Ten Great Things to Do With Kids in Paris

I’m often asked about kid-friendly things to do in Paris. Since I don’t have any kids (at least I don’t think I do…) I asked my friend Paul Bennett, a writer who runs Context Travel and has three small children, to contribute a guest post: Top Ten Things to Do in With Kids in Paris. Thanks Paul!… -DL

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It always sounds glamorous when I tell people that my wife and I split our time between Paris and Rome. But that runway-model images wears off pretty quickly when I mention that we have three kids and a dog and spend far less time sipping kirs at sidewalk cafes than stacking the kids on top of each other in order to fit ourselves on the metro during a rush-hour dash to school, debating the pros and cons of each arondissement’s public pool, or waiting desperately for the ferris wheel to open in the Tuilleries–the high point of a kid’s year in Paris, let me tell you.

Is Paris child-friendly?

Yes. Not in the please-run-screaming through-our-restaurant way that Rome is, but child-friendly in that there are tons of well-organized, exciting things to do with children all over the city. Of all the places we’ve lived, our kids have been the least bored in Paris, Sundays notwithstanding (everything is closed on Sunday!) Nothing symbolizes this better than the clean and tidy parks sporting functioning play equipment that dot the city. Some of these are large and well known, but many are tiny little “pocket parks” that always seem to be around the next corner. My favorite is the place des Vosges where you can build a sandcastle in the shadow of 17th century housing development, entertaining the kids in a sublime architectural environment.

Of course just being in Paris is educational in itself for kids. Learning how to mix it up in a Parisian sandbox without speaking French is a life lesson I could never replicate in the US. It’s amazing how quickly an anglophone child can grasp the concept, “c’est MOI!”

Caveat: My kids are still young (between the ages of 2 and 6), and so my experiences with children in Paris tend toward the more playful. Check back in a couple of years and I’ll give you my thoughts on entertaining tweens in the city of light. Until then, here’s my top ten things to do with kids in Paris:

1. The Cité des Enfants

This is hands-down our very favorite children’s museum in the world. Everything works and is smartly designed. We usually have to drag the kids away–and I’ve been known to lose an hour or two watching the how-to-make-a-baquette video. Buy tickets ahead and make sure you plan around their pre-scheduled entrance, although if you arrive early, there’s always the fantastic Parc de la Villette just outside.

2. Parc de la Villette

This is a reclaimed industrial landscape turned into futuristic park. Most of the playful park structures were designed by Bernard Tschumi with a child’s imagination in mind. I’ve lost entire days here with my oldest daughter Stella (6). Our favorite spaces include the enormous dragon slide and the bamboo maze.

lani

3. Jardin d’Acclimatation

This childrens’ park was actually designed in the 19th century, and although it’s been updated with lots of cool rides and play equipment there’s still an air of old Paris about the place. (The jungle boat ride with it’s period depiction of natives sitting in the grass and pith-helmet wearing colonialists is particularly, er, historic.) We love it because most of the play equipment is designed for the park itself (instead of purchased off the shelf and plopped there), which makes it far more intriguing and novel. One should definitely arrive on the “petit train” that leaves from the Porte Maillot, a narrow gauge choo-choo that chugs through the perimeter of the Bois de Boulonge before depositing you at the entrance. This place has it all: a zoo, a sprinkler park, huge expanses of park equipment for every age, and a boardwalk-like section of rides and junk food. I’ve been arguing for years that we should really just build a house in the woods here and move in permanently.

4. Paris Plage

“Plage” means beach, and in addition to truckloads of sand that are dumped along the banks of the Seine in an artsy effort to create an urban beach this late July and August festival includes food stands, bouncy houses, lots of concerts, and cool games. Another annual activity for parents of real small kids is chasing them down before they fling themselves into the river. You see lots of harried first time parents participating.

5. Ice-skating.

From December to March, the city sets up ice rinks at strategic locations around the city including in front of the Montparnasse tower and at Place de l’Hôtel de Ville (the square in front of City Hall). The latter has the advantage of being able to enjoy views of Notre Dame as well as a small luge run–both inspiring on a gray winter day.

6. Le Jardin des Plantes

Along the Seine in the 5th arrondissement, the Jardin des Plantes is a grand botanical garden in the middle of the city and a favorite spot for strolling. This is a good place to let the kids run and sniff flowers. There’s also a ménagerie (zoo) with some cool monkeys and an old school natural history museum with huge, dusty dinosaur bones and not a trace of the frenetic edutainment that goes on in so many museums these days. Here it’s just bones–tons and tons of them–all crowded into a majestic hall. You feel like you’ve stepped back into the 19th century. The kids are awestruck.

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7. The Palais de la Découverte

The Palace of Discovery is the city’s second science museum and really oriented towards younger kids (under 12). It’s located in a beautiful 19th century building that is a leftover from the World’s Fair but is decked out with all the latest technology. The video of open-heart surgery is a highlight. Although everything’s in French, the topics and presentations transcend language.

8. Tuilleries Garden

Not only is this central and a great place to exhale after visiting the Louvre, but it’s a great place for kids. We love the fountain in the middle where you can rent a model sailboat. Also, in the summer time they set up a carnival with a ferris wheel, that gives the best views of Paris outside of the Pompidou’s rooftop bar.

9. Jardin du Luxembourg

The southwest corner of this Renaissance garden is devoted to kids, including acres of slides and swings. It costs 1,50 Euro to enter and espresso is another euro; but sitting in the shade of century-old plane trees while the kids run themselves ragged… priceless. There’s even a hundred-year-old puppet theater run by a crotchety old man. And, of course, the famous carousel.

10. Context Paris’ Family Program

And finally, to merge the fun and the educational, don’t forget our walks of Gothic Paris, the Louvre for kids, and Montmartre. We even run an excursion to Giverny with a plein-air (open air) painting lesson for kids.

paulslide

Thanks to Paul and his wife, Lani, for their insights and list of places to bring the children. There’s a few I’m putting on my own list for a visit! Check out their site, Context Travel, a collective of scholars who organize and lead walking seminars of the world’s cultural capitals–including Paris.

You can also learn what they’re doing to promote sustainable tourism. They also have a lovely Paris rental apartment which is comfortable and well-located in the historic Bastille quarter. -DL

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More Kids In Paris-Related Links:

Eating With Children (John Talbott’s Paris)

Paris With Kids (Washington Post)

Paris With Kids (Fodor’s)

Children’s Outings in Paris (Paris Visitor’s Bureau)

Paris with Kids Guides:

Cityguide for Parents (Urban Crayon Paris)

Paris with Kids (Open Road)

Citywalks with Kids (Paris Adventure Cards)

48 comments

  • I have to thank you profusely for this! I live in Strasbourg, and will be in Paris for the 4th time in a year with our pre-schooler in June. I think she’s getting a little bored of the Louvre! Now all we need is the list of child-friendly-yet-actually-good restaurants and cafes in Paris…Hippopotamus can get a little tedious.

  • Thanks for the usual suggestions Paul.
    We stayed in the Context apartment a month ago and found it very well appointed. We will certainly return and when we do we will hit some of the suggestions with our 8 year old.

  • Hi Mindy: Folks do ask me about ‘child-friendly’ restaurants in Paris and the problem is, it usually depends on the children. As you know, the restaurant in France are tighter and smaller than in the states. That, coupled with eating later, can be hard on kids. Plus much depends on how adventurous the kids are.

    If kids are picky (like, they’ll eat chicken, but only boneless, skinless breasts) that’s going to be much tougher. I think La Coupole is a good choice, as you can eat at all hours and the place is big. Plus nothing phases those waiters. Ma Bourgogne in the place des Vosges is another since you can eat outside overlooking the place. The crêperies clustered around Montparnasse (like Josselin) are good options, too, as they’re very casual

    Those are a few off the top of my head. But anyone who has suggestions, feel free to leave them here in the comments.

  • Thanks, David! Those are helpful suggestions. Our almost-three-year-old daughter is pretty well-behaved and pretty much likes anything (one of her favorite foods right now is capers). But after a long day in Paris, she acts like any three year old would…

  • In Boulevard Montparnasse, next to the Notre-Dame-des-Champs church is a very little park where children seem to amuse themselves. My husband and I like to sit on a bench under a tree, eat a snack and watch them.

  • I have to say that we found The Palais de la Découverte not that adapted to the younger set…we have a 3 year old and were recently tempted to go because they advertised having a special segment of an exhibit (it was about the nose and smelling) for maternelle (3-6 years old) children. This one particular segment was very well adapted to this age group but the rest of the museum was way over his head. Of course, you can always find things and ways to get into museums no matter the age but I don’t think we will return there until he is a bit older…

    We love all the other recommendations in this post though and have visited them all many times! We’ve taken our son to many exhibits at the Palais de Tokyo which is very kid-friendly and has something for children and adults of all ages. In the same vein, Pompidou often has special exhibits just for children and the museum itself is loads of fun.

    As far as restos that are appealing and friendly for the preschool set, I agree with David, it depends on the child. Our son seems to do fine behavior-wise everywhere but he doesn’t always eat very well when we eat out. Crêperies are a great idea! My friend has a teahouse in La Butte aux Cailles (13th) that is very kid-friendly and serves a delicious lunch…plus there is a playground right in front of her place! Also, by June many restaurants will provide seating outside so choosing a place that is on a place/square so kids can move away from the table a bit can be helpful. The Place Stravinsky (right next to the Pompidou) could be a fun place to eat especially with the Fontaine des automates for entertainment.

  • Great read, makes me want to have kids and take them to Paris…

  • We took our baby (then 10 months) to Paris last summer and I was impressed by just how child-friendly it was (especially compared to London, which bookended our Paris trip, and NYC, where we had dashed the weekend before (it was a busy summer)). I especially loved the stroller space in the buses. But I think it’s so important to note that with a very few exceptions, the French really love babies. You don’t get the dirty looks you get in America for deigning to take your (well-behaved) child out in public — we got smiles and questions wherever we went. One night we were eating dinner on the Champs Elysees (yes, touristy, but a tradition) at L’Alsace and when our food took a while to appear the hostess whisked our daughter around the patio to keep her entertained by the wait staff. When we stopped at one of the Eric Kayser locations in the 8th for a cup of tea after a picnic at the Parc Monceau, they brought my daughter her own plate of sugared choux puffs and financiers (and she delighted in sitting on their red chairs like a big girl and eating them.) That is child friendliness — it’s not just official things to do, but a cultural embrace of children.

    I should add that the Nuni also adored chocolate eclairs, much as I did when I was a child and was carted off to Paris.

  • Paris to the Moon

    Adam Gopnik

    You’ll never forget Luke and his Dad if you read this book. Since he wrote this book, Adam and Martha moved back to NY, NY and had Olivia, whose invisible friend Charlie Ravioli hired a secretary to keep her away from him.

    Seriously.

  • I can’t believe it, you actually made me want to have children. And travel with them! Perhaps I can borrow a couple this summer . . .

  • We are doing a house-swap for three weeks this July with a family in Marseille, and ending our trip with four nights in Paris. Our three kids, ages 4, 6, 8, are coming along, and I’m sure your suggestions will be helpful. Thanks!

  • This is a nice addition as a guest feature, and a great list.

    Jardin de Tuileries also has the cutest little carousel (merry go round), and a section with several trampolines set up for both kids and adults. I blogged about it here, should you be interested.

    For restaurants, I, too, was going to mention Le Coupole, and Briezh Cafe. Also, Angelina is quite child friendly and offers continuous service.

    Picnics are always a great idea, and frugal as well. There are so many perfect spots for this in Paris. If you are in Montmartre, the sloped lawns of Sacre Couer offer a lovely view (there is a carousel at the bottom), and there are also some very cute parks with playgrounds – one on rue Burq, and one on a lovely street behind the Moulin de la Galette.

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula

  • What a great post. We were in the midst of a discussion on whether to take our 3-yr old for 10 days to Paris when we read this post. Thanks a ton.

  • I love your comment “Since I don’t have any kids (at least I don’t think I do…)”. That is the answer I give about grandchildren.
    With my 2 daughters, I know. But with my son, I dread the day some girl walks up to me with a child and says “Guess what?” So when people ask if I have grandchildren I just say “I don’t think so.”

  • Le Jardin d’Acclimatation and Luxembourg are our kids’ favorites – they’ve loved them since they were 6 and 4 and they’re now 13 and 11. They also think La Coupole is the best restaurant in the world – the kids’ menu is fantastic, and they learned one of their favorite jokes from it: One fish collides with another in the sea, and says “hey, watch where you’re going!” The other responds “I can’t help it, I have water in my eyes!” We ate there in October and are still guffawing over my translation. Hippopotamus is their top lunch choice – we have quite the collection of little plastic hippos for designating the cuisson of the meat. My recommendation is that four is the earliest you can shlep a kid from the States and still hope to get something out of the trip – but try to find a babysitter for the evenings to save your sanity!

  • Our kids absolutely loved the Jardins d’Acclimatation, Luxembourg and Tuilleries. Especially in the Tuilleries, they love the fair in the summer months, the regular carousel there (any carousel for that matter, and there is a phenominal hand-crank carousel in the 16th, across the street from the Musee Marmottan), and the in-ground trampolines which are very close to rue Castiglione entrance.

    One of the treasures that we found is also in the Bois de Boulogne – the Lac Inferieur. You can stroll around the lake, take out row boats, take a little ferry across the lake to a little restaurant. It is the perfect place for a daytime picnic, and plenty of space to run around.

    Parc Monceau is also wonderful because there are great playgrounds, swings, gardens, picnic areas, etc.

    As for food, you can’t go wrong with a croque-monsieur, or crepe jambon fromage, and a bribe of good behavior for a trip to Berthillon. Everyone wins.

  • My kids need to see Paris. Now they have no reason not to. What wonderful information.

  • “I can’t believe it, you actually made me want to have children. And travel with them! Perhaps I can borrow a couple this summer . . .”

    Hey Toast & Chocolate, care to borrow mine while we’re in Paris?… they’re lot’s of fun. except at naptime. and in restaurants.

    Seriously though, thank you for such an interesting and useful post David and Paul. I’ve loved reading it.

  • Paul and Lani’s company looks great fun for grown ups, but some very thoughtful tips here for kids. Some feedback for P&L – their website uses the term ‘docent’ repeatedly. I don’t think many British English speakers (eg Brits, Australians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Indians) will be familiar with the term. I worked in heritage conservation for 10 years in the UK, and it wasn’t until we had an American intern come to work with us that I learned the term. He used it to mean what we called a House Steward ie someone with hands on responsibility for collections care and with a lot of visitor contact, but not as senior as a curator and usually not as academically qualified. I assume Context uses the term more in the sense of ‘curator’?

  • Kate: Yes, I’ve seen waitstaff in France take babies and kids, and entertain them, while their parents eat. French people do seem to like kids, although as you mentioned-“well behaved” is the operative word. If your kids are lively and loud, you likely won’t get such a pleasant reception since in France, it’s considered impolite to bother other diners. (Which is why you’ll get nasty stares if talking loud in a restaurant…although the ever-present cell phones are changing that a bit here.)

    I tell people, the bigger the restaurant, the better when it comes to kids. Cafés are usually lively and fine for kids, but the spaces are usually much tighter than what Americans are used to and kids (especially those on vacation) might not be accustomed being confined as such. I recommend going off-hours, like dining at 7pm, when cafés and restaurants aren’t busy and the staff isn’t frazzled.

  • What a wonderful list! I would add to this list the amazing Aquaboulevard in the 15th. It is a HUGE indoor/outdoor wave pool complex, complete with fabulous waterslides. When the outdoor pool is open, it is totally magical to go swimming on a weekday, during office hours – you have the place to yourself, and you can float on your back staring up at the beautiful blue sky, and feeling like the luckiest person in the world. In the winter months, it can save the sanity of harried parents. For those families vacationing in Paris, it is open late at night, and so can provide an ‘evening activity’ if you are not wanting to crash in your hotel beds.

    Thanks for the mention of Aquaboulevard. While I haven’t been, in France, pools usually absolutely require men and boys to wear Speedo-style swimsuits. And not the square-cut ones either. So if you’re planning on going there, you might wish to bring one along. Some pools require men to wear bathing caps as well! -dl

  • Paris is a great place for kids and this list most certainly highlights some perfect spots. Having lived in Paris years ago, I was thrilled to be able to take my 4 year old there in 2007. We had an incredible time. So true that the sandboxes at Place des Vosges are ideal.

    Not to be missed is the small playground near the Eiffel Tower with donkey rides and tiny Merry-Go-Round. As for dining, pick and choose carefully and go early. Meals can also be picnic-style, both indoors and outdoors with whatever you find at the great markets. Some highlights of our trip:

    http://www.izzyeats.com/2007/07/chez-omar-first-dinner-out-and-about.html

    http://www.izzyeats.com/2007/07/rainy-paris-picnic-indoors.html

    http://www.izzyeats.com/2007/07/itty-bitty-gourmandparisian-reality-or.html

    http://www.izzyeats.com/2007/07/le-marche-des-enfants-rouges-finding.html

  • One specific address you’re sure to love with young kids: le Poussette Cafe

    It’s a ‘salon de thé’ designed for families, plenty of activities for the young ones and pretty good food for the parents. I loved it with my then 2 year old.
    I actually opened the same kind of place, but over here in Brittany if you ever come this way!

    It’s at 6 rue Pierre Sémard, Paris 9ème, open Tuesday to Saturday.

  • Glad to know that some of this stuff is useful.

    Our kids are all good eaters, and so pickiness is a non-issue for us. Still, there are times when they really just want something familiar and easy. In addition to the crepe suggestion I’d point out that there are a bunch of great burger places in Paris (Breakfast in America was a favorite of ours for brunch) and most kids like steak frites, which can be had most anywhere. We also hit the chain Leon de Bruxelles every once in a while for moules frites, which is a winner.

    The main issue for us is, as David mentioned, the size and atmosphere of the restaurant. Mashing all five us—three of whom can be, let’s say, fidgety—around a small table in tight quarters can be nerve wracking, especially if there’s an unaccommodating waiter involved. We really like Baz Art in the 4th, partly because it’s across the street from our apartment, but also because there are a lot of big tables with plenty of space in between. The waiters know us, which means A LOT in Paris; but they are also just generally kid friendly. An added plus: they’re open throughout the day, and during the off-hours (1:30 pm on weekdays) you can find a pretty empty dining room.

    Impromptu picnics are a great choice. We often raid a market (Bastille on Thursdays is a good one) and then retire to a park (Place des Vosges in that case) for a healthy lunch of baguettes, comté, and fruit. We also often grab falafels on Rue de Rosiers and go to the little pocket park along that street.

    I second the suggestion on the Pompidou. Kids love it—not only the building, the great water garden next to it, and the standing collection, but there’s usually an exhibition curated especially for kids. It’s a favorite for ours.

    We use the word docent because it more accurately describes the scholars and specialists who lead our walks (as opposed to tour guides) and connotes the idea of someone with specific knowledge paired with a specific topic (an art historian in a museum, a chef in a market, etc….) We borrowed the term from American museums like the Met where docents are usually highly qualified experts (all Ph.D. students at the Met) who do the gallery walks and talks for the public. It’s also used in Italian (docente) to mean teacher.

  • Paul: I’d also like to stress, as you did, that visitors might strongly consider going to the same places. In Paris, if you frequent the same places, you get MUCH better service.

    (Which is why no one who lives here ever wants to move.)

    I give that advice to anyone coming here, to frequent the same café, the same fromagerie, and the same restaurants. It may not provide the variety you might be looking for, but your experience will be much, much better. Especially if you have kids.

    As Izzy’s Mama pointed out in one of her stories (thanks for the link!), the waitress initially wasn’t very friendly, and reluctant to serve her son anything interesting. But he was a good, adventurous eater, and by the end of the meal, the waitress was playing with her son. I bet if they went back another day during their visit, that waitress would’ve showered attention on them.

  • Perfect post- we have friends who will be spending a couple of weeks in Paris this summer w/ their kids. Will pass along the info! Thank you!

  • Thank you for your explanation re docent Paul. My understanding of the term is actually much the same as yours then (thanks to my intern, who indeed had a PhD, as did quite a few of our House Stewards :-) I’m sure most British English speakers will get the gist of it through context (pun intended).

  • I really enjoyed this post… so very useful too. Thank you!

  • i love paris.
    anything a person needs or wants – paris is the place

  • Wonderful post! My husband, 3 year old daughter, and I were in Paris last month. Sorry we didn’t have your list then–though we did hit the top 2 listed. We loved the play area at Square Paul Langevin that was just around the corner from the apartment we rented.

    I’ll definitely save this for our next trip–which we all hope is very soon.

  • We had been educated before hand when we took our three kids to Paris last year about dining with kids and, with some fear, took out kids to eat our second day in the city at Le Vieux Bistro next to Notre Dame. We talked to them extensively before hand about being quiet and well behaved. We promised small glasses of watered down wine as a reward!

    Just after we arrived at Le Vieux, three VERY loud women arrived (driping in fur and shopping bags) and proceeded to define the “ugly american stereotype” we were trying to avoid. By the end of our meal (and after they had consumed numerous bottles of wine who’s prices they discussed VERY loudly) we knew that they were from Texas, that they had no intention of telling their husbands how much money they spent during their weekend of Christmas shopping, where they were staying, which ones were in therapy and even which ones had plastic surgery scheduled after the holidays. The made quite a scene and drew all attention away from our little crew.

    Our kids ate quietly with WIDE eyes and, after we left, went out of their way to NEVER be loud and to discuss private things privately! It was the best worst example I’ve ever seen and, as long as we arrived at the restaurant early in service, we didn’t feel uncomfortable dining with our kids anywhere in Paris. In fact, we found that our adventurous eaters were doted on by the wait staff and treated warmly.

    The kids still talk about the Texans!

  • Great to know. As I’ve never been to Paris, and likely at this point if I ever do go, it will be with a kid in tow. (Unless it’s 20 years from now, which I hope not!)

  • thanks so much for this. sorry that we missed it before we had our week vacation at the beginning of april but at least we hit most of your highlights. we have a 5-year old and a 2-year old and we definitely had a great time. for us, we loved the luxembourg gardens and we also were big fans of the rodin museum. they have a great garden, and is an excellent place for running and hiding. museums we took them too that were good included the pompidou and the picasso museum. we also went to place des voges, and while the sandpits were great, the playground was definitely in a state of disrepair — at least 2 major pieces were out of commission and the rest of the items just looked worn down.

    our biggest disappointment was the dining. i had taken with me all of david’s recs as well as a few other friends, and we just could not get our act together. the night time dining was just too late at the better places (first seating at 7:45 for itineraires for example) and since we were a bit on u.s. time we couldn’t see taking the kids for a big meal at noon or 1. and we tried places like breizh but of course went on monday (they were closed). so i would love more suggestions on that front that allowed for a little more flexibility. are there any good places to eat that would tolerate kids (would they let us get the one picky eater something plain) and still give us excellent food, or do we need to rely on bon marche for a few more years? i would hate to come back and not have at least one excellent meal.

  • Thank you so much, we used to travel to paris when my children were babies. Now that they are in grade school we’ve held off on visiting for fear of utter boredom. These child friendly places are fantastic!!! It gives me hope that another trip will be on the horizon.

  • The Cité de la Science has a really cool giant ant farm, as I recall–it really captured my kids’ attention when they were smaller. A lot of art museums and such have “ateliers” on Wednesday afternoons (when many kids are out of school) where kids can have “hands-on” lessons. And I remember going to the Ferme Gally (?) and seeing a really cool demonstration of bread baking. The French aren’t always as relaxed and hands-on in their children’s activities, but there’s a lot of cool stuff offered. And my kids love riding the Metro and the bâteau-mouche.
    My kids really loved the Musée d’Orsay, and we got to cut in line because we had two adorable children.
    We haven’t had any child-unfriendly dining experiences in Paris, but we mostly keep to the café-bistro options. We’ve even gotten waiters to agree to bring plain buttered noodles (!). But now with a tween vegetarian, it’s become difficult. “Does the tartiflette have meat?” “Non, monsieur, pas de viande.” Except for the lardons!

  • Wow, thank you everyone for all of this wonderful information. As Paris is my favorite city in the world, I have only been with my husband. But now, I cannot wait for my next adventure in Paris with my children. Thank you so much David for doing this on your blog!!

  • This is a great list – thanks, Paul! I wanted to put in my two cents for the Musee des Arts et Metiers. It’s a great museum for the young lads – my son who is 6 LOVES this place. They have all sorts of models of different machines – planes, microscopes, printing presses, etc. And they have lots of thing to touch which all kids love to do.

    I second the reco for Palais de la Decouverte which is also a very good hands-on type of museum.

    And while you are at Jardin d’Acclimatation this year, don’t miss the Explorodome (which sadly will be relocating to Ivry later in 2009) – another hands-on kids science museum. We had my son’s birthday party there and it was a huge hit!

  • Thank you David, and Paul! Wow, out of 10 options – 8 weren’t even on my list! Great info, as always. Hey, I was one of those who kept nudging you about those tips :) So my satisfaction is double. More ideas for our trip in June.

    “Please-run-screaming through-our-restaurant” – ha-ha-ha, you’re killing me! This is, by the way, how it’s kids-friendly in my country, I guess, we are just too used to this freedom. ;)

    This site becomes THE ultimate guide for Paris, thanks to your effort! Appreciate it all the way!

  • Anyone contemplating a trip to Paris with kids should consider getting Valerie Gwinner’s excellent guide, Paris with Kids, published with Open Roads. She has lots of creative suggestions for touring and getting kids excited about Paris such as retracing the footsteps of Nicholas Flamel, a real person who makes an appearance in the first Harry Potter book.

  • This is very useful information. I’ll be sure to check back before our upcoming trip to France. We’ve been to Paris a few times but it was prior to having kids so this will certainly be a different experience.

  • I recommend Parc Champs du Mars, right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The local French-American kindergarden uses it’s Jungle Gym, Sandbox, and Spiderweb Playgroud for recess so if your kids want to play in English, go there. Further down you will find a Carousel in which children try to capture rings with a stick each time they go around. On the opposite side towards the 7th arr., you will find race cars(foot powered) that go around and around an outdoor track. You can’t walk on the grass, but there’s a lot of fun to be had. They sell ice-cream at various stands, the restaurant on the lower level Altitude 95 is child-friendly, but the food is average. Go climb the Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning before the lines get long. I would not take children under 13 to Jules Verne, not even for lunch. The 6th and the 7th has many delicious shops and restaurants, Marie-Ann Cantin, Peltier…Christian Constant has a couple restaurants on Rue Ste. Dominique right off of the middle of Champs des Mars, keep walking and on Rue Jean-Nicot you’ll find the ex-Poujauran boulangerie(they have gooey pain au chocolats on sale at 3pm for the kids getting out of school) & Bellota Bellota for the best ham,cheese, olive oil, tomato & garlic sandwiches(their e.v. olive oil is a must to take home).
    A DINNER or LUNCH FAVORITE on Les Champs Elysees would be CHEZ LEON, an unpretentious Moules (Mussels)restaurant from Brussels, they serve the best Moules a la creme, and Moules a la vin blanc in huge steaming pots, with all you can eat fries. The kids enjoy eating mussels by pinching the mussels out using an empty mussel shell! Dipping the bread in the broth is also good. They have a kids menu moules, or fish sticks, or chicken nuggets, DESSERT, and crayons and coloring menu, and a toy when you leave the restaurant. I also recommend the deep-fried Eperlans(tiny whitefish) for an appetizer. The beer on tap is good, as is the Kriek(cherry flavored) beer. The waiters are very friendly, and there’s usually a wait outside but it’s not too bad. You can definitely bring toddlers here.

    Thanks Deborah! Chez Leon de Bruxelles has restaurants all over Paris, not just on the Champs-Elysées, which is good to know if it’s kid-friendly. Just looked at their site and they have a while kids menu, as you mentioned, and more. Plus they have fries! -dl

  • PS For a Serviced Apartment you can stay for a night or months, CITADINES Trocadero is the best. There’s a huge Casino supermarket nearby, nice neighborhood market street (Rue Belles Feuilles) with two excellent rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes shops(at one you can get herbed roast chicken), Alsatian deli, cheese shop, boulangerie, delicious quiche/tart restaurant SOLANA on Rue Mesnil, on the otherside of Casino shopping center…they have the best Fondant Chocolat, you can eat lunch in, or do take-out until 5pm. It’s close to The Trocadero Garden with playground, Museum of Man, Museum of Marine(Sea), Aquarium, Passy, Musee Marmottan(Impressionist, Illuminated works), take-out sushi at Comme des Poisson at the best sushi shop in Paris…all the Japanese ex-pats eat there or take-out. Only has one sushi counter and you’re expected to order the Omakase if you sit there- so not recommended for kids unless your teenager loves sushi and fish and Japanese veggies prepared in a variety of ways.

  • Your suggestions for children in Paris are wonderful. I will be visiting with my ten year old granddaughter in July. She is a novice but displays great interest in cooking. I have been looking for an afternoon cooking class that both she and I could attend while there. I was particularly intersted in Escole Ritz Escoffier but have not been able to make contact. Can anyone offer suggestions?

  • Wanted to say a *huge* thank you for this – we’ve been here with a 5 yr old and 2 yr old & thanks to this page, I found lots of things for us to do with the kids; our favorite being la jardin d’acclimatation. It was, in one word, ‘superbe’. Thanks David!

  • The power of information sharing! Amazing! Thanks to all.

    Need to find a day care or a nanny service that is reliable where i can leave my 4 and 2 year old for a few afternoons so my husband and i can have some down time.

    Suggestions please.

  • It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, a line you will tread every moment of the day traveling in Paris with a fussy three year old. On balance my advice would be – leave them at home and put some money into a Trust fund they can access age 18 to travel to Paris themselves ; )

  • You might like to know that the well-known Parisian publisher Parigramme has a book for English speaking families called Paris Hide and Seek – for readers with sharp eyes.
    Other suggestions are le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont where there’s a lot for children to do, le Passage Jouffroy with some nice old-fashioned toyshops, take a boat on the Canal Saint-Martin and go through the locks. In the Bois de Vincennes there are good play areas for children. The Paris-Mômes magazine has an English version on their website and lots of ideas. A Priorité (a teashop) in the Galerie Vivienne…….

  • Here’s another source of information you might like to look at –
    http://www.pariswithchildren.com/