A friend asked me what to do in Paris as she was going with her kids for a week or so. I do not have kids but I was one once and that, coupled with the fact that I have stayed at a Holiday Inn, fully makes me an expert at recommending stuff for kids.
My brain immediately thought “Paris Disney” but I really thought this would be a criminal offense when they have the opportunity to have a much more unique experience – and ilivetotravel is all about experiences. Like chocolate and macarons.
So here is what I tell my friend to do:
- Jardin de Luxembourg – This, the second largest public park in Paris, was part of the Palace that sits right by it. The Palace was built in the early 17th century and is now the French Senate. The park has many statues and fountains. Maybe your daughter can imagine how it must have felt in the 17th century being a princess walking around the gardens! And your son may enjoy renting a sailboat to operate in the large fountain while you sit and watch people go by as you enjoy this garden!
- The Pantheon – This is likely a quick visit. Some of the most notable French figures are buried here but I don’t think that will impress the kids. However, it was free (at least when I went years ago) and seeing a building with such a unique interior may be interesting for the kids for, at least, 10 minutes. And you, the parent, get to see it!
- Go up the Eiffel Tower. I don’t know if the kids will be up to hiking up as far as they let you before you have to take the elevator to reach the top but I know you are fit and can climb it with no issue! While the climb may be more work than the kids want to do, seeing the structure up close as you go up is neat. But, in the end, it’s the view from the top that matters most so, whether you all climb it or not, go up!
- Walk up the Arc de Triomphe. OK, if the kids didn’t want to climb the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe is another option available to help you burn the calories of all the delicious pastries you are likely going to be eating (I will be mad if you don’t!). It is deceiving but it is like 14-16 stories high so it is not trivial. The view is not as cool as the one from the Eiffel Tower but you can look down the Champs-Elysées from it and, on the other side, towards the modern arc-shaped building in the distance. Oh, and please use the tunnels that go under the road – don’t attempt to cross the street to get to it!
- Visit Montmartre. It is a great place to and walk the narrow and hilly streets (still making you exercise with this plan!). To get up, you can climb the stairs but I will cut your kids some slack and suggest you all ride the little funicular. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with the massive Sacre Coeur church. And guess what? You can climb it to the top! This one, I think your kids will definitely enjoy and great views of the city to boot!
- I feel obliged to suggest a museum that may be good for kids. But I had to do some research on this. I found the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, or the Museum of Hunting and Nature (60, rue des Archives, in the third arrondissement). It is supposed to be interesting for kids mixing animals (dead) and art. Let me know how it is!
- Pompidou Center (19, rue Beaubourg, in the fourth arrondissement) has a hands-on children’s area, not sure for what age exactly but it is free for kids so you can get to check out some art under the guise of taking them to a museum that has stuff for them (even if it turns out they are too old for what it has!).
- Notre Dame is quite impressive even for kids but it may be a quicker visit with them. On neighboring Ile St. Louis (the island in the river near Notre Dame), there is an ice cream place that is really good. It’s called Berthillon (31 Rue St.-Louis-en-l’Ile). Use that to reward the kids for letting you visit Notre Dame And you can have one too.
- Take a boat ride in the Seine. Some of the boats offer fancy dinner cruises but there is a batobus (boat bus) that you can take to travel up and down the river –more fun than the metro (for the kids AND you!) and you can use this to see the city from a different perspective.
- The Tuileries Garden (right by the Louvre Museum, at the base of the Champs-Elysées almost) is one of the most kid-friendly spots in Paris, and also one of the most beautiful. There are trampolines, a merry go round, etc. A large Egyptian obelisk is located outside on the west side of the park on the Place de la Concorde – could be a unique thing to see from ancient Egypt in Paris.
- Go into the many places that have phenomenal pastries and other decadent things, like these. For the kids, you know…
- Ladurée – several across town (one near La Madeleine, another on the Champs Elysees, etc.)
- Dalloyau – there is one at 2, pl Edmond Rostand, right across the Jardin de Luxembourg; there are other locations like 101, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
- Angelina (226 rue de Rivoli, right across the Tuileries/Louvre; incredible hot chocolate). As you can see, I have conveniently picked places close to the others I have recommended so you have NO excuse for missing these!
- Visit where Raúl lived (24 rue de Tilsitt). OK, it’s a boring building one short block from the Arc de Triomphe. Thinking it over, it may not impress the kids – or you – so only go if you run out of things to do
Enjoy Paris and be sure to let me know what the kids enjoyed – from this list or otherwise!