Paris is as much a feeling, as it is a place. The land of love and dreams. The city of lights. Walks along the Seine, rows of buttery croissants and colorful macarons in the endless pâtisseries, and architecture that will make you swoon, are just snippets of what make Paris so magical.
There are countless things to do in the city, but here are a few adventure pairings that we found to be equally enjoyable for the adults and the kids.
1. Musée du Louvre & Jardin des Tuileries
Of course, you probably are already planning to see The Louvre, as it is one of the most iconic museums in Paris and the most visited museum in the world. However, here are a few things that are helpful when visiting with kids…
- Children under 18 are free. The Louvre is open every day except Tuesday and is open 9 am to 6 pm (with extended hours on Wednesday and Friday).
- Strollers are allowed within the museum and most of the museum is stroller friendly. There are plenty of elevators, but they can be difficult to spot. Upon entry into the museum, there are pamphlets available with the floor plan and the locations of every elevator. If you do not have a stroller or baby carrier with you, not a problem….you can go into the visitor assistance area and borrow one of their complementary strollers or baby carriers, in exchange for them holding onto some form of ID. The borrowed item must be returned before departing the museum.
- Though we didn’t do an official tour, you can explore the museum on your own and at your own pace, using their audio guide on a Nintendo 3DS.
- There is the Tactile Gallery, where kids (and anybody), are encouraged to touch the exhibits.
- Tickets can be purchased in advance, but this doesn’t seem to be much of a time saver. What takes the longest time is going through security, so be prepared to wait for a bit while the line processes through the security stations and into the museum.
- There are several food options within the museum, such as Le Café Mollien , Le Comptoir du Louvre , or Les cafés de la pyramide. If you can wait to eat, just grab a snack at Denon and Richelieu wings and save your appetite for an outdoor lunch in the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries).
Once you’ve explored the various levels and halls, and have seen: the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo and the Great Sphinx of Tanis (among many others), there’s a good chance that you and your kids will be ready for some fresh air and a tasty meal. After you make your way out of the Louvre, head past Place du Carrousel and continue on into the Tuileries Garden. For a lovely outdoor eating experience, try Le Café Diane , offering views of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Take away (pick-up), is also available, if you’d like to find a place in the park to have a picnic. We grabbed drinks and snack from PAUL , which is a little french-style bakery kiosk at the foot of the Carrousel triumphal arch in the Carrousel garden (on the east end of Tuileries Garden). We strolled through the picturesque setting with ponds and sculptures along the pathways, until we came to the Grand Bassin Rond, where we found some lounge chairs. The kids enjoyed running freely and we were thankful to relax, take in the lovely sights and people watch.
2. Jardin du Palais Royal & Les Deux Plateaux
We came upon this spot by complete accident and it was one of the most memorable and magical afternoons during our time in Paris. Walk the path between the aisle of tall trees and watch the people sipping their espressos and reading, on the perfectly placed benches.
Grab a latte at Café Kitsuné and let the kids play hide and seek behind the trees and run up the dirt path, until you get the the fountain and gardens in the middle of the garden. There are chairs surrounding the fountain, used by the locals for studying, napping and reading. A completely serene hideaway in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Continue walking the path and you’ll come upon Les Deux Plateaux, or better known as Colonnes de Buren; an art installation created by the French artist Daniel Buren in 1985–1986 and located in the inner courtyard (Cour d’Honneur) of the Palais Royal.
3. Jardin du Luxembourg Garden & Vintage Toy Boats
Just by happenstance, we ended up at the Grand Bassin duck pond, in the middle of Jardin du Luxembourg, and much to our kids’ excitement, there was a vintage toy boat rental kiosk, where each child could get their own boat, that they could push around the pond with a long stick. This simple activity kept the kids excitedly busy for a full 30 minutes….running around the pond to keep up with their boat. For only a few euros, this was a complete win!
The park itself, is a place to slow down and watch the world go by. Filled with locals, reading the newspaper or enjoying a relaxing picnic lunch. Spend some time in this park, and you’ll be surrounded by a mix of Parisians and tourists, just enjoying a piece of slow-living. To top it off, there are restaurants and cafes around the periphery of the park and nearby streets.
4. Notre Dame & A. Lacroix Pâtissier
The way that you experience Notre Dame with kids, looks a bit different than it would without, but is still a lot of fun. We opted out of the an interior tour of the church and stayed outdoors, to admire the elaborate architecture, take pictures and just soak in the rich history of the site. We took a super touristy picture of our feet at Point Zero, a marker which shows the exact center of Paris. There is the large open area in front of the church, allowing the kids to run around while we appreciated the experience. Also, make sure you do not miss the gargoyles jetting out from the columns and ledges above.
After leaving Notre Dame, we walked the Rue des Bernardins bridge, over the Seine, where there were several people painting the scenery; a common scene throughout Paris. As we crossed the street, it began raining and we made a mad dash to find a place to stay dry and get a snack or coffee. We happened upon the most adorable pastry shope: A. Lacroix Pâtissier, owned by husband and wife; Jackie and Arnaud. Arnaud is the pastry chef and personally makes everything from carefully sourced ingredients. Just about everything is this little shop is child-friendly….including a small play area with toys and a high chair for little ones. Every dessert we ordered was divine and better than the last. We most certainly will be back, the next time we make it to Paris. Address: 11 quai de Montebello, 75005 Paris, France.
5. Eiffel Tower at night
There are so many ways to experience and enjoy the Eiffel Tower. On any given day in Paris, it’s worth a visit, or a drive by, because it’s just that magnificent. However, we’re going to share our favorite experience, which was in the evening. We were visiting in the summer, when temperatures were hot during the day, but perfectly breezy and warm in the evenings. We planned for a late evening in Paris, as the Eiffel Tower is only illuminated once the sun begins to set. We picked up some of the most delicious baguette ham sandwiches from Carette Trocadéro , at 4 place du Trocadéro 75016 – Paris, and headed toward Jardins du Trocadéro, until we came to the stairway and found ourselves a seat off to the side. As soon as sunset hits, the Eiffel Tower is illuminated in a warm gold glow and it sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour. It’s a breathtaking scene and a magical experience to share with the kids.
We then walked down the stairs and down the hill a bit to the vintage double-decker carousel ride. Even the little white tickets, with gold lettering, were adorable. The kids were in heaven as they rode the carousel to the sound of accordin, under the glowing lights of the tower. We ended the night with a dessert from a vendor in the area and walked back to our Airbnb in Le Marais. This night and memory, we will always cherish.
6. Afternoon boat tour on the Seine & Crêpes
You cannot do Paris, without some type of boat ride down the Seine. There are a lot of options, from the super fancy dinner rides, to the more economical options. We chose a 1 hour ride and sat on the lower deck, so that the kids could stand near the front of the boat and take in the scenery. Add a bit more excitement and grab a sweet or savory crêpe at one of the street vendors, before your boat tour. Boat rides not your thing? You can still have the ambiance by dining on one of the boats that have been converted into a restaurant.
7. Montmartre & Les Petits Trains de Montmartre
For a fun little adventure, head to Montmartre for a whimsical ride through the village on Les Petits Trains de Montmartre. Once you get to the foothill of Sacré-Cœur, the train is close-by. Take the tram ride to the left, up the hill to get to the train. It’s a small cost, but worth not having the trek up the steep hill with the kids. The address is: Départ de place Blanche – 75018 Paris, but if you’re having difficulty finding it, just ask any of the local shop owners and they can point you in the right direction. This little train is a great way to see the quaint and picturesque neighborhoods, without having to walk and the kids are happy because they feel like they are on a special ride. The route covers: Moulin Rouge, Sacré-Coeur Basilica, Musée Montmartre, Saint-Vincent Cemetary, Saint-Pierre market and several other sights; lasting approximately 40-60 minutes total. You can bring a lunch on the ride with you, picnic near the Sacré-Cœur, or dine in at one of the surrounding restaurants.