Our full visitors’ guide to Paris with kids packed with practical tips and ideas for a fantastic family stay in Paris. Includes best family hotels in Paris, top attractions, tips to use the Paris public transport systems and more.
Going to Paris always fills me with excitement. I fell in love with the city when I was little (mainly because of the playground in the Jardin de Luxembourg, which I deemed for ages the best in the world!) and my love affair with the city stayed alive during my many trips there as a student, a girlfriend and a solo traveller.
Things haven’t changed now that I am a mum and the one thing that fills me with excitement more than going back to Paris is to to go to Paris with the kids.
While I get all giddy at the mere though of this trip, there is no doubt that a trip to Paris with children in tow requires a lot more planning than other destinations. Paris is full with kids attractions, but the practicalities of the visit cannot be ignored.
From picking the right accommodation to knowing how to get around and what attractions will pique the interest of the children, this is our family guide to visiting Paris with kids!
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First timer’s guide to Paris with kids: travel tips
The best time to visit Paris
The best time to go to Paris with kids is the spring and early fall and in particular the months of April to June and September and early October. At this time the weather is mild and city life is in full swing, so you get a local feel that just gets lost during the hot summer months, when Parisians go on holiday.
During the spring make sure you visit Paris parks and join the locals in what seems to be the activity of choice in good weather: a picnic!
In the fall Paris, the temperatures drop steadily and depending on the exact time of your visit you may be in for a treat with the city foliage. Paris in fall a quite a sight!
Paris travel resources
Our favourite booking site for family friendly tours is GetYourGuide: you can book tours online and get your ticket straight on your phone. Great cancellation policies make most of their tours a good choice for families, who need flexible scheduling.
These are some excellent books for you and your kids to be ready for your first trip to Paris as a family.
Paris packing list for families: must haves
- Baby Carrier. A good baby carrier in Paris is a real life saver, especially on public transport. We are fond of BabyBjorn and Ergo Baby, both favourite of our kids when they were babies.
- Lightweight stroller. A good, lightweight and easy to fold strollers is excellent for city travel. We love our Maclaren Quest and we have a list of others we recommend here
- Comfortable walking shoes. Shoes with a padded sole that keep you comfortable on Paris pavements are great for adults and kids. We love Adidas foam, New Balance shoes and Nike trainers for all of us
- Stylish backpack diaper bag to use as a day bag with changes, food and essentials. You can find some of our favourite for travel here
- Camera for you and maybe one for the kids too such as this this one so they can capture memories too
- Paris city guide with map: I am fond of the always amazing Lonely Planet
Where to stay in Paris with kids: best areas and hotels
Finding family friendly accommodation in Paris is one of the biggest ordeals, when planning a trip to the city and this is why I tackle this as the first item on my Paris family trip panning guide.
The first problem first time vistors face is to figure out what the best area to stay in Paris with family is and the second is to find a hotel able to cater for families of 3, 4 or more.
Paris hotels have notoriously small rooms, many of the more traditional building do not have lifts and many ’boutique’ hotels have bathrooms that are so tiny you need to squeeze into the shower – not something you want or can do easily with a baby or toddler!
However, family hotels in Paris do exist and this is our selection of the most family friendly areas in Paris and family hotels.
I believe that the best areas to stay in Paris with kids are the 5th and 6th arrondissements, the 7th and the area of le Marais.
The 5th and 6th arrondissments
The 5th and 6th arrondissments are my favourite place to stay in Paris with kids for convenience and charm. These two areas sit South of the river seine, on the famous Rive Gauche and include several famous neighbourhoods and landmaks such as the Jardin de plants, the pantheon and the Jardin du Lxembourg.
It is a touristy area and you will find a plethora of restaurants, shops and attractions here but I do love it because it is super central and has some beautiful parks, perfect for family time.
This is a good area to stay if you want to be in the heart of the action, close to main Paris landmarks and you enjoy a bussy, ztudenty atmosphere: the famous Sorbonne university is here.
Good family hotels in the 5th and 6th arrondissments are:
Hotel Bel Ami (5 stars), close to Jardin du Luxembourg and with interconnecting rooms
Hotel Dauphine St Germain (3 stars), offering interconnecting room and small kids gift on arrival
Hotel Paris Excelsior Latin (3 star hotel): a rare find, offering family rooms for up to 5 people
The 7th arrondissment
The 7th arrondissment is where you find the Eiffel Tower. becasue of this more than famous landmark I used to think this area would be turisty and unatmpshperic but this is far from the truth. the 7th arrondissment is lovely for a stay and very suited to families too.
It is a much quieter area than the ones above, it is well served with restaurants and cafes and is of course close to what is likely to be the one tihng your kids are hoping to see in Paris, the tower itself!
Good family hotels in the 7th arrondsissmnet are:
Hotel D’Orsay (4 stars) in a fantastic, central location offering triple rooms and interconnecting suites
Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel (4 stars) with rooms for up to 4 people(2 adults and 2 children) and restaurant onsite
Hotel de la Paix Tour Eiffel (3 stars) with interconnecting rooms for up to 5 people
Not an arrondissment but an area within one, Le Marais is a gorgeous, historical area on the opposite side of the river from the ones above. Le Marais is famous for beautiful, elegant squares, beautiful shops and the famous centre ppmpidour (incidentlly, very child friednly).
I have always loved le Marais as I feel it has a hip feel to it while retainting a residential, family friendly feel.
Good family friendly hotels in le Marais are:
Hotel Saint Louis Marais (3 stars) with family rooms and private parking
Les Tournelles (3 star hotel) with adjoining rooms
How to get around Paris with kids in tow
The best way to move around Paris with kids with kids in tow is to walk or make use of the excellent public transport system of the city.
Transport types and ticket option
The public network is made of buses, metro lines and the RER, the metropolitan train line that connects Paris city centre with the Greater Paris area, some Paris airports and Disneyland Paris. Transport is free for children under 4 and half price for children between 4 and 11 years old.
As a tourist, you are likely to use most the metro and the RER. There are several typed of tickets available and you can purchase them before boarding the train in all Paris metro stations, equipped with ticket machines, ticket offices and sometimes both. You can buy a single hop ticket or a carnet of 10 tickets, more convenient.
Tickets are electronic and need to be scanned before bordering the train: keep hold of your tickets and make sure your kids keep theirs safe too as they are sometimes needed to get out of the station on arrival too!
The same tickets for the metro are valid on buses too.
Using the Paris public transport system with a stroller
The Paris metro and bus system is excellent for adult visitors and people travelling with older kids but things are ‘a little’ less straightforward when you try tackle the system with a stroller.
very simply: the Paris public trasnspot system is not stroller friendly! Not all metro stations are stroller friendly, many do not have a lift and buses can only take up to 2 strollers at a time, which means you may have to wait for a free space before being allowed on board.
If you can, travel with a baby carrier instead or enlist the help of your other half or a friend to navigate the metro escalators (One gets the child, the other steps on it with the stroller facing the bottom of the escalator). For sanity, do not overload your stroller with stuff so, worse case, you can swiftly fold it closed.
Top things to do in Paris with kids
Paris is so full of sites and family friendly attractions this topic deserves and article on its own but to make this family guide complete, I’ll try and list some of our favourite things to so in Paris with kids.
Go to the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero
We simply had to open this list with the Eiffel tower, THE attractions most kids associate and identify with the city of Paris. Depending on the age your children and relationship with heights, you may queue up and get to the top or even just enjoy it from its base. The Eiffel Tower is surrounded by a massive lawn and kids can run and scoot around for ages with quite a special backdrop.
Make sure you take the time to also go to the Trocadero, in front, where kids can splash around and catch the quintessential Eiffel tower view.
Play in Jardin du Luxembourg
Paris has many beautiful gardens and one that usually gains the approvals of both kids and adults is the Luxembourg Gardens, in Paris city centre. There is loads to see and do here from playgrounds to toy boats on the pond to a marionette show.
See Paris from the water
La Seine, Paris’ river, crosses the city and is the perfect vantage point too see enjoy the view of some of Paris’ most famous sights. The river is a waterway served by many boat companies offering river cruises for all ages and budgets, from hop on – hop off options to full on dinner cruises at candlelight! A river cruise is a great pastime in Paris with kids as it allows you to see a lot without small legs getting too tired.
Explore the Centre Pompidou
Can a world class museum be family friendly? If we are talking about the Centre Pompidours the answer is a resounding yes. From the museum’s incredible outside with colourful tubes and escalators to exhibitions just for the kids, the centre is a fantastic place to spend a few hours. be ready for kids to get wet in the nearby fountains if visiting on a hot day… it’s irresistible.
See the gargoyles of Notre Dame
Notre Dame is stunning and if you are not afraid of heights climbing up its towers is definitely worth it. The star of the show here are both the view and the famous gargoyles, usually quite a hit with children, especially if familiar with either the hunchback on Notre Dame or famous photos of the city (if they are not, go to any newsagent and get a postcard to get them excited about seeing them!)
Visit the Jardin des plantes
This garden has a special place in my heart since it was my local park during my summers in Paris. it is a lovely place for adults and kids on a sunny day and is is also where the Natural History Museum is. As well as the garden, make sure you have a stroll in this area as it is truly lovely: check out rue Mouffettard for crepes and the nearby Lutece’s Arena to tap into Paris’ Roman history.
Get lost around Montmartre
Charming Montmartre watches silently over Paris and is a pleasure to explore. It is quite a trek from Paris city centre but it is always worth the metro ride, especially on a good day when you can get a view over the city.
Here it is all about coffee shops, street artists (many for tourists, but fun nonetheless) and the famous Sacre Coeur, the white church towering over Montmartre meandering streets. One word of caution: with small kids, don’t get the metro to the bottom of the hill thinking of climbing up: it is all stairs and the bits that aren’t stairs are really steep!
Cycle around Boi de Boulogne
Another stunning garden or a forest as the name suggest, this is a wide and fabulous green space not too far from the city centre. Our best day out here was when we rented bikes and discovered the place this way but of course, you don’t have to do that. You can also opt just for a stroll, a ride on one of the local rowing boat or a visit the kids favourite Jardin de Acclimatation, which includes a park with kids rides.
Parc de la Villette
Parc de la Villette is a huge space designed to get visitors to play and interact with nature, art and technology. La Villette hosts the fabulous science museum cite des science, which is one of the biggest in Europe and is fabulous for kids, and also has 12 themed gardens. The gardens are a delight with kids and they are a great space to burn some energy while taking is some pretty remarkable artifacts and constructions. One of the best places of all to visit in Paris with kids!
Parc du Butte Chaumont
I close this list with another park but quite a special one. Unlike other parks in the cit which are flat, this one lays on where there used to be quarry and it is on several levels, making the terrain really peculiar and interesting. the place is wonderful and you can catch some nice view over Paris especially from the Montmartre side.
Tips for Eating out in Paris with kids
Eating out in Paris with kids is a little less straight forward than in other places, especially for dinner.
Dinner time tends to be much later than, let’s say, in the British Isles and many cafes and restaurants are pretty family unfriendly.
This, either in the sense that they have little space (or no space at all for a stroller) or in the sense that they have little facilities and tolerance for small kids.
However, especially in the last few years, the Paris food scene has witnessed many changes. Beside the more traditional French restaurants you now have eateries, tapas bars, markets and fusion restaurants that mix the French flair for cuisine with a more casual approach, often with fabulous results.
During the day, you will find plenty of options to eat out with your kids. For dinner, the following tips and addresses may come in handy.
- Show up at the right time. Restaurants in Paris are only open at certain times and often not before 7pm. If you need more flexibility, you may want to to a brasserie instead or informal eateries and cafes, which tend to have continuous service
- Leave the stroller at home. One of the most common reasons for restaurants in Paris not to be child friendly is space. They are often crammed spaces and while this can be wonderfully atmospheric, if you show up with a buggy you may literally not be able to get in!
- Don’t assume they’ll be able to accommodate high chairs. Again for space issues, often there is no room for a high chair. If your child is not old enough for a standard one, better choose a restaurant that has specific children facilities. In summer, a terrace, usually more accommodating for buggies and strollers.
- Embrace International restaurants and chains tend to be the most child friendly spaces. They usually are accommodating to children and some have a kids menu and even crayons to colour while waiting.
Some family friendly addressed to eat in Paris with kids: Sapori di Parma (Italian), Blue Elephant (Thai), Schwartz Deli (American style burgers. No kids menu and big portions, good for sharing), Mediterranea (tapas, with kids menu), Aloha cafe (coffee, sweets, lunch), Che He (Asian),
I hope you find this first timer’s guide to Paris with kids helpful. Safe family travels!
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