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Paris is known as the City of Love, but that love isn’t just confined to couples. Familial love can be fostered here too, and those who visit Paris with kids in tow are sure to fall in love with the city as well.
With the popular Disneyland Paris theme park on the city’s doorstep, and a wealth of uniquely Parisian experiences to be enjoyed by both parents and kids, Paris is, in fact, a great place to visit with children.
However you approach your trip, whether you make one day all about the kids with the next dedicated to the adults, or if you take it in turns throughout each day, these activities are just as enjoyable for the young and the young at heart.
Find out what not to do when planning a family trip to Paris.
If you’re traveling with a brood of bookworms or just love to learn through play, head straight to the Palais de la Découverte off the Champs Elysées. Set in a glamorous building that’s actually part of Le Grand Palais, this superb science museum features all kinds of interactive exhibits on physics, chemistry, mathematics, and the natural world. La Cité des Enfants, inside Europe’s largest science museum, is another great children’s museum definitely worth visiting.
For those more interested in animals, history, or even evolution, you can’t beat the National Museum of Natural History in the Jardin des Plantes. Visitors of all ages are sure to love its Grande Galérie de l’Evolution featuring a parade of animals both large and small, showcasing stuffed specimens and skeletons. After studying the animals and a walk through the surrounding gardens, top it off with a stop for ice cream at Berthillon on the nearby Île Saint-Louis.
Art-loving families visiting Paris also have plenty of options for enjoying a bit of culture without overwhelming those short attention spans. Just behind the Louvre, the often over-looked Musée en Herbe exposes children to art in a fun and easily manageable way, the small museum designed entirely with children in mind.
That said, Paris’s most famous museums, from the Louvre to the Musée d’Orsay do also offer brochures and booklets aimed at educating and occupying kids while the grown-ups stare at their favorite masterpieces. And La Conciergerie offers interactive iPads (called HistoPads) which let children and adults alike see what this historic space looked like in the past: nearly as good as time travel.
For those days when you are museum-ed out and want to explore the city itself (and maybe do a bit of shopping), meander through the covered passages in Paris. The little ones will particularly like the Passage des Princes for all of its toy stores. With everything from artisanal and traditional toys to video games, I recommend setting some rules before making your way through its halls. Otherwise, you risk hurting your wallet!
Take a guided street art walking tour with your family to discover the many different forms of urban art decorating the streets of Paris. Invader Hunting is another great option for keeping the kids excited, interested, and occupied while discovering Paris on foot. Combining street art, video games, and scavenger hunts, searching for these space invader mosaics on every street corner can quickly get addictive, and not just for the kids!
Strolls along the Seine aren’t just for romance, they’re also good for letting off steam after a long day with overexcited enfants. Walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Musée d’Orsay along the riverbanks and find plenty of markings on the pavement inviting you to play hop-scotch, have foot races, and more. The little cafés along the water often offer board games and a small Breizh crêpe van makes the perfect snack break.
In summer, the quays near the Hôtel de Ville are turned into beaches, complete with sand including play areas, lounge chairs, and even buckets and shovels to rent. And, of course, there are the Bateaux Mouches for a sightseeing trip on the water, which is always fun for the entire family.
There is nary a park in Paris without an old-fashioned carousel or puppet show, but the Jardin des Tuileries and the Jardin du Luxembourg also offer miniature sailboats for rent, letting kids sail them in the parks’ fountains and ponds while you recline on one of those classic Parisian lawn chairs.
If you’ve had enough relaxation and are after outdoor fun, head out to the Jardin d’Acclimatation amusement park in the Bois de Boulogne for playgrounds, carnival rides, picnic-worthy gardens, and much more. There’s certainly enough to keep you busy on a sunny day.
On the opposite side of town, in the northeast of Paris along the extension of the Canal Saint Martin, the Parc de la Villette offers a modern area filled with large green lawns, plenty of playgrounds, and a particularly tall slide shaped like a monster. You can even rent small electric boats to take on the water and enjoy a picnic out at sea (well, in the bassin anyhow). You’ll also find the Cité des Sciences here, Europe’s largest science museum, with its mirrored La Géode shining near the water.
In July and August, the park also shows movies on the green.
Whatever you decide to do with your family, we’re sure you’ll each find something to love about the city.
Are your kids a little older? See our recommendations for what to do with teens in Paris.
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