When we decided to have a baby, we always intended to keep on traveling, going on adventures and exploring our world. It was just luck or providence that gave us a baby as curious about that world as we are.
For those of you who are just tuning in, our little Theo recently turned seven months old, and we are two weeks into a month-long vacation in France. I’ll be doing a separate blog post at the end of the trip on tips for traveling with an infant, but you can rightly assume that having Theo changes our itinerary and pace. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Before Theo, Elie and I would hit the ground running, packing as much into a day as possible and usually logging 10 or more miles on foot each day, partially so we could discover a place through its food, from street food to fancy restaurants.
With Theo, we’ve slowed down a bit. Our days start a little later, usually after his first nap (he’s still taking three naps a day). Luckily, since Theo can now face forward, he loves being carried in the Ergo, so we still get quite a bit of walking in each day. Our little boy is quite the social butterfly, and he loves smiling at and ‘talking’ with the people we pass. We get stopped by at least a dozen people a day who want to touch his toes and talk to him, people from all over the world. We’ve met people from Germany to Australia to the Ukraine, an unexpected gift of traveling with an infant.
We’re still getting a good taste of France, although our meal schedule has shifted. In the morning, we have pastries, of course. And instead of eating in restaurants every night, we tend to eat out for lunch and cook in for dinner, so Theo can get to bed on time. We have found restaurants in France, even fancy ones, to be very welcoming to little ones. I assume this is because food is such a big part of family life in France, and so families tend to dine out together. We see lots of babies and young children in restaurants. The quiet time at night means Elie and I are spending more time reading or writing, which has been lovely and relaxing. I have a lot more to say about the pleasures–and challenges–of traveling with an infant, but I’ll leave it for later.
For now, I want to talk about Beaune, with some specific recommendations for traveling with kids.
My Mom, otherwise known as Mimi, joined us for this first part of our trip across France. After spending three days in Paris to acclimate to the time change and eat as many croissant aux amandes et chocolat and baguettes (our new favorite from La Parisienne on Boulevard Saint Germain) and incredible chocolates as possible, we picked up a rental car and drove to Beaune in the heart of Burgundy. Luckily, we left on a Sunday, so with light traffic in Paris, we quickly exited the city and soon found ourselves cruising by pastoral farmland dotted with grazing white charolais cows.
About three hours from Paris, we entered Beaune, a walled city nestled among vineyards growing the famous pinot noir and chardonnay grapes of the region. Beaune makes a convenient and picturesque home base for exploring Burgundy.
Where to Stay
The Cooks Atelier pied-à-terre is a charming, light-filled two bedroom apartment in the heart of Beaune, furnished with country French antiques collected by mother-daughter owners Marjorie and Kendall. You’ll find the tiny kitchen stocked with good pans and knives and excellent olive oil and salt, perfect for cooking up the treasures you find at the bountiful Saturday farmers market. There is also a washer and dryer, which is essential when traveling with kids. Be forewarned, when you check in, you won’t want to leave.
What to Do
Beaune has two farmers markets, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday. The Wednesday market is small and charming, but the Saturday market snakes through the town, and you can purchase everything from an amazing loaf of bread to the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes to the vintage copper pot and antique French linens you’ve always coveted.
Sign up for a market tour and cooking class with Marjorie and Kendall of The Cooks Atelier, where you will visit the Beaune farmers market, prepare a meal with strangers who will soon become friends, and enjoy a long French lunch. It’s a day very well-spent.
Stop in at the visitor’s center in Beaune for an exhaustive list of things to do in and around town, including historic sites like the Hotel Dieu and the chateau de La Rochepot to the mustard factory to wine tasting.
Where to Shop
The Cooks Atelier is a cook’s paradise, filled with beautifully curated kitchen tools, walls of copper, a few carefully selected vintage treasures, artisan pantry ingredients and a great selection of local wines. They also have great coffee (see below).
Alain Hess Fromagerie (cheese shop) has an incredible selection of cheeses, many of them from small local producers. You can also buy other pantry provisions here, like delicious French butter, pasta and jams. There’s nothing like good French butter.
La Vie Claire is a small, but well-stocked organic store. I always search out an organic market for laundry detergent, soaps and any toiletries from home that I forgot. Now, with Theo, I also stock up on diapers and wipes, packaged fruit and vegetable purees (these are invaluable on travel days and at restaurants) and baby cereal. Also, if you happen to be a kombucha addict like I am, they carry it here. It’s the first time I’ve found kombucha in Europe.
Where to Eat
I’m not quite sure why France has such amazing food and such bad coffee, but it’s hard to find a good coffee outside of Paris. It’s actually not even that easy to find a good coffee in Paris. Coffee at The Cooks Atelier is a must. It’s the best coffee in Beaune, and perhaps in all of Burgundy. They open at 10 a.m. If your little one is an early riser, and you’re dying for a coffee first thing in the morning, there is a Nespresso maker in the apartment. It will get you by.
We ate at La Dilettante twice while we were in Beaune, and we would have dined there again if they were open on Sundays. This casual wine bar has a simple but delicious market-driven menu, and it’s very kid-friendly. There is even a changing table in the bathroom, which is a rarity.
Le Comptoir des Tontons is another Beaune restaurant that sources from local producers. The dining room feels casual, so we felt comfortable bringing Theo, but the menu is refined.
Just a little outside of Beaune in Puligny-Montrachet is Le Montrachet, a decidedly fancy restaurant with attentive service, but welcoming all the same. The outside patio overlooks a beautiful yard and garden, so Elie, Mimi and I took turns playing with Theo in the yard while the other two dined. The food is beautiful and the pace leisurely. This was our favorite meal in Burgundy.
Next up: We’re traveling with Theo in Sarlat and the Dordogne valley.
When traveling with a little one (or with any travel, really), some photos get snapped with the iPhone, and some with our Fuji X-T10.