Holiday season is around the corner and, for the first time in almost two years, international travel has become an option for families again. Travel restrictions have recently been eased by the French Government and it is now possible for fully vaccinated travellers from South Africa to enter France with no test and quarantine restrictions.
This means that adult travellers do not need a compelling reason to travel to France or conduct a PCR test upon departure and arrival, nor do they need to quarantine once arriving in France. Children aged 12 and over must present a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before departure or a negative antigenic test taken less than 48 hours before departure to France.
As tourists start flocking to international destinations, the flying experience can be daunting for new parents – but it doesn’t have to be. Air France shares a few stress-reducing strategies for both flying to and exploring France with young children and how to prepare them for the experience.
Before your trip:
Talk to your kids about what they can expect
The flight is something your kids are certainly going to be excited about. However, there will be a few moments during the process which will prove to be difficult for young travellers. Having a conversation with your children about the entire flying process will leave them more equipped to handle the long waits and processes that take place at the airport.
Make the conversation more interactive by finding videos geared to children on YouTube which goes over the entire flight experience, from baggage check-in and ticketing to onboard etiquette and safety.
Pack just enough
To make the flying experience easier and more enjoyable for the whole family, packing your carry-on luggage correctly is an incredibly important task. It’s important to find the balance between under-packing and over-packing to ensure the journey is an easy one.
Items you should definitely pack include: your child’s comfort items (be it a pacifier or a specific blanket), a new toy to open on the plane, sanitiser, wipes, pull-up nappies, a smartphone or tablet loaded with some of your kids favourite shows or movies, child-sized headphones, some art supplies, plastic bags for any trash, water and low-sugar snacks like crisps, pretzels and granola bars, and most importantly – masks and hand sanitiser.
Luckily, most airlines cater for small children on flights. Air France, for example, provide a bassinet for infants under two and less than 10kg and baby changing tables are also available. On long-haul flights, your child receives games and colouring books suited to his or her age and, to further keep your kids entertained, the airline has launched “The Kids App,” an innovative app which is sure to bring out your child’s creative side!
The airline also provides children between the ages of two and eight a fun, colourful and healthy meal and cut into bite-size chunks while sweet and savoury organic pots and baby biscuits can be ordered for infants up to two years old up to 48 hours before departure.
France has many child-friendly places to discover
While Paris is known for its rich history, interesting museums, delectable eateries, world-famous sites and romance, it’s also the perfect city for a family vacation! To keep toddlers entertained, consider mixing a half-day tour of the Louvre with playtime in the neighbouring Tuileries Garden, for example.
Match bucket-list activities like visiting the Eiffel Tower with an early dinner cruise on the Seine. France, however, is so much more than just Paris. Kids will love travelling to the Loire Valley where cycling alongside the river and visiting Leonardo Da Vinci’s last place of residence will ensure an active yet cultural experience while a trip to Normandy will wow older kids with an interest in history with its plentiful WWII sites.
Simplify your trip by planning each day’s activities and buying the relevant tickets in advance. This will ensure a much smoother process on the day.
Explore the magic of Disneyland Paris
You can’t take children (no matter their age) to Paris and not visit the world-famous Disneyland Paris theme park. The park is situated just 32km outside of the Paris city centre and is easily accessible via a train ride. Filled with a number of thrilling rides, restaurants, shops and a whole lot of your favourite Disney characters, a trip to Disneyland Paris will be the highlight of any child’s trip to the city.
The park has also done its best to ensure that toddlers are comfortable during what is guaranteed to be a long day. The park has a dedicated Baby Centre which includes a large parent bathroom where parents can easily change their toddler, a kitchenette to prepare and feed your baby, high chairs and a microwave. It also has strollers which can be rented should your child’s feet start hurting during the day. A trip to the park is a must for any family.
Eating out is always tricky when it comes to pleasing everyone in the family. Many French restaurants offer smaller portions of main menu dishes, but visiting a child-friendly restaurant will probably be a better choice for families who are looking to make the most out of mealtime. Les 400 Coups is a popular restaurant choice for families.
Children get to eat in a separate area with kid-sized furniture created especially for them. A pile of books, games and a giant blackboard are there to keep them entertained during their meal. For a more authentic experience, families flock to Le Cafézoïde – the first Parisian children’s café.
The café hosts fun activities, games and workshops while parents can sit back and enjoy some delicious French cuisine from their lunch menu. Try time meals as close as possible to your child’s routine back home so that they don’t feel too overwhelmed by the touring experience.