Girly-Girl Bonding in Paris

The Mother-Daughter Weekend, Perfected

It’s hard to have a bad time in Paris. But that said, here’s a game plan for an especially enchanting visit with a little girl.

Resist the temptation to book a glossy hotel with a perfect-English-speaking concierge and opt instead for a smaller, authentically French property that feels different from home. Le Relais Saint-Germain, centrally located in the Sixth, has a teeny elevator (too small for luggage), rustic wood beams, and views of a quaint plaza from every window. The staff (usually just one person at a time) is warm and helpful (even by email prior to your visit).

Let Her Eat Crêpes (And Macarons).

Lift the sugar sanctions and just go for it. Within walking distance from the hotel you’ll find Ladurée (order tea with macarons), Café de Flore (a pot of cocoa pour deux), and plenty of crepe stands (Nutella, obvs). Berthillon on the Île Saint-Louis is a bit farther, but worth the stroll for even one scoop of their mind-blowing ice cream. (This place is so French it closes for the second half of July and all of August. Yes, in prime ice cream season.)  For a more balanced meal, try La Bastide Odeon—around the corner from the hotel. It’s quiet, charming, and just fancy enough for her to practice refinery. Two thumbs up for the roast chicken.

Shopping, Duh.

There's no shortage of retail temptations in Paris, but for the mother-daughter weekend we're going to make this simple: get yourselves one-of-a-kind hats at Marie-Merci (in the 'hood) and treat her to a mini Limoges box and goose-feather powder puff from Carón (also in the hood). And if you have any money left (doubtful), take her to Colette, the old dame of concept stores.

And Of Course, Some History.

Walk to Notre Dame and light a candle for someone you both love. Stroll the Tuileries Garden behind the hotel (Instagram perfection). Copy the poses of Degas’ ballerinas at Musée d’Orsey. Just look up, around, and let her take it all in.

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Tara Mandy

Tara Mandy served as the travel editor of New York magazine for 10 years and is currently the founder and publisher of Family Jaunts, StrollerTraffic, and the Cribsie Awards. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.