no reason to go to Cannes or Nice (unless you want to). You could check out Le Grau Du Roi, Argles Sur Mer, Sete, etc. There's lots of activities for kids in this area - check out this website for the area - www.creme-de-languedoc.com.

In Paris - eat at the cafes - ham baguettes, croque monsieurs, etc are popular items that kids like. Going to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel tower was also a hit w/my 4.5 year old. We gave him his own camera and he loved taking pictures. Your trip sounds fabulous - enjoy!!

10. Re: 1st family trip to Paris and Montpellier with a 4.5 year old

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