Traveling with Kids | Paris
When you ask people what their top dream travel destinations are usually Paris shows up somewhere near the top of the list. Paris is one of those iconic cities that conjures images of romantic curving cobblestone alleyways and of stylish sophisticated ladies and gents enjoying cappuccino and croissants at quaint French bistrots overlooking the River Seine or the Eiffel Tower. Paris epitomizes the European lifestyle and flair that the rest of the world is so enthralled with. And with good reason.
We visited Paris with our children a few years ago and did all of the typical tourist destinations such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and the Arc de Triomphe to name a few. We got a real taste of what Paris has to offer and the kids enjoyed themselves but got tired out pretty quickly. What we didn’t foresee on our whirlwind tour of Paris were some kid-centered moments and activities to give them a break from the pavement pounding, museum visits and line-ups (and in Paris there are a lot so book ahead for everything that you can!).
So today I wanted to delve deeper into what Paris has to offer families and kids in particular. Some activities, places, restaurants and events that the kids will love and enjoy (and learn from) and that will make schlepping to the next museum a little more bearable for everyone.
I would definitely recommend all traveling families to Paris to pick up the wonderful Herb Lester map called Paris En Famille. This map points out lots of family spots to delight and interest the young and old in your family. They even point out where the famous Madeline bridge is located! Order map here.
If you have kids that fell in love with the movie Ratatouille you might want to think of enrolling them in a children’s cooking workshop at the world renown cooking school Cordon Bleu. These two hour cooking classes are taught under the supervision of Cordon Bleu chefs and encourage kids to develop their creative expression in a culinary environment. They offer fun and kid friendly recipes such as how to prepare a chocolate hedgehog or how to make simple traditional French madeleine cakes. Read more here.
If you’re looking for a unique and fun eating experience for families in Paris, Pink Flamingo is a great place. This family run pizza shop with a punkish and rockabilly feel to it has four branches throughout Paris. The pizzas are all made using the freshest organic ingredients available and are known to be some of the tastiest around. At the Rue Bichat location you can order your pizzas and have them delivered for free (by bike) anywhere along the Canal Saint-Martin. Just hold up the pink helium balloon they gave you while ordering so that your picnic spot is easy to find. Kids love this.
A great event for any little music lovers out there is the Mini Rock en Seine Kid’s Music Festival. This festival (which is actually a sub-festival of the Rock en Seine Music Fest) offers everything from music concerts to dance/instrument lessons to dance parties for kids from 6-11 years old. This year it’s held on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of August. See full schedule here.
One of our family’s favorite means of transportation when visiting a new place is by bike. We find it keeps the kids entertained and busy and let’s us explore places at our own pace. For a city like Paris that can seem pretty confusing to navigate you can take advantage of companies such as Bike About Tours which has informed and passionate people who organize private family bike tours that cater to everyone’s speed and interests. They know the safest and most kid-friendly areas to explore and of course where the best ice cream shops and bakeries are to be found (important when kids are involved). And they also provide helmets!
After talking to a lot of people and reading up on traveling to Paris with kids the hiring of wooden boats in the Jardin de Luxembourg seems to be a top kid activity. The pond in front of the Palace de Luxembourg is a great place for the kids to pass some time guiding their little boats through the water with long wooden sticks. Such a simple activity but one that kids of every age love to do (adults too). You can also hire wooden boats in the Tuileries. A very affordable activity as well!
There are many many carousel rides to be found all over Paris. This could be a great way to give the littlest travelers a special break in a busy day of sightseeing (I know you’re not supposed to bribe kids but this could be a good “treat” at the end of a long walk or museum visit). Plus, it’s a major photo op moment. It’s pretty much impossible to take a bad photo of your kids on a Parisian carousel (and can you think of a better image to commemorate your family trip to Paris?). Read here for Paris’ top six carousels.
Café Zoide is the first cultural café for kids to be opened in Paris. They offer activities, workshops and toys for kids from 0-16 years old. The kids can play and paint while the parents enjoy some delicious homemade organic slow-food (very often vegetarian). Check out their website for daily activities.
Another favorite kid activity in Paris are the famous Marionette shows that are to be found in many of the parks and gardens throughout the city. These little puppet shows are often free or cost very little and kids are always enthralled while watching them. Read here for some of the top Marionette shows in Paris.
There are also many little creative centered shops in Paris that offer children’s workshops. One of my favourite shops is Adeline Klam which sells Japanese papers, stationary, fabrics, wooden toys and so much more. They also offer children’s workshops such as how to make a paper crane garland. Check out their website to find out more.
And one last little place to take your kids for a memorable meal would be Le Chalet Des Iles which is located in the beautiful Bois de Buologne (which is a fantastic public park full of kid-friendly activities). This charming little restaurant is located on an island in the middle of a lake and is only accessible by ferry (kids love this!). The restaurant offers delicious kid’s meals and lots of lakeside duck entertainment for the little ones of the family. Read all about one family’s experience at this lovely spot here.