We’ve heard that Paris as a destination is best suited for adults. Given the busy environment and (sometimes) grumpy locals, I understand why. Despite the warnings, we spent a week in Paris with our three children. We did encounter underwhelmed residents and swarms of crowds, but we also discovered many family-friendly things to do. Here are my recommendations for family-friendly things to do in and around Paris.
Our first two recommendations for family-friendly things to do in Paris are an hour’s train ride from the city center.
Versailles was insanely crowded and very hot. So much so that two of us had breakdowns, needed to leave the palace, and reset in the courtyard. Our day improved significantly once we left the palace and made our way to the gardens. Despite the rough start, I recommend visiting Versailles with your kids, especially if you are interested in Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. If you decide to visit, arrive early and stay the entire day. For more details on our visit, check out this video.
If I could do this day again, I would go to Disney Paris on a rainy day in the middle of winter. I don’t like crowds so I would prefer to be wet and cold. If Disneyland sounds fun and you can only go in a busy month, make the best of it and for goodness sake, please be nice to your kids. It is the happiest place on earth with patience and a good attitude. Compared to Disneyland California, it’s smaller, which is a bonus because you can do the whole park in one day. For more details on our visit, check out this video.
Five Family-Friendly Things to Do in the Heart of Paris
Paris is an incredible city for art lovers. We visited the Atelier des Lumieres to see the works of Cezanne and Kandinsky in a digital immersive art experience. These multimedia experiences are fabulous opportunities for children to view the work of great artists while moving their bodies and listening to beautiful music. I highly recommend seeing what’s happening at the Atelier des Lumieres and booking a ticket.
We learned about Van Gogh on a trip to York, so we decided to visit the Musée d’Orsay to see Van Gogh’s work in person. If you visit this museum, make sure you have your own water bottle. Believe it or not, there was no place to fill up or buy water bottles. We arrived at the museum after walking three miles in warm weather. We were parched! Because we couldn’t find water, we bought a child’s souvenir drinking glass in the gift shop and filled it up in the bathroom!
What art should I see with my kids in Paris?
If you want to enjoy art in Paris with your children, choose art that connects to something your children love. Is there a type of art or artist your child has learned about in school? Are there colors or art styles your child would enjoy looking at? There may be an artist who depicts scenes from a favorite book or activities your child likes to do!
Brainstorm as a family and connect something your child has already experienced with art available to see in Paris.
Parks and playgrounds
Some of you might be thinking; we can do parks and playgrounds where we live! Yes, but I promise you, it’s not the same. Paris is stunning, so being in a playground in Paris, nibbling on a croissant, and sipping a coffee is much different than your local playground and a PB&J. In a Parisian park, you can listen to the beautiful language, feel the city’s energy, people-watch, and enjoy the scenery. If I take my kids to parks and playgrounds anyway, I would rather do it in Paris! We found a playground in The Luxembourg Garden, sailed little boats in The Tuileries Garden, and explored a playground near the Les Halles metro stop.
Paris is an incredible place for food. Because there is so much excellent food, you don’t have to eat in restaurants! When we travel with our kids, it’s much more relaxing to have a picnic, eat on a bench, eat while walking, or at a table outside. We were thrilled to find LOADS of delicious street food. There were more than enough options to keep our bellies happy. Peter and I did drag the kids to one indoor restaurant called Linette. We wanted a traditional French lunch, the servers looked friendly, and the setting was casual. Unfortunately, the kids didn’t like the taste of classic French food, so they stuffed themselves full of pomme frites!
Seeing the bones of more than 6 million Parisians may not be your idea of a family-friendly experience, but a spooky ossuary was a great place to take our kids. It’s eerie enough that they were engaged but not so scary that they found it disturbing. There is a ton of walking, so make sure everyone is up for it before buying tickets. Our children are great walkers and aren’t easily spooked, so the Catacombs were a great fit. The experience was much more fascinating than scary.
The Eiffel Tower
The climb up 674 steps to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower is a great activity for kids. Keep in mind that there is no place to put your stroller. Unattended items are prohibited. Peter loves a good workout, so he climbed to the top with the stroller! Also- don’t bring scooters; they aren’t allowed. We found a street vendor willing to hold the kids’ scooters for a small fee, but trying to figure that out wasn’t enjoyable!
Even though our kids were exhausted I am happy we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it’s hugely touristy, but it’s an experience to check off your list. Knowing us, we would have pushed it to the very top and made our kids climb 1600 steps, but lucky for them, it wasn’t permitted. The elevator is the only option. When we booked our tickets, the elevator was sold out, so the second floor was as high as we could go.