Paris with kids: top 3 travel tips

Paris with kids -  Frida et moi -

Paris is synonymous with romance, style and shopping, right?

The French capital isn’t known as a family-friendly destination, and my research prior to a November visit with my daughter turned up almost nothing except parks and playgrounds (not much good if it rains).

Surely, I thought, a city lived in by hundreds of thousands of families must welcome children? As it turned out, I was right. Discover my ultimate guide to Paris with kids…

1. Find child-friendly museums in Paris

The iconic Centre Pompidou has a dedicated space for under-10s: the Galerie des enfants. The exhibition changes every few months.

At the moment it’s devoted to Frida Kalho and entitled ‘Frida et moi’ (pictured top right). Supposedly designed for children aged five and up, the colourful interactive installations delighted my daughter, who is almost three.

She was similarly engaged by the brilliant Cité des enfants at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in the Parc de la Villette in northern Paris.

Paris with kids - Travelling with children - things to do in paris - museum histoire naturelle My French Life

Divided into two ‘cités’, one for two to seven-year-olds and the other for children aged five to 12, the huge space is packed with an incredible variety of activities designed to stimulate the senses, involving water, wind, light, music, colour, shapes… fantastique.

On the other side of the city, in the Jardin des Plantes, is the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle (pictured above), which also has a stunning Galerie des enfants filled with animals, birds, dinosaurs and all manner of other creatures. It’s aimed at children over six but my little girl loved her visit nevertheless.

2. Secrets to eating out in Paris with kids

Macarons - Laduree - Paris with kids - Travelling with children - My French LifeFor sweet treats, you can’t beat macarons. They come in every colour and flavour imaginable and even the most high-end options (Pierre Hermé, Ladurée) cost little over €1 each.

At three or four bites a piece, they’re the perfect sharing size – my daughter’s mantra for the trip became “you take a bite, daddy take a bite, and I take a bite!” And, your little ones will love helping you pick them out from the glass-fronted display cabinets.

A trip to your nearest boulangerie first thing each day, to select pastries and a baguette for breakfast à la française, is also a must-do.

When eating out in Paris, there is a middle ground between the likes of Quick (Belgium’s answer to McDonalds) and formal haute cuisine, which isn’t very child or family-friendly. Many brasseries offer a menu enfant and I can highly recommend the wine bar Les Sardignac, in the 9th arrondissement, where we enjoyed home-made fare, friendly service and great value, with the children’s menu at €10.

3. Where to stay in Paris with kids…

Paris with Kids - apartments in Paris - stay in Paris - travelling with children - My French Kids - My French LifeFinal tip: stay in an apartment.

Parisian hotels are small and expensive – great for a weekend à deux, but not so much with lively kids in tow.

Sites like Airbnb offer thousands of options, and the best thing is that you can pick a home whose owner has a family – meaning toys, books, cosy beds and essentials like a high chair will be in situ.

We stayed in a huge two-bed apartment close to the Parc de la Villette for around €100 per night.

So – have you taken your children to Paris? How was it? Share your experiences below – personally, I’m already planning our next family visit to the French capital.

Image credits:
1. Frida et la nature, © Adagp, Paris 2013.
2. Paris Musée Histoire Naturelle, by Manolo Blanco on Flickr.
3. Macarons, Ladurée, by Yuichi Sakuraba on Flickr. 
4. 7ème Parisian Apartment, by Kevin Christopher Burke on Flickr.

About the Contributor

Rachel Malcolm

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  1. Tuong-An Huynh Dec 18, 2013 at 12:39 AM - Reply

    The Musée d’histoire naturelle has always been my favorite, it’s an amazing place ! The ménagerie at the Jardin des plantes is also worth visiting if your children love animals.

    • Rachel Malcolm Dec 18, 2013 at 6:27 AM - Reply

      Thank you for the tip! I’m definitely looking forward to taking my daughter back there when she’s a bit older.

  2. Judy MacMahon Dec 18, 2013 at 11:33 AM - Reply

    Hi Rachel our FB friend David Ruben left you a message too – “The Louvre is a great museum for kids. It’s big, noisy , has plenty of benches to rest and a food court. Plus there are the Tuilleries outside with a pond, manège ….. And Angelina chocolate just down the street”

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