The city of romance with kids? Yes, it can be done with a family, and it doesn’t have to be at a sterile hotel, either. For those reluctant to gamble in the Airbnb lotto comes a similar concept that offers up more service: Paris Perfect. Each apartment is vetted by local staff who speak English and French fluently, so there are no surprises when it comes to location, cleanliness or, gasp, smoking (still easy to find here in France). And if you think it will be difficult to find or you’ll struggle with bags, babies or jet lag after a six-hour red-eye, fear not: You can arrange everything you’ll need to stay like a local, including transportation from Charles de Gaulle or Orly airports, easily.
It’s what I did recently, grabbing one of the new direct flights on Norwegian Airlines out of Boston’s Logan International Airport. The brand-new fleet of Boeing 787-9 planes has better cabin pressure than its predecessors, sunglasses-style lighting that can be controlled by the lucky person (like me!) near the windows, and quieter, more fuel-efficient flying. Premium seats also include a three-course meal and spirits (along with lounge access and early boarding), so you can enjoy a glass of Champagne even before getting there. Whether you upgrade to 55 inches of legroom in premium so there’s plenty of room for the kids to stretch out (there are kids games and movies, too) or keep it budget-friendly with some low-cost routes out of Boston, T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island, Chicago (ORD), Austin (AUS) or Newark (EWR), there’s plenty left over to convert from dollars to euros for some fun.
The whole process is pretty seamless. Grab the bags and get whisked away to your home away from home for the next five to seven days (typically the rental period for Paris Perfect), or head to the local office so they can store your bags if you arrive early. I was able to settle in, meet my greeter and take a stroll and enjoy lunch in the charming St. Julien neighborhood — just around the corner from the main Paris office — all before checking in prior to the official time of 3 p.m.
From there, it’s concierge-level service, who will explain to you the best local coffee shops, unique charms of the apartment (like 12 different voltage adaptors) and the free local and international calls available on the household landline. Add in the bottle of wine upon arrival with a corkscrew and crackers, and you’re good to go. For each check-in, there’s also milk, orange juice and, thankfully to chase away any jet lag, a Nespresso coffee and espresso maker just like the one I have in the United States. This place is like home, away from home. My apartment had three sets of extra linens and blankets and an extra set of towels; two pullout couches; and two bathrooms, one with a separated toilet and sink, for the ultimate ease of getting ready for families. While I wouldn’t recommend more than two adults and two kids in the St. Julien space, most are a bit larger with iconic Parisian-style furnishings (some even have Eiffel Tower views!) for an unforgettable experience living like a local. Information for local hospitals and a handy binder with activities is all at the ready, too.
It contains some of the same helpful information available online via Paris Perfect newsletters and blogs. Whether you’re traveling with kids and looking for child-friendly eateries and activities or with just your sweetie and seeking shopping and Champagne, there are plenty of curated activities for every age, interest and ability level. Concierges can even help reserve a skip-the-line catacombs tour, a French cooking class for kids, small-group Louvre tours and even Christmas activities.
Should you wish to take any of the guesswork out of it — or high-school French lessons are well-forgotten — there’s also handy trip-planning services. Level one offers reservations for those who already know what they’d like to do, and the advanced service includes a questionnaire, phone calls and emails to put together a pace and theme. C’est magnifique, indeed.