The city of Paris may be synonymous with love and romance, but it is also far more child-friendly than one might think. The city has attractions that will appeal to everyone; a family vacation in Paris provides an excellent introduction to Europe, and to another culture and language, for families who are venturing abroad for the first time. No matter the age of the visitor, that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower is a moment that will never be forgotten and may be the beginning of a lifelong affair with Paris.
Family-Friendly Accommodations in Paris
Finding family-friendly accommodations in European cities isn’t always easy. Rooms tend to be smaller than North American standards and relatively expensive. The closer to the center of the city, the more expensive the room. Families who don’t mind spending time on public transportation can save by choosing accommodations that are farther from the city center. Accommodation options include apartment rentals, apart’hotels (which provide apartment/suite-style accommodations with hotel amenities), and hotels that provide family-friendly options including connecting rooms or triple/quad rooms.
To help you navigate the daunting task of choosing international lodging, we recommend working with our friends at Preferred Hotel Group. A few of their favorite family-friendly Paris hotels include:
With over 260 luxury hotels located all over the world, from cities to resorts, Preferred hotels and resorts welcome families with special amenities and activities, catering to the unique needs of travelers of all ages. Make cherished memories at Preferred resorts and hotels.
Exploring Paris with Kids
There are a number of famous landmarks in Paris that will be familiar to children, particularly if they have been introduced to the city via books or movies prior to the trip. Kids are bound to be excited to see iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. Don’t be put off by people who label them overrated or touristy. These sites are popular for a reason and it’s impossible to take your kids to Paris without visiting them. Just be sure to buy tickets ahead of time whenever possible as queues and wait times can be lengthy at any time of the year.
Discover the Top 10 Free Things to do in Paris.
The Gardens of Paris
Parisians love to pass time in neighborhood parks and gardens and visitors to the city are wise to follow their example. The parks have walking paths, ponds to sail boats on during the warm weather months, cafés, and playgrounds which provide the perfect opportunity to interact with local French children. There’s even a children’s theatre in Luxembourg Gardens which is popular with Parisian families living on the Left Bank. We stayed nearby on the border between St. Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter and the gardens felt like our local park. Metal chairs scattered around the parks invite visitors to sit and read, soak up the sun, or just people watch.
Another favourite is the Tuileries Gardens located between the Louvre and the Place de là Concorde which is the perfect place to run around and enjoy the outdoors after having been on one’s best behaviour inside the museum.
With so many photo-ops, discover some tips for taking an awesome family vacation photo.
The Museums of Paris
There are many wonderful art museums in Paris and it’s easy to get caught up in the desire to see as many as possible, but some caution should be exercised when visiting with either young children or older kids who maybe don’t appreciate art. Our family favorites are the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, the smaller scale Musée d’Orsay which is housed in a former train station and features an extensive collection of impressionist masterpieces, and the sculpture garden of Musée Rodin, which is both inexpensive and more laid back because it’s outdoors. Families with reluctant museum goers would be wise to select just one that the kids are most likely to enjoy.
Paris By the Seine
My favorite way to see any city is on foot, however, a boat ride on the Seine can be a relaxing way to see the city’s landmarks and beautiful bridges from another vantage point and an opportunity to rest tired legs at the same time.
Read about other Trekaroo families who like to see Paris by the Seine.
Day Trips from Paris
Europe’s excellent rail transportation system makes it quite easy for a family to plan day trips to areas outside of Paris.
The 17th century Château de Versailles is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the suburbs of Paris and is easy to reach by train. Tours of the château are self-guided allowing families to move at any speed that suits them depending on the level of interest in the opulent rooms of the palace, including the renowned Hall of Mirrors. Kids will love exploring the château’s expansive gardens and renting a boat to row along the Grand Canal. Entrance to the gardens is free.
My kids would likely say that Disneyland Paris, also easy to reach by train, is the best day trip from Paris. It doesn’t matter whether kids have visited Disneyland or Disney World in the U.S. countless times, they will be enchanted by the European park. The park is relatively small and is easier than its American counterpart to see in just one day. It can be fun to compare and note how things differ between the parks.
Eating in Paris with Kids
It is not difficult to eat well in Paris with the simplest foods having that special French touch that makes them melt-in-the-mouth delicious. My children subsisted on a diet of pasta, cheeses, crêpes, croque-monsier, and delicious desserts. They savoured every bite! As my 8-year-old daughter proclaimed at a bistro on our second night: “Even the water tastes better in Paris!”
Cafés and bistros are a great choice with young children as the service is quicker, the meals are less elaborate, and they open earlier for dinner. We found that many restaurants didn’t start serving dinner prior to 7 pm or later, and we couldn’t keep our younger daughter up late every night and expect her to get up early for sightseeing each morning. For that reason, we opted for simpler dining knowing that next time we visit she will be old enough to enjoy lengthier Parisian meals.
It should be mandatory for every family visiting Paris to stop by Berthillon on Île St. Louis to sample the city’s best ice cream. The rich ice cream is worth the wait and tastes best when eaten while sitting on the Pont St. Louis watching street performers.
There is so much to do in Paris that a family can spend several days and barely scratch the surface of the city that always leaves her visitors wanting to come back for more. My younger daughter cried on her last day in Paris and I assured her that it was just the first of many trips here that she would make in her lifetime. Audrey Hepburn might not have had families in mind when she said “Paris is always a good idea,” but I think it’s true for us as well.
Looking for more? Check out all our tips and articles on visiting Europe with kids.