Top Family tips for February half-term
Hello and welcome back to Mama Loves Paris. We are back on track for 2018 and excited to share with you our insight into life in Paris. Being super useful however, is our number one priority so to kick off the year here is a fabulous tip-filled guide to help you out during half term if you are staying in the city of love with the kids, written by one of our dedicated MLP team, Jennifer Hamerman.
The February half term break is essentially the ski break for the French. Many families go skiing in the Alps but there is plenty going on for those families who stay in Paris. Here is the MLP guide to keeping the family busy in this winter month.
The Christmas markets may be over but you can still ice skate! We love the municipal ice rink at Boulogne, just at the Marcel Sembat metro stop on metro line 9. It is big and well-maintained and there is great people-watching potential as there are some excellent skaters who train there. But fear not, they have chairs for small children to push around to help them keep their balance. We are also excited that the rink on top of Montparnasse is due back for the February holidays. It will be open 14 February until 6 March.
Chinese New Year
On 16 February Paris will be celebrating the Year of the Dog! You will a great parade in the 13th district, but also in the Marais as well as a parade and martial arts demonstrations in Belleville. And if all this puts you in the mood for some Chinese cuisine, check out this list of the favourite 25 Chinese restaurants of Paris.
Street Art workshop
We love the look of this street art workshop aimed at 4 – 8 year olds taking place at Villette. Children under 6 years old have to be accompanied by an adult and there is no charge in that case for the adult ticket.
Swan Lake ballet will be performed at two Paris venues, first the wonderful new music venue Seine Musicale 10-11 February 2018 and then at Palais des Congress 14-18 February 2018.
The performers are the St Petersburg Ballet so it can’t get much better than that! A great cultural family experience if your children are old enough to enjoy it.
Need to drop your kids off and keep them occupied in the February school holidays? Coding fun with Lego and Minecraft themes should fit the bill. There are drop-off workshops (including some in English!) at venues around Paris, including at the International School of Paris, where you could combine it with other workshops, pack a lunch and drop your child for the whole day.
Corot at the Marmottan Monet Museum
Usually celebrated for his landscapes, Corot also excelled at painting people. The Marmottan Monet Museum, on the edge of the Ranelagh Gardens in the 16th district of Paris, is displaying over 60 of his paintings in Corot, the Painter and his Models. The Marmottan has lots of kids’ workshops in case you’d like to keep them occupied. Look out for the pony rides in the Ranelagh Gardens.
The Salon d’Agriculture is a huge annual event in the February school holidays. From 24 February to 4 March, the countryside comes into Paris and sets up camp! We are talking every possible farm animal for the kids to see, tasting stands where you can try all the wonderful food and drink produced around France and a real insight into what makes the French tick. It brings to life how the amazing food we taste in a sophisticated Paris restaurant has its roots in the rural soul and quality of ingredients that the French pride themselves upon. Take the kids along to experience this huge farm show, but be ready for big crowds! The show takes place at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles and you should get your tickets in advance.
Rugby Six Nations
It all kicks off with France vs Ireland on 3 February 2018 at the Stade de France. If you want to treat the rugby fans in your life, you could get them tickets directly from the Stade de France website. While you’re there, you’ll see that on 10 March, it’s England vs France, which might also be of interest!
Cite des Sciences
The Science Museum at Villette is always a great Paris destination for the family. French families from elsewhere in the country plan their Paris trips just around visiting this one museum.
They have some great stuff at the moment for kids, including Science in Fairytales and also Special Effects Steal the Scene! This museum is also known for some great workshops for kids and families, so do check out what is on.
Meteorites at the Natural History Museum!
The Natural History Museum of Paris is hosting an exhibition called Between Sky and Earth and you can enthuse your children with this little video trailer before setting off. The great thing about this museum is its location in the Jardin des Plantes, so if the weather is not too bad, you can combine the museum with a stroll through these beautiful gardens. We also love a pitstop for tea and delicious cakes at the tearoom of the Paris Mosque, also located close by in the 5th district.
La Belle (or Sleeping Beauty) is being performed in the Amphitheatre at the Bastille Opera. This iconic venue right at the Place de la Bastille is an impressive venue to take the kids to. You can watch a video trailer before you go. There are performances on 7, 9, 10 and 12 February.
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
You know the one, little orphan Tom being raised by Aunt Polly! The Mogador Theatre is performing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We think it is in French but still worth a try to get them to the theatre.
The Pompidou is a great family destination, especially during the cold winter months. Check out their calendar of activities for children and their families. Don’t forget that teens are catered for too – take them to Studio 13/16, an open space with free programmes dedicated to 13-16 year-olds.
For the littlest ones, there is the Galerie des Enfants. There are also several exhibitions worth looking at, including the Cesar sculptures. The kids will love riding up the escalators for a hot chocolate or light meal in George, the restaurant and bar on the roof. Since you’re in the neighbourhood, it’s hard to resist popping into the Lego Store at Les Halles. And while you’re at it, treat yourself to the “praluline” brioche at Pralus, 35 rue Rambuteau.
Judo Paris Grand Slam
Are your kids into judo? The AccorHotels Arena at Bercy is hosting the Judo Paris Grand Slam 10-11 February 2018 and you can take them along to watch. You can buy tickets in advance and also watch a trailer with your children to give them an idea of the event.
Quite a few rainy days have been rescued for our family by dropping the offspring at the Kapla Centre. The sessions need to be pre-booked and are usually in French – but given this is such a visual and physical activity, French languages skills are not really necessary. You can reserve by telephoning 01 43 56 13 38.
Cite de la Musique
Cite de la Musique-Philharmonie de Paris up at Parc de la Villette has fantastic workshops and concerts for kids and families. Get in quick to get tickets, especially for the concerts as they sell out quickly.
Once you’re up at Parc de la Villette, you’re well placed to hop over to the Cite des Science as well, or the playgrounds such as the dragon slide if the weather is better.
Musee des Arts Decoratifs
The Musee des Arts Decoratifs (or ‘MAD’ as they have amusingly rebranded themselves in recent weeks) run great workshops and tours for children and families. And you’re ideally positioned to get into the Tuileries for a stroll afterwards.
The Cent Quatre
This venue always brings us joy, especially on a bleak February day. The Cent Quatre is the public cultural centre of Paris, which opened in 2008 on the site of a former municipal undertaker’s on rue d’Aubervilliers, in the 19th district. It is not just the official exhibitions that they host or the music or the dance. It is the spirit of the place. Locals pop in and use the communal, open spaces to rehearse their own dance. The place is abuzz with activity. Kids love the pizza truck. Exhausted parents love the Maison des Petits children’s room which saves their sanity on a rainy day. We like the Grand Central brasserie.
Musée de l’Orangerie
Situated inside the Tuileries Gardens, this museum is special. It’s a manageable size so you don’t feel pressure on yourself to spend hours there. And it is home to Monet’s Waterlilies which many people never tire of visiting.
On Wednesday 21 February you can join a family water-lily-making workshop to make your own version of these famous flowers. Until the 19 February, the Orangerie museum will host the Dada Africa exhibition, which looks at art from non-Western influences. Dada was a prolific and subversive art movement which first emerged in Zurich during the First World War and then spread to Berlin, Paris and New York. On Wednesday 7 February there will be a family mask-making workshop linked to this exhibition.
The Perfume Museum
Le Grand Musée du Parfum is super-posh. Everything about it is pretty ritzy, from its location on the elegant rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré to its boutique feel. It is fun for a general visit as the exhibits are quite interactive, as we found out when we visited. Should you feel like forking out 45 Euros, you can sign your child up for their special perfume workshop for kids. It looks like a lot of fun, but at that price, we think your kid had better be very into perfume…
Another potential all-day or half-day drop off solution for your children during the February holidays is Pari Grandir. It is essentially an education and entertainment centre, with lots of fun activities for children. Bilingual French-English and based in the 15th district, your child will be fully occupied and learning French while you work or have some time off.
Le Musée de Poche
We adore this little museum for children in the 11th district. Run by Pauline Lamy, they provide wonderful art workshops for kids of all ages, including our favourite which involves an outing to one of the many larger museums in Paris and then back to Pauline’s studio for some creativity based on what the kids saw. They have half days and full days available throughout the February school vacation. It’s in French but Pauline and the other staff members are so kind, a non-French speaking child would be well looked after, and some of them do speak some English. There is a lovely, neighbourhood feel, with many of the families using the museum living in the local area in the 11th. But we love it so much we commute from the 16th!
Palais du Tokyo
The Palais du Tokyo opens again on 16 February with several new exhibitions. They have great workshops for kids and also for the whole family. And don’t forget to make a stop in the museum’s restaurant Les Grands Verres, or their more casual Le Ready-Made.
We always like to let you know when there is a big act performing in Paris! Lady Gaga is in town 20 February and performing at the AccorHotels Arena in Bercy on 21 and 22nd February. As we write, there are still tickets available via FNAC.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
The Being Modern exhibition, which invloves MoMa museum from New York taking over the Fondation Louis Vuitton and telling the MoMa story, runs until 5th March, so be sure to catch it in February. The Fondation hosts good events for kids, including story-telling, art workshops and tours.
Don’t forget to talk with your child about the amazing Frank Gehry building that the Fondation is housed in. There is an app called Apprentice Architect to help your kids out. For teens, there is the Lucky Vibes app.
Peppa Pig at the Aquarium
The UK’s most annoying Pig has installed herself at the Aquarium in Paris. Yes, Peppa is at the Aquarium. If you can bear it, you know your toddlers are going to to be delighted to see her. And it turns out that it’s all in a good cause, as she is there to explain to the children about the fragility of our oceans, through workshops, treasure hunts and films. She is in town until 5th March.
Musée en Herbe
The Musée en Herbe, which prides itself on being aimed at children aged 3 to 103, brings you Damian Elwes, painter and detective. He takes you on a journey of discovery and detective work through famous paintings by Picasso, Giacometti, Basquiat and Keith Haring. The exhibition is called Ateliers a la Loupe and runs 25 January to 9 September 2018. As always, the Musée en Herbe has plenty of workshops for kids and even for the tiniest family members.
Head to the Place Gambetta on 11 February for the Carnaval de Paris costume parade! People gather at 1pm for a 2pm start but people also join the parade along the route.
We include a few pictures and explanations so that you can tell your kids what it’s all about before you go.
Ferme de Gally
The school holidays are always a good time to take a trip out West to the Ferme de Gally, just outside Paris. They have so many activities for kids, from bread-making to paper recycling. And of course, you’re going to want to meet some animals.
Cars, Cars, Cars
The annual Retromobile car show is in Paris 7 – 11 February at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. In some senses, it is a trade show, but it is also very accessible and enjoyable for your average car-loving member of the public. You can buy your tickets in advance online and kids under 12 go free!
Have a fabulous break in Paris, enjoy it with your family.
Feels great to be back!