Paris with kids: how to plan the perfect family trip to Paris

Family guide to Paris with kids

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 kids 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 traveler.

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 thought 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 of kids’ attractions and one of the best places to visit in France with kids, 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!

By the end of this family travel guide, I am sure you will agree Paris is not only one of the best European cities to visit with family but one of the best cities to visit with kids in the world!

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First timer’s guide to visiting Paris with kids: travel tips

  • Book accommodation well in advance and double check for special events that may get prices to spike at certain times
  • Stay in the city centre  (see below recommended areas) to minimize transport time
  • Consider an apartment rather than a hotel for extra space
  • Embrace public transport
  • Book skip the line tickets for main attractions
  • Don’t expect to see all! Paris is best enjoyed at a slow pace
Paris with kids
Is Paris a good destination for families with kids? We believe it is and in this guide to Paris, we share our favorite attractions in Paris for kids, favorite family hotels in Paris and practical tips to make the most of your family stay in Paris with toddlers or older kids

 When to go to Paris: the best time to visit Paris with kids

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.

Our recommended hotel booking platforms are booking.com and HotelsCombined, which allows you to compare the price of the same hotel across different booking platforms so you can get the best price.

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 Babyboth favorite of our kids when they were babies.
  • Lightweight stroller. A good, lightweight and easy to fold stroller 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 favorite diaper bags for travel here
  • Camera for you and maybe one for the kids too such as this one so they can capture memories too
  • Paris city guide with map: I am fond of the always amazing Lonely Planet

You can find my full packing list for Paris here.

Where to stay in Paris with kids: apartment or hotel?

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.

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!

If you need space to accommodate a large family, consider staying in an airbnb. You can get a 30 Euro credit towards your first Airbnb stay booking via our referral link  here

If you prefer a family hotel in Paris, this is our selection of the most family friendly areas in Paris and family hotels.

Best areas to stay in Paris with kids and family

Paris neighborhoods are called arrondissements and they are identified by a number from 1 to 20.

You can familiarize yourself with all of them and their location and feel reading this excellent guide to the Paris’ arrondissements with all you need to know about them.

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 arrondissements

The 5th and 6th arrondissements 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 landmarks such as the Jardin des Plants, the Pantheon and the Jardin du Luxembourg.

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 buzzy, studenty 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 rooms 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 arrondissement

The 7th arrondissment is where you find the Eiffel Tower.

Because of this more than famous landmark, I used to think this area would be touristy and inauthentic 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 thing 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

Le Marais

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 Pompidou (incidentally, very child-friendly).

I have always loved le Marais as I feel it has a hip feel to it while retaining a residential, family-friendly atmosphere.

Good family-friendly hotels in the 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 in tow is to walk or make use of the excellent public transport system of the city.

Our complete guide to visiting Paris with kids with travel tips and advice on what to see in Paris, how to get around and the best hotels to stay in Paris with family and much more

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 the metro most of all and the RER. 

There are several types 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 bording 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 transport 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.

Even worse, many metro stations have gaps between the train and platform and it is very easy to trip, especially if you are a child!

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 an article on its own but to make this family guide complete, I’ll try and list some of our favourite things to do 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 of 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.

The park around the towers also has a couple of playgrounds that make it an easy stop for kids of all ages.

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.

You can get skip the line tickets and access to the top floor of the Eiffel Tower here

Tip! If you have school age kids, you can find many fun facts about the Eiffel Tower here: they are a fun way to put the tower in context and some of them are sure to get a wow – the tower is pretty unique!

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 the park’s famous marionette show.

The activity of choice for kids here seems to be renting one of the toy boats from the local stall and make them race along the water in the park fountain: you can rent one for about 4 euro and indeed, they are great fun!

This is one of the best playgrounds in Paris and it is in such a central location, it is easy to add a stop here while sightseeing.

Luxembourg gardens are one of our favourite places to enjoy in Paris with the kids
Luxembourg gardens and the cute sailing boat, which you can hire at the stall beside the fountain

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.

You can check out prices and tickets for the hop-on hop-off Paris river cruise here

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 colorful 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.

You can buy your museum entrance ticket in advance and get an electronic confirmation here

Catch the view from the top of Printemps

If your kids love heights, they will adore the terrace at the top of Printemps (department store).

Access to the terrace is free and you can choose between several restaurants both outdoors and indoors to rest for a bite or even just a drink.

The view is sure to impress the kids but should they need a little extra, just stop at the children’s floor of the store for a toy-shop experience to remember!

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 also where the Natural History Museum is.

The garden has some sure-hit with the kids including a small playground, the zoo (you can see the wallabies from the playground!) and the dodo-ride, a super cute and atmospheric vintage carousel.

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 suggests, 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 boats or a visit to the kids favorite 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 city, which are flat, this one lays on where there used to be a 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.

Besides 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 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, I have a selection of good children’s table harnesses and packable high chairs that can come in handy in Paris.

In summer, a terrace, usually more accommodating for buggies and strollers.

  • Embrace International restaurants and chains as they 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),

Guide Books about Paris for kids and travel cards

I hope you find this first-timers’ guide to Paris with kids helpful. Safe family travels!

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2 thoughts on “Paris with kids: how to plan the perfect family trip to Paris

  1. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says:

    Very comprehensive list. We went when my eldest was a baby and agree about the restaurants and buggy space. This will come in very handy when we eventually return. Thanks for linking #citytripping

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