Many people think of Paris as a romantic getaway. A place to go if you’re planning to propose or celebrate your anniversary. But the French capital is also worth visiting with kids. And we’re not just talking trips to Disneyland Paris either. Away from the world-famous theme park, there’s plenty for families to do. So hop on a ferry and discover Paris en famille.
Top museums for children
No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Louvre. If you’re concerned that the kids might be bored, don’t be. Check out the themed visitor trails. They take between one and three hours to complete and work a bit like a treasure hunt as they guide you through the gallery. Consider the Masterpieces or the Lion Hunt trail.
The Cité des Enfants is a dedicated children’s museum in the Parc de la Villette in north-eastern Paris. It’s mainly aimed at kids under 12. As well as a great programme of exhibitions, there’s a planetarium, a 3D cinema and a 1950s submarine to explore.
To save time queuing at these places, book tickets and entry times in advance. It’s worth considering a Paris museum pass too. A two-day pass costs €39.
Parks and gardens
Museums aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily Paris has plenty of green spaces where your kids can burn off some energy. The Bois de Boulogne is one of Paris’ biggest parks. It’s also home to Le Jardin d’Acclimatation, a truly Parisian place to treat the kids. A toy train ferries visitors from Port Maillot station on Metro Line 1 to the park itself. Attractions include fairground rides, a boat trip, camel rides and a zoo. The train ride plus park entrance costs €5.90 (adults) and €4.40 (children).
In central Paris try Le Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden with a small zoo (menagerie) and a museum. Tuilleries Garden, next to the Louvre, has a fountain where you can sail toy yachts and a Ferris wheel in the summer. The views of Paris from the top are amazing. Jardin de Luxembourg is another centrally located park. It has a large children’s play area in the southwest corner.
Boat rides on the Seine
A boat ride along the Seine is a fantastic treat for everyone. Batobus runs a hop-on-hop-off service. The seven stops are well placed for the city’s main attractions, so it’s a great way to get around. A one day pass lets you ride as much as you like and costs €15 (adults) or €7 (children under 16).
Toys, toys, toys…
Of course you’ll want to take home a souvenir of your holiday in Paris. And where better to hunt for something than in a covered shopping arcade that houses only toyshops? Passage des Prince, between boulevard des Italiens and rue de Richelieu (nearest Metro, Richelieu – Drouot), is every kid’s dream shopping trip.
Picnics, restaurants and patisseries
When you’re out and about picnics are a great way to eat on a budget. Stock up with cheese, baguettes and paté and enjoy local delicacies at the fraction of a restaurant meal.
If Pixar’s Ratatouille has inspired your children to try French dining, then Brasserie Thoumieux has a reputation for being family-friendly. It even has a special children’s menu. Time Out has a list of other family-friendly restaurants to try.
Crêpe restaurants are a good option, with sweet and savoury versions usually on the menu. Alternatively how about tasty treats from one of the city’s many patisseries. Being allowed to choose whatever they like from an awesome range of cakes and pastries is sure to be a dining experience your kids will adore.
Family-friendly places to stay
Top of my list would be Camping Indigo, in the Bois de Boulogne. Campsites are great for family holidays as there’s space for kids to run around and they’re great places to make friends. The site runs a shuttle bus to Port Maillot station, and from there it’s a short ride into the centre. If the thought of camping makes you shudder, you can rent a cottage or gypsy caravan. In high season camping pitches start at €35.70 per night and cottages/caravans are €136/€125.
If your budget will stretch (and I mean stretch) then Le Meurice is the place to treat the family. Summer packages start at €905, but you’re getting sumptuous five-star luxury for your money. Kids are lavished with sweets and a cuddly toy. There’s also a treasure hunt organised for the hotel’s young guests.
Novotel is another family-friendly option. They have hotels in a variety of Parisian locations and their family deals include free breakfast for under 16s and late check out on Sundays.