Paris is one of the most wonderful places to visit with children as it has heaps of great things to do and is super easy to get around either on the Metro or by foot (take your children's scooters to get around faster!) Most of the A&U team have been on a trip with their families to the City of Lights, some have even lived there, so we've rounded up our top suggestions on what to do, insider tips as well as where to stay.
Places to visit
The Eiffel Tower, the symbol of Paris, is a must-visit item. My kids were wowed with both the structure and the views from the top. The queues can be extremely long so our top tips are to book your tickets online in advance or either book to eat in the restaurant or book a tour to beat the queues.
We dined at the 58 Tour Eiffel Restaurant on the first floor which was very child-friendly (in a grown up sort of way). You go up in a separate lift which thankfully had no queue at all. After dinner we bought tickets to go to the top to see the twinkling lights over the city. Top Tip: If you are going to eat in the restaurant book the 6.30pm sitting so the kids can let off steam and explore afterwards. Or book a tour with Cultivel and their guides will take you underground to see the WW1 military bunkers and fascinating machine room beneath the Champ de Mars. Afterwards you continue up to the Eiffel Tower with no queue!
Take a boat trip on the Canal Saint-Martin up to the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie where there are always exhibitions and activities for kids. We just love the section for 2-7 year olds where children take part in various experiments. Just genius.
A visit to Paris would not be complete without a visit 20 metres underneath the great city itself to see the Catacombes at Port Royal. Get lost in the underground maze and see humanbones...Top tip: buy your ticket in advance and you'll not only beat the queues but your tickets will be cheaper.
Located in the Bois de Boulogne and created in 1860, the lovely Jardin d'acclimatation amusement park and zoo is perfect for children up to 10. Owned by the Louis Vuitton group, the park is beautifully landscaped with lots of activities to keep little ones amused including a tour on board a little train, pony rides, a puppet show and boating on the lake.
The Louvre & Tuileries
A visit to see the world-famous Mona Lisa in the Musée du Louvre is a must, especially if your child has just read the 'Mystery of the Mona Lisa' by Jack Stalwart! Everyone at A&U agrees that seeing just a few key paintings or sculptures is probably the best thing to do rather than try to see everything in one day. After the Mona Lisa, we made a bee-line for the Venus de Milo and the Victory of Samothrace and saw a few other works of art on our way round too. Top Tip - it is definitely worth booking a time slot online to beat the queues (under 18s go free). It's open every day except Tuesdays.
THATLou runs themed Treasure Hunts at the Louvre which inject education and fun into your visit. There are lots of different themes to choose from but their most popular for first time visitors to the Louvre is Beauty & the Bestiary (imaginary creatures such as unicorns, griffins & dragons). The idea is to photograph your team in front of as many pieces as possible within a given amount of time. Top Tip: Try booking a hunt in the afternoon or evening to avoid the crowds.
Outside the Louvre, the Tuileries Gardens have a number of fab play areas and activities to keep everyone happy (especially if the weather is good) including play boats to sail, trampolines, pony riding and a traditional carousel merry-go-round.
Walk up one side of the Arc de Triomphe, admire the view and walk down the other side! Lots of steep stairs to climb so probably best for kids over 6 years. The view of Paris and its surroundings is truly spectacular. Our little travellers loved watching the "crazy drivers" flowing into the Place Charles de Gaulle navigating their way around like tiny ants. Buy tickets in advance from the National Monument website.
You can't beat a visit to a park for kids of all ages to let off steam. The team favourite is the wonderful Jardin du Luxemborg which is not only beautifully landscaped it also has an fantastic park 'Les Poussins Vert' for kids. You have to pay a small entrance fee but it is totally worth it. You can also take the kids on pony rides, rent a toy boat to sail on the pond and watch a puppet theatre (Wednesday afternoons and weekends).
To make the most of your trip a tour whether it's just a walking tour of Paris or a fully planned trip can make all the difference to discovering the city with children.
Here at A&U we love holiday experts, Family Twist, who will arrange magical, bespoke holidays for families in Europe. A weekend (2 nights and 3 days in Paris), is perfect for your first trip to Paris. After being collected by your private chauffeur you and the kids will scoot along the banks of the Seine to the Eiffel Tower or go on a river cruise on a private Venetian boat. Saturday you can follow a treasure hunt at the Louvre followed by making your own perfume. And on Sunday morning you can learn how to make your own French pastry then go on a walking tour of the artist district, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur. Prices start from €3,680 for a family of four (not including accommodation).
A boat trip is always a highlight for children. Bateaux Parisien do 1 hour cruises with an individual audio guide in English. Boats depart from the Eiffel Tower (15 adult/7 child) and Notre Dame (16 adult/6.50 child). 15 adult and 7 child (4-11 years) Free for children under 4 years.
The highlight of our family weekend in Paris was a private walking tour that I hastily booked from the Eurostar. I booked a private tour as I wanted to show my family specific areas in Paris but Paris Walks also run regular tours that mostly don't require booking. Our guide Brigitte was excellent. She kept the children entertained and allowed me to take a trip down memory lane too. One of the highlights was tasting an eclair from the best patisserie in Paris!
Where to stay
Having lived in the 3rd Arrondissement (the Marais) and studied around the 5th and 6th (Saint Germain) this is the area that I love to stay in. It's very central, close to the river and you can walk very easily to Notre Dame, quaint Île Saint-Louis and the Latin Quarter. The 7th is a bit quieter but still close to many attractions such as the Eiffel Tower). Or try the less touristy 9th, close to Rue des Martyrs (lined with lots of local shops) and only a couple of metro stops from Gare du Nord, which is great if you’re taking the Eurostar.
There are so many hotels in Paris to choose from and it totally depends on what you want - quaint, authentic, boutique, glitzy. But for starters I think that you can't go wrong staying in a Novotel, France's great family-friendly chain. They normally have activities and menus for children and are generally well-priced. The Novotel in Les Halles is centrally located in the 1st, close to the Louvre and George Pompidou Centre or there's one near the Eiffel Tower.
This Best Western Paris Louvre Opera is moderately priced 3 star hotel which is very centrally located, near to the Louvre. The family suites have two interconnecting rooms each with twin beds which is great for families.
If you're looking for a luxury option which welcomes children then Le Bristol with a resident cat (yes really!) will be the one for you. Little folk can be sure to be given treats on arrival and use of their own special activity room. Plus there's a fabulous indoor pool on the sixth floor with great views onto the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and le Sacré-Coeur.