Paris is not necessarily the most obvious family destination, but it can still be as much fun for the little kids, as the big ones. We were there for my sister’s 50th and stayed 8 nights, so decided to book an apartment. Not many 3-bedroom apartments in Paris for short term rent, but we found one through specialapartments.com. The team here are terrific, and made booking and checking in a breeze. Ours was newly renovated, no balcony but large living area, in the 2nd arrondissement near the Bourse (French Stock exchange). Very central to everything, including Palais Royale, which is currently being renovated and has some great restaurants and shopping, and what has got to be the best coffee in Paris (Café Kitsume).
There is obviously lots to see and do however here are my top 7 with the kids:
1. So of course we did Disneyland Paris (previously Euro Disney) for the day, which is so easy to get to from central Paris on the RER A, no need to stay at their overpriced hotels with ordinary food. Smaller than the Californian original but still magical for young and old.
2. Ute Beifang from uteinparis.com put together a wonderful 2-hour tour, which took us on a unique walking adventure visiting some great toy stores, lolly shops and wonderful bakeries and patisseries. The kids loved it, sampling treats along the way.
3. Whether its your first Parisian sojourn or fifth, the riverboat cruises are a great option for getting around. They depart regularly at different stops along the Seine and give you a whistle stop tour of all the great sightseeing spots including Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. There is also an Enchanted Cruise hosted by 2 elves who sing in French the history of Paris. This is an hour long tour in a glassed over boat with panoramic views along the Seine.
4. We also hired bikes that are at the many stations dotted around the city and rode from Place Vendome to the 7th, near Les Halles. There are stations every 300m and the first 30 minutes are free. There are also many organised bike tours available, depending on what experience you are looking for. The kids insisted on us getting a bike taxi (just like a tuktuk), which was also fun, and the cabbie was full of great facts – they apparently do tours. This is a little more expensive but if you get a good cabbie, then well worth the euros.
The Electric bike tours also sounded fun but we ran out of time.
5. We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful lunch at the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Lunch during the weekdays is EURO90 per person, but considering that includes your ride up, entry fee and the opportunity to go out to the viewing tower, its a great way to skip the crowds, experience Alaine Ducasse’s food and see the wonderful views.
6. The Louvre was fun for the whole family. Our boys are 11 and 9, so were happy to see some of the exhibitions, including the Mona Lisa. Booking in advance online makes a huge difference and gets you in the side entrance where the tour groups enter, so no long waits in the heat or rain, and a lot quicker. Kids under 12 are free, so only need to book adult tickets
7. A definite must food wise is Racines in the Passage des Panoramas, great food and service (pizza and bistro food), another great recommendation from Ute. There is also the Gyoza Bar, which we didn’t try but looked very cool, and a wonderful patisserie all in the same Passage. This is in the 2nd arrondissement and runs between Rue Saint Marc and Bvld Montmartre.
There are also many parks and gardens to enjoy, not least of all Le Jardin Du Luxembourg. It’s the largest park on the left bank with 60 acres of fun. There is a small fee for the playground entry and in summer there are pony rides and toy sailboats to rent that the children control with a pole! A great spot for a picnic lunch.
Check out our Paris review for couples