TOP 10 THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN PARIS
By Nioki Doggett
When you’re thinking which child friendly city to visit, Paris probably doesn’t come to mind.
I've recently enjoyed a two-week paris trip with my toddler so I’ve rounded up ten things to do in Paris when you have young children with you.
When my husband was offered a work contract in Paris, I was excited by the chance to nip across on the Eurostar every other weekend and introduce my son to a new culture. As Paris is so close to London, we didn't have to worry about getting to the airport or enduring a flight.
Over the summer, my son Maurice and I took full advantage of this opportunity and went over to Paris to spend two full weeks in the city.
As my husband was busy working, the prospect of travelling alone with a toddler while carrying two weeks worth of clothes, toys and other toddler paraphernalia was at first daunting but we took it in our stride.
Being able to travel via Eurostar from London St Pancras was such a blessing. The journey was relatively seamless: travel from home to St Pancras, pass through the security checks, check in and straight onto the Eurostar with a buggy, large suitcase and small weekend bag in tow.
Thankfully you can book assistance at the station when buying Eurostar tickets online and a member of staff will help with bags and other luggage. The 2 hour 10 minute journey went relatively quickly, Maurice is obsessed with trains so he took great pleasure aboard the Eurostar and I made sure to bring plenty of games, toy trains and of course a tablet filled with his favourite TV shows and games.
Eurostar has free although somewhat patchy Wi-Fi which is great and their app comes equipped with children's TV shows, movies, games and even something for the adults should you have a spare moment.
When you arrive at Gare du Nord you chose to travel via taxi, bus or the metro to your final destination. Uber isn't very popular in Paris yet so it's relatively cheap and a great way to get around.
So you have two weeks in Paris with a toddler in tow - what should you do?
Google, Google, Google! Every night I meticulously Googled 'Paris for toddlers', read reviews on Trip Advisor and used the results to create our itinerary for the next day.
Paris is a beautiful city and getting around by foot is so easy; we pretty much walked everywhere. Some destinations took over an hour to walk to but in glorious weather and surrounded by beautiful architecture, why not? The metro is fairly easy to use but it isn’t step free which makes walking up and down all the steps with a buggy pretty daunting!
The great thing about Paris in the summer is that the city is relatively quiet as Parisians tend to holiday in the South of France in July/August meaning you avoid the general hustle and bustle of daily life. You will of course run into a lot of tourists.
Here are my top 10 things to do in Paris with kids:
Jardin du Luxembourg – 6th arrondissement
Jardin du Luxembourg is arguably one of the most beautiful parks in Paris and arrival you’re almost transitioned into another world. In the middle of the park, there’s a large octagonal pond called the Grand Bassin where children can rent small boats sail around the pond. The grounds are exquisite, Parisian parks have perfect lawns (not for sitting on), beautiful palm trees (European style), clipped hedges and the most beautiful flower beds.
I felt like I was in the Caribbean rather than Paris! There are plenty of chairs to take the load off and benches too. As with all parks in Paris, there are sand pits for the children to play in – we spent hours in the sand pits and next to them were small paddling pools for children to cool off. Maurice enjoyed playing with local children happily and I made a few mummy friends too! If that’s not enough there’s also a large children’s playground for children aged 2-12 for a small fee – reasonable at just a few Euros.
The play areas are separated by age range so there is something for everyone from toddlers right up to age 12. There are also pony rides and a puppet show. There’s an Angelina café in the park so if you’re feeling peckish you can indulge in one of their scrumptious pastries – there are also plenty of places to grab an ice cream or treats for the kids.
Jardin des Tuileries – 1st arrondissement between the Louvre Museum and Place de la Concorde
Jardin des Tuileries is the biggest park in Paris and is a beautiful French style garden offering a stunning view of Champs-Elysées Avenue, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. There are plenty of reclining chairs to sit and enjoy the beauty of the park and fountains and beautiful ponds with ducks to feed. As with most French parks there is a Carousel which children can ride on for 2 Euro.
The park has an in-ground trampoline and the low entry fee will give them five minutes bounce time which they’ll love. There is a small children-only playground and plenty of space inside the park for little ones to run and let off steam.
Parc Monceau - 8th arrondissement
Parc Monceau is another beautiful park in the centre of Paris not far from the Arc de Triomphe. The entrance of the park is extremely grand with huge iron gates embellished with gold. There is a children’s playground and sand pit for endless hours of fun, numerous statues, beautiful trees, a large pond, an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Greek colonnade, an Italian Bridge and a renaissance archway.
The park is magical, you almost feel like you’re in a Disney movie – it’s that enchanting. There is a lovely carousel for children to enjoy and a small café for refreshments.
Jardin d'Acclimatation – Bois de Boulogne
We spent a memorable day at the Jardin d'Acclimatation, a 20-hectare children’s amusement park. Entry is free for children under three and 4 Euros for adults. Rides are paid for separately but you can buy a booklet of tickets for rides at a small price. This amusement park is pure paradise for children, there’s a large playground at the entrance to the park and a train which you can ride around the park.
There are plenty of splash parks for the children to cool off, lots of rides and even a zoo!
Paris-Plages – River Seine
A beach in the center of Paris? Yes! The banks of the Seine are transformed into artificial beaches with palm trees, sun loungers, parasols and chaise longues and it’s all free (including toys) for children to enjoy. The beach is open from the end of July until mid August. There are three beaches located at different locations along the Seine with mini pools, fountains to cool off in and boardwalk style cafes for refreshments while you’re enjoying the beautiful view of the Seine.
Jardin de Plantes - 5th arrondissement
The Jardin de Plantes is the main botanical garden in Paris. The grounds include four museums and a small zoo (the Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes). The zoo (animals include parrots, goats, Llamas and red pandas) is quite small and extremely clean and certainly worth a visit. Children under three have free entry and an adult ticket costs 13 Euros.
Within the Jardin de Plantes is the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and its Grande Galerie de L’Evolution will leave your toddler transfixed. On the ground floor you’ll find marine mammal skeletons and a large blue whale. On the first floor your child will be enthralled by the elephants, zebras, giraffe, hyenas and wild dogs.
River Boat Tour
There are numerous companies which offer tours along the Seine and we opted for the Bateaux Parisiens which let under threes on for free and charges adults 15 Euros. We departed from the Eifel Tower and saw the Notre Dame, Invalides, Pantheon, Assemblee Nationale, Palais de Chailoy, Statue de Liberte, Institut de France, Hotel de Ville, Grand Palais and many more. A great way to see many sights from the river without paying any entry costs - perfect with a toddler!
The Eiffel Tower
You cannot visit Paris and not be close to the Eiffel Tower but we avoided the queues and didn’t climb up and instead enjoyed the lovely paerk at the base of the Tower. It has plenty of green spaces for kids to run around and springs for little ones to cool off.
The Louvre Pyramid - 1st arrondissement
The Louvre is a place of outstanding beauty. The iconic Pyramids provide endless photo opportunities and the pedestrianized areas are perfect for children to run around in. You can also cool off and dip your toes in the water whilst admiring the beautiful pyramid in the sun.
Always travel with a towel and swimsuit as wherever you are in Paris, you aren't far away from paddling pools, sand pits or a water feature for kids.
Have you taken your family to Paris? What are your must-see places?