Paris is one of my most favorite cities in the world. Perhaps I have passed on this obsession to my children too, because one of our most loved imagination games to play together is Let’s be Parisian. It’s a day filled with packing our bags (literally), lining our chairs to make an airplane, and then landing in Paris to enjoy all kinds of fun activities.
Turns out, playing pretend is not just for kids because these days with a travel lockdown, this game is as much for me as it is for my kids. And since it’s been so much fun for us, I put together this guide for all caregivers and their les enfants who might want to play along with us. So, let’s be Parisian together!
First, let’s start with a quick lesson in geography because after all, your petit pilot will need to know how to fly to Paris. Paris is a city in the country of France. France is located on the continent of Europe. The book called MAPS by Alesandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski is one of the best I have found to talk about geography with kids. Here is the page in the book that describes France.
Playing dress-up is always fun, but especially when you are playing a Parisian, that’s because Paris is known for its fashion culture. There are many easy ways to dress like a Parisian. You can put on a beret, which is like a hat. Draw a mustache with face paint or your mom’s eyeliner. Carry around a baguette. Put on a striped shirt. Oooo, or you can even wear your favorite ballet dress! These Eeboo Children of the World ART CARDS are a fun addition to the play since they share children, not just from France but from 25 other nations too.
Now that we are dressed like a Parisian, it’s time to talk like a Parisian. French is the language spoken in Paris and all around France. Chances are good that you already speak a few French words, this is because many things that we known in English were derived from the French language. Things like menu, croissant, restaurant, deja-vu, and cul-de-sac.
Here are some easy to remember French words that you can use throughout your day of being a Parisian:
- Hello – Bonjour (BON-jor)
- What’s up? – ça va (SAH-vah?)
- Yes – Oui (We)
- No – Non (Noh)
- Let’s go – On y va (OHN-e-vah)
- Wait – Attends (AH-tahn)
- I’m hungry – J’ai faim (JAY-fah)
- Sorry – Pardon (PAHR-don)
- Please – S’il vous plaît (SILL-vous play)
- Thank you – Merci (MARE-see)
- Bye – Au revoir (aw-ra-vah)
Make flashcards or use sticky notes to label the objects in your home with what they are called in French. An easy way to do this is to use Google Translate for English to French. Once you start using and remembering these easy words, you might just get a bit addicted to learning more. If that’s the case, I highly recommend Lonely Planet’s First Words French for simple vocabulary, or The Everything Kids Learning French Book for more in-depth but easy understanding of grammar and vocabulary. Duolingo is another free tool for your phone or your computer, for basic beginner online lessons. My older two kids and I each have an account and love to follow along and encourage each other on our daily French practice.
One of my favorite things to do while visiting Paris is eat all the delicious foods. French are known for their delectable treats like chocolates, macaroons, buttery croissants, pastries, breads, and so many other things. Thankfully it is easy to find these items in the grocery stories where you usually shop. One of our most frequently purchased French snack is a baguette with brie cheese, followed by some yummy macaroons. Trader Joe’s is a great place to find both these items.
Parisians love to eat with friends while taking in the scenery. Set up a picnic in your backyard with all the goodies and watch it double the fun.
Now, if you are feeling really ambitious, why not try making something french yourself. Something as easy and delicious as crepes. Crepes are like really thin pancakes which can be filled with more delicious things like nutella and bananas, or even eggs, vegetables, and cheese. The possibilities are endless.
Here is a simple recipe for French crepes:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the rest of the ingredients to it and blend together by hand or in a blender. Let the mixture sit for 10-30 minutes. Butter a pan with the remaining butter before pouring a thin layer of the batter. Cook until lightly brown on one side before flipping it to cook on the other. Make all the crepes at once. Select several savory and sweet toppings – nutella, bananas, strawberries, spinach, boiled eggs, cheese, shredded carrots – and put in bowls. Let each guest customize their own crepe.
Best part of visiting a new city is visiting its museums, unique buildings, and other works of art. Paris has plenty of both. One of its most famous museums, which also happens to be the largest and most visited in the world, is called the Louvre. And one of the Louvre’s most famous exhibit is the Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci. The Louvre has an excellent you-tube channel for kids in english called One Minute in a Museum. You can learn more about Mona Lisa and all other famous pieces of art at the Louvre by visiting this channel. I enjoy them even as an adult!
Eiffel Tower is another notable landmark in Paris which we all know. Did you know that its construction was started in 1887 by Gustave Eiffel? The construction finished two years later just in time for the 1889 World’s Fair. Can you guess how many times it has been painted since? Or how many lightbulbs make the tower sparkle? Or how the tower has been used for science and research? There is so much to this tower than just looks. Here is a free printable of the Eiffel Tower to help you create a masterpiece at home. If you want something more ambitious, how about this Mona Lisa paint-by-number kit.
The last thing I want to share with you to make your excellent adventure to Paris even more fun, is an outdoor game called Escargot, which is French means a snail. It’s a fun game that resembles a game of hopscotch, except the numbers are all looped like a snail’s shell. Each child then takes turns jumping on each leg to make it to the middle. If you make it successfully, you get to block off one of the squares. The game gets harder and harder as each turn blocks off more and more squares, until finally it becomes impossible to play!
There we go friends, I hope you are able to use this guide to plane your very own day in Paris and be parisian to your heart’s content. Getting to travel and see the world is perhaps my very favorite hobby. I am glad that you let me share my passion with you. In fact, it was even more fun to find ways to visit a new city without ever leaving our homes.
Hope you enjoy it! See you soon, Au revoir!