|Activity #6: Chase giant bubbles outside the Centre Pompidou while Salvador Dali looks on|
Six weeks on. Two weeks off.
Six weeks on. Two weeks off.
For those who don’t know, this is the rhythm of a school child’s – and a parent's – life in France. After every six weeks of school, the kids get two weeks of vacation. As an American, this seems like an awful lot of vacation to me. As a parent, it seems like a hideous amount of vacation.
I think it must be easier for people who work with French people who understand this rhythm and know when les vacances have started. Many Parisians simply use one of their many weeks of mandated vacation time to go on holiday with their kids! But if you are an American working with American clients, it’s a struggle (or expensive) to deal with this upheaval to your schedule every six weeks!
Happily, I have a period of relative calm at the moment and am looking forward to doing some fun stuff with the kiddos during the upcoming winter break. If you’re not one of the thousands going skiing over the holiday and racking your brains about how to pass the time with the kids in Paris, check out all this cool stuff you can do!
1. Go Ice-Skating.
Like every year, the Hôtel de Ville ice-skating rink is up and in full force. It’s a great place to skate with kids because it has a separate area for little ones, as well as cute ice-skating supports for them to hold on to as they shuffle around the rink. Entrance to the rink is free but skate rentals cost €5. Note that hats and gloves are required for all skaters. Check out my post here for more details.
2. Hit the cinema.
If you've got a burgeoning movie-buff in your household, this is the year for them! For all of 2014, the price of all cinema tickets is only €4 for kids younger than age 14, for “all theaters, all times, and all films,” according the the Federation of National French Cinemas. Happy news!
And there are lots of kid-friendly movies out at the moment. Miniscule (an animated film about a lost ladybug) has gotten great reviews, and you can’t step on the metro without seeing huge posters for Sherman & Mr. Peabody: Les Voyages dans le Temps. These ubiquitous colorful advertisements have duly entranced my sons and we will be going next week. There’s also La Belle et Le Bête (Beauty and the Beast), but I have a hard time believing than anything with the yummy Vincent Cassel in it is appropriate for children....but maybe that’s just my problem.
3. Expose them to Surrealism.
The “Surrealism and Object” exhibit (featuring the sculptural works of Dali, Giacometti, Bréton, Miró and more) at the Centre Pompidou could be fascinating for kids from 5 and up. The show is basically about what happens when surrealism encounters a functional object. What will your child say when he or she sees a pair of high heels arranged on a roasting platter like turkey? Or taxidermic fox built into a table that appears to be walking? Frankly, I’m curious. For more information and museum hours, look here.
4. Learn about World Music.
The Musée du Quai Branly is a relatively new museum in Paris that’s dedicated exclusively to arts and artifacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Starting from February 22 through March 2nd, the museum is using music a common thread to tie together its multi-cultural exhibitions. There will be short concerts of music from various cultures around the world; a variety of instrument-playing workshops for kids ages 6-12; Dancing lessons to tribal drums, and much more! For additional details and times, click here.
5. Catch a show.
As always, Paris offers dozens of plays, concerts and other for children. The ones that caught my eye during this vacation period are Hansel et Gretel at les Palais des Glaces, The Bossu de Notre Dame (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) at Théâtre Antoine, Pinocchio at Theatre Akteon, and for the smallest theater-goers (this is appropriate for age 1 and up), you've got Roule, Roule Gallette, also at Theatre Akteon. The Broadway musical, La Belle et Le Bête is also running at Théâtre Mogador.
For magic lovers ages 4 and up, there is the highly-praised Magicien Maglré Lui, starring Magician Sebastien Mossière at Théâtre des Béliers Parisiens. There's also Double Fond, a café-theater in the Marais that offers some 15 different types of magic shows. I've walked by it for years, and I’m excited that my oldest son is finally in the right age bracket to enjoy it: age 6 and up is supposed to be about right.
So, how's that for a start? If you hear of any other cool activities during winter vacay, feel free to mention them in the comments section below. I know there's plenty more to do. Bonnes vacances!