Paris: the city of lights, food and endless activities for you and your family. When it comes to keeping your kids interested and entertained no matter their age or the season, Paris delivers. From the cliché tourist traps like the Eiffel Tower to the amazing grounds at Jardin des Tuileries, tots of all ages will feel like they’re in a dream. Even your tweens and teens will be impressed. We had a short stay in Paris, but even if you visit the city for a week, you can’t go wrong with your little ones by your side.
What to do
We traveled with five children ranging in age from 1 to 11 years old. To get your bearings and wrangle your brood together, try a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. Children love sitting on the upper open-air level, and it’s a good opportunity for parents to get the lay of the land and make a plan for the rest of their stay. Most of the tours have a prerecorded audio tour you can listen to, but some offer live guided tours. Although this is extremely touristy, it’s easy, a good way to get around the city and fun!
Another passive but fun activity is the Seine River tour. You can cruise the Seine at dusk to enjoy another view of the City of Lights. It will be a romantic and relaxing time for you while your babies are enthralled with the sparkling scenes in Paris.
The city is loaded with green spaces for picnics, adventure and play. Jardin des Tuileries has a free playground where the kids can run around and get all their pent-up energy out with plenty of climbing areas, slides and merry-go-rounds. There’s also a dedicated area for small babies to get their play on as well. During the summer months, they hold the Fête des Tuileries, a summer carnival that includes bumper cars and a wooden-horse carrousel. Plenty of fun food abounds as well, including crepes, toffee apples and cotton candy. There is no general admission charge, but you will have to pay for all those rides, bien sûr!
Jardin du Luxembourg is hands down the best garden if you want to spend a day with the kiddos. Complete with a playground, puppets and a carousel, not only is it a fun place for the kids to play and run around, but grown-ups will also love the elegant ambience of the gardens and romantic atmosphere of couples picnicking and children laughing.
If you need an indoor refuge, keep your little ones busy at the children’s museum, the Cité des Enfants. They have a wide range of hands-on exhibits with some bilingual panels in French and English. There are two sections in the museum — for 2- to 7-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds. The only drawback is your tickets are only good for 90 minutes.
Where to eat
There is no shortage of sidewalk crêperies and pâtisseries where you can grab a quick bite to eat, especially when you have tired and hungry children with you. But sometimes, you want something a bit different and a little more substantial — a place where your brood can dine together.
We really enjoyed grabbing a takeaway pho from Song Heng and eating together at our apartment. Even my 1-year-old slurped it down. The kids make a mess at “home,” and you won’t get any angry glares from other patrons.
Another great place to eat with kids is one of the many café/brasseries around the city. We stumbled upon a very good brasserie near the Louvre called Brasserie de la Bourse that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu was simple and definitely more French, and even the kids enjoyed many things there, including steak frites, duck confit and omelets.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of kid-friendly hotels in Paris, and we did entertain the idea of staying at one of them, but chose to rent an apartment instead. Vacation rentals are usually more spacious and have a kitchen and at least a couple of bathrooms, which are essential with children. More often than not, it’s also more cost-effective than hotels in the city. There are multiple sites to find apartments, including Airbnb, Booking.com and Kid & Coe.