How to travel with a baby? (To France, without a car seat)
April 17, 2010 10:05 PM   Subscribe

Baby travel filter: Going to France this summer with a nearly 2-year-old. Is anyone familiar with French baby equipment rental places along the lines of Baby's Away or Traveling Baby Company? We're going to need a car seat and possibly a baby backpack and a crib.

With luggage fees what they are, and with air travel as un-hassle-free as it is (for adults, much less for kids), we'd rather avoid bringing our larger baby equipment with us to France this summer. In particular, we're looking to rent a car seat, though we may end up wanting a baby carrier and crib as well. Yes, I wish we didn't have to get a car seat, but some of the places we're going are in the countryside, off the main train routes. We've had bad experiences with car rental company car seats, so we'd like to deal with someone who knows kids as opposed to cars.

I'm most interested in first-hand recommendations. Internet reservations are a plus, as are equipment pickups/dropoffs at the airport (CDG). Are there advantages to companies based only in France as opposed to UK or US companies with branches there? I'm fairly conversant in French, so language a huge issue. My recollection of baby-related slang and idiom, though, means that my Google skillz are not as mad in French as they are in English.

Any word on Baby'tems or Kidelio?

Our trip will be this summer and will start in Paris, go south as far as the Auvergne, and then back. It will be about 10 days.
posted by paselkin to Travel & Transportation around France (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should bring your own car seat. There's no guarantee that the car seat you get will be still within its useable lifespan, or if it's ever been in an accident, or if there's been a recall. You can check your own car seat at the airplane gate for free. What about getting one of those travel carseats that also doubles as a stroller? Then you'd have one for the airports and even train stations. You might still want to bring a lightweight umbrella stroller.

Also - how long is your trip? I can't imagine that renting a car seat in France is going to be cheaper than bringing an extra piece of luggage, even if it came to that.
posted by barnone at 11:28 PM on April 17, 2010

I've just had my nephew (16mo) visit me in France. They flew into Lyon and went for the car-hire travel seat, which was I think 25 euros for 4 days. It seemed fine, but we were only doing short trips. Obviously we checked it before each outing and once (after a long drive when we didn't take the baby, so it had been moving around a bit more) one side had come a bit loose. It seemed a real rip-off to me - if you can get to a big hypermarket, you can buy a new one for, like, 60-70 euros. But the problem is, you can't, so there you go.

They bought their own buggy with them on the flight - not least because it gave them something to strap the little angel into for getting around airport-land. Are you familiar with CDG? In my opinion, most airports are unpleasant places. But CDG is one of the worst. Immense, unfriendly, badly signposted, expensive, crowded... It's up there with Stansted as one of the grimmest places on the planet.

A travel cot is called a "Lit parapluie" (literally, umbrella bed). I can't talk about hire for that, as I borrowed one from a friend.
posted by handee at 1:42 AM on April 18, 2010

On every airline I've dealt with, car seats fly free. You can check it, or if the baby has his own seat, use it in the seat (if it's approved for air travel). If you put your car seat in a car seat bag, you can also stuff it full of other things, like a carrier. If you're going to haul a rented one around with you, adding just the airport to the list maybe isn't that much of a hassle.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:08 AM on April 18, 2010

Honestly, for peace of mind & safety's sake, I'd pay $50 for a Cosco Scenera carseat at Target or Walmart & take it along. They're pretty light & are approved for use on the plane. (If the kid has his/her own seat, it's a lot safer to use a carseat on the plane.) As barnone pointed out, you don't know the history of the rental seat, which would make me worry.
posted by belladonna at 7:09 AM on April 18, 2010

I know this isn't answering the question you're asking, howvere I recommend the Gogo Kidz travel thingie-screws onto your carseat and turns it into a stroller. Makes it much easier to get through airports. YMMV, but my kids were much better behaved on planes when strapped into their carseats. Kept them seated and they were more likely to behave.

Delicious baby travel blog has a lot about travel in France with small children-I'd check her out.
posted by purenitrous at 9:02 PM on April 18, 2010

Since you're not interested in just getting a car seat through the rental car agency, I'd second the suggestion to bring your own carseat +GoGoKidz combo. It is possible to fly with an under two without a carseat, but certainly more secure for the kidlet. It does require you to buy a ticket for the child, though, and you may have been planning to just have him or her on your lap.

Every hotel I've stayed in in France has been able to provide a crib in the hotel room, not clear to me why you'd need to rent your own.
posted by ambrosia at 11:48 PM on April 18, 2010

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