Since I am a Parisian and I am telling here all about our trips with the children, in the end I hardly ever tell you about Paris as a destination for “family tourism”. Which museums, which neighbourhoods, which monuments to visit with the kids? Here is a first selection for a stay in the French Capital… I mean, besides the Eiffel Tower of course 😉
20 ideas to enjoy Paris as a family:
- The Musée du Louvre (The Louvre Museum), short version: a long visit of the Louvre Museum, in the most touristic alleys dedicated to Italian or French paintings, would be quite athletic with the children! In the Louvre, I recommend to choose a very small part of the Museum and only spend an hour there. Our children loved the part about Egypt, the Primitive Arts, the Islamic Art and then the apartments of Bonaparte (my favourite part, and often with few visitors!). In any case, to avoid long waiting lines at the entrance of the Museum, I advise you to come in by the Porte des Lions (the Lion’s Gate).
- The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Hunting and Nature Museum) in the Marais neighbourhood and/or Musée Picasso (Picasso Museum): Ticoeur and Titpuce loved the Hunting and Nature Museum situated in the heart of the Marais neighbourhood, district you shouldn’t miss if you visit Paris for the first time. In the museum, you can enjoy the setting of an amazing private town house and discover paintings, stuffed animals, weapons and decorative objects. Not far from here, is the Picasso Museum, absolutely stunning! So, visit one Museum after the other isn’t adapted for every child so you will have to chose according to your preferences. In the Picasso Museum, parents will love the visit and children should also be interested by the visual uniqueness of the artist’s paintings. For a gourmet break, I advise you the courtyard of the Swedish Institute.
- The Centre Georges Pompidou, the Stravinsky Fountain and a delicious pistachio ice cream! In the Centre Pompidou, there often are little exhibitions suitable for children. Right close to it, the Stravinsky Fountain, realized by Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle draws the attention of the little ones. And then, walking just a little bit further, you will get to Chez Bachir (58 Rambureau Street, Paris, 3rd district), Lebanese ice cream seller (organic!) where the ice creams are delicious, especially the pistachio and ashta ones.
- The Musée des Arts & Métiers (Arts and Craft Museum) and a brunch in the Gaité Lyrique: We really like the Arts and Crafts Museum situated in the heart of Paris, gathering all the inventions and jobs through the ages. You shouldn’t miss the Foucault pendulum or the first planes. It used to be possible to brunch in the Café of Techniques situated in the museum but it has been closed for about a year. Thus, I advise you to go to the Gaité Lyrique (a 5 minute walk away) where you can have lunch or brunch in the “3 bis” in a very beautiful setting. So, don’t hesitate to watch the programme of the Gaîté-Lyrique because there are often exhibitions suitable for young visitors. This place is dedicated to Digital arts and modern music.
- The Balloon in the Parc André Citroën: obviously, famous points of view of Paris aren’t missing! The top of the Eiffel Tower, the roof of the Arc de Triomphe or even the terrace on the Sacré-Coeur Basilica are without a doubt the most famous! But I suggest you to take off in the Hot Air Balloon in the Parc André Citroën to make the children happy and to see very beautiful sights of the Capital. It’s hardly ever crowded but the balloon doesn’t always take off because it needs very good weather conditions. With Titpuce, we tested and approved it!
- The Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden) and its museums: when the weather is nice, and particularly in Spring or Summer, the Botanical Garden is a very nice place for a family stroll. The garden is free but you can book tickets to visit the Giant Greenhouses or the Grand Gallery of Evolution (which is part of the National Natural History Museum. Lastly, it’s the Mineralogy and Geology Gallery that we re-discovered and really liked!
- From the Mosquée de Paris (Paris Central Mosque) to the Arènes de Lutèce (Arena of Lutece): getting out of the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Garden), you can have a cup of mint tea in the oriental setting of Paris Central Mosque before you reach the Arena of Lutece, ancient Roman remains, with not so much visitors and yet very pretty, where the children can frolic and where you can sit and relax for a picnic. If you didn’t bring your meal, I advise you to eat at the crêperie Le pot au Lait, selling French pancakes, situated a 10 minute walk away (41 Censier Street, Paris, 5th district).
- A trip in a barge or a boat-bus: here is a classical activity that allows you to see Paris from the Seine. As a family, the advantage is that the children won’t get tired of walking. If you don’t want to embark for a whole cruise, you can just take the boat-bus using your underground tickets. On the way, you will be able to say Hello to Notre-Dame Cathedral.
- Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Jardin d’Acclimatation: your children are claiming for rides and playgrounds? So, go to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a park full of activities and carousels for children, close to the Bois de Boulogne. For the parents, the interest is to start with the Louis Vuitton Foundation which architecture I love, created by Guéry. The entrance of the Museum gives you access to the Jardin d’Acclimatation. Do consult the exhibitions programme.
- The Nissim de Camondo Museum and the Parc Monceau: here is a museum that is not touristic, and yet so interesting! We discover the inside of a very beautiful particular townhouse still furnished (wow, the kitchen!). The visit isn’t very long and then, you can go to the Parc Monceau to let the children run around or even to have a picnic during the Summer! (63 Monceau street, Paris, 8th district).
- The Musée de l’armée (Army Museum): situated in the Invalides, the guided tour delighted my Ticoeur!
- The Tuileries, the Place de la Concorde and the Grande Roue (Big Wheel) for as long as it exists! The Tuileries Garden is very nice to go through after you visited the Louvre. Going to the Place de la Concorde you will see the Big Wheel… Not for a long time apparently… But a ride on the wheel offers beautiful views and the children loved it…
- The Palais Garnier (Paris Opera): My Titpuce is a huge fan of (the animated movie) Ballerina and of ballet so Paris Opera is a staple for her! I advise you to also visit the inside (possible on Wednesdays).
- Montmartre and the Sacré-Coeur: if your children are like mine, they don’t like to walk in the city when it’s flat… So, in Montmartre they will be delighted: it climbs! At the top, in front of the Sacré-Coeur Church, your effort will be rewarded by an amazing view on Paris. And while you go down, there is a carousel, if necessary 😉.
- The Parc of Buttes Chaumont: it is a lovely park… Very hilly… Ideal of a picnic or a break in the Rosa Bonheur (Rosa Happiness) where a traditional dance hall spirit is in the air…
- From the Canal Saint-Martin to the Canal de l’Ourq, and why not until The Villette… So, the adults will appreciate the charm of the Canal Saint-Martin that will remind you some of the scenes of the French movie Amélie. All along the canal, addresses to have brunch or lunch are not lacking. Following the water, you get to the Canal de l’Ourq where you can have a little cruise on an electric boat and you can enjoy the terraces on the quay. Finally, still following the water heading North, it will lead you to The Villette where there are many spaces dedicated to children: the Cité des Sciences (City of Sciences), the Géode (round cinema), The Musée de la Musique (the Music Museum), etc…
- The Buren’s Columns, a Japanese restaurant and why not the Musée en Herbe: So, the Buren’s Columns are on a small place behind the theatre of the Comédie Française. It’s not a very big space but Ticoeur and Titpuce didn’t get tired of climbing on the little columns and it makes very beautiful pictures! Very close, you can have lunch in the Japanese neighbourhood (a big noodle bowl!) and if the programme is worth it, don’t miss the Musée en Herbe dedicated to exhibitions for children.
- The Musée du Quai Branly (Branly Quay Museum): I love the parts about Oceania and Africa! The children really liked it! Very close, you can stroll along the Seine or go to the Eiffel Tower!
- The Palais de la Découverte (Discovery Palace), the Petit Palais (Small Palace) or the Grand Palais (Great Palace): the first one is dedicated to children, the second one allows you to settle for breakfast on the terrace of a cafeteria that is very nice when it’s not crowded. Finally, the Grand Palais is amazing so if the exhibition of the moment may interest the children, then don’t hesitate and go!! The inside is monumental!
- The aquarium of the Porte Dorée (Golden Gate) and the Parc Floral (Floral Park): here, you are on the extreme East part of Paris. The aquarium of the Porte Dorée deserves a visit for its architecture, its affordable price and its fishes of course! Not far from here, if the weather allows it, join the Parc Floral. The perfect moment is during the Summer jazz concerts.
I hope you liked this first big stroll around Paris! To move in the city, underground and buses are very practical with the children. You just have to make sure to avoid the rush hours! And, concerning the line 14 of the underground, the one without drivers: hop into the first metro car because the children will love to see the railway and the tunnels through the front glass!
There you go! It was my first selection of visits as a family in the Capital! I prepare other ideas to share with you very soon! In the meantime, tell me: what were your crushes and the ones of your children in Paris?