We took our kids to Paris a few weeks ago. We considered asking Ramona if she’d like to stay with Aunty Jo while we zipped off with little Juno, because you know, four year olds can be pretty set on what they want to do and a tour around Paris might not be up there! We didn’t want 3 days of conflicting plans. In the end we booked tickets on the Eurostar for all of us and we were so, so, SO glad we did!
We had the BEST time. Paris is a wonder for families – everyone is so friendly towards kids and there are playgrounds everywhere you look and the food is our children’s dream come true!
We spent three days eating huge amounts of carbs and meat, microscooting around the smooth, marble paths and being wowed by the incredible sights.
We took it really easy, and did plan a trip to mirror the needs of our whole family. So, while we were interested in visiting the Louvre, we decided that might be better another time when the kids are better able to understand that we are queuing to see a historically important and heart moving portrait of a mystery woman…
Instead we walked/ scooted a lot and played in a lot of playgrounds and ate a lot of crepes. We hardly spend a penny on activities, opting to spend our cash on the trains and food. (Did I mention food?)
In this post I will start with things to do in Paris with children and will move on to things such as accommodation and things to take… you with me?
(Hey, also, I know it is well weird me blogging about the delights of a European city whilst fully esconsed in a yurt in a forest in NZ… Pahahaha… What can I say? We LOVE the forest and we LOVE cities… So yeah, we are that, erm, unique brand of hippy that guzzles coffee and croissants like there is no tommorow!)
Things to do in Paris with Kids
There are loads of expensive activities to do with children, but so much to enjoy that is free or cheap too. I think it is all about finding the right balance. We paid for very little, but used everything as a learning experience. When we go back with older kids (ours are 2 and 4) we will probably pay for a few more galleries and museums and things.
We wiled away a lovely afternoon at the Jardin Du Luxembourg – conveniently located right next to the Luxembourg station. We watched people sailing their boats on the little lake, we paid $7 euros for our family of four to enter the epic, epic playground, and we wandered up and down the tree lined avenues. In the summer months there are puppet shows and a beautiful carousel. We love the general relaxing atmosphere – sheesh, Parisians know how to take it easy! Everyone was just draped over seats and along the grass and we just joined in and people watched.
Centre Georges Pompidou
This huge cultural centre is astonishing! It costs a fair few quid to get in (£15 per adult which actually isn’t too bad for the floors and floors of exhibits) but the most tantalising part of it for our young children was the huge, huge, HUGE escalator that is outside the building! I can not tell you how much our children buzz out on moving stairs – that is what living in rural NZ does for you – so this was heaven for them! It costs £3 per adult ticket to ride the stairs, but at the top you get the most magnificent views. Possibly the best in Paris. Save that, erm, tower thingy.
Moules and Frites
We saw getting a few massive buckets of mussels as an educational experience. Luckily our kids LOVE seafood – we actually have Mussel Monday every week in our home. We devoured this reasonably priced lunch at Leon in Republique – avec a cool little kids toy pack- and then headed over to the Marionette statue over the road (see below) to laze around watching skaters.
Place de la Republique
If you are close to Republique (which you will be if visiting Centre Georges Pompidou or eating Moules) it is worth checking out this huge enormous, slightly forgotten square. We watched the skaters, did a load of scooting, lounged under the enormous Marionette and discussed French history!
Jardin Buttes Chaumont
We scooted and strolled around these Jardins (hehe, said in a very British accent) with the kids for a whole morning. We saw a flautist rehearsing under a tree, and a very loud opera singer practicing her dramatic melodies. Where in the world do you see these things? There are rolling streams that we paddled in and great hills that offer grand views. Find it close to the Buttes Chaumont station.
Big Paris Attractions
Can’t really not mention these whoppers…
Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris
This cathedral is a site to behold and we didn’t even go in! Just astonishing to see and also surrounded by lots of tiny little playgrounds – sandpits, swings, weird roundabouty things. So the children play while the adults scope out the idea way to capture the gothic art for Instagram!
The bridge of locks
Our girls loved checking out Love Lock bridge which is right next to the Cathedral. It was such a sensory experience for them, playing with all these steel symbols of love. We talked about why people might chose to leave a padlock like this, and I regretted not bringing our own little family one. There are other things too… turns out, not just locks. As I was choosing a picture for this post I nearly chose one of Juno handling a little lock right next to a grey pair of lacy knickers before my brain had figured out what they were. EW!
The Louvre is magnificent outside as well as in, so if you have young kiddos don’t be afraid of just lolling about on the grounds! There is plenty of outdoor art to enjoy (and nipples to squeeze) and general good atmosphere and, of course, KILLER SCOOTING TO BE HAD. Epic.
The Eiffel Tower
It is set apart from everything but it would be impossible to visit Paris without seeing this astounding monument. It is properly, weirdly, massive and, um, well, a little bit pointless. We opted out of the queues and climbing and enjoyed it from below, we had a little picnic of pastries and Orangina on the vast lawns around it. Ramona absolutely fell head over heels in love with it. We made body shapes like it and as we walked closer to it she was holding up her fingers to almost try and capture it in her hands.
Paris is MASSIVE and there is so much to see. We bought a bumper back of tickets we could use on the metro and bus and simply hopped on and off and did loads of walking/ scooting in between. Our favourite way of seeing cities is walking around – we love the daily hubub of life you see, and we love discovering little corners.
No bones about it, Paris is expensive to room in. I can’t recommend enough the idea that staying out of the city and getting the train in is easy peasy. So, so much more affordable. We have had lovely stays at different campground – the campground in the very central park Bois Du Bologne is great for access (we rode our bikes in to town in a jiffy – well, that is, AFTER following the Seine round the wrong way for about 1.5 hours … man, Paris was getting dingier and dingier and the roads were really beginning to resemble motorways but the Eiffel Tower seemed to be getting nearer! What the? We soon realised that the weird bending of the river is a bit of a crazy mind trick and we were cycling away from our beloved Gay Paree!) Sites are small and you HAVE to book otherwise you end up on a craggy patch of grass with all the drunkard students!
We also had a truly delightful stay at the Huttopia campsite in Versailles one year when Ramona was little- that time we drove 12 hours to go to a car boot sale in the South of France. Haha.
However this time round we got the train so couldn’t bring all our camping gear. We did two things, a hotel in town and Air BNB.
There is so much gorgeous accommodation available on Airbnb Paris and if you look around enough you can get some great bargains. We bagged an entire apartment for just over £30 a night and it was completely gorgeous.
If you use this link to sign up right here then both you and I get £13 added to our accounts which is nice right! And then you get points for inviting your mates… Like a budget accommodation pyramid scheme ha.
This is the place we stayed at. Thanks Maude!
We also had a rather more expensive, but equally lovely, stay at Hotel Eldorado because Maude’s wasn’t available for our first night and this was recommended to us. It is an old, rustic town house with the kindest staff and the loveliest ambience. We wandered up the road for a lovely French tapas meal and got croissants across the road in the morning for breaky. Lush.
If your kids scoot and you can trust them not to go to far or be dangerous I recommend taking them with you! It was so incredible being able to walk for miles while our kids scooted happily along on their microscooters! Even Juno who is 2.5 went for almost the whole day scooting along. It felt really safe, and when it didn’t we just held hands.
We also took a fold up buggy so everyone could nap (it was a squash for Tim) (I jest) and the sling too. This meant we could stay up way past bedtime (hahaha, like we have such a thing) and just make our way home with two sleeping, worn out kiddos.
In a dash of uncanny timing, I was sent info about this Paris weekend comp – it would be amazing if a reader won this! If not, do consider heading over there anyway, it is so worth it.
Love or hate it?
Would love to hear about your own Paris memories, whatever they are. (My parents and sister hate it, they think it is smelly and too big. Hahaha. I think they are holding onto traumatic memories of winding around the busy Paris streets with two grumpy girls in a groaning VW campervan. My own childhood memory involves waking up in that very van parked right on the kerb in front of the Palace of Versailles where we spent the night in an outrageous bid for a cheap holiday…)Ramona took this shot…