Last Updated on October 28, 2021
I have taken several romantic weekend breaks to the City of Love with my partner – but exploring Paris with kids is very different. While adults enjoy sitting in a street café sipping a café au lait while people watching, kids won’t let you indulge in too many relaxing “Paris moments” like that. Museums and galleries are also more difficult to navigate – unless you keep your children entertained the entire time.
If you’ve already visited Paris and are now planning to return with your kids, it’s time to re-evaluate and to look at ways to have fun with the kids as well.
But a few days in Paris will be the perfect introduction to a country that is not too different to what they’re used to and to hopefully plant a seed of wanderlust in them.
How to enjoy Paris with kids
How to prepare for your trip
There are several great travel guides especially for kids, for example:
Kids’ Travel Guide – Paris: The fun way to discover Paris
There is also a Scavenger Hunt designed for kids:
Mission Paris: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure (Travel Guide For Kids)
The scavenger hunts in particular are a great way to keep children engage for several hours while exploring the city in a playful way. Pick up a couple of Paris guidebooks aimed at kids before your trip to get them excited before you even board the plane (but they’re also great for the long plane ride).
Watching Paris movies are also a fantastic way to get your kids excited for the trip.
Kid-friendly Paris movies include: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ratatouille, Madeline, Ballerina, A Cat in Paris, A Monster In Paris.
The most obvious destination for Paris holidays with kids is of course Disneyland, where they will meet Mickey and Minnie and experience their first roller coasters! Many Disney Park lovers claim that it’s the second best Disney Resort in the world! It’s only 30 minutes from Paris, and the TGV train stops right in front of the gate of the resort, so there is no excuse not to take the kids there on a trip to Paris.
Our tips for visiting Disneyland Paris: Take at least two days to explore Disneyland – you could obviously spend much more time there, but trying to cram everything into one day will cause unnecessary stress. We are planning to go just before the girls go to school, so that we can take advantage of non-vacation times. The park can get pretty packed in the summer months, but May or September are ideal times to visit. And if you have limited time, skip the Disneyland Studios and head only to the Theme Park.
While Paris itself – one of the most visited cities in the world, known for its crowds and long waiting times at tourist attractions – might not seem like a good idea with two little girls, it is actually a very kid-friendly destination with plenty of attractions to keep children entertained, and will show us grown-ups a completely different side of the city.
The sacrifice you will have to make is to bypass the main sights – at least this time. If you are planning to go up on the Eiffel tower or visit the Louvre, you will have to be aware that the kids will already be tired and grumpy before you even reach the end of the line.
Instead, be open to explore some lesser known neighborhoods and places around the city and plan a cultural trip when the kids are actually old enough to relate to the sights, i.e. when they learn about the Mona Lisa and about French history in school, they will appreciate the Louvre and the palace of Versailles much more.
Younger kids will enjoy La Ménagerie, a zoo dating back to the 18th century with reptile rooms, monkeys and big cats such as panthers.
The National Museum of Natural history is also extremely kid-friendly, with a merry-go-round and 17th century gardens which are perfect for a picnic lunch. The museum itself has a fascinating collection of animal skeletons on the ground floor, and plenty of other natural wonders to keep kids in awe.
Kid-friendly parks in Paris
Most of the parks in Paris are kid-friendly, but there are three that shouldn’t be missed. One is the Jardin de Luxembourg, where you’ll also find an enclosed play area, toy sailboats in the central basin and pony rides.
Another fantastic park is the Jardin Tuileries near the Louvre Museum, one of Paris’ prettiest parks. Grown-ups can enjoy comfortable lounge chairs while kids will love the merry-go-round, the big sculptural playground and the in-ground trampolines.
The third park is Parc des Buttes-Chaumont which features a grotto, several playgrounds, a merry-go-round and a temple on top of a peak in the middle of a lake, reached by suspension bridges, which are great fun for kids.
The best neighborhood to explore with kids is the Montmartre. They can enjoy a ride on the merry-go-round at the bottom of the park between Square Louise Michel and Sacre Coeur before heading up the stairs (or taking the funicular) to Sacre Coeur basilica. The church itself is fascinating enough for a quick look from the outside, but the winding cobble-stone streets always offer something interesting for kids – the artists who paint on the Place du Tertre, little shops selling interesting trinkets or crepes stands. Try to do this early in the day though, as this neighborhood tends to get packed mid-morning until late in the evening.
Fascinating markets in Paris
Another highlight for kids is a tour of the local markets. On Sundays, the popular flower and bird market takes place at the Place Lois Lepine on the Ile de la Cite near Notre Dame cathedral, and children are usually in wonder seeing all the different birds. To show them more of an ethnic food market, take them to the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the city’s oldest market where you’ll find Lebanese, North African and even Japanese foods. If you come during the week (Tue-Fri), you’ll beat the weekend crowds – the later in the day you get there, the emptier it will be.
Need more recommendations? Check out these 14 ideas from Fodor’s for what to do in Paris with kids!
Have you been to Paris with kids? Do you have advice on kid-friendly activities in the City of Lights?
Thursday 3rd of March 2016
Paris is a great place to visit, but there is so much more to see and do in France. We live in the south and love the warmer weather, the Mediterranean climate and during the winter skiing in the Pyrenees. You can go white water rafting or canoeing on the Aude, go ape swinging in the trees or send them off to an Aquazone on one of the inland lakes. Take them south and discover the Cathare Fortresses, a great history lesson and adventure all built into one. Kids just love exploring castles.