We’re unashamed hotel junkies here at Passported, but also love the ease of a home rental when traveling en famille. The problem for us is always navigating the scores of listings, entering into endless back and forth with individual home owners, and finding a substitute for good concierge know-how. Enter Oasis Collections. Started in South America but with new, and ever growing, markets in North America and Europe, Oasis properties are all handpicked by an all local staff and guests are paired with Guest Experience managers in advance. That means you can get the low down on the best neighborhoods to stay, where to eat, seasonal events to book, and request all the kid essentials (cribs, monitors etc.) so you don’t have to lug them from home.
To celebrate Oasis Collections' newest destination, Paris, we spoke to launch manager (and mom!), Alexia Sako to find out where she recommends for families visiting the City of Light.
WHERE SHOULD VISITORS HEAD FOR AN EASY FIRST MORNING IN PARIS?
This is a classic, but the Eiffel Tower is still really impressive for children and one of the city's most visited monuments. Ideally, book queue-jump tickets in advance and be the first to the top. Alternatively, a cruise on the River Seine is really incredible as you can see the beauty of Paris without tiring everyone out with lots of walking and sightseeing.
WHAT SHOULD FAMILIES KNOW ABOUT DINING OUT WITH KIDS IN PARIS?
Many restaurants now have two seatings — one at 8 p.m. and the other around 10 p.m. — and though some open earlier, you'll find few good options before 7p.m. You do find children's menus and, occasionally, high chairs, but it’s not as commonplace as in the US.
CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR GO-TO FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS?
At the bottom of Butte Montmartre, L’Etoile de Montmartre is a totally kid-friendly cafe, with small tables and chairs, coloring books, highchairs and even a children's bathroom. Thoumieux has been hosting French families for generations, and since being taken over by former Crillon chef Jean-François Piège has leapt back into fashion, but keeps the family spirit intact with the Les Petits Choux menu for kids. Also good is Les 400 Coups, which has a game and kitchenette corner for the youngsters, and Le Pavillon des Oiseaux, in Jardin d’Acclimation, which is ideal during the weekend as there's a buffet and entertainment for the little ones.
IF YOU WANT TO EAT FRENCH FOOD FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER, WHAT ARE THE CLASSICS NOT TO MISS?
For sure, breakfast at Carette, where you'll find great macarons and a huge selection of pastries. Then lunch at Bofinger, which is considered one of the most beautiful brasseries in Paris, set in a Belle Epoque dining room. For dinner, book in advance to score a table at Paul Chêne, an institution of traditional French cuisine.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND PARIS WITH KIDS?
The metro is the best way to get around the city, but with so many stairs and no elevators, it can be difficult for parents with stroller-age children. Use carriers for little babies, or navigate the buses, which always have dedicated space for strollers.
WHAT ARE YOU FAVORITE WINTER SIGHTS IN PARIS?
The pop-up ice rinks offer a classic winter outing, and though most shut in early January, the rink at Hotel de Ville is open until March 1. For shoppers, the Paris sales last until mid-February or, for something a bit different, the Rambouillet sheep pen offers fun activities for families, such as sheep shearing, feeding, and other farm events.
AND IN THE SUMMER?
The Fêtes des Tuileries (June - August) has around 60 outdoor attractions for all kids of ages. Favorites are always the ghost trains, carousel and fishing games. In the heart of Paris, the Aquaboulevard is always a popular spot, while the Jardin des Plantes and menagerie is our botanical garden that’s enchanting for both parents and children. I also like Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, which has two exhibitions, one for kids aged 2 - 7 and the other for 5 - 12 year olds, as well as a big park for picnic lunches. Finally, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is a 50-acre children's amusement park with the Exploradôme museum and lots of attractions.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND THE BEST STREETS FOR SHOPPING?
Printemps and Merci are two favorites not to miss, then, Le Triangle d’Or is the best place for designer shopping, trendy chain stores and Sunday shopping. Le Marais will be best for more eclectic fashion, unique jewelry antiques and fine art and Louvre/Tuileries/Faubourg Saint Honoré for next-level designer fashion, chic home furnishing, cosmetics and jewelers.
WHERE SHOULD FAMILIES GO FOR AN EASY DAY TRIP?
Farmers and producers open their fields all year round, so you can pick fresh fruits and vegetables in a rural setting. It’s a fun activity away from the city. The Playmobil FunPark offers hours of play, and specific themed zones full of Playmobil toys are available for toddlers and youngsters. France Miniatures is a seasonal theme park, built in the shape of the nation, with miniature models of French landmarks. It's a fun way to help youngsters discover France’s history.
FINALLY, WHAT ARE YOU FAVORITE RESTAURANTS FOR A SPLURGE-WORTHY DATE NIGHT?
For dinner, I always return to Le Derrière, Mis Ko, Le Georges, and, if you can book months in advance, dinner on top of the Eiffel Tower at Jules Verne. After hours, go for drinks and dancing at Silencio, the Titty Twister, Crazy Horse, or Les Bains.