13 Jan No Excuses in Paris and Beyond
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you…eating healthy while traveling is hard…staying on track is hard…
It is doable.
It takes a little bit of planning and a lot of commitment.
But…remember…YOU can do it.
Here, I’ll show you. I’m going to tell you about our trip to Paris because:
- It was awesome
- You can get some ideas of what to do there with kids
- You can see exactly how I stayed on track
I have zero regrets. And that is the best thing to have.
My mom, my sister and her kids were visiting so we planned a short trip to Paris. And, can I just say, that we must have been quite a sight! Eleven people traveling – 5 adults and 6 kids and keep in mind that 4 of those kids are under 7. It seems that Europeans don’t tend to have big families and there we were- 11 of us getting on the train, going into a restaurant, needing 3 hotel rooms because there are certain rules about how many people can be in each room. And- their kids are quiet and well-behaved. And ours…well…let’s just say… they are those things…sometimes…
Paris is only 2 1/2 hours away by speed train. (Not too shabby, huh?) Even though we were only there for a few days, I ended up bringing 3 bags, one of which was filled with snacks.
Tip #1 : Always bring snacks with you- I can’t say this enough. In fact, you’ve probably heard me say this a time or two (or twenty.) Here is a list of things I brought on this specific trip:
- Plantain Strips
- 100% Grass-Fed, Paleo Friendly Beef Sticks
- RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar
- Baby Mum-Mum
- granola bars
- CLIF BAR – Energy Bar – Chocolate Brownie
- Stretch Island Fruit Leather
*Each day, I made sure to pack some snacks in my backpack for me and the kids
Even though it was cold and sometimes rainy, the city was absolutely beautiful.
The trees were bare and the clouds were gray but somehow, this only added to the beauty.
The River Seine winds through the city like a pulsing artery, breathing into it life and magic.
There’s a pedestrian bridge across the river called Pont des Arts. It’s become a tourist tradition to buy a lock, secure it to the side of the bridge, and then throw away the key. We got one for our whole family and secured it to the bridge, made a wish, and threw it into the rushing water.
We crossed over the bridge and got tickets for the Hop on/Hop off bus – I highly recommend this! You can buy tickets at any of the bus stops and get a 1 day or 2 day pass. It is expensive…but…you get to ride around in the bus and see all the main attractions of Paris. This is a good tool to have under your belt when you have little kids who are tired of walking. Also, we used it as a sort of taxi service to get to where we needed to go
The Tuileries Gardens which is in the 1st arrondissement (or district), was probably my favorite thing – mainly because the kids had so much fun there. There is a carousel, trampolines, a pond with ducks and a few different cafes – look for the one with inside seating on a cold, wet, Paris day! We went to Cafe Diane -they make a delicious cappuccino!
Here’s a quick, fun fact: The Tuileries Gardens get their name from the tile factories which previously stood on the site where Queen Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries in 1564 (source: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71304/Jardin-des-Tuileries)
Tip #2: Pick activities that include exercise for everyone. This is one of the reasons the Tuileries Gardens
was one of my favorite places to go – everyone was active! The kids were jumping on the trampoline, getting all hot and sweaty and the rest of us were able to stroll around, taking in the sculptures that dotted the garden’s landscape.
We did A LOT of walking that first day – from the train station to our hotel, from our hotel to the gardens, from the gardens to Ponts des Arts, and from Ponts des Arts to the bus – and the kids were troopers. (There might have been some napping on the bus.)
I enjoyed walking up and down the city – walking, after all, is my preferred mode of transportation. But, after a long day, we were all ready for dinner. I think one of the hardest things about traveling with kids is the food situation – Where can we eat that allows kids? Which places will have food they will actually eat? And on this particular trip, which places can accommodate 11 people??
Tip #3: Stay away from the bread! Baguettes, rolls, croissants…don’t do it! Pick a meal that has lean protein, fruit and veggies. Here is what I had for breakfast:
No bread, right?!? I had protein, fruit, and of course, an amazing cup of Parisian coffee. (Seriously, their coffee is really good.)
For lunch I typically picked a salad or a soup and for dinner, I stuck with the salads. Here are some of my lunch and dinner meals:
I picked out the pasta in the first salad and the second salad – that has melted goat cheese on toast – and I ate it all and it was delicious and that was my cheat meal – did you catch that?
My cheat meal…I have one per week. It’s not about depriving myself of anything…it’s about making healthy choices the majority of the time.
Tip #4: Everything in moderation! Okay, I get it. You are in Paris and you want to eat a French baguette and have a croissant with your morning coffee and try the delicious pink macaroon you saw in the bakery window. ‘
It’s okay to have a taste here and a taste there (that’s right – I said it’s okay because this is not a diet, this is a healthy lifestyle). Just plan for it! Make healthy choices the rest of the day!
Share that croissant with a friend…take a few bites of the baguette and give the rest to your fellow travel companions.
Walk when you can…take the stairs rather than the elevator…and incorporate physical activity into your trip
The second day we went to The Louvre in the morning. Here is a BIG tip – buy your tickets ahead of time online!!!! We did not do this. The line looped and and snaked and swerved around that courtyard for what must have been a 3 hour wait. Luckily, though, they also have a stroller entrance. And we just happened to have a stroller….and we got to cut to the very front of the line and go right in. Don’t ask me why…I didn’t ask…I was just relieved we didn’t have to wait out there for 3 hours.
The Louvre, in and of itself, is beautiful in its architecture, decadent ceilings and grand courtyards. And of course, there’s also the art that blankets the walls and the sculptures that stand elegantly still. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot to do for the younger kids (like my son who is 3). My 6 year old daughter and niece really enjoyed the museum and would have stayed longer.
They have a touch-gallery for the kids where they can touch replicas of the art but it is super tiny and only held my son’s attention for 20 minutes at the most. We played a little scavenger hunt game with him after that – asking him to count how many paintings he saw with birds or purple flowers. That lasted for a little while…and than he was done. My husband took him back out to the courtyard so he could run around and I went up to see the Mona Lisa.
After the Louvre, it was time to hike it to the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to see it at dusk – when it lights up and glows against the backdrop of the black Parisian sky. And see it…I did. My niece took this picture…isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?
That night, my sister graciously offered to watch our kids so my husband and I could go out on the town. We went out to dinner and saw Moulin Rouge. The show was expensive…over 200 euros for 2 tickets..but totally worth it. I highly recommend it!!!
Our last day in Paris, we went shopping on Champs de Elysee – a famous shopping area packed with high-end stores like Louis Vuiton and also more affordable stores like H&M and Sephora. We walked all the way there from our hotel – about 30 minutes (remember? getting your physical activity in is important?)
I would like to say we shopped until we dropped…but really…we shopped until we had to catch our train.
Here are my final thoughts about traveling AND staying on track:
Anyone can do it!
YOU can do it!
It takes some planning ahead but it is SO worth it. After our Paris trip, I didn’t feel icky because I stuffed myself at every meal or indulged in too many Parisian sweets. I didn’t come home worrying that my clothes would be snugger. And I didn’t come home thinking, “Well, now I have to work out extra hard this week because I screwed up this weekend”.
And you know what???
Because I stayed on track, because I didn’t have any of these worries when I returned home, it made the vacation that much more enjoyable.