My Favourite Things To do in Paris with Kids
Saying there’s “a lot” to do in Paris with kids doesn’t quite cut it. This is one of those amazing cities where there’s too much to do – so much so that it can seem overwhelming to plan. Fortunately, I managed to find a few gems when I took my boys on a recent trip. If you know where to look, you can find activities that are fun, educational and (believe it or not) relatively free of tourists.
I know, I know. This is definitely not something that’s free of tourists; it’s on everyone’s list, but it really is worth battling the tourists for. The trick is to walk up, not take the elevator – much shorter lines!
Take a Bike Tour
We had a great time with Fat Tire Bike Tours. You can join a group tour like we did, or they would be happy to meet you at your hotel with bikes. We went on a Sunday, which was a good idea – a lot less traffic! My kids were over 10 and I’m not sure I would want to take younger kids. The stops were perfect, as were the brief explanations of the sites we were seeing The kids loved it!
If you don’t want to do an organized tour, you can try Paris’s bike share program and use a Velib bike. There are bike lanes through a lot of Paris, and it is a great option when you just can’t walk anymore. I had some trouble with the machines, so I would suggest reading the instructions online ahead of time.
Or take a Pass
If bike’s aren’t for you or your kids, consider saving time and money by purchasing a Paris City Pass. These include things like a boat ride down the Seine, a fast pass to the Eiffel Tower and entry to most museums. Speaking of which…
There are an endless number of amazing museums to choose from.
We toured the newly renovated Picasso Museum with Paris native Caroline Etter of city art insider, who was great with the kids. The highlight for us was visiting the small galleries of the Marais, which we would never have found ourselves (and would have been too intimidated to go in on our own). The kids loved the multi-media approaches in each gallery. Caroline left us at the Merci concept store which we loved as well!
The kids also really enjoyed the Musée National du Moyen Age at Cluny; the medieval rooms, armour and tapestries appealed to them, and it is a quiet relaxing place to visit.
There is also a great museum in the Catacombs of Notre Dame with archaeological ruins and explanations of the history of Paris. If you want to climb the tower, I would suggest getting there early. It opens at 10 a.m. and closes at either 5:30 or 6:30 p.m., depending on the season. They stop letting people in 45 minutes prior to closing.
For younger kids, Tuillerie Gardens is a great stop with beautiful playgrounds. In the summer, there is a festival with rides and attractions. You can pop into the Orangerie to see some of the Monets as well.
If your dates are flexible, check to make sure it isn’t fashion week (twice a year)! Hotels and apartments are hard to come by – and you may end up going up an elevator with Kris Jenner like I did!
Where to Stay
Rent an Apartment
We rented an apartment through One Fine Stay. The location on the Left Bank was convenient, if a bit noisy. The iPhone that came with the apartment loaded with local restaurants and sites and helpful apps was a great bonus.
There are a number of apartment rental agencies to choose from and it is a great option if you want to have more space and not eat every meal in a restaurant. Book early though – space can be limited!
The five star hotels in Paris all offer something slightly different and are wonderful if they suit your budget. Most rooms start at over 1,000 Euros per night at these hotels.
The Hotel Le Bristol feels the most homey of the five-star offerings. There is a small indoor rooftop pool (with a spectacular view, as you can see below) and the service is impeccable.
The George V (Four Seasons) is also a great option with an indoor pool as well.
And the storied Ritz Paris has also just undergone a massive renovation and has stunningly decorated rooms and suites.
A combination of the two
Finding rooms that will accommodate 3 or more people in Paris can be challenging. If you want a hotel experience in an apartment, the new La Reserve Apartments near the Eiffel Tower are a great option. Elegant and spacious, you can even have restaurant-style meals served in your private apartment – the best of both worlds!
Things I’ll Do Next Time
A day trip to Versailles proved a little too time-consuming for our trip, but with an extra half day I think it would make for a great visit.
Without the kids I would love to see the new Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Frank Gehry. This was so new that the line-ups were apparently long – and not kid friendly. It should be better by now.