When we stumbled somehow upon this little museum (its name refers to its ‘pocket size’) tucked away close to Goncourt Metro station in the 11th arrondissement, it was like striking gold. It is an art museum for children and features real exhibitions, currently ‘Dans le Foret des Masques’ by Laurent Moreau. But its real appeal are the ateliers run by the director Pauline Lamy. You can sign up for many different formats. Our first was the Sunday ‘Artyfamily’ where parent and child work together with Pauline and other families on an art project. Its fun to participate on an equal level with your child in this way. As our daughter’s confidence grew she eventually participated in ‘drop-off’ ateliers. The best is when Pauline takes the children out and about in Paris to the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay to learn about an artist and then the group comes back to the Musee de Poche to work on a related art project of their own. Pauline’s workshops are very creative and she is not afraid to introduce the children to lots of techniques – very stimulating for the arty child. Her kindness makes her ideally suited to integrating a child into the group who does not yet speak French.
Whether your family lives in Paris or you are looking for a gift for a child visiting Paris, there are some wonderful books aimed at 3 – 6 year olds.
Our current favourite is Madame Martine by Sarah S. Brannen. An elderly lady, rather set in her ways, lives right next to the Eiffel Tower and yet has never been up it, dismissing it as a waste of time, just for tourists. A new friendship with a little dog called Max leads her reluctantly up the tower and she discovers the magic of seeing her city from above. A beautiful and funny tale with a serious message about being open to new experiences and friendships. And possibly a few gentle digs at Parisian closed-mindedness for the grown-ups. We can’t wait to try the follow-up book, Madame Martine Breaks the Rules in which Madame Martine and Max go to the Louvre.
A book we never get tired of is Kiki and Coco in Paris by Nina Gruener, Jess Brown and Stephanie Rausser. A little girl, Kiki, takes her cloth doll to Paris and together they explore the city until the beloved doll is lost (and, don’t worry, found again). The book is based on beautiful photographs of the city. We see Kiki and Coco in the Café de Flore and enjoying the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower. The story behind the book is just as charming. Dollmaker Jess Brown is given equal billing in the credits as the creator of Coco, the doll used in the book.
The very best for Paris residents and visiting children alike is A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino. The text is charming as we join a little girl and her grandfather as the explore the city. The illustrations are beautiful and detailed, with plenty to talk about. My daughter knows the city geography well enough to piece their journey together as they walk but it would work equally well for a newcomer and could even serve as a guide. We like the smaller print details with facts about the city. You could skip those with a younger child. My favourite page involves the Tulieries metro stop simply because my eagle-eyed-six year-old gleefully told me: “Mummy, they have made a mistake!”. She knew the Paris metro system well enough to know that Tuileries is on the number 1 Metro line and she saw the artist has drawn a driver on the metro train. “But Mummy, the number 1 metro line has no drivers, it is driver-less! The book has a mistake”. She’s right. I have been here four years and cannot know if I will ever feel completely at home. But this kid has the makings of a real Parisienne. Or a future job at RATP.
For the sheer beauty of the artwork, treat your family to a copy of A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna.