Top 10 things to do in the Paris region for children
If you have had a few days of sightseeing as a family, why not dedicate a whole day to the kids? Here are our top picks.
(If you want tips on what to do with your children in Paris, rather than a day for them, have a look at our other top-tip: Top 10 things to do in Paris with children).
1 – Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris is the most visited attraction in France. There are two theme parks (the ‘traditional’ Disneyland theme park, and the Walt Disney Studios park), and much more. You will find everything you need for a really fun day out with the family; it’s not just the rides, it’s the whole experience with the sights, sounds, parades, shows, backdrop and carnival atmosphere that create the excitement and magical memories.
2 – Parc Astérix
Parc Astérix is a theme park based on the comic book of Astérix and Obélix: with a large variety of roller coasters with Gaulish, Roman, Ancient Greek, and Viking themes. You will find a good mix of daredevil rides for older children and adults, and more gentle rides for children. It is the second most popular theme park in France! There’s something for everyone to make sure you have a great day!
If you’re looking for a fun day out with the family, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is a guaranteed hit for kids of all ages. The park houses animals (farm animals, camel, llama, all sorts of birds and a bear), a theme park area of fairground rides for most children’s ages and courage, a puppet theater, and several museums. If you use the Porte Maillot entrance you can arrive at the park on a little train. You can easily spend a whole day here, but if you want a change, you can always come out into the larger Bois de Boulogne and explore the lakes, waterfalls, and nature on Paris’ doorstep. You can rent bikes easily to make getting around a little easier, and fun!
4 – La Mer de Sable
La Mer de sable (the sea of sand) is a theme park based on adventure, discovery and escape – with a Wild West backdrop! The little ones can ride in boats, go down a wild river, help put out fires, dig cars our of sand dunes or ‘fly’ with the birds. The cowboy and Indian themed shows are a hit with both old and young. If you have children between 3 and 10 this is the perfect place to bring them, and a little off the main tourist trail.
5 – France miniature
France miniature is an outdoor park in the shape of France, featuring scale models of major French landmarks and monuments. There are lakes representing the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and bonsai trees to show the native flora of the regions, and the monuments are placed approximately in their ‘real’ locations. Many of the models are also animated, and the rail network is represented by a model railway. There are also a few rides and attractions to entertain children, most are most suited to older children and brave adults. If you are looking for something a little bit different then ‘Europe’s biggest park of miniatures’ really fits the bill – you get a glimpse at the parts of France that you may not otherwise have time to visit during you stay in Paris!
The 17th century Château de Breteuil and the beautiful grounds in which it stands are listed as historic monuments. Inside the chateau you will find wax statues (from the Musée Grevin) depicting the life in France in the past. You will also find depictions of seven famous Charles Perrault fairy tales in the chateau and grounds (Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Tom-Thumb, etc.) – a delight for old and young alike. The chateau and gardens are quite remarkable, and well worth a ‘off the beaten track’ visit.
The Bois de Vincennes has many things to offer to guarantee a fun day out. You can rent bikes or skates and just spend time having fun and exploring the well kept public areas. You can also take time to explore some of the things the park houses. There is the impressive 12th century Chateau, which older kids especially like to explore and roam around. The Parc Floral is a beautiful flower garden and is a prime place to picnic, with a great play area for kids. La Ferme (the farm) de Paris, is a working organic farm with animals, crops and an orchard. It is relatively small, but it has everything it needs and is very well kept. During the weekends and school holidays, you can see the running of the farm in all seasons. The Zoo houses many animals in a reconstruction of their different habitats – families can have fun trying to spot the animals in their ‘natural’ environments.
8 – Palais de la Decouverte & biking along the Seine
The Palais de la Découverte (Palace of Discovery) is a science museum with interactive experiments and displays with themes of acoustics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics and physics. The museum is housed in the magnificent Grand Palais. Some of the experiments involve living creatures, whether that is you, your children or an animal (don’t worry – nobody gets hurt). This is one of the more interesting, and at the same time restful, museums in Paris.
You can spend a whole day in the museum, but if it is a nice sunny day it can be fun to combine the visit with a bike ride (velib) or walk along the side of the Seine.
The Parc de la Villette comprises of big lawns, the Canal de l’Ourcq and play areas: of note are the big open spaces, the sculptures, the wide paths, experimental gardens, and space for kids to run, jump and climb. It is popular spot to relax and enjoy a picnic as part of a day out. In summer you can find the jazz festival and the open-air cinema.
You will also find the ‘City of Science and Industry’ here which is the sister museum to the Palais de la Decouverte – it also has many hands-on exhibits and an IMAX cinema (the Geode). It is a very popular place with French families, particularly during the school holidays! There are 3 floors of permanent interactive displays on the following themes: mathematics, image, sound, light, space, oceans, energy, automobiles, rocks & volcanoes, and stars & galaxies. One floor also houses the Cité des enfants – children can: build a house, play with water jets, interact with creepy crawlies, see themselves on TV, create a new look for themselves, and much more. Exhibits are multi-lingual here. Curiosity is the limit in this fantastic place of discovery and exploration.
You can easily spend a happy day out here, whether rain or shine.
Animals and bones
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 (zoo) 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 so it’s easy to spend a full day here. For a lunch stop, we would recommend La Baleine restaurant which is next to the menagerie (zoo).
Have fun kids!