Planning city breaks as a family is never easy, but exploring Paris is more of a breeze than you may have first thought. With delicious food (and who could ever get sick of nutella crêpes?), acres of grassy parklands and quintessentially Parisian gardens complete with vintage carousels around virtually every corner, there’s nothing not to love about Paris with kids. Whether it’s your first visit or you’re a regular, see the city through rose tinted glasses and the eyes of your kids, and you’ll all fall in love with the city in no time. Here’s 7 of our favourite things to do as a family in Paris - enjoy!
Jardin de Luxembourg
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If someone asked you to dream up the childhood version of la vie en rose, you’d probably be imagining something that looked a lot like the Jardin de Luxembourg. A picture-perfect vision of the quintessential Parisian childhood, albeit a slightly idealised one, this charming park will have you wanting to pack up and move to Paris so you can come here with your kids every day. There’s puppet shows and pony rides, a magical carousel (which just so happens to be the oldest in the city), a great playground, a large pond that’s perfect for sailing little boats on, and lots of paths to explore. It can become expensive as the puppet shows (which are at 2:30, 3:30, and 4:30 during the summer months) and playground have a fee, but make a day of it by putting together a picnic from the surrounding boulangeries and indulge in this little slice of Parisian paradise.
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It might sound morbid, but the adventure down the rabbit hole and into subterranean Paris to explore the famous Catacombs is a fascinating experience for most older kids. Learn about the gruesome history of Paris as you venture into the surreal network of tunnels that are hidden under the streets of the city, where the skeletons of 6 million Parisians were laid to rest. Victims of the French Revolution and the plague, their bones are laid out in eerie patterns or neatly stacked in the alcoves and bubbles of limestone rock that Paris is built upon. It’s worth noting that the narrow tunnels are definitely not pushchair friendly, and the queue can be hours long so its worth booking tickets in advance.
Cité des Enfants and Cité des Sciences
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Perfect for rainy days, the Cité des Sciences will fascinate everyone in one way or another; there’s a planetarium, permanent exhibitions about everything from genetics to light and more interactive exhibits than you could find the time to get hands on with. This one-stop-shop for all things science is split into two sections, the Cité des Enfants, which is aimed at children between ages 2 to 7, and the Cité des Sciences which is for older kids between 5 and 12. There’s 3D films, a historic submarine and it’s all houses in a futuristic building, so no one will be asking to go anywhere else in a hurry. Buy your tickets in advance and online here.
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Journeying into the Parisian suburbs to seek out the Bois de Boulogne, a huge park filled with lakes and tree-lined pathways, as well as the Jardin d’Acclimatation is well worth it. What was once a huge forest was landscaped into parklands and gardens in the 1860’s, and whilst there are many to choose from, families should make a bee-line for the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a children’s amusement park. Hop on the miniature train, see a puppet show, splash around in the Enchanted River and feel like you’ve been whisked off to the peaceful Normandy countryside when you visit the farm.
Musée du Chocolat
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Museums aren’t for everyone, but a museum all about chocolate certainly is! We’ll apologise now for any sugar rushes, but we promise you’ll do more than just try some delicious chocolatey treats. This unique museum tells the story of chocolate, from its Aztec and Mayan origins right the way through to how it became everyone's favourite indulgence. Once you’ve learned how the humble cacao bean is turned into velvety smooth chocolate, you can watch some being made, and of course, enjoy eating some yourself.
Parc de Buttes-Chaumont
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This large park makes the perfect playground for kids (and grown-ups!) of any age - there’s streams, a waterfall, a 21m high suspension bridge for the adventurous, acres of lawns, a classically Parisian carousel and even a puppet theatre. For anyone wanting to relax with a picnic while the kids roll down grassy hills or channel their inner explorer as they clamber across the perilous suspension bridge (it’s not really perilous, but use your imagination) to the Temple de la Sibylle. If your kids love playing outside and getting creative with their games, then Buttes-Chaumont is an absolute wonderland.
Whether you feel like getting amongst the crowds of tourists or you’re desperately trying to avoid shops selling miniature Eiffel Towers, there’s no doubt that Montmartre’s classically Parisian look will charm your little ones. If it’s your first time as a family in Paris, don’t miss this enclave in the 18th Arrondissement off your to-do list; wander through the cobbled streets, see artists at work and enjoy a glace or crepe smothered in chocolate (or both!) from a traditional street food stand. You might feel weary at the thought of souvenir shops and your little one begging to have their portrait sketched, but they’ll love the magical atmosphere of old, artistic Paris and exploring the warren of narrow streets. And of course, while you’re in the neighbourhood you can visit the Sacré-Cœur; churches might not be the most interesting activity for kids but racing up the steps to the top and seeing the whole of Paris below them is!
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