The beauty of Paris is how accessibility of its assets. The elegant architecture, the mouth-watering pastries and the Eiffel Tower visible from so much of the city are easily admired with no queuing required.
The best things to do in Paris with kids can often be enjoyed from the outside. You don’t need to spend a fortune on entry fees and then leave soon after when the kids are bored. Every street is picturesque, the art is not just inside the art galleries.
There is no doubt that Paris is filled with endless places of interest, from monuments to art galleries, food halls and churches. They are universally incredible and well worth visiting, but be selective when experiencing this exceptionally beautiful city with kids.
Plan your 3 days Paris itinerary to maximise the joy of family travel and minimise the tantrums.
- First time in Paris with kids
- Map of the essential sights to see in Paris
- Top 10 best things to do in Paris with kids
- 1. Head straight to the top of the Eiffel Tower
- 2. Fill your belly with Nutella crepes
- 3. Hit a French-style playground at The Luxembourg Gardens
- 4. Check out kid-friendly art gallery Musée de l’Orangerie
- 5. Let the sights come to you on a Seine Cruise
- 6. Stretch your legs along the Promenade Plantee
- 7. Dance in the rainbows of Sainte-Chapelle
- 8. Wander along the Champs-Élysées
- 9. Negotiate the Metro
- 10. Visit Disneyland Paris
- Our 3 days Paris itinerary
- How to get to Paris with kids
- How to get around Paris with kids
- Where to stay in Paris with kids
- Where to eat in Paris with kids
- Paris tips
First time in Paris with kids
For your first time in Paris with your kids I recommend choosing three things that you particularly want to do or see.
For example, perhaps it’s the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and Montmartre. Perfectly do-able with kids, but do you need to go up the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you could view it from ground level and the kids could have a ride on the carousel and a crepe for lunch. There are family-friendly guided tours of the Louvre and Montmartre.
If you only manage one of these things each day, there will be time for a playground visit, an ice-cream or practice a French word or two. Fit some extra sights in if you can manage it, but sometimes one thing on the to do list is plenty.
Map of the essential sights to see in Paris
Top 10 best things to do in Paris with kids
1. Head straight to the top of the Eiffel Tower
The only thing my kids (9 and 7 years old) wanted to do in Paris was go up the Eiffel Tower (or Tour Eiffel in French). With such a short wish list this was easily achieved on our first day in Paris, so anything after that was a bonus.
Book your ticket well in advance on the official Eiffel Tower website.
If you miss out on tickets as we did, get there before it opens and keep your fingers crossed the line is not too long.
Or buy skip-the-line tickets here.
Eiffel Tower from ground level
There’s plenty to do at ground level if you choose not to go up the Eiffel Tower with kids –
- Grab some Nutella crepes from the food stalls and sit by the river to admire it. For such a touristy location we were very pleasantly surprised that these were our yummiest crepes in Paris.
- A ride on the beautifully classic carousel gives a fun viewpoint.
- Take a selfie, play with perspective to pretend you’re picking the tower up, take some souvenir family photos.
- Explore the enormous Parc du Champ de Mars, which stretches almost a kilometre from the Eiffel Tower. This is where you can take those Instagram-worthy shots of picnicking on the grass with the tower in the background. Visit a boulangerie on your way and you can relax while the kids run around on the grass.
Alternative: Go up the Arc de Triomphe
Avoid the high price tag and often endless queues at the Eiffel Tower and head to the Arc de Triomphe instead.
It’s only 12 euros per adult and queues are generally minimal. While there are 284 steps to the top, a lift is available. The view is especially lovely, because you can enjoy both the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees.
2. Fill your belly with Nutella crepes
There is nothing like a Nutella and banana crepe bought from a Parisian take-away food stall. Absolutely heavenly and one of our favourite memories of Paris. Have one at every opportunity.
Of course there’s plenty of other topping options, like lemon and sugar or strawberries. You could even try them sitting down at a cafe, but they will be more expensive and not as yummy as these.
Alternative: Indulge in cakes and pastries
Or perhaps try these as well as the crepes! If all you do in Paris is see the Eiffel Tower and eat lots of yummy sweets, then your time will have been well spent.
We did our best to live on chocolate croissants (served warm for breakfast) and Nutella and banana crepes (for lunch while out and about). We enjoyed croissants from Brioche Dorée, a French chain, but fell in love with the ones from Starbucks! I know that’s sacrilege and I’m sure you’ll find a charming boulangerie to frequent near your hotel, but do not discount Starbucks.
Even if you speak no French, be polite and give it a go. They really appreciate it and each day you’ll get a little bit better. That is one of our favourite Paris memories too.
For something fancier, head to one of the Ladurée restaurants for tea and macarons.
3. Hit a French-style playground at The Luxembourg Gardens
These gardens are amazing! Absolutely gorgeous and so much space for the kids to run around.
The formal part of the gardens are stunning with gigantic pond and precision-styled hedges and garden beds. After school and on weekends there are remote-controlled boats available to play on the lake. You might even find a puppet show or carousel.
Explore further and you’ll find forests of trees, fountains and endless statues. Art is everywhere in Paris – there’s no need to drag the kids around a gallery if you don’t want to.
The Luxembourg Gardens playground is particularly fabulous with its flying fox, climbing frames, sandpits and slides. Although it wasn’t busy when we visited, it is a fenced playground and you need to pay to get in. It’s not expensive and what this means is there is always someone on duty taking entry fees and running the adorable little kiosk with snacks, drinks and most importantly, toilets.
Alternative: Tuileries Garden
Similar to the Luxembourg Gardens in that there’s acres of space, formal garden beds, a playground, lots of statues and beautiful buildings (including the Musée de l’Orangerie art gallery).
You might find that these gardens are more convenient for you than the Luxembourg Gardens. They are located on the right (north) bank of the Seine and lie in between the Louvre and the Champs Elysees, opposite the Musee d’Orsay on the other side of the river.
And, in the interest of seeing art without going into a gallery, you’ll find a bronze cast of Rodin’s famous statue, The Kiss, located outside the Musee de l’Orangerie.
4. Check out kid-friendly art gallery Musée de l’Orangerie
Going to an art gallery is not compulsory while in Paris, but the sheer number of treasures that live here mean that it’s on most visitors’ wish list.
A fun visit to an art gallery often means a short visit if you’ve got kids with you. You can achieve that by visiting a smaller gallery like the Musee de l’Orangerie. The queue is often short (non-existent when we went!) and, if you bypass the rest of the gallery, the stars of the show are the 8 Monet paintings created specifically for these two oval rooms.
This is a calm space where you can have a wander around, sit down and a rest, talk about whether the paintings’ names suit them or just choose your favourite.
As with many art galleries, the gift shop is fabulous.
Alternative 1: Musee d’Orsay
The Musee d’Orsay is a very accessible art gallery because it focusses on French art from 1848 to 1914. This narrow timeframe means that it has the most spectacular collection of Impressionist paintings in the world.
Head straight to rooms 29-34 and you will find famous paintings by Monet, Renoir, Degas and many more.
Alternative 2: The Louvre
The Louvre is completely do-able with kids despite its size. The key to success, just like at the Musee de l’Orangerie and Musee d’Orsay, is to choose a small selection and be in and out in an hour or two.
Take a family-friendly guided tour like My First Louvre which lasts 1.5 hours. Or take yourselves around using their audio guides on Nintendo 3DS or their app on your phone. I did a highlights tour on my own using the app and found it very easy to follow with clear instructions on how to get around.
Or just check out the outside with its grand buildings and glass pyramids. I was surprised how much my kids loved these.
5. Let the sights come to you on a Seine Cruise
It’s easy to spend a lot of time walking in Paris, so a boat trip is always an enjoyable way to experience a city. Especially a city like Paris where the Seine river goes right through the middle with beautiful sights lining the banks.
While there are several Seine river cruise options, we found the hop-on-hop-off Batobus convenient with several stops near all the main attractions. Buy tickets here.
Alternative: Have an ice-cream by the water
No time to be faffing about on boats?
Well then, find famous ice-cream shop Berthillon Glacier on Ile Saint-Louis in the middle of the Seine, not far from Notre Dame cathedral. Grab ice-creams for everyone, sit by the Seine to eat them and watch the world go by.
6. Stretch your legs along the Promenade Plantee
Predecessor to New York’s popular Highline, this elevated 4.5km green walkway was built on a former railway line and is likely to hold the kids’ interest for longer than walking at street level. (Also known as La Coulée Verte René-Dumont.)
It can get busy on the weekend, but during the week it is a peaceful, picturesque oasis filled with birds, flowers and unique views of the city.
Alternative: Squeeze in some random wandering
We found the most Parisian scenes when we were on the way to somewhere else. Don’t rush too much and miss these soul-satisfying unplanned moments.
Heading back to the hotel we crossed the Seine and were hit with this gorgeous glimpse of the Notre Dame.
Leaving the Luxembourg Gardens on our way to Rennes metro station we passed this typically Parisian scene.
Popping out for some chocolate croissants for breakfast, we were rewarded with the sun peeking over the Sorbonne university at Place de la Sorbonne.
7. Dance in the rainbows of Sainte-Chapelle
With the devastating fire at Notre Dame, one of the most significant things to do in Paris with kids is temporarily lost. You can still admire the facade, but to be honest it is quite sad to see it so decimated.
So instead visit the glorious Sainte-Chapelle. Like Musee l’Orangerie, Sainte-Chapelle is a smaller, less daunting option with smaller queues, which makes it ideal for visiting with kids.
Surround yourself with the wall-to-wall, sky-high stained glass windows. Watch the sunlight flood in, making rainbows through this architectural masterpiece.
Alternative: Sacre Coeur
Visiting Sacre Coeur is less about the interior and more about the expansive view of Paris from out the front. It is in Montmartre so a trip here gives you the opportunity to wander these historic cobbled laneways with artists still painting portraits in Place du Tertre and the famous windmill of the Moulin Rouge.
This family-focussed walking tour would be an ideal way to experience Montmartre.
8. Wander along the Champs-Élysées
The Champs-Élysées is indeed something to behold with its super-wide footpaths and smart rows of chestnut trees. But keep in mind that it is nearly 2 km long, so I suggest walking a shorter section of it.
Choose the top end near the Arc de Triomphe for Cartier and Swarovski and stop in at the large, modern McDonalds which has a light, quiet upstairs which overlooks the street. Or the middle section near George V metro station where you’ll find Laduree macaron cafe, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Starbucks. Or perhaps the bottom end near Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station for the Disney store, Chanel and Five Guys burger.
Alternative: Shakespeare and Company bookshop
For shopping of a more literary nature this bookshop is a very popular destination.
Unaffiliated with the New York bookstores of the same name, this historic spot was a gathering place in the 1920s for writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Over the years over 30,000 aspiring writers and artists have slept in the beds found tucked between bookshelves in exchange for helping out around the shop.
9. Negotiate the Metro
Our kids loved catching the Metro. It’s such a simple, colour-coded system that we put them in charge of getting us to the right train.
Each line is designated by a number/letter and a colour, and the direction is shown by the last stop. For example, you might want the red RER A line towards Marne-la-Vallee.
Alternative: Hop On Hop Off Bus
A Hop On Hop Off Bus is always a great way of discovering a new city with kids. There’s plenty for them to look at, usually some commentary to add interest and you can rest or explore as the mood takes you.
Try this one to have your choice or 1 or 2 days, plus you can even include a Seine cruise. Such a great way to get around.
10. Visit Disneyland Paris
With only three days in Paris I would not generally recommend leaving Paris, because there’s just so much to do within this wonderful city. But, if you are big Disney fans or would like to give the kids a special treat, then it is a fabulous day trip.
We took a Disneyland Paris day trip (read about it here) during our Paris stay and had a ball.
Alternative: Monet’s House at Giverny
For a glimpse of the countryside, then a day trip to Giverny is a fantastic alternative and more practical for kids than Versaille.
A half day trip like this one will ensure it’s not too overwhelming for the kids.
Our 3 days Paris itinerary
Arrival day – Dinner at Little Cantine
We arrived at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport mid-afternoon, jumped on RER B train direct to Luxembourg station, which was a short walk from our hotel, Hotel Excelsior Latin.
Dinner was a delicious burger/hot dog assortment at Little Cantine, a casual cafe just around the corner.
Day 1 – Eiffel Tower, hop-on-hop-off Seine cruise
I hadn’t been able to buy Eiffel Tower tickets online and today had the best weather forecast of our stay, so we decided we had better head straight there after breakfast.
With some drizzle before and afterwards we were so lucky to have perfect weather for our visit (no wind or rain). It had only just opened so lines were relatively short.
I find it incredibly peaceful and beautiful up there, hence why I keep going to the top every time I visit Paris. The kids brought binoculars and loved seeing what they could see.
Delicious crepes and pizza from the stall near the carousel and the kids had a ride on the carousel.
Rode the hop-on-hop-off Batobus from the Eiffel Tower stop. Got off at the Louvre for a wander around the courtyard – the kids liked taking perspective photos to look like they were picking up the glass pyramids. Got a Berthillon ice cream on the way back to the hotel, then a wonderful easy burger dinner nearby at Frogburger.
Day 2 – Luxembourg Gardens, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, Musee l’Orangerie
This morning we took the short walk to the Luxembourg Gardens. Being a weekday it was very quiet and there were no boats or other kids’ entertainment, but the playground was a lot of fun. Climbing frames, slides, but mostly the flying fox were brilliant for the kids.
Took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, which we just looked at from ground level, then a short walk down the Champs-Élysées. The McDonalds we came across was a lovely spot to take a break for lunch as it has a big, modern and quiet upstairs overlooking the street.
Metro to Musee l’Orangerie after lunch. Our plan had been to go to Musee d’Orsay, which I had been to before and love, but last night we decided to book a last minute trip to Disneyland. Tomorrow seemed the best day weather-wise for Disney and Musee d’Orsay was closed today, so we changed our art gallery visit to Musee l’Orangerie.
This turned out to be a wonderful result, because it is such an easily do-able gallery with kids. The oval rooms capture the imagination and the vast curved paintings fascinated the kids. Such a beautifully uplifting space.
Took another Batobus ride using our two-day ticket.
Another freshly-cooked dinner at Frogburger – dinner options at 6pm seemed limited to very touristy looking places.
Day 3 – Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris (DLP) was not on our agenda at all for this trip. We had just come off a week-long Disney cruise around the Mediterranean and the kids had chosen to visit LEGOLAND Windsor instead of DLP when we planned our itinerary.
But after a couple of weeks of constant travelling through Spain, Italy and France, the kids were finding all the new environments, food and languages exhausting. Not to mention all the hours of walking we were doing!
There was a super-cheap deal on Disneyland tickets, so we thought the kids would enjoy a day of fun and familiarity. Lines were very short and the rain stayed away, so we had a wonderful day. Read all about our Disneyland Paris day trip here.
How to get to Paris with kids
How to get around Paris with kids
Use your phone to find out how to get from one place to another. I use the Apple Maps app. Just enter your start and end points, click Public Transport and there you go. It will tell you which line and in what direction.
Or pick up a paper map at a Metro station. Look at the end of the line you need and there will be a stop name in bold plus a number/letter in a coloured circle. The number/letter, colour and stop name is the information you need to find your platform once you get to the metro station. See the online version here.
Trains are very frequent, so you don’t usually need to worry about checking times. Just make sure you check the screens on the platform to make sure you get on the right train.
Where to stay in Paris with kids
Hotel Excelsior Latin – between Latin Quarter and Luxembourg Gardens, between Luxembourg and Saint Michel metro stops. Very convenient location, not too touristy (Latin Quarter very touristy), 10min walk to Seine. 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom – no doors between bedrooms. Quite comfortable, Queen bed and 2 single beds. Free hot drinks in downstairs lounge was great – kids and D had hot chocolates, I loved having coffee on tap and enjoyed kids going to room with hot choc and ipad, while D & I could relax in lounge. Very nice.
Wifi free and fast – D watching football.
Where to eat in Paris with kids
– recommended by hotel and good Yelp reviews. Excellent. Some English spoken, delicious fresh burgers for D & I. Hot dogs for kids. Casual, funky spot. Near Sorbonne University, beautiful Place de la Sorbonne.
Dinner in Latin Quarter at Frogburger – found through Yelp. Excellent place. Guy making everything fresh. Delicious burgers – Da Vinci with ham and mozzarella for me, kids shared a cheeseburger, beer really delicious.
Tried to find somewhere else to eat but all touristy or deserted in Latin Quarter at about 6pm. Went back to Frogburger for another fantastic meal. Chicken burger for me, tacos for D, cheeseburger for H, nachos for A.
Found weather on google very accurate as to when in day there would be rain and we could plan around it.