Top 10 things to do in Paris with children
In general children love Paris. You may need to plan your trip differently compared to a romantic get away, or a gastronomy tour, but you can still see a lot and have fun. Here are some tips on how you and your little one(s) can get the most out of your trip.
This Top-Ten is for exploring Paris: If you want tips on what to do for your children for a day in the Paris region (rather than with them in Paris) have a look at our other top-tips: Top-Ten things to do in the Paris region for children.
It is easy to spend a whole day in one of the larger parks in the city: playing, picnicking and relaxing. Our top choice would be Jardin du Luxembourg with its: basin to sail little model boats, large picnic area, big play area, carousel, pony rides, go-karts, and puppet show (called ‘guignol‘).
2 – La tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower)
We are always pleasantly surprised by how much kids of all ages love the Eiffel Tower; either being in the park around it (the Champ de Mars) or venturing up to the top. If you plan to go up, it is probably best to take the lift with younger kids; but those that are big enough can take the stairs (at least to the 2nd floor) to avoid the longer queues, pay less, and learn more on the way.
3 – Notre Dame
Notre Dame is an impressive building, and we see kids holding on to their parents hands and gazing around in awe of the size of the place, and pointing out gargoyles and features that catch their eye. If your kids aren’t as enamoured as some, never fear, you have the promise of street performers and Berthillon ice cream to hand just outside.
4 – Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre area
The views from Sacre Coeur are well worth the visit. There is always a lot of activity, bright colours and music to capture kid’s imaginations. Whilst the artists at Place du Tertre are a little ‘too much’ for adults, kids are often captivated here. The surrounding streets, shops, and restaurants are fun to explore; and when you get tired, you can sit on the steps of the basilica and admire either the view or one of the various street performers.
5 – General wandering
We maintain that the best way to see Paris is by wandering the streets and just taking it all in. Why not give your children goals as you do so, for example street art spotting, including the ‘aliens’ (there are aliens made from small coloured tiles on the corner of many buildings). It’s probably best to have a few stops in mind on your way to keep spirits up, be that a park or a sweet treat.
6 – Le Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries
If you are only in Paris for a few days, pick just one of the main art galleries, and plan ahead – we recommend the Louvre. Plan to see just a small selection of paintings, learn some interesting stories and facts about them to discuss with your children, and then seek them out in the gallery. If there is a queue to get in, get one of the brochures to browse in the queue and ask your kids to pick their favourite painting, which they then have to find when you get inside. After the visit you can play in the Tuileries with plenty to do and explore with the kids.
7 – The Natural History Museum and the Jardin des Plantes
The Natural History Museum has huge, dusty dinosaur bones! There are also smaller bones, larger bones, huge bones, clean bones, dusty bones, lots-and-lots of bones. Children are awestruck, and parents find it fun too. It is also housed in the beautiful setting of the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens) of Paris, which is fun for running around in the sun and smelling the roses. There is also a managerie here, so if you have the time its worth also spending some time here. Entrance is not cheap, but you can spend a long time wandering around the pathways and inside the various buildings looking at monkeys, leopards, camel, flamingos, crocodiles, spiders, frogs, and so much more (and they are alive!). There is also plenty to do and see in the surrounding neighbourhood.
8 – The Bassin de la Villette
Water related activities are also usually a hit with the kids.You can rent small motor boats (no license needed), pedalos or kayaks on the canal in the 19th arrondissement – this is a beautiful area to explore, especially on a warm sunny day when the areas to the sides of the canal are covered with people picnicking, playing music, playing petanque, sitting on the terraces of the cafes, and generally relaxing with friends or family. You can also plan to get there by taking one of the canal boat trips that start from Musée d’Orsay, go along the Seine, under the Bastille and through the locks and up to the canal – we highly recommend this 2h30 sightseeing tour.
9 – The Catacombes
Les Catacombes may sound like the less glamorous side of Paris, but it is a great place for learning a little more of the history of Paris as well as appealing to little tykes. These are also high on the list of ‘wet weather’ activities as they are underground, but be warned that the queues can be very long in any weather so bring snacks, maybe an umbrella (you can always use it as a parasol if the sun is beaming down!), and stories to tell if you are going to wait it out.
10 – Arc de Triomphe
We see many kids pointing excitedly at places they have visited or plan to visit from the viewing terrace on the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Be warned though that the stairs to the top are thin and winding, so probably not the best idea with very little ones.