Paris Walking Tour with a Toddler - Sugar & Spice and Women who Write
We were invited by Women of Paris to do a walking tour earlier this week called, “Sugar & Spice and Women who Write” around the glamorous Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. Well this immediately grabbed our attention as two women for whom words are, and always have been, our tools. And who doesn’t love a sweet French delicacy along the way.
“In the past, Paris has been likened to a female muse, inspiring the many great male artists and writers who made their names here. But what about the women who lived here? What was Paris for them? Isn't it time we heard their voices too?”
This was my first walking tour and I was excited. There was one slight logistical wrinkle in our glorious morning’s plan… my 20 month old, usually lively and opinionated, daughter! A 2 hour walking tour with a toddler in tow…? How would that work? Would I miss all of the facts and description from our guide? We ran the conundrum past Heidi (who is the intellect and energy behind Women of Paris) and she wasn’t phased at all. Of course she could come!
“Sugar & Spice and Women who Write” is the second walking tour Heidi has created and through it she,
“aims to shed light on the lives and achievements of female writers in Paris. The walk features profiles of influential women writers and guides tourists through the city’s Left Bank where many of these women lived or are paid tribute to."
We thoroughly enjoyed the subject matter and Heidi’s enthusiasm is evident when she talks about the women she has chosen to highlight as you walk around the area with her. It is all fully researched, thought out, and well pitched to a novice on the subject. We got the distinct impression that we were only touching the surface of Heidi’s depth of knowledge about each individual, and yet her presentation is accessible. Alison and I commented to each other before Heidi arrived that we hoped she would be nice. When you are spending a morning with someone, it is important that you feel comfortable with them and enjoy their company. Any lingering worries we had very quickly dissipated. Heidi has an easy, yet professional, way about her and is instantly likeable. Ultimately, the tour left me feeling inspired to learn more, and more generally enthused. I am a woman who has worked in a male dominated environment and had the freedom of choice to take a career break. It is thanks to women, like the ones that we learnt about on the tour, that the life I have led has been possible.
So how did it work with my toddler? I took a backpack carrier which worked very well. (She needed to be strapped down really for the tour to remain civilised!) Heidi had recommended this as the streets we were strolling down were at times narrow and cobbled. This said, I do think it would have been possible with a small pushchair, albeit some of the beautiful shops we visited were quite small. Of course with children you never know quite what mood they are going to be in - compliant and delightful, feral and unruly… or somewhere in between! I understand that Heidi’s tours tend to be smaller in number and more personalised, so that children can be accommodated and it be enjoyable for everyone. The weather wasn't on our side the late February morning we picked and it drizzled pretty much all morning. We went prepared though and still had a great time.
However, for adult and child alike, the genius of the way that this particular tour is organised is that Heidi has combined two of her greatest passions: reading and eating! Saint-Germain-des-Prés is well known for its concentration of wonderful chocolatiers, patisseries and confectioneries. So at regular intervals we stopped for tastings in the most exquisite places, hand picked by Heidi. It really was an assault on the senses; tantalising our taste buds and such beauty for the eyes. This is an area where the French truly excel. At each place Heidi made a tasting recommendation, which we unhesitatingly followed, as they each proved to be delicious. A huge downside of this for me was that I had to share everything with the small (but always hungry) person strapped to my back. She LOVED it, and tried everything.
My daughter didn’t seem to get bored. Probably because there was so much to see and taste. The scenery was almost constantly changing as we walked around outside, and were regularly popping inside too. She was taking it all in and enjoying it as much as we were. On one or two occasions if my daughter felt we had stopped and lingered too long to be told about a particular property or person, she would point the direction in which she wanted us to continue and instruct us (shout) to “go” (like she does to me in the car at traffic lights - helpful..!). Heidi was always adaptable and we moved along when we needed to, without me feeling like anything was being cut short, as we could continue to walk and chat.
This Tour is not just for women! Whilst it does make a superb girls morning/afternoon out, because I think women have a natural interest and affinity with the subject matter, it would definitely also be of interest (and inspiration) to men too. It is one for all the family.
If my words haven’t fully convinced you to take this tour, then my goodness we hope our photographs do the rest of the persuading for us! We give the “Sugar & Spice and Women who Write” tour our Five Little Stars and would highly recommend it.
P.S. The cost of this tour is €49 per person, including all the tastings at five different locations. Groups prices are available too. For more information see the Women of Paris website here.
*This is a collaborative post. Five Little Stars were invited to take part in this tour for the purposes of an honest review*