Paris with kids: top 3 travel tips
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.
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
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…
Final 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.