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As you know, Jordan and I both love (love love) to travel! And as we try to pass this love of travel and cultures and the world to our kiddos, we are always in the middle of planning a trip. Whenever I find a city travel guide written by a family that lives in that city, I pay extra attention. Because, experts! And so we’ve asked our friends around the world to put together kid-friendly travel guides for the cities they live in (or formerly lived in). You are going to LOVE today’s Paris Top 10 Travel Guide. It comes from my dear friend Kelly (I could gush and gush, but let me just say again, adore that girl). And now I am planning a trip to Paris.
Paris Top 10 Travel Guide for Families
1) Cite des enfants: This is the museum of Science and industry. It is a haul out there to get too (if you are going to the famous graveyard Pere Lachasie pair it with that they are in the same general area). This museum is broken up into several different parts. We had a pass and went through all of it but returned the most often for the Children’s Museum section, which is broken up into two different age group sides. You will have to buy a timed pass that allows you in at a specified time and for a specified length. My kids (even the 8 and 7 year old) preferred the younger age side. It has a really cool water play section and a maze that they love. This museum is partners with the Children’s Museum right in downtown Paris at located in the back of the Grand Palais (which was also a really cool place to ice skate). If you have the time I would absolutely go to Cite over the downtown museum.
^^^^I couldn’t find my pics from the children’s museum so here is Piere Lachasie ^^^^
2) Trocadero: This is that “Oh my goodness there is the Eiffel Tower!!!” moment. Our kids loved bringing visitors here and coming around the corner from the metro and BAM! There is the Eiffel tower!
When you are done on the platform you can walk down and get ice cream and cotton candy and go for a ride on the two level carousel and get some pretty fantastic pictures!
3) Riverwalk along the Seine: Particularly the newly made Les Berges on the left bank partially under Alexander bridge. The children’s playgrounds are so fun and you cannot beat the view. Be sure to bring their scooters if you can as there are long straight aways and racing lanes painted on the ground.
4) Luxembourg Parc: While you soak up the beauty of the chateau and gardens they will have a blast pushing their boat around with poles.
When you are done sailing head over to the completely fenced in children’s park which really fun and unique features. Be prepared though as it is a paid park (a few euros for everyone). When they have had their fill of the park take a ride on the antique wooden carousel where they will be given a wooden “baton” and can collect golden rings.
5) Jardin des Tuileries: We spent the most time at this park as it is right next to the American Embassy. In the summer a carnival will explode on the left side with rides, games, food and face painters.
There are often fun art installations and even when there isn’t the incredible statues that line the wooded path are a lesson in art. There is a great children’s playground and carousel back to the left. Our kids favorite part though is the Amorino Gelato stand that opens in the spring and stays open through the fall.
6) Disneyland Paris: Contrary to it’s name Disneyland Paris is a good 45 minute to hour drive away. You can take public transport to La Defense and then a train up to it just plan on a good hour and a half journey. If you do not have a rental car I would highly suggest booking a hotel for the night out there. After a long day at the park it feels like an eternity on the way back, believe me, we did it. Be sure to go on the rides that you will only find there in Paris (Crushes coaster and rockin roller coaster). We purchased an annual pass and used it well. In the evening hours the crowds really thin out and we were able to pick Chris up from work, head straight to Disneyland and usually get on all the rides we wanted before taking exhausted kids home (who fell asleep in the car another nice reason to drive). Food is incredibly expensive and mediocre. There is a delicious sandwich place called The Earl Of Sandwich outside the park in downtown Disney. Aside from that even the quick food places are super pricey and the sit down restaurants off the charts. The parades are fantastic and the firework show that was going while we lived there (the 20 year anniversary year) were nothing short of amazing. Plus there is something super charming about hearing beloved Disney characters speak french!
7) Ice Skating at Hotel de Ville: Ice skating in France is way more fun then anywhere else for one reason: the penguins.
Every ice skating rink will have stabilizers that the children can skate around with wether it be the adorable penguins on ski’s or the wooden chair like structures where on child can sit and one can push and be stabalized. They are genius and I cannot figure out they they haven’t show up in the states (at least not to any rink I have gone to). I usually spend my time ice skating with my kids bent over wrenching my back every time they fall trying to keep them from getting hurt. The first time we went in Paris I looked at Chris in astonishment as we skated hand in hand while our kids zoomed around with their stabilisers. It is also very affordable since you only pay for skate rental usually. Word of advice, mittens are compulsory, you MUST have them to skate. France is funny about compulsory things, for example speedo’s at public pools are compulsory for males. They have little speedo vending machines at the pool and mitten vending machines at the skating rinks. While both are cheap save yourself the money and bring your own.
8) Fountains at Parc Andre Citroen: During the warm months the fountains at the parc Andre Citreon become packed with local children cooling off. There are gardens to explore, a hot air balloon that will take you high above the city for an amazing view and a playground. What more could a kid ask for?
9) Cineaqua or Aquarium of Paris: While you can’t beat the location of the aquarium (in between the viewing platform at trocadero and the Eiffel Tower itself) it is pricey. Sadly what you pay for and what you get aren’t the same. The aquarium is fun and a nice break from touristy action but be prepared that you will go through it quickly.
10) Jardin Des Plantes: This place is INCREDIBLE! A mini zoo, playgrounds everywhere. Amazing museums and all extremely child friendly. Children are actually FREE at most of the museums. The Dinosaur museum may be one of the most beautiful museums I have ever been to. It genuinly looks like a movie set from Indiana Jones. The kids ate it UP! Be SURE not to miss this one.
Before you go I just want to put in a plug for visiting Paris in the winter months. While gorgeous in the spring and summer it is also crazy packed. Keeping track of kids is a lot harder when there are huge crowds and little wiggle room, plus to be honest the cold will keep them close to you or in their stroller. But there are way better reasons then those. First in the month of December the city of Paris, as a gift to the children, make all carousels in the city free! And there are gorgeous carousels EVERYWHERE! Every town hall has a carousel in front of it. The Hotel De Ville (city hall of Paris) is one of my favorite buildings in Paris and has an equally stunning carousel in front of it. The other incredibly fun thing about winter in Paris is the outdoor ice skating which we already talked about. My very favorite thing about winter in Paris though is the Christmas market on the Champs Elysee. It begins right around Thanksgiving (late November) and goes into the first or second week of January. This is when they will put up the HUGE Roue De Paris or giant Ferris wheel right at the entrance of Jardin Tuileries. The fair stretches from Place De Concorde up the Champs on both sides. Stuffed with different vendors from all over Europe and the most amazing food. You haven’t taste amazing street food until you’ve tasted the food at the Christmas fair, both sweet and savory. There is another iceskating path which brings you under fun lights and displays. Kids love eating the crepes and churros and seeing all the fun items. There are huge slides you can pay for them to go down and other small rides. After it comes down my hubby and I are kind of at a loss for what to do in the evening and the Champs looks so empty and depressing almost. Also during the winter months Museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. It is such a great time to go because the crowds are significantly thinner and you can actually stand and enjoy the artwork.
Other Museums you may not think about that are great for kids:
Musee du quai Branly: This is a museum about indigenious cultures. The exhibits are really cool for children and they are used to field trips etc. Plus it is practically under the Eiffel Tower.