Paris is known for museums and architecture, but toting kid’s around to see the sights can be a challenge. Luckily, some kid-friendly outings in Paris will keep the whole family entertained while still exposing the kids to some French culture. If you mix in a few of these children’s activities with some of the more popular “must-see” attractions, everyone will be appeased.
Parks and Playgrounds
At Luxembourg Gardens, kids can float miniature sailboats (they’re for rent) on the round pond while the adults soak up the park’s natural beauty. Or the youngsters might watch puppet shows, as French children have for a hundred years. Puppet shows are a feature at most of the city’s other major parks.
Paris’ biggest zoo is in the Bois de Vincennes, where animals live in settings similar to their natural habitats. Other park attractions include miniature golf, a miniature train, and other kiddie rides.
At the Bois de Boulogne, boat rides, a miniature train, a small zoo, a clockwork toy village and a doll’s house, a house of mirrors, an archery range, and a bowling alley are favorite attractions.
You’ll also find some surprises at the neighborhood parks � like ping-pong tables (you’ll need to bring your own paddles, however, to play).
Disneyland Paris (about 20 miles east of the city via autoroute A4; also called Eurodisney) echoes the format of Disney attractions in the U. S. with a French accent. A steam railroad runs around the park’s periphery and Mickey Mouse leads the parade down Main Street. Quintessentially French, Parc Asterix (about 25 miles northeast of Paris via A1 autoroute) is themed around the comic-strip character, Asterix the Gaul, who has been a favourite with French children for decades.
You can’t go wrong at this world-renown attraction. It is magnificently lit up at night. If you’d like to take a ride to the top, you can order tickets ahead of time online. Or, go early (8 a.m.) and wait in line. The later in the day you go, the longer the line might be. Grab a crepe along the way, and don’t forget the camera! After seeing the Eiffel Tower, kids might want to visit Centre Kapla to build their own tower from thousands of miniature wood planks. You can even purchase a kit to take home with you.
Spending time in nature is always fun for the kids. These open spaces will give them room to run and explore the outdoors and entertain them with carousel rides and puppets. At Jardin du Luxembourg, located in the Latin Quarter, kids can sail model boats, ride a vintage carousel, or see a puppet show. More of an amusement park than a garden, the Jardin d’Acclimation has a train, trampolines, a river ride, zip lines, a pool, and more. At Paris Miniature, the outdoor setting has a mini replica of Paris that visitors can walkthrough.
For a traditional museum that might interest and not overwhelm kids, check out the Musee de l’Orangerie. The displays will include impressive paintings by Monet, Picasso, and Renoir, but it’s small enough to be done before the kids lose interest. For an art museum with a focus on kids, check out Musee en Herbe. At CineAqua, visitors will view a large variety of sea life. This aquarium has shows, films, exhibitions, workshops, and more. For kids who love science, the Cite des Sciences and the Palais de la Decouverte have hands-on exhibits to keep the kids busy, and the Musee National d’Histoire Naturelle has a zoo and exhibits that focus on paleontology, botany, and evolution. Leave yourself plenty of time to explore it all.
Cite des Sciences et de L’industre (City of Science and Industry),
Also known as Parc La Villette, this 125- acre site on the city’s northern periphery might be considered a complete destination in itself since there’s so much to see and do. Attractions include great playground facilities, such as windmill blades that are propelled by pedaling, ground-level trampolines, and a dragon whose long tongue is a slide. There are hands-on exhibits in the Explora, where you can pilot a plane or design a car; an “Inventorium” activity center; and the Planetarium are also popular.
Shops youngsters adore include Rigadon, one of the best of its kind in Europe, which specializes in puppets and marionettes. Au Nain Bleu (The Blue Dwarf, 5. Boulevarde Malesherbes) is a child’s delight with wooden soldiers, model airplanes, wind-up toys, dolls, and other playthings. If it’s windy, buy kites at Le Ciel est a Tout le Monde (99, Rue Rivoli), and don’t miss Magie Modern Hatte Mayette, with its stink bombs, whoopee cushions, and magic tricks galore.
Tips to keep in mind while sightseeing with kids:
- Always have bottled water on hand, as well as snacks
- Use a bathroom when you see one. You never know how far the next one will be.
- Wear sunscreen and bring a hat.
- Wear good walking shoes.
- Give the kids a map. Kids love navigating the day with a map.
- Let them take photos. Give kids a camera to snap their favorite shots.
For family-friendly accommodation in Paris, check out the Hotel Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel. This hotel staff speaks a variety of languages, which is helpful when you need assistance or directions. The hotel has a restaurant with a buffet breakfast to get the kids fueled up for the day and a heated pool for a swim after a long day of walking the city. They also have board games and video games in the lobby. Although there are no cafes or sights directly outside of the hotel, the Eiffel Tower and metro are only about a 10-minute walk away.
As with any trip, planning is key. Pick your activities ahead of time, so everyone knows what to expect. Paris has a plethora of sights to take in. Choose your favourite and enjoy your family time taking in this charming city.