Paris With Kids: Things To Do, Places To Stay & Family Travel Tips!
By: Nancy Solomon
When contemplating where to go in Europe with kids, Paris should be at the top of the list. I know, you’re thinking it’s the city of love and romance, not family travel. Fear not, Paris enchants children and adults alike.
After multiple family trips to Europe, Paris is our all-time favorite urban destination with kids. The combination of interesting sights, open space, delicious food, and Parisian style is the perfect blend for all ages.
Let’s be clear, you’ll have to diverge from the typical adult itinerary. See my tips for making urban cities fun with kids for advice on how to do this effectively. At a high level, you have to balance interests by taking the list of what you want to see and cutting it in half. Fill in the blanks with playtime. This slower pace will allow you to experience things that you would otherwise miss on a couple’s trip — the benefit of traveling with kids.
Things to Do in Paris with Kids
Unlike cites with ancient ruins (which can be difficult for kids to conceptualize), Paris is overflowing with exciting sights that are easy to appreciate. Climb, climb, climb! What kids don’t like to climb? Paris offers many opportunities for vertical fun. Our favorite ascents are The Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame (check out the bells), and of course, the Eiffel Tower. The physical activity makes everyone happy. Note, it takes longer to explore attractions this way — plan for an extra hour or so at each stop.
Although Paris museums are fabulous, exploring them with kids can be overwhelming. Think about a family-oriented tours offered by Paris Muse to help make the art museums accessible for young minds. Another wonderful tour company offering a family program is Context Travel. If you have tweens or teens, don’t miss The Teen Fashion Tour.
There are endless places to see and customizing the trip to your family’s interests is worthwhile and rewarding. On Ciao Bambino, we publish a list excellent online resources for families where you can easily research what to see and do, plus we’ve covered off-the-beaten-path attractions and even Paris rainy day activity suggestions for babies and toddlers.
The expansive parks and gardens provide plenty of space for kids to run around. Venture to a local market or grocery store, select some picnic items, and head to a park. Paris makes it easy to have inexpensive yet delightful dining experiences each day. Some of our favorite memories are from hanging out in the various gardens and parks as this provides an opportunity to expose kids to Parisian families.
Bring a ball or jump rope and next thing you know your kids will be playing with local children. This interaction will deepen your sense of how “real” Parisians live. Our favorites parks include the Tuileries (with a carnival all summer long), Luxembourg Gardens (with sailboats and puppets), Champs de Mars (with pedal carts), and Jardin D’Acclimatation (an amusement park geared toward younger children).
If I could have just an ounce of Parisian charm, I’d be happy. The French simply ooze elegance with their carefree sense of style. Not just personal style, but the stunning architecture, vibrant art scene, and delicious culinary forays enthralled all of us. We would walk for a while then rest in a café and just bask in the local scene. Walking with the kids was easy as the business district is set apart from the main tourist area, making the pace on the sidewalks calm.
In addition, the sidewalks are wide — perfect for strollers and meandering children. Let’s not forget this is “The City of Light” and cruising the Seine River on the Beaux-Mouches at dusk is a must. We also loved riding on the double-decker buses; the kids would drift to sleep and my husband and I could pay attention to the audio explanations of the sights and just enjoy the ride.
Places to Stay
I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to stay in a central location. This saves you from wasting precious time and energy on transportation. We have a great list of Paris family-friendly hotels on Ciao Bambino. If you’d are staying longer or have a large family, you may want to consider renting an apartment, see my article on Paris apartment rental recommendations.
About the Author: Nancy Solomon is a travel writer and mother of four kids under 12 who lives outside of Boston, MA. She blogs about traveling with kids on CiaoBambino.com.
Photos courtesy of Nancy Solomon