Fun Family things to do in Paris
So you have the offspring full-time in Paris and you’re thinking, what the hell am I gonna do with them? How will I keep them entertained? What can I do with the brood that won’t break the bank?
Don’t worry, you can get through this. Just a little pre planning et voila – you are in control and ready to roll! This may sound like a mild fantasy to you – but you can get to that sweet spot – with just a little inspiration. MLP hopes to help with 26 slam dunk ideas guaranteed to ensure you make your time count and have plenty of things to do in Paris. Here we go….
Paris by Mouth Food Tours
Paris by Mouth is one of MLP’s favourite websites – some of the top food critics post their opinions here and you are guaranteed the best advice, when thinking about where to go for something to eat. In addition to their fabulous prose, they also do tours. Now these tours are not specifically designed with kids in mind – but if you have kids over 9 then why not take them on an expedition of Parisian food and culture. You’ll be taken to patisseries, fromageries and chocolate shops – plus they’ll be a food moment (like a picnic, for example) where you’ll get to discuss french food culture. Why not while a day away this way!
You probably know by now that I am not a confident bike rider having only just recently learned how to stop falling off! However, this popular mode of transport is a great way to explore Paris and you should definitely take the kids on a bike ride through this beautiful city. There are a number of bike tour companies in the city – here’s one that’s popular but you can find a load online. Reserve the kids bikes in advance and see the city on two wheels.
Natural History Museum
Okay, so there are two things I love about this place. The first is the grounds at the entrance, which is stunning and packed with the most beautiful greenery, I guess that’s why it’s called the Garden of Plants (Jardin des Plantes).
So walking through here while the kids hunt for bugs is fun. The second thing I love is that behind the building – at the heart of this recommendation – is The Grand Mosque, the most fabulous spa twinned with a Moroccan café – a great place to feed the kids. In between theses two, lies the Natural History Museum, which is a guaranteed fun space for the kids – packed with animals, butterflies and skeletons, displayed for their fascination and observation.
Not my cup of tea and it’s unlikely I will ever enter this underground tunnel of doom – but kids love it – so it makes the list. Packed with the remains of god knows how many unfortunate people, this space is one of Europe’s largest mausoleums and it is a massive tourist attraction. If you fancy a selfie with a few skulls, or your kids are going through a gothic phase, then this could be the perfect place to visit. I’ve heard the queues can be murderously long, so get their early or try and buy tickets online. One of our Mamas went along for the ride and reviewed it here – so you can check it out.
The Parisians call it the Pompi and it is a fabulous space to enjoy some creative oxygen with the little people in your life. It’s so freakin’ famous, it’s just one of those places you’ve got to visit and hang out. First off the building itself is magnificent. Totally industrial looking and with the escalators visible on the outside. On the right hand side of the building there is a huge pool packed with art, and this is before you’ve even entered the building.
Inside there is a kids space on the first floor which, always offers something fun and thought-provoking, plus a café. Following that, there is bound to be something ingenious on show for the whole family to enjoy. MLP loves that they have these little trolley chairs for kids – in case they get tired, so even when the offspring start dragging their heels, you can still stay and enjoy it all! Believe me it works! Plus there are a load of eateries within a stones through of this building as well as a very posh restaurant up on the roof. Views are stunning too.
The views of Paris are stunning from this church but the joy for the kids is in the journey and the initial discovery. After that, it might get a little challenging, but it’s just one of those things that you have to do when you are in Paris. The metro ride to the nearest stop to Sacre Coeur, Abbesses, is usually followed by a stroll through this pretty part of town, along cobbled streets to the Funicular, a train that takes you to the top of the hill.
It’s a short trip but fun and you can use your metro tickets to access it. Alternatively there is Le Petite Train which takes you on a little tour around the neighbourhood and stops at the church – so you get to see more of Montmartre, the village surrounding Sacre Coeur. Both routes to the summit are fun filled for the kids. Then once you get up there you can use the telescopes to see the view clearer or get your portraits done by the many artists touting for business or simply just take in the ambience of the place. It really is beautiful.
Arc du Triomphe
Aside from the fact that this beautiful monument stands at the heart of the most beloved street in Paris- it also offers the most stunning views of Paris and a great experience. Wander inside, pay a small fee and endure the climb, all the way to the top. Learn the history, venture into the gift shop and then taken in the magnificent views of Paris. It is something not to be missed unless of course you suffer from vertigo!
Cite des Science
The largest science museum in Europe is right here in Paris and it is indeed magnificent. A brilliant opportunity to not just educate the children but also guarantee fun.
Nestled on the edge of the city, this museum boasts two huge children arenas split by age and designed to keep them active and engaged, for a full ninety minutes and that time truly flies. Plus there is a planetarium, a cinema inside a sphere and floors of exhibitions. The French are known to travel to Paris just to get a taste of this experience. It is a wonderful place and its position on the canal and adjacent to Parc du Villette makes it even more appealing.
So your french might not be perfect and understanding it can be challenging but don’t let that stop you enjoying the theatre here in the city. There are a number of wonderful shows for kids and Paris relishes in its ability to be able to entertain, especially with some of its more traditional shows. There are puppet shows almost daily around the city, and little theatre houses serving up short stories to engage you and the kids. Plus you might find you get to see a show that you missed in your own city. For the big shows you should check the FNAC website which is one of best places to buy tickets in Paris.
Why not! You’re in Paris! The Opera House in the heart of the city is stunning and worthy of a visit just for a ‘”I was here” holiday snap alone. You can also tour the building and get some insight into its history. But that isn’t all. The Opera House – of which there are two – a more modern version can be found in the Bastille area – provides some great shows for kids, often at reduced prices. MLP attended one at the weekend, it was a puppet show combined with Opera – the boys loved it and remained gripped throughout the 45 minute show. Check the websites online- its worthy of investigation.
Shakespeare & Co
Shakespeare and Company is an MLP favourite and there have been some recent changes you need to know about it too. Aside from the fact that the bookshop is steeped in history and stacked from head to toe with books in English.
It is more than a bookshop. Shakespeare and Company doesn’t just sell literature, it acts as a vessel for anyone who wants to write. It offers a space and a bed for the night for those would be authors, only asking for help with the store in exchange! Plus there is a newly developed kids space on the ground floor, it used to be upstairs but that little nook is for poetry now. The latest development is the coffee shop next door with cakes too. Once you have stepped outside of this fascinating and historic space made famous by Hemmingway and Gertrud Stein, enjoy the rich scenery that surrounds it from Le Petit Pont, Notre Dame and the Isle Saint Louis. Just behind it also sits Odettes the very famous patisserie.
There is nothing I can add to all that you already know about the Louvre except maybe a couple of things. First off Kids tours and secret hunts. There are a couple of companies that offer the opportunity to discover the Louvre in a different way. lets face it, despite its amazing cultural heritage – this building is massive and you would need a least a week or so to get through the entire building and making it fun for kids isn’t always easy. A trip here could be totally dull for a child unless it is planned well. Luckily you have options. Get in early – see the most famous paintings/artefacts and head out to explore the city. Or find out about the special tours, treasure hunts and storytelling sessions that could add a whole new dimension to the experience. Daisy de Plume’s ThatLou is worth investigating and check the Louvre website too.
Fishing – Day Trip
Less than an hour outside of Paris, you can take your children on a fishing expedition. Drive into the countryside on the outskirts of the city and you’ll find yourself in a small haven providing the opportunity to do a little pond water trout fishing.
The kids get to do it themselves, thanks to the team who provide rods and bait. Once the fish are caught they can be weighed, purchased and taken home but, if you just want to practice a little fishing you can release the fish back into the ‘wild’. The kids loved the experience and it was great venturing out of the city for a few hours. read the full story here for all the details.
Whether it be museums, art spaces or food haunts there are always workshops on offer for the kids. Most of the places you love to visit in the City of Light, have these options available to you. You just have to ask. Palais du Tokyo for example runs them weekly as do most of the cultural haunts. Make sure you check these options when googling or checking out a place to visit in the city.
Many say that compared to other cities, Paris isn’t big on Park life. In truth there may not be as many green spaces but what is here is beautiful. The city is flanked by two massive parks on the east and westside of town. On the East you have Bois du Bolougne, on the West you have Bois du Vincennes. Both have differing appeals and sections which are more beautiful than the other, but each are worthy of a visit. In the heart of the city is the stunning Jardin du Luxembourg complete with playground and lake plus the pretty Parc Floral too. One of my favourites is Parc des Buttes Chaumont, and Parc du Villette.
The Bird Market
The market at Cité metro is much-loved by Parisians. During the week it is a pretty flower market but on a Sunday, it is packed with birds of all types. It is an experience for anyone who wants to come and explore Paris especially as it’s located somewhere with historic significance – the birthplace of Paris a stone throw from Notre Dame, The Ministry of Justice and the River Seine.
The River Seine that runs through Paris is stunning to look at but don’t forget that you can take a ride on it too. Whether you fancy the traditional stretch through the city or want to discover the hidden waterways by taking the canal route; a boat ride guarantees to offer you a different perspective. There are various companies that offer these services. One that MLP often likes to use is the Batobus or boat taxi, which gives you the chance to hop on and off throughout the day as it takes you to the main sites of Paris.
As much as it irks me to even begin to write this particular suggestion, it deserves a place on the list. Stuffed animals isn’t MLP”s thang at all but the craft of taxidermy certainly has some appeal for kids. In Paris there are a few places with historic significance that seem to draw in the crowds. One place in particular is Deyrolle which has been part of the Paris scene for 180 years and this shop is just like a museum – might be worth a stop on your list of things to do.
Another easy jaunt just outside of Paris is to the beautiful town of Fountainbleu. The village surrounds a stunning chateau and forest that is perfect for bike riding or just getting a little closer to nature.
Every kid loves the zoo, there is no denying that and Paris has a few worth exploring. Jardin du Plantes is the first MLP would recommend. Partly because it’s not merely a zoo, it also has the most gorgeous gardens ( as mentioned in one of the features above). Parc Zoological with its Giraffes and all the usual suspects is also much-loved by the locals here. In both, you are guaranteed a great experience, although if you want to take it one step further, MLP has heard that there is a mini safari just outside the city – hopefully MLP will have more news on that soon.
The circus always seems to be in town in Paris. There are so many offering a veritable feast of acrobatics, death defying stunts and clowns aplenty. There is a permanent site in the Bastille area called Cirque d’Hiver that MLP has been to with the kids. They absolutely loved it. So you may want to check it out over the holidays or any other time of the year.
Keeping the kids active could be described as a euphemism for giving parents a moment of peace and tranquility but MLP calls it a win win. Paris has little playgrounds dotted all over the city Every section of Paris has small green patches with play apparatus to make up for the fact that Paris is a metropolis without a garden. All the apartments are starved of outside space so the green spaces are very important to the locals. You’ll find them everywhere, in front of churches, squeezed between rues – take advantage, so the kids can let off steam. The most popular in the centre of town is the one at Jardin du Luxembourg. The Dragon Slide at Parc Villette is a must by the way, as is Les Halles.
When its raining why not take the kids to a movie. Paris is known for its love of film and the Parisians are the most frequent cinema goers in the world. Films for kids in English however, are not shown until the evening – unless it’s the holidays in which case you will find some options during the day. The best resource for this information is right here, where you’ll find all the latest information and your nearest picture house for screenings.
Taking a promenade through Paris is pretty amazing. To be honest wherever you stroll it’s easy on the eye. If MLP had to choose a few options our suggestions would include:
Walking along Berge Street, A stroll along Canal d’Ourcq, a walk from Cité through to the Island via Odettes, A Night walk past Invalides to the Eiffel Tower then toward the Trocadero and onto Palais du Tokyo and of course Montmartre – so very pretty with the cobbled streets and windy roads. Also the 10th.
Getting straight to it, Euro Disney is packed with appeal, long queues but endless amounts of fun, Parc Asterix isn’t far out of the city and celebrates the hero from the medieval comic book and then there is always Jardin d’Acclimatation packed with fun fair rides, animals, theatre and it’s right inside Paris, just a metro ride away.
Yes it’s obvious but a winner nonetheless. Take the walk to the 2nd Floor then wait there for the elevator. They’ll be a bit of a queue but it’ll be worth it. Partly because the kids love the challenge of the walk up the stairs and also because the you will not have to wait for that long once you get to the second floor.
You can only book in advance for the lift by the way. There is also an option to have a special experience with the kids, just check on the Eiffel Tower website for more details.Try and get their early, enjoy and then either go to the playground within the Champs des Mars and/or grab a pizza at a nearby eaterie.
If you want even more inspiration for things to do in Paris and you have older kids, check out our Paris for Teenagers article for more ideas.
Hope you enjoyed the post.
For 75 great tips for Summer 2017 – Click here for all the info.
More to come
Love MLP x
Follow Mama Loves Paris on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget to spread the words amongst your friends. Subscribe too.