Paris is renowned as a place of romance; husband and I had a couple of short breaks there pre-children. On our recent trip we were really impressed with how fab it was to explore Paris with children. We had a stop off in the french capital as part of a longer trip to France but it would work just as well as a child-friendly city break.
Top attractions when visiting Paris with children:
This was the attraction that our children were most looking forward to in our Paris trip. It is of course the iconic image of Paris and our children’s expectation was in no small way shaped by a certain Peppa pig episode where Daddy Pig is air lifted from the top of the Eiffel Tower! Our apart-hotel was within walking distance and we even had a view of the tower from our room meaning it was a constant landmark during our days in Paris.
Best Eiffel Tower views:
- From the river. A boat trip on the Seine provides a lovely view of the tower.
- Trocadero centre. We didn’t go here as a family but I managed to sneak a solo visit in on an early morning run. I had thought that I would beat all the crowds and have the place to myself but was staggered to find that at 6:30a.m. the lookout point was already full of tourists snapping away. There were even quite a few couples dressed up in wedding gear having professional shots taken! The light was really beautiful though at that time of day so I can see why the professional photographers take couples there then.
- Champs de Mars. This is the gardens right next to the Eiffel Tower (the opposite direction to the river). We went here to take a few photos just before going up the tower. It would be a great place to let the kids have a bit of a run around and let off some steam. Unfortunately it was 40°C when we were there so nobody felt much like running around apart from one piece of shade to the next!
Top tips for going up the tower:
- BOOK YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE! This is my main piece of advice. Tickets go on sale around 2 months in advance and the slots do get booked up. (We booked around 6 weeks before our visit and the earliest time slot available for our chosen day was 11:30). There are time slots every half an hour and you can choose from a ticket just to the 2nd floor (either lift or stairs) or a ticket to the summit. You can book the tickets easily online here and then print them out to take on your trip.
- If you have a baby or toddler that won’t be able to walk I would recommend taking a sling. There is nowhere to leave strollers at the base of the tower. You can take strollers up with you but you will need to fold it and then carry it around with you.
- Have a drink and enjoy the view from the 1st floor. On the way back down we stopped off on the 1st floor and had a (very expensive) but much needed cooling slushie. There is a small bar serving drinks with nice seating on some astroturf. It was a great place to have a rest with a cooling drink and cooling breeze.
- Have a ride on the carousel. Everyone loves a carousel but a carousel with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower is better than most! We went on this carousel a couple of times as often passed it on the way back to our accommodation. It’s sandwiched between the river and the tower so pretty easy to find.
2. Seine River Cruise
A great way to see the city when visiting Paris with children is by doing a cruise along the river. It’s a good way to get your bearings and work out where all the main sights are. Also which kids don’t enjoy going on a boat trip?! There are plenty of options for river cruises but we decided on the Batobus. This isn’t a tour meaning there is no commentary, they are very clear about that when you get on. If you do want a live commentary go for one of the many other cruises.
The reason we chose batobus was that we could hop on and off whenever we wanted. With a toddler you are never quite sure how long their attention is going to last so it was good to have the option of being able to escape the boat if needed. You can buy a day pass or a 2 day pass like we did (which is only €2 more than the 1 day one). There are 9 stops along the route to choose from all near major Paris landmarks.
The boats have glass sides and roof (which is retractable) to allow you to take in the views. There is also an open terrace at the back which due to the extreme heat when we were there was the most comfortable place to take in the views.
Top Tips for the batobus:
- Your pass is valid for 24 or 48 hours from the time you buy it so if like us you start your ticket at lunchtime one day it will be valid for the rest of that day, the whole of the next day and then until lunchtime the next day. We made use of this to take the boat along the river on each of the three days.
- The Batobus website has useful information about ticket prices, where the stops are and journey time between the stops etc.
- You can’t take large baggage/ suitcases on the boat.
- We did take our pushchair onboard and didn’t need to fold it up. Be aware however that there are often lots of steps to get to and from the dock that you would need to carry it up and down.
3. Jardins du Luxembourg
I’ve been to Paris a couple of times in the past and never been here. Almost every article I read about Paris with children recommended the Jardins du Luxembourg so we thought we better check it out. We were not disappointed!
We used the last morning of our batobus pass to sail down the river to St Germain-des-Prés. From there it is about a 15 minute walk (although we took longer than that at toddler pace!) to the gardens. It was a really lovely walk and we stopped off at a pavement café en route for refreshments. There are metro stations around as well depending on which part of Paris you are travelling to the gardens from.
The jardins du Luxembourg was originally created in 1612 by Marie de Medici alongside a new residence the Luxembourg palace. The Luxembourg palace is now the meeting place of the French Senate, much to the disappointment of my children who really fancied going inside it!
The gardens made up for it though. The centre piece is a large pond where you can hire small wooden boats to sail on it. On a cooler day I’m sure we would have done this but it was soooo hot when we were there and with no shade anywhere around the pond none of us were keen to hang out there for too long. Instead we spent more time exploring the shadier parts of the gardens.
The gardens really are beautiful but the children’s highlight (obviously) was the playground! You have to pay to go into the playground (I think it was €3 per child when we were there) but was worth it for them. It was mostly shady, there were toilets and tables/ seats for parents to sit down while the kids played. There was also a great variety of play structures for children of all ages.
We eventually dragged the kids out of the playground and bought take away baguettes from a small café just nearby and then sat for a picnic on the grass in the middle of the gardens. It was a perfect lunch- tasty food, nice views and the children could get up and move around whenever they wanted! If you are visiting Paris with children I highly recommend a visit here.
4. Montmatre / Sacré-Coeur
Our eldest daughter has had a fascination with churches since being a toddler. After the devastating fire we had to settle for seeing Notre Dame from the outside. We found a lovely little garden in the Latin quarter with a fantastic view on one of our stops from the Batobus.
It was down to the Sacre Coeur to give us our full Paris cathedral fix. Although very touristy I had loved wandering around Montmatre on a previous visit. Being in Paris with children this time it was great to be able to show them the area and the cathedral. To get up there we took the metro to Abbesses from where it was a short stroll to the bottom of the funicular. There are others metro stops nearby but that was the most convenient one for the metro line we were on. Without a stroller I think we would have taken the steps but carrying it up all the steps wasn’t appealing! The funicular costs the same as a metro ticket and we were able to take our stroller on without a problem. It isn’t a long ride, but the children enjoyed it.
The views of Paris from outside the Sacre Coeur are fabulous and a look inside the cathedral (free) is well worth it. After taking it all in we enjoyed browsing the art shops of Montmatre. We didn’t have any portraits done but the children loved watching the artists at work.
Moules frites for dinner rounded off the trip (mussels are one of our children’s favourite foods!). We ate at one of the restaurants in the square after being pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t ridiculously overpriced. Rather than taking the funicular we walked back down the pretty, winding streets to the metro station.
Top tips for Montmatre/ Sacre Coeur:
- I used google maps on my phone when walking back to the metro station from the top of Montmatre. The small streets are a bit of a maze, fine if you have the time to get lost (and children that are willing to walk further than absolutely necessary- we did not!). If you don’t have data it might be worth having a paper map.
- We found a great ice cream shop on the walk from Abbesses metro station to the base of the funicular. There were a couple of tables outside to sit down and enjoy the yummy ice cream and people watch from.
5. Jardins des Tuileries
These gardens sit between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde so are generally in the middle of most Paris sight-seeing itineraries. We had disembarked the Batobus by the Louvre and then got back on at the Place de la Concorde. We debated going into the Louvre but decided that our children were a bit young to appreciate it on this trip. Hopefully we will be back in Paris when they are a bit older and can then show them this iconic art gallery. They did enjoy seeing it from the outside and loved peering into the glass pyramid to see the people below.
I thought the gardens were stunning. There are gorgeous flowers, beautiful fountains and wide paths for the children to race around on. There was a fairground when we were there too, although we managed to steer the children away from this! They did enjoy the playground. As you walk with the Louvre behind you this was towards your left. There was also a carousel and some trampolines.
Top tips for Jardins des Tuileries:
- You can hire small sailing boats to sail on the large basin in the centre of the gardens.
- As we arrived towards the place de la Concorde (the opposite end of the gardens to the Louvre) we found a great, reasonably priced, family-friendly crepêrie tucked under the arches by the entrance to the gardens. The crêpes were tasty and there were books and games for the children. If you are in Paris with children I would recommend Rosa Bonheur la Crepêrie.
There are plenty of other amazing attractions to explore in Paris with children. In three days we felt like we had seen loads but we didn’t even make it to the Arc de Triomph. Still it’s always good to have a reason to return to a great city like Paris and we are lucky enough that it’s close enough to the UK to make return trips pretty easy. Where else should we add to our list for next time?
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