Why you should go to Paris with kids?
We all know that the City of Lights is every honeymooner’s dream destination. Fancy promenades, enchanting boulevards, tantalising cuisine, the curvy River Seine, the lights of the Tour Eiffel, the aura of the Louvre, and all that jazz are some of the reasons why the newly-married want to visit it. You may even think that it may be your only chance to visit the city, since you would not want to ruin all that with the pranks, tantrums, and formula milk that you will have when you have kids. Yes, why would you?
Make no mistake about it; Paris could easily be called the City of Gardens, as well. Those lush green belts, ornamented by sparkly water fountains and chiseled pathways for little feet to dash along are as quintessentially Parisian as a honeymooner’s rendezvous.
For the sheer number of gardens and open spaces the city has to offer, Paris must be on the top of all the European family vacation itineraries. While the average tourist will not admit it, everybody needs a break from all the treasure hunting and museum treks. Children become the perfect excuse for adults to hug lush green, perfectly manicured lawns. Here are a few gems on offer:
THE JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG
While in Paris, check out the Parisian children sailing small wooden boats in the central basin, using long sticks to move them along…the image is right out of a Doisneau photograph! Stroll the immense grounds and you can see the older folks engaged in a game of pétanque (which is French for “lawn bowls”), or you can visit the beehives in the southwest end of the gardens. In the fall, the beekeeper bottles up all the honey and sells it to the public, and if you visit at the right time, you could bring this back as a very original souvenir. The little ones can also find good respite from everyday gadget addictions by seeing the puppet shows that regularly take place in the Jardin de Luxembourg and the Parc de Buttes Chaumont.
THE JARDIN DES TUILERIES
This is a great place to take a load off after you’ve trekked through the Louvre. Situated between the museum and the Place de la Concorde, it is home to manicured gardens, modern sculptures, a children’s play area, reflecting pools, and many outdoor cafes. Grab a bench and have a peek at Parisian life, which is unfolding all around you! You can watch as your children assimilate into it!
After you’ve gone up the Eiffel Tower, take some time to explore the garden at its base. The Champs de Mars runs from the Eiffel Tower to the École Militaire in the 7th arrondissement. As you walk from the Eiffel Tower eastward, stop for coffee and a snack in an outdoor café and watch the well-behaved children of the 7th arrondissement play on the swings or race around in pedal-cars. Encourage your children to join in the fun! If you are lucky, you can catch a concert or a dance performance in the central gazebo, too.
This one will hold a special place in your little ones’ hearts. You will have the option of ignoring the long and tiring queues to get atop the Eiffel Tower, in favour of the hot air balloon at your service, at the Parc de Andre Citroën. We are very sure the aerial views of Paris will be the same, if not better, from a hot air balloon than if you were gracing the balconies of the iconic iron structure. Not to mention, the kids will get good kicks out of floating in open air. This is something that they can rave about back at school!
It’s hard on the pocket, but it isn’t a matter of choice. You can’t bring your family to Paris and not visit Walt’s European mansion. It’s Euro Disney, folks! To be fair, this should have been reason number 1, but it’s good to think about things to do for free, before you really start digging deep into your pockets. Euro Disney is situated right on the outskirts of Paris (Train Station: Marne la Vallée), so theoretically speaking, you can stay in the city center and make a couple of day trips to Disney’s theme parks. But we recommend the opposite. Millions of Euro Disney visitors every year are treated very well by themed hotels and resorts sitting atop acres of grassland around the park. What this essentially means is that you cut down traveling time to and from the park compared to the time it would take if you were staying in central Paris, and the kids can enjoy their Disney themed rooms and games at the hotel after sunset as well. All these hotels have in-house restaurants, so food for rumbling tummies is always just a few steps away. There are also toy and souvenir shops on the premises, in case you didn’t manage to take time out while at the parks.
Note: Details on tickets, timings, and logistics can be found in our itinerary.
THE INDOOR ATTRACTIONS OF PARIS
Kids will love the many indoor attractions in Paris. Adults get their fair share by visiting museums and cathedrals, which, it would seem, are lined on every
nook and corner of the city. But Paris caters equally as well to curious and impressionable little minds. We are pressed for the right options, because there are so many, but here are a few of our picks.
MUSÉE NATIONAL D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE
Whether you’re going to London or New York, Natural History museums are always on the to-see lists. Therefore, Paris is no exception. This massive museum, spanning four levels, has it all from marine life to stuffed wild life. A treasure hunt catering to fun-loving and active young kids is just the icing on the cake.
Chances are, you’ve already heard about Edinburgh’s walking ghost tours and London’s ghost bus rides. But Paris’ Catacombes are the real deal. Thrill-seeking, naughty, young children will love this trip down memory lane as much as they will fear it, but they will not admit it and will keep their fear a secret. Brace yourselves for an actual mass grave. The fact that all the bones are laid out artistically does not take away the creep factor at all.
MUSÉE DE LA MAGIE
Everybody who loves Magic, say, “Aye!”
Now you see me, now you don’t. Believe it or not. Magic tickles everybody’s bones. Your children will relish their visit to the Magic Museum for quite some time. There’s illusion, there’s mystery, and there’s imagination that will excite people of all ages.
ABOUT PARIS MUSEUMS WITH KIDS
Paris is known for its famous museums and a visit to these museums is almost compulsory, even for those who do not habitually visit museums. Whether you are museum lovers or not, you’re probably wondering whether to include museum visits in this trip or whether to wait until the kids are older. This decision is up to you. If you have decided to include museum trips, you should consider purchasing the ‘Kids’ Travel Guide – Museums in Paris’ (this list is also included in our all-encompassing book, ‘Kids’ Travel Guide – France & Paris’). This book exposes your kids to an interesting, experiential way of the world of art (but not just art), at a level suited to their age group.
PARIS ON THE GO
The sights and sounds we’ve listed above are by no means, exhaustive. In fact, you might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned some of the most famous
places on Paris’ platter. But worry not, we will guide you every step of the way, in our suggested itineraries, covering the above recommendations, as well as all these alluring sights and sounds:
- Arc de Triomphe
- Eiffel Tower
- The Pompidou Center
- Igor Stravinsky Square
- Notre-Dame Cathedral
- La Defense
- Place de la Concorde
- Montmartre Cathedral
We are all familiar with children’s love for anything that moves, and Paris has quite a few modes of entertainment and sightseeing on offer. Many places will be covered by boat and/or bus tours.
Although the city is very easy to walk in, parents are not too keen on pinning miles on their “runtastic” radars when little children are in tow. So what are your options then, if you want to absorb the splendor of the city without tiring out your children? The answer is simple.