By: Laurence Vuillemin, owner of Paris-Toujours
It’s impossible to be bored in Paris. There are hundreds of museums and monuments, countless neighbourhoods to discover and some of the best food in the world! But sometimes it can be difficult to find activities that are brilliant for kids. I am a Paris native and passionate about my city of which I know almost every single street. A little over a year ago, I set up my agency, Paris-Toujours, specialising in tailor-made and authentic itineraries in Paris. Here, I share my top 10 things to do in Paris with kids.
Things to do in Paris with Kids
1. Discover the Natural History Museum & the Jardin des Plantes
Located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the Natural History Museum is a perfect place for kids aged 3 and over. First, inside the museum, the Evolution Gallery (Grande Galerie de l’Evolution) is very impressive with all its realistic models of extinct species. Then outside the museum, the “Jardin des Plantes” is a lovely 17th century garden to enjoy a stroll with your kids. Moreover, inside this garden you will find a playground, some greenhouses and even a zoo with more than 200 species of animals like panthers, crocodiles or orang-utans !
2. Be Amazed at the Palais de la Découverte
When visiting Paris with Kids, the Palais de la Decouverte is a must! It is located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris near the “Grand Palais”. It is another magical place for kids on top of being a beautiful building erected for the 1900 universal exhibition. It is a science museum where lots of experiments are done to enable kids to learn about astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth sciences…in a playful way. Different rooms are dedicated to each topic and make the experience very instructive for kids. Some temporary exhibits are also in display, like the current one on the Dinosaurs. And, if you speak French, do not miss a session at the planetarium!
3. Hunt for Treasure in the Louvre
Although Le Louvre is a must to see in during your Paris vacations, it can sometimes be boring for young kids. But with this treasure hunt, their visit will turn into a real game and a learning experience. There are two treasure hunts, one for children aged below 11 years and a second for children older than 11 years old. These treasure hunts take children through Le Louvre and the main collections so that kids can learn as well as have fun! If you’re interested in this Treasure Hunt Tour when you visit Paris with kids, please contact Paris Toujours. The Louvre museum is located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris and is closed on Tuesdays.
4. Make like the Obamas in the Jardin d’Acclimatation
Created in 1854, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is located in the Boulogne wood, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. It is my favourite place to go with my kids as there are plenty of activities to entertain them : a small train will take you to the park entrance, then there are plenty of farm animals to see, a vegetable garden, an ‘enchanted river’ and lovely merry-go-rounds. It is an amusement park with a taste of 19th century atmosphere. With all that, no surprise to know that Sasha and Malia Obama came to play there in 2009.
5. Cycle Along the Promenade Plantée
Located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, the Promenade Plantée or “Coulée Verte” is a promenade surrounded by vegetation. It is the old train line that used to go from Bastille to the suburb of Saint-Maur. The promenade is seven meters above the streets, allowing a peaceful atmosphere, away from the crowd. On your way you will see many gardens (The Hector Malot garden or the Charles Peguy garden for instance), and go through a few tunnels. The great thing is that you can walk, bike or roller skate for several kilometres without seeing a single car! Something that is pretty rare in a city like Paris. The famous “Highline” of New York was highly inspired by it. It is open every day of the year.
6. Unleash Your Inner Artist at the Palais de Tokyo
The Palais of Tokyo is located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, It is a museum entirely dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Very interesting for adults, it is very nice for kids too, so that it a good experience for the whole family. The museum has organised various activities and workshops for kids about modern art in order to let them appreciate it in a playful way : the Tok Tok groups for instance (on Wednesdays and Saturdays), workshops for kids including stories about art, activities making kids participate. You can even organised a birthday party there. The museum is opened every day from 12:00pm to midnight except Tuesdays.
7. Go Wild at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (the Museum of Hunting and Nature), located in the Hotel Guenedaud since 2007, rue des archives in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. It is focused on the evolution of wild animals in our society, you will see various stuffed animals like wild boar, wolf, deer, fox… in an atmosphere that appeals to kids! You can also enjoy a nocturnal visit on Fridays making the place even more magical. Price 6€ for children and 8€ for adults.
8. Bake Macaroons at Chez Bogato
If you like French pastries and cooking, that’s your place. Located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, rue Liancourt, Chez Bogato is a colourful pastry shop, a tea room where you can enjoy a cooking class as well. The last time I went there with my family, it was for a macaroon baking session and thanks to the Chef, we learnt all the secrets on how to bake this treat. The family workshops are perfect if you want to spend some time all together in a playful atmosphere. After, the session you will take your macarons home so the pleasure will last ! The location is also very nice, the area with the lively rue Daguerre is ideal for a family stroll after the workshop.
9. Sail Boats at the Luxembourg Gardens
Considered as one of the most beautiful parks of Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens is 25 hectares large, enough space to make your kids busy for one full day! You will find wide green spaces to play football and basketball. The most famous activity for kids is the small sailing boats that you can rent and push with a pole. A lots of kids enjoy that. It is the oldest attraction in the park and it contributes to its charm. There is also a wide playground, some ponies to ride, an old carousel made by Charles Garnier, the famous Opera architect, and even tennis courts! The park is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.
10. Rub Shoulders with the Stars at the Grévin Museum
The Grévin Museum and its wax statues is still one of the must-see for families visiting Paris. It is located on the ‘Grands Boulevards’ of the 9th arrondissement and is good both for adults and kids. Celebrities from the whole world and made of wax in a very realistic way are gathered in this one-of- a-kind museum, and you can sometimes even feel the statues are real human beings! Moreover, a kids’ space was designed with more appropriate statues, with cartoon characters such as the heroes of the Ice Age. A backstage visit can also be done to see how the statues are made.
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After a childhood spent between the 14th district and the “Quartier Latin” Laurence Vuillemin never stopped exploring the city walking or driving a car or the bus, looking for secret streets, special areas with atmosphere, hidden restaurants. As mum of 4-year old boy, she also knows how to experience the city with kids at its best. Wanting to share her experience and having people discover the true Paris, she has set-up Paris-Toujours early 2015.