Over the years, we have asked guests and Parisian friends for their favorite ideas of activities to share with children in Paris. The votes are in and here are our Top Ten Things To Do in Paris With Children!
- Paris Pastry Hunt: Discover Your Favorite Pastries in Paris!
This universal favorite for children, and often with their parents, too! Let your children choose the pastries for breakfast every morning, and it may just be one of the most memorable activities they’ll remember! There is a real advantage to staying in one of our Paris Apartment Rentals, because you can enjoy the local food and pastry shops … and save money by dining at home.Choosing pastries in Paris is enough to keep everyone busy for weeks. First there’s the question of whether to buy a simple baguette in the morning for breakfast, in addition to the true pate feuilleté pastries. Then there’s the perennial question of which local bakery sells the best baguettes.
On to the finer choices and the list is delightfully long, fun and tasty! For children it is a chance to discover French food traditions along the way. One example is the difference between true croissants au beurre (butter croissants) and croissants ordinaire made with margarine. When our daughter was 8, we sent her to the Pâtisserie next door to buy croissants. Philippe had forgotten to teach her this important distinction and she accidentally bought croissants ordinaire thinking it meant without filling or garnish. Philippe took one bite and immediately discovered her mistake-quelle horreur-Alexia had bought croissants made with margarine rather than butter! It was a crisis until Philippe went back to buy true ones. Whew, breakfast saved.
Beyond croissants, they’ll delight in choosing pain aux raisins, pains au chocolats, chaussons aux pommes (apple-filled tarts), pain brioche or the little sweet brioche rolls … fruit tartes and so much more!
- Eiffel Tower & Champ de Mars Park
Seeing the wonderful views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower is an exhilarating experience for children. Spend time pointing out the sights in Paris you’ve visited or plan to visit. If your children have extra energy to burn, let them climb the stairs up or down. It’s 328 steps to the first level and 340 up to the second level. You’ll avoid lines and get some great exercise along the way! The Eiffel Tower has created a children’s game called “Follow Gus” that presents the tower’s history in a fun and engaging series of clues and stories. The game book is available at the Cineiffel audiovisual theater on the first level.Tip for families: Arrive at the Eiffel Tower just before nightfall so you’re there when the first magic light show begins every hour on the hour for five minutes. You’ll hear the crowds “Ohhhhhh!” and clap when it begins!
Parks are a rarity in Paris and staying near one is a rare treat. Families have been taking their children to the Champ de Mars Park for generations. Grandparents and parents rode the same hand-cranked carousel, tried to catch the ring with their little batons, raced the pedal cars around the small track and went to the same Guignol, or ancient puppet theatre, when they were small. Relax on a bench along with Parisian families while your children run, climb, swing, bicycle, pedal and have fun! With the beautiful Eiffel Tower in the background, you’ll find four playgrounds, bicycling areas, a basketball court and lots of green space for picnicking in the Champs de Mars Park.
- Climb to the top of Notre-Dame
We always tried to dream up activities that would wear our children out, especially our very active son. Climb the 387 steps to the top of Notre-Dame, where you can get close up views of the famous gargoyles and look over Paris. If your children enjoyed The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, or Disney’s 1996 movie version, they’ll love exploring the Cathedral in a whole new light. It’s an entertaining and cultural experience rolled up in one!
- Euro Disney
A recreation of Disneyland in California, Euro Disney is a fun family outing from Paris. Families that have visiting the Disney theme parks in America will enjoy experiencing the French version where Mickey Mouse and other beloved characters speak French!Euro Disney is located near the Charles de Gaulle airport and accessible by RER. Just take the RER A to the “Marne-le-Vallee Chessy” stop.Website: www.disneylandparis.com
- Parc Astérix
The French love this park that spotlights their favorite gaulois (Gauls) Astérix and Obelix. It features rides, shows and a world-famous roller coaster that goes inverted seven times!Take the RER B to the Charles de Gaulle airport, and then the Parc Astérix bus from Terminal 1, which leaves every 30 minutes from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. It returns every 30 minutes from 4:30 pm to 7:00 or 8:00 pm, depending on the park closing time; or, you can drive the 30 kilometers.Website: www.parcasterix.fr
- A Day at the Park
Many of the parks in Paris offer so much more than just open space for children to play. Here are three parks your children will enjoy exploring:Luxembourg Gardens
The Luxembourg Gardens are located in central Paris and offer a wonderful experience for children. You’ll find fun play areas, slides, jungle gyms, puppet shows, pony rides and even a small pond where children sail boats on weekends.
Bois de Boulogne
Just beyond the 16th arrondissment you’ll find the large Bois de Boulogne. The Jardin d’Acclimatation is a children’s park with fun rides. Our children loved it when they were under age 10!
Jardin des Plantes
The oldest public botanical garden in the world, it has a wonderful labyrinth to challenge every member of the family. It also houses a natural history museum, small zoo and entomology and paleontology museums.
Address: 57 rue Cuvier, 75005
Métro stops: Jussieu, Gare d’Austerlitz
- Parc de la Villette
This science museum has special sections: one for children 3 to 6 years old and another for 7 to 13 years old. It features wonderful hands-on activities and is a lot of fun. And, if it’s hot outside, the air conditioning is a real plus. Villette also has 10 theme parks, including the Garden of Dunes, which is great for kids who need to run and climb as it features a rolling landscape, pedal windmills, jungle gyms and air-cushioned areas to romp in. The Garden of Movement is a great play area with all kinds of moving apparatus. The Garden of the Dragon features a 100-yard-long climbing apparatus shaped like a dragon culminating in a giant slide exiting from the dragon’s mouth. For older children, the Garden of Childhood Fears has a walkway broadcasting eerie music as you pass through a forested area.Métro: Line 5 to the Porte de la Villette
- Take a River Cruise on the Seine
Kids love seeing the city sights on one of the classic bateau-mouche. It’s an easy and relaxing activity for the whole family. Boat tour starting points are walking distance from many of our Paris apartment rentals, and we sell discounted tickets for guests.
- Paris Sewer Tour
A memorable activity for older children who are into the “yayyy, it sounds so gross” stage! This very clean tour is fascinating as you wander under the streets of Paris. Maps and signs indicate the streets of Paris above so workers don’t get lost. Parents will marvel at the engineering, one of the most sophisticated of its time in the 1800′s. The Paris Sewer Museum winds through 500 yards of the 1300+ plus miles of sewers. It’s conveniently located across the river from the bateaux-mouche tours where we offer discount tickets. And it’s only a stone’s throw from many of our Paris rental apartments, including the 2 bedroom Cote du Rhone with gorgeous views of the Eiffel Tower from the living room.Address: 93 Quai d’Orsay, 75007 Paris France
Hours: Sat-Wed 11am-5pm
Métro: Pont de l’Alma
- France Miniature
This is located near Versailles, about 16 miles west of Paris. We’re not sure who enjoys this park the most-adults or children! It contains about 150 miniature monuments and landmarks representing the major highlights from all the regions of France. You hear choirs singing in the cathedrals, seagulls and fog horns in the bays, cows mooing as you get into the Alps and the noise of the miniature superhighway. They all add to the pleasure of this wonderful park!From the Montparnasse train station you can get a combination ticket for the train, bus, and admission fee.Address: 25 rte. du Mesnil, Élancourt
Phone: 08 36 68 5335
There are two more fun things to do with children that we couldn’t leave out of our Top 10 list. Consider them bonuses!
- Treasure Hunt of the Louvre
Our favorite Paris concierge service says that the most requested tour for families is their Treasure Tour of the Louvres. We love the idea of visiting the Louvre as a treasure hunt, helping children discover the art and history of this museum. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Take a Paris bike or Segway Tour!
Either enjoy Fat Tire Bike Tours located near the Eiffel Tower and many of our Paris apartment rentals. Alternatively, rent a Velib Bike Rental which are dotted throughout your Paris neighborhood. They are a little complicated to operate the check out and your credit card must have a pin chip, but the good news is that you can pick up and drop off at many convenient locations.