Time for fun in Paris with children!
While traveling in Paris with children can be bit of a rollercoaster ride: The thrill! The tantrums! The stress! The discovery! It is worth it in the end to see this city through new and excited eyes. When visiting Paris with children, there are the mandatory first time visits to the Louvre or Versailles and they can be eye-opening, especially for older children, but the crowds and the sheer scale can also be overwhelming.
Never fear, there are so many other ways to introduce the history of Paris and have some real family fun doing it too. Perhaps surprisingly, Paris is a fantastic city to visit with children.
With a diversity of cultural, history and science based museums that offer children’s guides and activities, to the amusement parks, the carrousels and playgrounds tucked in historical parks, to awe-inspiring gothic monuments, to the food, all with relatively easy transport, Paris is fun for kids and and best of all, for grown ups too.
From 3 to 16, these Meet the Local suggestions will make this the best trip to Paris:
The Parc de la Villette
is perhaps the number one spot for children of all ages in Paris. Part science center, activity center, 3-D movie theater, fun park, green park, La Villette has it all. Located in the north of Paris, it is an easy metro or bus ride and there are plenty of activities for children and adults of all ages.
On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays there is the newly opened, Little Villette, created for younger children and includes games, a circus, a long wall that is an interactive mural. Plan to spend at least half a day exploring all there is to offer and for rainy or cold days, you can take in a 3-D movie in the super cool Geode Imax theater.
For music lovers, take a tour of the incredible Jean Nouvel designed Philharmonic, a massive music complex opened in 2016.
The Jardin d’Acclimatation
is located in the north west of Paris and offers plenty for everyone so plan to spend most of your day here. Created over 150 years ago, during the reign of Napoleon III, the Jardin d’acclimation includes a zoo, an amusement park, a small train, miniature golf course and more.
Plus, a next door neighbor (you can get a pass with both locations included) is the soaring Frank Gehry designed Fondation Louis Vuitton contemporary art museum. Guided visits, workshops and children’s activities are all available. You don’t need to pack lunch as there are plenty of decent food stands.
Don’t mind the wandering peacocks who pass by as you are picnicking on the grass!
The Palais de la Decouverte
This could be the only time you visit a science and innovation museum that is housed in an ornate, art nouveau style 19th century building full of carved rosettes and marble columns.
Take in the history of the building first- it is part of the Grand Palais built in 1897 for the 1900 World Fair, and then get your discovery hat on inside exploring outer space, the human body, genetics, insects and gravity. Check the website in advance for special exhibitions. Best for kids over 5.
Les Bateaux Parisiens
Walking around with children can be difficult after awhile. You can only promise ice cream so many times! Change it up for a couple of hours and take a cruise along the Seine with one of the several boat companies that tour up and down the river, passing by the best Parisian monuments, from the Tour Eiffel to the Louvre to Notre Dame, with many more along the way.
For those who want the history, the visits are guided with special headphones in a range of languages, while others can just kick back and take in the views. It’s your choice!
calls itself a friendly artistic space for children and parents, and that it is. Housed in a massive space that is home to a visual and performing arts residency le 104 offers regular programming events including concerts, plays, exhibitions, readings and performances.
Special activities for children are mostly held on the weekends or Wednesdays and are often hosted by artists themselves with a focus on creativity of all sorts. There is even a special area for children under 5 that is open daily in the afternoons. Parents can come and just chill out and let the little one play and discover.
Le 104 is located in a neighborhood a bit off the beaten path, there is a café and restaurant onsite if needed.
The Tuileries Garden
is an easy and fun afternoon for kids. Centrally located and right next to the Louvre and the Decorative Arts Museum, as well as the Jeu de Paume and Orangerie Museum (in case mom or dad wants to sneak off to see some art for a bit), you can find many activities in this majestic garden. If you are visiting in the summertime, then you cannot miss the carnival on the rue de Rivoli side of the park.
For a couple of months each summer fairgrounds are set up with rides, games, food stands and small rollercoasters for children and adults. Off summer season, start with the trampolines located near the place de la Concorde side of the park and let them hop off some energy, then wander to the large fountain and rent the classic Parisian boats to push around for a bit.
Finish off the afternoon with some ice cream from one of the stands nearby and if you are feeling adventurous, try out the Ferris wheel for a grand view of Paris. There are also a couple of restaurants in the Park for some outdoor dining.
The Parc Monceau
is a gorgeous park located in the northwest of Paris between the 8th and 17th arrondissements. Here you will find a playground, carrousel and swings for children, all of which are fun and classic Parisian park offerings, but the most fun and different for the little ones are the pony rides.
Tiny but beautiful ponies are available for short, guided rides through part of this magnificent park. Wind though a mini forest area and along the big dusty path, kids will love it (who doesn’t love a pony?) and the pictures to show friends at home will be a sure hit.
The Jardin des Plantes
is located in the 5th arrondissement and was founded in the 1600s as a medicinal garden for king Louis XIII. Today it houses a beautiful botanical garden, and museums dedicated to Paleontology, Minerals, Evolution and Entomology. There is also a great zoo, that is not too big and easy to do in a couple of hours, as well as a small playground and some foods stands for lunch or snack.
It is a beautiful space that enjoys its history yet offers fun and contemporary ways to explore the natural sciences. There is a special Children’s gallery in the museum with a creative and interactive approach to learning about evolution and the environment.
Botanical lovers can enjoy strolling through the gardens and discovering some of the special native and non native plants cultivated for over hundreds of years!
The Musee des Arts Forains
is a circus themed museum located in the modern park and shopping area of Bercy. A private collector, Jean Paul Favand started the museum in 1996 and it is filled with beautifully restored amusement and fun house artefacts, including carrousel figures, old fashioned rides, games and puppet houses.
There are also projections and activities in the small theater and gardens. It is the largest museum in Europe dedicated to the “festive arts and entertainment objects.” So surreal and so fantastical, it feels like the set of a Disney movie. You’ll never forget it.
The Pompidou Center
is a modern and contemporary art museum that houses an incredible collection of art by the leading artists of the 20th and 21st century.
The museum offers special activities and tours for younger children that are focused around the collection so that parents and kids can get to know the art, and on the first floor there is a kid’s gallery which has rotating interactive exhibitions and installations which are usually created by
artists and incredibly creative. There is also a special program of movies, readings and activities for teens, ages 13-16.
On your way in or out you must stop by the incredible Stravinsky fountain on the south side of the museum. Designed by Jean Tingley and Niki de Saint Phalle, with spraying figures and objects that are meant to represent the work of modernist musician Igor Stravinsky.
For older kids who have an interest in museums, have a look at the Arts and Metiers museum, a fantastic museum dedicated to scientific tools and inventions. It’s a different kind of museum and inspiring for the budding inventor.
And for those interested in contemporary art, a visit to the Palais de Tokyo would be fun. The cavernous space is pretty amazing to walk through and the special exhibitions are usually off-beat and sometimes interactive. There is a children’s activity space but check the calendar for a schedule of current events. Watching the skateboarders who come from all over to skate the wide outdoor plaza down below might also be a draw!
And of course, if you feel brave and need a day off from the sightseeing, there is always Euro Disneyland, just over an hour away from central Paris on the RER A train.