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Carmen

Carmen Jenner is a travel, food, and lifestyle writer, wanna-be photographer and the founder of Fluffy Towel. She specialises in travel memoirs, destination pieces, hotel reviews, guidebook contributor, travel advice, restaurant reviews, family travel, and copywriting.

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Have child, will travel

filed27 Jul 2017 from

Little Miss Manhattan

 

 

As soon as my daughter was born, I knew her arrival would alter the shape of my life for all eternity. Determined to continue travelling amid the routine, tantrums, sickness and fatigue, I figured the sooner I introduced her to the joys of travel the easier it would become. But no amount of planning can prepare you for the inevitable stance a young feisty lady can take. Little Miss Manhattan, indeed!

While there is plenty of information available about dealing with the challenges of travelling with kids, here is my take on travelling with Little Miss Manhattan, aka Paris, named after one of the most exquisite cities on earth.

 

The dreaded routine

All her needs sorted

I abhor routine and the restriction of living in the moment. I once endured the 9-5 drudgery before turning my back on conformity and became a freelance writer as soon as I emerged from my hazy baby brain. But this little bundle of joy demanded regular feed, sleep and cheeky times. God damn it, she craved the very routine I so avidly avoided.

The old saying, “You can’t take a holiday from yourself,” never rings more true when you’re a parent. I eventually accepted my fate by learning the hard way and wove the dreaded routine into our travel plans. I discovered that once you have regular sleep and food intervals taken care of, the fun organically emerges. Sure, some compromises need to be taken as not everyone puts museums or playgrounds at the top of their list, but with a bit of flexibility, negotiation (aka bribes) and imagination it’s possible to keep most members of the family happy at least some of the time.

The grand gesture

Since I can remember, and like many kids introduced to American TV as a child, Disneyland once seemed like the ultimate destination to me. A trip to Paris introduced our own cherub to the city of her namesake and beckoned a trip to Euro Disney for her third birthday. Paris in Paris!

We described it as a huge playground as we boarded the train. There were rides and freaky characters who made her cry amid the pastel version of Disneyland. Not even a ridiculously huge Winnie the Pooh balloon seemed to make her happy…until it mysteriously made its way into our toilet the following day and aged me several years when it suddenly popped out unannounced. All out of options to wipe the worried expression off her sweet face, she meekly asked, “When are we going to the playground?” The penny dropped. And at the far end of Euro Disney we found just that, an old fashioned set of swings and slide, and at last, we were in the happiest place on earth.

I’m sure you can work out the moral of this story.

Give her a water park and we’re all happy

No place like home

You might be so far from home that the toilet flushes in the opposite direction, but it’s easy to replicate those familiar comforts. A blankie (appropriately named the skanky blankie in our case given the state of it), favourite toy, pillow and snacks lugged all the way from Australia definitely eased Paris into her foreign surroundings. But try spending any lengthy amount of time in a cramped hotel room and even the sanest of people is likely to lose their cool in a confined space surrounded by your beloveds’ paraphernalia.

Save yourself the pain and expense and book self-contained accommodation providing some separation between the living, sleeping, eating and playing zones. It usually works out cheaper anyway, especially as you can avoid the expense of dining out for every meal while saving your money for special meals and attractions.

The perks of renting an apartment with Paris in Paris

Adult time

Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you stop being an adult. You’re still going to want to have a meal every now and then that doesn’t involve a mountain of baby wipes or needing to take someone to the toilet or change a nappy just as you get to the front of the anaconda line for the Empire State Building. You might even want to experience your destination at night after a certain someone’s bedtime. And let’s face it, mummy and daddy can’t live on tiny teddies alone, if you get my drift.

If you aren’t travelling with friends or family who can help to ease the load, there are plenty of reputable babysitting services around the world. Even a short break is going to make a difference to your state of mind. Naturally, you’re going to want to do some research and learn about the person who you’ve entrusted your children with. Review their testimonials and experience, and in some cases you can even interview them before leaving home. Build a rapport with them and ease yourself into it by observing how they interact from a distance or have the babysitter take over some of your duties while you go for an uninterrupted bath or walk. Once you feel comfortable, then venture out for longer sojourns. Go with your instincts and be firm with your expectations, and I can almost guarantee you, allowing yourself some adult time will enrich the whole family’s travel experience.

Chillin’ in the tropics

Housing Plight in the City of Light

filed15 Aug 2012 from

THE computer screen taunts me with photos of charming Parisian apartments with minuscule dimensions. My two-year-old is dancing to The Wiggles, having given up on the promised trip to the park. Finding a flat for our six-week stay in the French capital has become my latest obsession.

Our requirements consist of a two-bedroom apartment easily accessible to the Latin Quarter, where I will be studying in July. My research has been enlightening as I learn not to take anything for …

The Not-so Amazing Race

filed23 Mar 2011 from

 

WELCOME to The Not So Amazing Race. The first part of the Joneses’ challenge is to gain access to an apartment for their stay in Paris. The Jones family comprises of husband and wife, Jason and Simone, and three-year-old Jessica.*

None of the Jones family will speak French on this leg of the race. The final challenge is teamwork. Will Jason and Simone make it to the end as a married couple? Their prize is a month’s use of …

Petite Paris

filed10 Mar 2011 from

THERE are few places as lively, vibrant and stimulating as Paris. I’m not entirely referring to the city either as my daughter is named after the City of Light. It seems fitting that the two should meet. But if you shudder at the thought of dragging young children around vast museums, consider these tips on how to toddle around the French capital.

1. Cafe culture: Sip hot chocolate together as you watch people and dogs. Discuss, write, draw and photograph …

Gotan Project = tango

filed13 Dec 2010 from

 

paris heels1

Just as the letters of the word ‘tango’ scramble into ‘gotan’, your perception of the Argentinean art form will morph into the sublime with a Gotan Project concert. My rendezvous with the Parisian electro-tango band began with La Revancha Del Tango. With every beat evocative of an elegant bouncing acrobat on a trampoline, each instrument and member of the group was introduced individually building to a delicate crescendo. From there your climax is held at a heightened state for …

A Voyeur’s French Feast

filed07 Dec 2010 from

THIS PARISIAN LIFE: PART II

I Love Paris in the Summer Time

apartment view

It’s 4.46 a.m. and a woman’s scream cuts through the thick air surging up into the apartment’s open bedroom window.

I suddenly sit upright in bed. The scream was cut short and I envisage she suddenly woke up, imagining her husband to be an intruder before realising her error. Maybe she saw a mouse. Perhaps it was a nightmare? I know she wasn’t murdered because she did it …

Walk on the Tame Side in Paris’ Montmartre

filed17 Sep 2010 from

The view of Paris from Basilique du Sacre Coeur

Made famous by the Moulin Rouge and its hedonistic revellers, Montmartre is well worth a wander during the day.

As you alight the Metro stop Abbesses, check out the Paris cityscape mural, and its unusual green wrought-iron arches and amber lights, which are one of the few original Art Nouveau stations in Paris.

After savouring the seediness of Montmarte’s adult outlets, browse the electic range of shops while heading up to …

Roxanne’s Can-Can: A Heady Night of Moulin Rouge

filed16 Sep 2010 from

Shrouded in shadows the curtains rise. At long last, I fulfill my lifelong obsession with the Moulin Rouge. The entire cast appears sequined, feathered, buffed, toned, and breathtaking. White sequined tuxedos are ripped off to reveal jewelled g-strings adorning airbrushed legs. Despite their nudity, they remain elegant and ethereal.

One flamboyant scene after another makes it impossible to take it all in: a pirate show, a circus, the obligatory Can-can and the grand finale, a showcase of the history of …

This Parisian Life

filed20 Sep 2009 from

THIS PARISIAN LIFE – PART I

French Beauty

 “One is not born a woman; rather one becomes a woman.”  – Simone De Beauvoir

The French model wears a petticoat crafted from balloons. The model behind her flaps wings styled like a bird of paradise. Men sit rigid in their seats during this Parisian couture fashion parade, admiring these heavenly beauties.

Cameras flash, flattering some of the models and insulting others, who sneer at the audience. We are engulfed in wall-to-wall …

Le Cafe de la Paix

filed20 May 2009 from

Paintings and music, street noises, shops, flower markets, modes, fabrics, poems, ideas, everything seemed to lead toward a half-sensual, half-intellectual swoon. Inside the cafes, colour, perfume, taste and delirium could be poured together from one bottle or many bottles – from square, cylindrical, conical, tall, squat, brown, green or crimson bottles – but you drank black coffee by choicse, believing that Paris itself was sufficient alcohol.

– Malcolm Cowley, Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssy of the 1920’s

A typical Parisian cafe

A typical Parisian

French Beauty

filed30 Apr 2009 from

As Simone de Beauvoir put it: “One is not born a woman; rather one becomes a woman.”

The French model wears a petticoat crafted from balloons. The model behind her flaps wings styled like a bird of paradise.

Men sit rigid in their seats during this Parisian couture fashion parade, admiring these heavenly beauties.

Cameras flash, flattering some of the models and insulting others, who sneer at the audience. We are engulfed in wall-to-wall white balloons, as if we are …