Fun Things to Do with Kids in Paris
There is so much to do and see in Paris, what should you do first, especially when traveling with kids? Traveling with kids does affect how, when and what you see, but there are plenty of things to do in Paris that will allow you to soak in the city, its history and culture while everyone has fun. Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly activities that will keep you AND the kids interested:
Probably one of the most famous monuments in the world, and it has long waiting lines to match, but the view and the experience are worth it. I’d suggest arriving first thing before the kids are tired, since most days waits can be an hour long. But don’t be discouraged, especially if you see “Tower Closed” while waiting. We got in line in the early afternoon, found a food cart and ate sandwiches while we waited. During that time, the sign indicated when the Tower was “closed,” which only means that they had temporarily stopped admitting people because maximum occupancy had been reached. Once visitors leave, they “open” the Tower again, and the line moves. Strollers are not allowed on the Tower.
Take the time to explore the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, where children under 18 have free admission, as they do in all French museums and monuments. And there is no entry fee for adults on the first Sunday of every month! One evening a week, many of the museums stay open late. Check here for specific museums as their schedules are all different. One of our favorites is Musée Rodin which has a huge garden displaying many of the artist’s sculptures, allowing your children to run free while you take in some famous works of art, including the Thinker.
Rides, Rides, Everywhere!
You will notice there are kiddie rides in many of Paris’ public squares and shopping malls. One “fair” we really liked was in the beautiful Jardin de Tulieries, adjacent to the Louvre and open during the summer months. Don’t pass it by without trying the Ferris wheel! It offers some great views of Paris and provides the perfect bribe to offer your children in exchange for a few extra minutes in the Louvre.
Divide and Conquer
Sometimes it might be a good idea to let kids be kids, and split up. The fountains outside of the Centre Pompidou (National Museum of Modern Art) will keep the kids captivated while one parent can enjoy an hour inside the museum. There are often street artists, cafés and food carts and possibly a kiddie ride or two. This is a great location to soak up the Parisian culture.
Don’t walk when you can float!
The Batobus is a riverboat taxi and is a fun and convenient way to see Paris. The boats travel from one end of the city to the other on the Seine and stop at all the major attractions. You can use the Batobus just as you would a city bus, and it gives you fantastic views while you rest your feet. The kids love it, and on some boats the captain also serves as an entertaining tour guide.
Sail the boats in Jardin de Luxembourg
One of the biggest parks in Paris, the Jardin de Luxembourg has expansive lawns, beautiful fountains and plenty of space in which to run around. But our kids’ favorite thing to do is definitely rent sail boats on the Grand Bassin, a big pool in the center of the park. Our daughters fought over the pirate ship. There are also puppet shows, a carousel and during the warm months, pony rides. We had a picnic here one afternoon and enjoyed some ice cream (lavender-flavored) on our trip back to the hotel.
Buy a Personalized Souvenir in Montmartre
Montmartre is one of the oldest parts of Paris, and is known for its many famous artist residents. It is located at the highest point in Paris and although it’s a hike up a long hill, believe me, it’s worth the effort. Luckily, there are ways of getting up the hill besides walking: There is a funicular–a kind of spacious gondola–which the kids enjoy as much as the adults. There is also a mini-train for tourists and little ones. At Place de Tertre is the “Artists’ Corner.” The artists here are all certified artists and have earned their spot in the square. It was here we had charcoal sketches made of our children. Talk about a worthy souvenir! Walk around, find an artist whose style and skill you like and negotiate a price. We paid about 100 Euros for one sketch of both girls and are VERY pleased with the result. It will make a worthy keepsake of your Paris trip with the kids!
Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.