Wondering what to do with children in Paris? While the city might seem well suited to an adult-only weekend away, it’s also packed with things to enjoy as a family.
Trying to plan the perfect family holiday can seem an overwhelming task for parents. Allow Citizen Enfants to make it easier with our new series of destination guides. Each month we explore a different location – and give you the lowdown on the very best way to enjoy it with children. First up, Paris.
Paris is always a good idea – yes, even with little ones in tow. From outdoor play areas and child-friendly art galleries to immersive city tours, this is the Citizen Enfants’ guide to Paris with children.
THE FAMILY-FRIENDLY MUST DO LIST
Ask any child about Paris and they are bound to mention the Eiffel Tower. Elevators make it easy to take even very young children right to the top, but stop on the first platform to check out the interactive museographic path with touchscreen panels, display windows and digital albums that tell the story of the landmark’s history. Prices start from €11.30 for adults, €5.60 for those aged 12-24 and €2.80 for under 11s. Buggies are welcome and under fours can enter for free.
Museums and Galleries
Paris is packed with world famous museums such as the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, both of which run workshops for children and have English audio guides. But, if you’d like to head slightly off the beaten track, there are plenty more child-friendly museums and galleries to visit. Entry to the Louvre costs from €15 for adults, under-18s go free. For the Musee d’Orsay it’s €14 for adults and €11 for under-18s.
For art that youngsters may find more accessible head to Centre Pompidou. Home to Europe’s largest collection of modern and contemporary art, it has a floor dedicated to children. The Galerie des Enfants is an exhibition space for kids and the Atelier des Enfants has creative activities to engage little artists. Teenagers are not forgotten either, with a special studio offering a free programme covering contemporary creative arts such as video games, digital, fashion and cinema. Entry costs €25 for adults and under-18s go free.
Tap into the Parisian culture scene with a visit to one of the dedicated children’s museums. Musée de la Magie is a great option (and entry includes a magic show), or head for Musée en Herbe which celebrates childhood with permanent and rotating exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. Entry to the Musée de la Magie costs from €15 for adults and €11 for children. For the Musée en Herbe it’s from €6 for adults and €4 for under-18s.
Musee National d’Histoire Naturelle is the French equivalent of London’s Natural History Museum and is the ideal place to go on a rainy day. Best known for its Grande Galerie de l’Evolution – a massive central display of 7,000 animal models, bones and specimens, along with rooms dedicated to endangered species – the current Felines exhibition explores the lives of cats (until January 2024). There’s also an on-going programme of events such as Pousse-Pousse projections, a monthly event showing films about nature for kids from the age of two in the Jardin des Plantes. Entry to the Musee National d’Histoire Naturelle costs from €7 for adults and under-26s go free.
Paris is Europe’s most densely populated city but has plenty of green spaces for kids to run around.
It was Napoleon who first dedicated the 23 hectares of Luxembourg Gardens to the children of Paris, and it has remained a much-loved family park ever since. Situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, this beautiful outdoor space is the backdrop to the Palais du Luxembourg, built in the 1620s. It has a wonderful children’s playground, pony rides, a puppet theatre that runs everyday from 4pm during the school holidays, and you can hire model yachts to sail in the large pond. There is a charm that feels like you are stepping back to the childhood experienced by Parisians 50 years ago. There is no entry fee to the gardens.
Parc de la Villette is another wonderful open space. This vast 55-acre city park has a kids’ playground and themed gardens to explore (check out the Dragon Garden), but is also a cultural centre and home to a number of temporary and permanent exhibitions – such as the Cite des Enfants at Cite des Sciences with two interactive ‘learn-through-play’ areas and a planetarium with the only 8K laser high-definition projector in Europe. Don’t miss the exhibition Ramses the Great detailing the life of the Pharaoh (runs until September 2023). Entry to the Cite des Sciences costs from €13.
A favourite with local families, Les Pestacles is an open-air music festival for children that runs every summer (June to September) in Floral Park. With a great selection of musical genres including rock, pop and classical, it’s tailored to engage and encourage interaction from young audiences. Entry to the park costs a few Euros and entry to the music festival is free.
MAKE SIGHTSEEING EASY
Book a Guided Tour
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in a big city, especially with little ones in tow, so take the stress out of planning your day by hiring a local guide. Meet the Locals are an award-winning company who handpick enthusiastic and knowledgeable experts to take you on private guided tours. Not only kid-friendly, these experts are fantastic story tellers who make the experience both educational and fun. They have many tours in Paris including a two-hour treasure hunt in the Louvre, a city wide tour by motorbike and sidecar, a mediaeval mystery walking tour and a landmarks of Paris tour. Expect true insider knowledge. Prices start from around €400 for a two hour tour.
Hop on the Bus
Like all big cities Paris has open top bus tours that you can use to cover more ground while learning about different areas. This is a great option for getting around with children who get tired quickly. Check out Toot Bus who offer a great hop-on hop-off tour that you can do over one, two or three days. There are free audio guides on board and a child-friendly version is available in French or English. The company offers discounted family tickets and commentaries for children. Themed tours and tickets start from around €40.
Take a Train Ride
The Promotrain Le Petit Train de Montmartre is a very child-friendly way to see that scenic area with all its history, pretty boutiques and cafés. A 40-minute guided tour on this little white train takes you from the Moulin Rouge to the Sacré-Coeur, with fabulous views of Paris. Adult tickets cost €9.50 and children are €4.50.
Try a River Cruise
A cruise along the Seine allows for a different view of Paris. Vedettes de Paris offers family tours that last about an hour, have English commentary, and offer games and quizzes for children to do as they sail. With departures throughout the day you can embark close to the Eiffel Tower and take in the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, Pont Alexandre III and Notre Dame. There are refreshments on board and children under three sail for free. Little children will love the Miraculous Cruise, run by Bateaux Parisiens. Featuring the characters from the hit TV show Ladybug and Cat Noir, this immersive theatre cruise in French and English lasts an hour and includes a treasure hunt on board the glass-covered boat – which is also great if it’s raining. Prices start from €24 per adult and €19 per child.
Take to the Skies (Virtually)
See the city like never before with Fly View. Don a VR headset and jet pack (flight simulator) and let this innovative immersive ride take you high over the city streets, swooping around the French Capital and exploring hidden corners and sights. This is a thrilling high-rise tour that you can enjoy without leaving the ground. Tech savvy youngsters will love it. Tickets cost around €19.50 per child and €16.50 per adult.
Hire a Kiddie Kit
If you’re travelling with very young children, you might want to enlist the services of Kidelio. This incredibly useful French company rent buggies, car seats and general kid paraphernalia such as travel cots and high chairs, including top brands such as Maxi Cosi and YoYo. Visit their website, select the items you want, then pick them up from one of the five collection points around the city. Prices are reasonable and they operate in other areas of France as well.
Get a Paris Pass
Take the hassle out of planning with the Paris Passlib’ – the official pass of the Paris Tourist Office. Available in four different versions that let you add as many attractions as you like, it’s a great way to make the most of Paris with a wide selection of attractions available. It’s fully digital and saves the hassle of buying tickets as you arrive: all you have to do is download the Paris Passlib’ app then go ahead and book. Prices start from €45.
Check out the opening times of anything you want to visit before you arrive. Not everything will be open every day. The Louvre, for example, closes on a Tuesday. Some attractions open early (perfect for those who have been up since 6AM with small children), while others are open late. Lots of museums, shops and attractions close on a Sunday, so do your research before you arrive. Check out individual websites or for more information visit the Paris Tourist Office website which is packed with advice.
WHERE TO STAY
The Bristol is one of the most iconic hotels in Paris and, despite its grandeur, is incredibly welcoming of little guests. Situated in the city centre on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, this five star property has partnered with the French kids’ clothing brand Bonpoint to create a special children’s spa room and Kids Club. Situated next to the main spa, the space is decked out with large cushions, chalkboard walls, teepees, and a plethora of toys. The spa room has been created so that parents and their children can enjoy treatments together. You’ll find some of Bonpoint’s gorgeous products for sensitive skin used for treatments such as massages and facials for little ones, aged between six and 12. A lovely addition to family friendly facilities at this wonderful hotel. Prices start from around €1,190 per night.
Le Collectionist Appartements
To really experience the Parisian way of life, rent an apartment. Luxury rental company Le Collectionist have stunning properties in the city’s most beautiful and interesting areas. Fully kitted out with every mod-con plus unique and stylish, these homes will give you the flexibility to explore Paris and come back to the comfort of your own kitchen and living room. The company’s tailored service means a local team is on hand to offer any assistance you might need – from restaurant reservations to guided tours or a food delivery, so you won’t miss the services of a concierge even though you are renting. Appartements from €6,510 per week.
For a hotel that really knows how to keep kids entertained, book The Peninsula. With wonderful family suites, kid’s menu and swimming pool, this five-star gem situated next to the Arc de Triomphe is the ideal base for families. It’s the extra little touches that make it so special: check out the Peninsula Academy which offers guests unique access to historical, cultural and local lifestyle experiences. Try dessert making with the hotel’s pastry chef, followed by an afternoon tea. Sporty youngsters (and grown ups) will adore the ‘Dream Team’ experience which offers an exclusive visit to one of the greatest football clubs in the world – Paris Saint-Germain FC – with behind-the-scenes access to the club and VIP tickets. Other highlights include private treasure hunts in the Louvre and bespoke tours of the city. From €2,085 for two connecting rooms.
WHERE TO EAT
No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to Angelina, the city’s most wonderful pâtisserie just a few steps from the Louvre. This beautiful belle époque salon serves delectable delights and children will be memorised by the extravagant deserts. Families are most welcome (though you can expect to queue at busy times) and the hot chocolates and macarons are a must. Angelina is a Parisian institution that has been serving dreamy cakes for over 120 years and will give little visitors a real taste of French style.
À la Mère de Famille
Nothing thrills children more than a trip to a sweet shop, and nowhere does sweet shops better than Paris. Take pick ‘n’ mix to new heights at the oldest sweet shop in Paris, À la Mère de Famille. The original boutique on Rue du Faubourg Montmartre is a treasure trove of candies and chocolates in the most quintessentially Parisian store you could ever wish to see.
For a relaxed family supper that will let you dine like locals, try Pizzeria Popolare. Owned by Big Mama Group who are behind London’s Gloria and Circolo Popolare, this restaurant has been a hit with Parisian families since opening in 2017. Serving up fantastic pizzas and a chilled-out vibe, it’s ideal for grabbing a quick lunch or dinner while sightseeing. It also has a great atmosphere and seats 250 people so you will find a table easily. No need to book.
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