The City of Lights is known as the most romantic city of the world, but is Paris kid-friendly? When we were deciding where to go on vacation this past summer, my kids (aged 12 and 13) definitely wanted to visit Paris. My daughter especially wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in person. I wasn’t sure how many kid-friendly things there would be for them to enjoy, but there are lots of great things to do in Paris with kids. From a chocolate museum to visiting the Parisian home of a certain famous cartoon mouse, here’s what to do in Paris with kids.
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Things to Do in Paris With Kids
Shopping in Paris
Of course, Paris is known to have some of the best shopping in the world. If you have teens who love shopping, you’ll want to visit a few of the most popular shopping destinations in the city. Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are two large department stores filled with clothing, accessories, shoes, stationary, and souvenirs. Both also have views of the Eiffel Tower from the upper floors. Stop in one of the top floor cafes for a coffee and/or snack, and savor the view.
You’ll also want to head to the world-famous Champs-Elysee. There, you’ll find loads of shops and cafes as well as a truly French atmosphere. During our walk, we had to stop at the Parisian Disney Store, where we found a few fun souvenirs.
When visiting a foreign country, I recommend downloading a currency converter on your smartphone, so that you know exactly how much you are spending. It’s easy to end up spending too much on souvenirs because you aren’t entirely sure what the conversion rate it. Also, make sure that you use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame has made this world-famous cathedral popular with kids. You have several options for visiting. With older kids, you can take the long walk up to the top to see the famous gargoyles and get a fabulous view of Paris. However, the stairs are long and narrow, so definitely keep that in mind.
You can also visit the inside of the church, which is absolutely beautiful. During our visit, my son and husband walked to the top while my daughter and I just toured the interior. It is definitely worth visiting, regardless of which way you choose to see it.
We found that the line to the inside of the cathedral got longer throughout the day, so try to visit early. There’s no ticket required to tour the interior, but you will need one to climb the 422 steps to the top. When purchasing your ticket, you’ll choose a entry time. No fast track tickets are offered, but you can download the JeFile app which lets you see the wait times and choose an entry time in advance.
Seine River Cruise
The Seine River flows through Paris, and is one of the more recognized sites of the city. During your Paris family vacation, you’ll probably want to experience the Seine River at some point. There are several river cruise options available, so you’ll want to decide based upon the experience you want to have and the ages of your kids.
The Vedettes du Pont Neuf is more of a guided tour bus. It runs for about an hour, and there are additional cruise options available – crepes cruises, lunch cruises, dinner cruises, night cruises, and day cruises. Some of these may be more appropriate for kids than others, depending on the ages of your children. Another option is the Batobus which is a hop on/hop off boat with stops at many popular spots. You can choose to ride the boat to a few different spots, or can just stay on the whole time to experience the Seine.
Arc de Triomphe
Other than the Eiffel Tower, I was most excited to see the Arc de Triomphe when I first visited Paris in high school. It’s beautiful to admire from afar, but you can also travel to the top for views of the city. Kids will love looking at it at night when it’s illuminated.
Each evening at 6:30pm, the “eternal flame” of the Tomb of the Unknown soldier is illuminated. When visiting the Arc de Triomphe, be sure to enter via the underground tunnel. Crossing the street is definitely not an option. Kids under the age of 17 are admitted for free. To get to the top, you do have to walk up about 40 stairs, so it’s not appropriate for really small kids.
Everyone knows of the Louvre as the home of the Mona Lisa, but this world-famous museum is filled with artwork. You could easily spend a week touring. Most people, however, choose to just see a few highlights.
The Louvre offers amenities that can definitely help families. Strollers are available to borrow at no cost, as long as you leave ID. There are also audio guides available through Nintendo DS XL rentals or an app on your smartphone. Because the museum is so large, you’ll want to know exactly where you are going. Keep in mind that it does get crowded, so keep a close eye on your kids. If you are traveling with teens, it’s probably a good idea to determine a meeting spot if you are separated.
Purchase tickets online and you’ll have access to the quick entry (entrance within 30 minutes). It’s important to note that the Louvre offers free admission on the first Sunday of the month from October to March. Because of that, those days are very busy.
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie
The Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie (Museum of Science and Industry) is the largest science museum in Europe. We didn’t visit it during our trip to Paris, but it’s definitely something to consider, especially if the weather is rainy or too hot.
This new amusement park features 40 attractions, 4 rollercoasters, and over 400 animals. There are several ticket options. You can choose an unlimited pass which includes admission plus unlimited rides on the attractions. Or you can get just an entrance ticket and purchase individual passes for each attraction.
Our Paris hotel, the Hilton Paris Opera, was just steps from the gorgeous Opera Garnier. We didn’t go inside during our stay, but were so impressed with how beautiful the exterior is. Guests can go inside, and you can choose to do a guided tour or audio tour. Tickets are available onsite.
There’s also an Escape Game that takes place in the Opera Garnier. I think that’s something older kids would enjoy doing as something completely unique and original.
If your family loves art, you’ll also want to include a visit to the Musee d’Orsay. This gorgeous museum, located in a former train station, is a site in itself. The collection includes many Impressionist paintings.
Tickets for the museum can be purchased online or in person. If you do buy them online, you won’t be able to pick them up at the museum.
Arguably one the best things to do with kids in Paris is visiting the Eiffel Tower. This world-famous icon is an absolute must-do.
There are several different options for touring. You can go up to the top, or instead visit the second floor which also offers gorgeous views.
Don’t miss the first floor, however. Kids ages 6-10 will enjoy going to the first floor and following the “Follow Gus” experience – a kid-friendly tour. You can pick up a complimentary booklet (in French and English) when you arrive.
Each floor offers different amenities, but we preferred those on the first floor (unlike in the US, the first floor is the first level up, not the ground floor). There, we got slush for the kids and a glass of wine for each of us. Wine is served in an eco-friendly cup – you’ll pay a deposit for the cup which is returned to you when you bring it back.
During our visit, we went to the Eiffel Tower during the day. But I also think it would be beautiful to return in the evening, to see the whole city lit up.
Montmartre feels like the Paris that we see in the movies. This arts district features small shops, cafes, and lots of sidewalk artists. If you want to purchase a unique Parisienne souvenir, something from one of these artists is a great option.
At the top of Montmartre, you’ll find Sacre Coeur. Admission is free, and there’s a complimentary audio guide that you can download.
To get to Montmartre, you’ll need to either walk up a bunch of stairs or take a funicular. Because it was 96 degrees when we visited, I opted for the funicular. The actual car isn’t air conditioned, but the ride is pretty short. You will, however, need to pay for tickets to go up. If you aren’t sure that you want to tackle the stairs, you may want to take the funicular up and walk down the stairs. That’s what I did and it was pretty easy going down.
Food in Paris
Paris is known for its fabulous food, so you’ll definitely want to sample some of their more popular delicacies while you are there. If your hotel includes breakfast, definitely put some bread, cheese, and croissants on your plate. Our hotel, the Hilton Paris Opera, also had a huge honeycomb with honey to drizzle on the cheese.
Macarons are becoming more popular in the United States, but you’ll want to try some in Paris. Pierre Herme and LaDuree are both famous for their macarons. You’ll even find small outposts of the LaDuree gift shop in Versaille and at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
If you have time, Le Marché des Enfants Rouges is an open air market with a variety of different food booths. It’s small, but packed with fresh French food (including cheese!).
There’s also the Musée du Chocolat. At this chocolate museum, you can learn about the history of chocolate, try samples, and even take a class to learn how to make your own chocolate. There’s a kid-friendly scavenger hunt/tour, as well as a gift shop. It’s a good option for a rainy or excessively hot day.
Depending on your plans, there are some places outside of the city of Paris that are worth visiting.
The Palace of Versailles is located about 40 minutes outside of Paris. In addition to the absolutely stunning palace, there are also beautiful grounds to enjoy.
Tickets are available online, which is a great way to save time. You can also purchase a passport with timed entry, which grants you entry within a half hour of the window you choose. On select days, there is also a Fountains Night Show and Musical Fountains Show. If you want to attend one of those, you need to purchase a special ticket.
For an extra fun activity, consider renting one a bike for a ride through the park. These are available from mid-February through mid-November.
Disneyland Paris is located about an hour outside of the city, and includes two parks – Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. There are several hotels onsite, if you’d like to spend a few days there. During our trip, we stayed for two nights, and it was the perfect amount of time to see everything.
You can see our Disneyland Paris review here and Disneyland Paris tips here.
Discounts on Paris Family Attractions
If you are planning to visit more than a few Paris family attractions, you may consider purchasing a TurboPass. These passes offer discounts on a bunch of popular attractions. Just choose your length of stay. You can learn more here.