You are planning a trip to Paris, famed city of lights, romance, culture, and fashion with your kids.
Just a word of caution: Your list of Must-sees in the capital might just be (hmm…yawn) a majestic bore to children at best, or at worst a plain waste of time and money (even turning them off to Paris completely) . It’s a daunting project and the stakes are high so take a few minutes to plan ahead while looking through the city from a child’s viewpoint. Here are the 10 things to do with kids in Paris.
Aim for the heights; the Eiffel Tower.
Yes, the Eiffel tower is even better in real life than in the postcards and it is great fun for kids of all ages. You may not want to take little kids up past the second floor, because of the wind factor on cooler days. The view is always magical even on a grey day. There’s an interactive exhibit for children of the first floor. An iPhone application which includes a 1hour guided tour and points out major monuments that can be seen from the top. You can reserve tickets in advance and reduce your time standing in lines. In truth small kids might be just as happy to stand under the Eiffel Tower and spin around in circles while looking up. (Yes it’s fun and free) Or take a pony ride in the Champ de Mars gardens which surround it. (which is also fun but not free) If weather permits plan a picnic and don’t forget a blanket or something to sit on because benches are rare.
Water lilies win hands down at the l’Orangerie
Of course you can do the more major museums like the Louvre or the Orsay. (The Orsay even has a special app? for familys) But L’orangerie is smaller has less overwhelming crowds (Wednesday is probably not the best day as it’s a day off at school) And Monet’ s water lilies speak immediately to everyone, little ones included. Try to do the museums first thing in the morning. Another museum to try if your children are musically inclined is the Musée de la Musique, a very interesting an unique tour of rare and ancient musical instruments placed in their historical background and definitely designed with children in mind, there are hands on parts with guest appearances of real musiciens. The museum is housed in the Cité de la musique, which is a very lively interesting kid friendly place to explore in the same area as the Cité des Enfants.
Musée de l’Orangerie Jardin des Tuileries Place de la Concorde: 0144778007
Open from 9am to 6pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Free 26 years and under.
For little scientists: La Cité des enfants
La Cité des Enfants provides for an afternoon of informative fun. There are two sections one for ages 2 to 7 years and the other for 5 to 12 years. It’s in French but most of the exhibits are self-explanatory. Reservations highly recommended and try to get there a little early because the place is fun just to roam around and be in front of the door 15 minutes or so before your time slot. At the moment of writing this the very popular water and building games are closed.
La Cité des Enfants 30 Avenue Corentin-Cariou 75019 Paris Métro Porte de la Vilette. 01 86 53 99 74
Rub Shoulders with the rich and famous at the Wax Museum
Since 1882 the Musée Grevin has been displaying the great personalities and stars. The exhibit, the children’s world will bring your kids face to face with cartoon and animated movie stars like scrat of the Ice Age and Spiderrman to name a few. The hall of Mirriors is an impressive exhibit which will please all ages too.
10, Bd Montmartre (9th) Metro: grands-Boulevards. Tel: 01 47 70 85 05.
Mon to Fri: 10 am -6:30 pm. Sat, Sun, holidays: 10 am to 7 pm.
Fat Bike Tours are an enjoyable way to visit Paris as a family. And for the more adventurous, The Velib’s, bike rentals which can be found throughout the city are an inexpensive and very simple to use way to visit at your own pace. There are special stations where you can rent bikes for children starting at 2 to 7 years old in pretty parks such as bois de Bologne, the Eiffel tower and the Bois de Vincennes (near the newly re-designed zoo)to name a few . Go to their blog to see a complete list of their rental sites.
Gently down the stream
The Batobus is a genial way to visit Paris. With nine stops the Eiffel Tower being one of them, boats arrive every 20 minutes, You can get on and off as you like with your pass and visit many of Paris’ major attractions via the Seine. More info here
Explore the inner artist
At the Centre Pomidou. This center for contemporary art has workshops tailored to kids as young as 2 (Kid’s Gallery and kid’s studio) to teenagers (studio for 13-16 year-olds). Parents will enjoy as well as these exhibits are designed for the family to have a fun interactive time together. Go onto their web site for the calendar and reservations. The design of the building itself with its colors and unconventional forms will spark your child’s imagination and the area immediately surrounding the center is a lively place where street artists often perform. Consult their site for more complete schedule as there are special nighttime exhibits.
Centre Pompidou. Place Georges Pompidou 75004 Paris.
Open from 11am to 9pm for the expositions and the center closes at 10pm. Thursdays until 11pm, only the exhibits on the 6th floor. Closed on Tuesdays.
Sail a toy boat in the Jardin de Luxembourg.
Rent a boat or go to a puppet show, in French, of course, but very easy to get the drift. Consult their web sites for dates and times. (marionnettesduluxembourg.fr/programmes.html) There is a lot for energetic kids to play on in this surprisingly kid-friendly formal garden and a very nice stroll for their parents. Or try the Jardin des Plantes with their impressive natural history museum called Le Grand Gallery de l’Evolution which can be entered from their new “Children’s Gallery” especially conceived for families.
Call 01 40 79 56 01 / 54 79 (10 h – 18 h) for more information.
Open every day from 10am to 6pm except Tuesdays, the 25 of Dec, the 1st of January and May 1st.
And last but not least: Jardin d’Acclimatation.
This old-world and lovely amusement park situated if the Bois de Bologne is very manageable with small children and a lovely stroll for the whole family. Take the little train from the Porte de Maillot entrance. There a small zoo at the end.
Bois de Boulogne, Rue du Bois de Boulogne, 75116 Paris. Call 01 40 67 90 85 for more information or visit their website.
Open every day from11am to 6pm and week-ends from 10am to 6pm.