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Melissa Lonsk

New York, New York Travel Agent

Revisiting France with a Toddler

My love affair with France began in high school, where I studied the language. My first trips abroad were to France. I visited twice in high school, once as a college student and then again as an adult with my parents.

My experiences in France have been so memorable that I was eager to travel the country with my one and a half-year-old son and husband. A big fan of history arts and culture, I particularly love Paris, with its museums and iconic sights.

On my first trip to France, I took a train from Paris to the Dordogne Valley and was very proud to be able to navigate on my own using my French. Our family trip visited many of the same destinations, but with different activities. We began in Paris, and just as I did when I was a teenager, we traveled to the Dordogne Valley. There we rented a house and a car so that we could live like locals and travel at our own pace. Since my son loves trains, we took a train back to Paris at the end of our trip.

There are amazing destinations for families in the French countryside, including a number of beautiful chateaus where little kids can run around. As far as family trips go, it doesn’t get much better than this. You can walk around at your leisure and check out castles, gardens, and vineyards. Also fun for all ages is a visit to the caves in the Dordogne Valley; many contain interesting prehistoric paintings and geological formations.

Museums are not out of the question for families. The expansive Louvre, for example, might be a little much for a young child’s little legs to handle, but I do recommend that parents with slightly older children to visit the Centre Pompidou Musée National d’Art Modern, which features great works that can be exciting for younger visitors.

I often plan my trips around eating. I would never travel to Paris without a stop at L’Arpège, but I also take the time to get to know various vendors, restaurant owners and tour guides who engage with and accommodate all members of a family, from the youngest to the oldest.

France is wonderful at any age; traveling there with my young son adds a whole new dimension!

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