Cultured Americana is still here!!!! 2017 has been a whirlwind of a year! However, I haven’t been too active on the blog. The purpose of my starting Cultured Americana was to share my adventures and fun life experiences. I am still having amazing adventures but now most of my adventures include my 18 month old daughter, Heléna! I struggle with how much of my daughter I should share. I love reading “mommy blogs” but not sure if that’s what I want Cultured Americana to become. If you follow my instagram, you may have noticed that it’s become kinda a "mamagram". It wasn't an intentional shift but it depicts the adventures of my life right now and they are great!
So now that I explained my absence from the blog, I thought I’d tell you all about that time I flew with an 11 month old from San Francisco to Paris by myself, carry on only! I get a lot of questions about our jet setting experience so how about some “Paris with an 11 month old FAQs”.
Q: Why would you want to take a baby to Paris? She won’t remember it?
A: First of all, we don’t know what she will and will not remember. I want a love for travel, culture and rich experiences to be a big part of who my daughter is. My goal is for her to be a citizen of the world and be brave and fearless. Travel promotes this! People also told me I couldn’t travel once I had a baby, especially internationally. Guess what? I can, I did and you can too if you so desire!
There is also a bit more to the story. I knew when I had children I would want to travel with them. My daughter is a special baby. I had some complications during my pregnancy which resulted in having to deliver her prematurely. She was a little over three pounds at birth and spent almost a month in the NICU. While she was tiny and in an incubator I promised her I’d show her as much of the world as I could. I wondered if she could get a passport stamp by the time she was one year old. What an accomplishment that would be! Heléna came home and has never looked back. Our trip to Paris was our victory lap! Finally, Paris is always a good idea!
Q: I still don't understand. Why not wait until she is older for Paris?
A: Contrary to popular belief, babies are a little easier to travel with when they are young, small, sleep a lot and not so active like older children. At 11 months, Helena was approaching the toddler stage but still small (plus of having a premie she was very compact like a much younger baby) and she still napped quite a bit.
Hey!! All ya'll goin' to France too???
I couldn't get her to rest in the bassinet so she ended up resting comfortably in her carseat and we used the bassinet for storage.
Q; How was the plane trip?
A: Fine. We took off right around her bedtime. She slept most of the 10 hour flight! She was small enough to fit in the airplane bassinet but too active for it, so she slept comfortably in her carseat. Oh by the way, I bought Heléna a seat even though she could fly for free. It was totally worth it. The extra space was great and I felt sorry for the family next to us who had their toddler’s head on the dad’s lap and body on the mom’s lap the whole trip. But you do you!
Q: What can you do in Paris with a baby?
A: Everything! We had a wide open itinerary. There were only two things we “had to do”. We scheduled a photo shoot and we wanted to go to the Picasso Museum. Everything else we played by ear. We stayed in Le Marais neighborhood which is a fantastic neigborhood for exploring and where the Picasso Museum is located. We spent a lot of time walking around and getting into whatever moved us that day. Sometimes that meant an impromptu picnic, browsing through the fun homeware store, Merci, shopping at the fabulously chic toy store, BonTon or even an upscale dinner. I really didn’t feel prohibited. We also were really into Parisian Cafe Culture and Heléna got really into croissants.
Q: Photo shoot, tell us more about that?
A: In 2015, I visited Barcelona solo and decided to do a photoshoot tour. I highly recommend this as it’s a great way to get quality vacation photos that feature you enjoying the vacation. Heléna and I had Ari from Paris Tour Photos do a photo shoot for us at the Eiffel Tower! We were inspired by the iconic picture of Run DMC in front of the Eiffel Tower so we did kinda a glam Adidas look for the shoot! We had a blast! Helena tolerated the unfamiliar situation and slept through half the photo shoot. Ari felt bad about it but I said “hey this is our life right now” She naps…..even in Paris, so capture it!
Q: How did you pack light? You really were carry on only?
A:I used the same packing methodology I used during our Long Beach Trip. Additionally, I rented baby stuff at a fantastic company called Baby’tems. We rented a portacrib from Baby'tems and although we brought our Mountain Buggy Nano stroller, we rented a fantastic Babyzen Yoyo travel stroller. from them as well. More on that in a subsequent question below. See all we brought below. Not shown, the monster of a carseat! Tip: We brought enough diapers, wipes, etc to last the journey to Paris and a day or two after. We bought everything else in Paris! There are babies living in Paris... as such they sell baby supplies at Monoprix and other places.
Q: Were you afraid to take a baby to Paris?
A: I was a little nervous about the long flight but I just made sure I was as prepared as I could be. I made sure I had plenty of food, milk and water for my daughter. I also knew that if I was anxious, she would be anxious so I just tried to relax and go with the flow.
Q: Any nightmare experiences you want to share?
A: Yep, the airline lost a wheel on our stroller. The stroller was to be used during our stay but it was also a key piece of equipment for navigating through the airport. As such, when we landed in Paris I had to wear my daughter on my chest with a travel backpack on my back, diaper backpack on my shoulder and lug her awkward carseat though the airport. I was not pleased. While en route to our apartment, I emailed Baby’tems and told them we would be needing a stroller as well. By 10am the next morning, a stroller was delivered to our apartment. We weren’t limited to staying at home before the stroller arrived as I wore Helena (we use the Boba 4g) so we traveled around our neigbnorhood that way.
Q: How did you get around Paris?
A: For the trip to and from the airport we used a with a fantastic car service called Allonavette. Their cars include a carseat free of charge. Additionally, our driver ( he was our driver both ways) was extremely nice. This was really appreciated after discovering our stroller was unusable. I was also glad I paid for an upgrade so he picked us up a large body Benz! In our neighborhood of Le Merais, we used our rented stroller to get around. If using a stroller in Paris, I highly suggest using a small travel stroller like the Mountain Buggy or Babyzen. Large jogging strollers will not work on small Parisian streets or in tiny shops. On the Metro, I wore Heléna in our Boba 4G soft carrier. Do not take a stroller on Metro if you can avoid it. Another benefit of traveling with a baby, they can be worn! Baby wearing rocks!
Q: Any particularly fun memorble moments?
A: There were many but here are a few:
- Heléna trying her first Macaroon across from Notre Dame.
- Helena living her best life when she woke up from a nap with croissant flakes stuck to her forehead.
- Geting VIP access at the Louis Vuitton store at Galeries Lafayette because Helena was with me. They literally let us skip the line, drew back the velvet rope and ushered us in the store because I was standing in line with her strapped to my chest. Life is good when you have connections!
To sum it up, we had a blast! I loved exploring the city with her and seeing her thrive in a foreign country. The French love babies and she did a great job of winning friends and influencing people. I am so glad we took this amazing trip. As I write, my daughter is 18 months. In 2017 she has been on 8 flights! Looking forward to collecting more travel experiences with this fun tike!