Rick Steves is about to get some competition.

WE’RE JUST ABOUT READY TO START WRITING OUR RICK STEVES’ TRAVEL COMPANION: Europe with 5 little kids.

We managed to conquer Paris.  It wasn’t always easy or pretty, but all in all, it went as smoothly as one could possibly expect… and there were some fantastic highlights.  I’m almost certain it will go down as some of the most memorable days of travel for our family for years to come.

As far as family vacations go, Paris is about as kid-friendly as a bag of glass shards…subways packed like a can of sardines, occasionally lengthy, foot-blistering walks, and some exhibits that really require effort to appreciate (hello, Pompidou!?)…it’s no Disneyland Paris, after all.  But we’re here to testify that it can be done, and the kids can enjoy it…we did!

As I paged through the guestbook in our vacation home, I noticed we aren’t the only large family to have tried it.  We read notes from a family of 5 kids from the Netherlands, and a family with 7 kids from San Antonio, Texas and even from another US family of 7 living in Germany.  We’ll probably start off our book by carefully documenting the location of all McDonald’s restaurants, clean bathrooms, and cheap souvenir shops.  But it’s a work in progress, so if you happen to be travelling to Paris with your 5+ kids and don’t want to wait for our travel book to publish, here are a few quick tips:

  • If you can’t explain it without using the words ‘art’ or ‘culture’, then either don’t go to it, or unabashedly dangle the promise of a trip through the souvenir shop or McDonald’s after it.
  • In Paris, there are those who stand in line, and those who have strollers (life-saving tip, thanks Flikkemas!).  Even if you don’t have a kid who needs a stroller, take one and prop up a fake baby-doll in it and you’re golden.
  • In Paris, there are those who take the stairs, and there are those who have strollers.  Strollers in Paris equate to handicap access, and it’s an express ticket to the top of just about anything (including the elevator in the Arc De Triumphe that doesn’t exist).
  • Cramming your family on a packed Metro or RER after a long day is a recipe for a meltdown.  But if you must,  just let the kids cry and maybe someone will take pity on you and give up their seat.

There’s plenty more for sure, this is just a quick sampling of advice from a couple of newbies learning the ropes in Europe.  We have a few more posts, bits of advice, and pretty cool photos in the pipeline.

Speyer Technik Museum

Sunday brought unusually warm weather, more snow melt and a nice sunny day to visit the nearby Speyer Technical Museum. There, we had the chance to inspect up close all manner of aircraft, a russian space shuttle, old and new bikes, boats and submarines, cars, motorcycles and trains.

Best of all was the rocket-speed tube slide that came protruding out of a a 747 exhibit. The museam featured an elevated 747 that you could tour, through cabins and luggage compartments, even crawling out onto the wing for a view of the entire city of Speyer.  On this aircraft there were only two exits:  The civil way – down the stairs like you came, or  by holding on to your 2 year old daughter for dear life after you have situated yourself on a cloth sack and launched yourself barreling down a vertical tube slide like greased lightening.

We opted for  the latter.