Visiting Paris, France with kids can bring about several issues if you’re not prepared. Paris isn’t about amusement parks, beach days and water sports. There is history, delicious food and museums. While it’s definitely a great place to visit as an adult, kids can have a great time too. Below are 4 things we had to consider when making the decision to take our 2 kids to Paris.
4 Questions to Consider Vising Paris France Kids:
How will you get around the city?
Paris is large, over 2 million people live in the city and the metro area is over 6,600 square miles – that’s a lot of territory! Paris is home to an extensive subway system, has countless bus routes, and is a central hub for commuter and long-haul trains arriving from all over France as well as other European countries. Taxis, tourist hop-on hop-off buses, river cruises, and rental cars are other modes of transportation available.
While it may be very tempting to rent a car, parking and driving in the city of lights is not always an easy task. When visiting some of the cities highlights you’ll likely have to pay quite a bit to park and still end up walking a long distance. If your plan is to remain in the city itself, public transportation is the best option. However, if you plan to visit other areas of France renting a car may make more sense if you’re not a fan of trains.
Where will you stay?
Taking a trip to Paris can be extremely costly and it might seem like a great way to save money by booking a hotel or apartment on the edges of the city, or even in a Paris suburb. If you have older children, are comfortable navigating public transportation, or have a car this may be a complete non-issue. But with smaller children who may need a nap in the middle of the day or for a short stay this could cause more headaches than it’s worth.
Map out what you would like to see and do first, and then select accommodations that are central to these things. It will make your stay more enjoyable and allow you to spend more time doing the things you want to instead of sitting on the bus. This is one of the reasons my family chose a France Rental Apartment in the center of Paris instead of out-of-the-way lodging.
Is my child old enough to enjoy and participate in this activity?
There’s no shortage of things to do and see in Paris. From strolling through the Louvre to taking in the breathtaking architecture of Notre Dame, walking up the Champs E’lysses or wandering through Jardin Saint Germain, it’s impossible to be bored. Unless you’re a toddler.
Encourage your family to brainstorm together some ideas for things to do and see. If you’ve got little ones, go easy on the museums- after awhile the novelty will wear off for them. Keep in mind some “free time” like visiting one of Paris’ parks like Parc de la Villette that includes an enormous dragon slide! There are plenty of kid-friendly guided tours offered, loads of beautiful gardens to let them run, and a science and children’s museum that will keep them intrigued.
We made an agreement with my kids ages 7 and 10. Mommy and Daddy get to do something we want to do then you get to do something you want to do. It worked out well for us, most of the time.
What will they eat?
If you have a picky eater this is likely to be the number one question you’re asking. The French do not do child friendly menus of chicken nuggets and frite (fries). While you’re likely to be able to find something that appeals to them like a pizzeria or grilled chicken, this can be difficult.
Unlike in the United States where food is largely available only in large markets, in Paris you’ll find food shops around every corner. Fruit, fresh bread, yogurts, cheeses and everything in between is easy to purchase and make into a meal. You can gather the things you need and have an impromptu picnic! That is the Parisian way after all.
Let the kids pick out fruits and other goodies from the market themselves. They may be more inclined to try something that they picked out. You’d also be surprised how a simple “Bonjour!” from a child to the vendor can result in free cherries and cut up apricot! The French are big on attempting to speak their language and they love kids (especially when they are polite!)
See the Fodor’s Around Paris with Kids (Travel Guide) book for more Paris France with kids tips.
Do you have other tips for visiting Paris, France with Kids?