Ah, Paris. The city of lights. The city of love. And of course, one of the major European capitals that is a must-see experience. While many people think of the city as very formal, it is still a great place to see with your kids. The rich history of Paris is easy to experience and explore and is truly unforgettable.
General tips on a Paris vacation with kids:
- Be sure to purchase The Paris Pass well before your trip. This pass will be mailed to your home and is invaluable! It allows you free entry to dozens of museums and sites of interest, including most of the ones I cover here. In many cases, it also allows you to skip the line to gain fast entry to the museums. When you see the blocks-long line at sites like the Louvre or Musée de Orsay, you will be thankful. Plus it allows you to pop into sites or museums that you normally would not want to pay to see – it’s free so why not! If your child is bored and you have to leave, no harm done.
- Use the Metro! It is easy to navigate and is a cheap and effective way to get you around the city. Almost all of the major tourist sites are within an easy walk of a Metro stop. Bonus tip: If you purchased The Paris Pass, your Metro cards are included (this does NOT include transit from the airport however).
- Getting to and from the airport: Most international flights arrive and depart from Charles De Gaulle airport on the Paris outskirts. There is a train that takes you directly into the city fairly cheaply. Be sure to check ahead here for any train strikes/closures (speaking from experience here!). Be aware that this train does get crowded with commuters and in my experience, after a long overnight international flight, the last thing I want to do is struggle with my kids and luggage onto a train. Explore hiring a car and driver to get you into the city if you have a big family or lots of luggage.
- Food: Parisian food is very kid-friendly. Most restaurants serve meals for “les enfants” and are happy to accommodate special requests. Baked or sauteed chicken is on a typical Parisian menu, along with bread and cheese. My kids loved the chicken in France! If you don’t see anything that your child could eat, ask (nicely and in French if at all possible!). At Les Deux Magots, a very famous restaurant made popular by Hemingway, our waiter saw my child’s disappointment when hearing that the pasta of the day was a spinach pasta. We ordered it with much tears and complaining but when he brought it out, he had asked the chef to make traditional tomato pasta especially for him! It was one of our favorite memories. Be sure to indulge your children’s sweet tooth at the crepes made by street vendors and with chocolate croissants from the local patisserie.
- Hotel vs. apartment: Paris is a wonderful city to make as your home base as you explore both Paris and the nearby countryside. If you are staying longer than two nights, explore renting an apartment. There are so many that are available and really will give you the full Parisian neighborhood experience! Stick to the neighborhoods (or arrondissemonts) near the main tourist attractions (1, 4, 5, 7) and near a Metro stop. Parisian hotel rooms are notoriously small so an apartment is a great option for families.
Don’t miss attractions with kids:
- Eiffel Tower: Reserve your ticket before you go here! Also don’t miss having dinner on the Eiffel Tower. The restaurant, The 58 Tour Eiffel, is a child-friendly dining option that allows you to skip (most of) the lines to the tower. It was our boys’ favorite memory of the trip-they especially loved the chocolate Eiffel Tower! Due to security and construction, be sure to allow plenty of time to arrive before your ticketed time or reservation. Note: for restaurant reservations, you will have access to the 1st level. You can walk (up lots and lots of stairs!) to the 2nd level and if you have thighs of steel, all the way to the top! You cannot use the restaurant reservation ticket to take the elevator above the 1st floor.
- Jardin de Luxembourg: Spend a leisurely afternoon in the gardens where your children can run and play in the shadow of the home of the French Senate! Be sure to rent a boat for your child to push around the pond. Just be forewarned, that it can get very hot and sunny!
- River cruise on the Seine: Children of all ages will love this leisurely look at Paris’ sites. These cruises usually leave from near the Eiffel Tower if you want to plan your day accordingly. We used Bateaux Parisiens and enjoyed it! We added on the lunch option and it was a nice lunch in a restaurant on the river.
Websites to consult:
Books to read:
- 10 and up:
- 6 and up:
Here are some of our favorite historical sites in Paris with our kids!
Notre-Dame (post taken down due to closure of cathedral following the massive April 2019 fire)
This page is continually updated.