q. My mother and I are taking my niece to Paris for her 10th birthday. Can you recommend some things she might love?--M.G., Minneapolis, Minn.
a. A tour company called A Touch of France (732/738-4772; www.atouchoffrance.com) promotes discovery through experience, for children and entire families. Kids can spend an afternoon learning everything from baking French pastries or mixing perfume to sketching the Eiffel Tower on-site. On a visit to Versailles, the young ones are led through a day in the life of Louis XIV while grown-ups take a tour designed for them. Another day-trip option is a visit to a farm in Normandy. All tours are in English, and transportation is provided from several Paris hotels. The French Tourist Authority is another good source for ideas, starting with its Web site (www.francetourism.com/activities/family.htm). You'll find information on museums for all interests, such as the dolls at the Musée de la Poupée (Impasse Berthaud, in the Marais) and magic tricks at the Musée de la Curiosité et de la Magie (11 Rue St.-Paul). The site also lists unusual galleries, shops, and other activities for visiting families.
q. We'd like to go on a camping and rafting trip on the Colorado River with our two teenage daughters next year. Who are the best outfitters?Safety is a concern for us. --W.L., New Haven, Conn.
a. Arizona Raft Adventures (800/786-7238; www.azraft.com) offers a variety of trips down the Colorado, each with a different age requirement: motorized (minimum age 10), hybrid (12), and all-paddle (16). Excursions range in length from 88 miles in six days ($1,240 per person) to 225 miles in 14 days ($2,350). The company has an outstanding safety record; guides are trained in advanced first aid and carry radios. Canyonlands Field Institute (800/860-5262; www.canyonlandsfieldinst.org) customizes rafting trips on the Colorado for groups of eight or more (minimum age 12). It also has a four-day trip down the rapids of Westwater Canyon (a wilderness study area on the river), where you'll camp near peregrine falcons and Precambrian "black rocks" (adults, $120 a day; children under 18, $85).
q. Our nine-month-old is a delight, but my wife and I need a vacation and don't want to leave him behind. Can you suggest any infant-friendly resorts in the Caribbean?--J.R., Grosse Pointe, Mich.
a. Many places welcome children and offer baby-sitting services to ensure a restful vacation for parents. The Four Seasons Resort, Nevis (800/332-3442 or 869/469-1111; doubles from $250, children under four free), has professional nannies on-site; the rate is $24 for the minimum four hours. It's best to arrange for the service when you book. The Ritz-Carltons in San Juan and on St. Thomas (800/241-3333; doubles from $195, children under four free) both provide baby-sitting through Nannies in Paradise. Rates are $15 an hour, with a minimum of four hours. Mustique's Cotton House (800/826-2809 or 809/456-4777; cottages from $390, children under four free) offers the services of a private nanny who is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for a flat fee of $15.
q. I'm looking for an American resort to visit this spring with my four children and seven grandchildren, who range in age from 3 to 12. A place with great fishing and riding would be ideal. --M.S., Rye, N.Y.
a. The Pinegrove Dude Ranch in Kerhonkson, New York, is legendary for its family-oriented activities (914/626-7345; $119 per person, daily, all-inclusive). Open year-round, the ranch offers trail rides into the Catskills, in addition to tennis and bass fishing. Day-camp activities include hayrides and cow-milking lessons; children from six weeks to three years old are attended to in the nursery and stay free. For a taste of a real Western dude ranch, try the Paradise Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming (307/684-7876; $1,375 per adult per week, $1,275 per child, all-inclusive, no credit cards). Adults and children can spend the day riding through former Sioux, Crow, and Cheyenne hunting grounds, or fish the ranch's lakes and streams. Mule-drawn chuck wagon rides, square dancing, and overnight camping trips round out the week's adventures.
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