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Paris With Kids: Practical Tips for the Perfect Trip

By Cheryl Rodewig
Paris With Kids
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Visiting Paris as a family… or en famille as the French say? Get ready for an adventure!

There’s so much to see in the City of Lights for all ages, but it takes some planning to make sure all goes smoothly. From picking the right hotel to finding the best attractions (many of which are free), here are my top tips for a perfect family trip to Paris.

1. Stay in an Aparthotel

At first, I had trouble finding a hotel in Paris that could accommodate two teens and two adults. There were a few with family-style suites that could sleep 4-6, either with a sofa bed in the living room or multiple beds in the same larger room, but we wanted a separate room for the kids. Airbnbs, meanwhile, often had a second “room” that turned out to be a loft, and the prices were pretty high.

Then I read about aparthotels. They combine the best of both apartments and hotels — a front desk, a better cancellation policy, and other amenities along with the conveniences of apartment living. We chose the Citadines Trocadéro Paris Aparthotel, and it was perfect. Some things we loved:

  • Walking distance from the city’s best view of the Eiffel Tower
  • Friendly front desk staff who understood English
  • Plenty of space in our larger suite for all four of us
  • The amazing breakfast spread (more on this below)
  • Close to two metro stops and four grocery stores
  • A self-serve washer and dryer downstairs for laundry 

Our suite had so much room — two bedrooms, a living room that doubled as a bedroom thanks to its door and sofa bed, two showers, and a separate toilet room. Having two showers for four people was truly a lifesaver.

Aparthotel

We also took advantage of the self-serve washer and dryer downstairs for midweek laundry and made the most of our kitchen, fully equipped with a microwave, fridge, dishes, and dishwasher.

The location was ideal, fairly quiet, bakeries and more nearby. We walked to the Arc de Triomphe is less than 20 minutes the day we flew in, and the Eiffel Tower itself was only a 25-minute walk

Breakfast is an add-on, worth it for the convenience, quality, and opportunity to sample so many things. The buffet made it easy for all of us to get exactly what we wanted, whether it was cereal, fruit and eggs or baguette with ham and brie. Plus, a cappuccino and pain au chocolat is a magical way to start any day. 

2. Pack for Picnics

Paris Picnic

If you’re independently wealthy, feel free to skip this section. However, if you’re traveling on a budget, you should know that Parisian picnics are your friend. You can feel absolutely indulgent with a croissant sandwich assembled from the store and a pastry from the supermarché (i.e., supermarket), and it will cost a fraction of the price of the same thing at a restaurant.

As I mentioned, there were several grocery stores near our hotel. We liked the Casino supermarket best for price and variety, but we also have used Carrefour, Monoprix, Franprix, and even Lidl (often more on the outskirts of cities) on this and various other trips to France.

Stock up on lunchmeat, cheese, and portable fruit like apples and oranges. You can buy a baguette a day for less than a euro, although you don’t want to buy it too far in advance since the shelf life is around 24 hours, it seems.

Packing a picnic for lunch also lets you make the most of your time when museums and other attractions are open because you don’t have to stop for a long meal. Plus, dining on the Champs de Mars gazing at the Eiffel Tower or in some other pretty park is a true Parisian experience.

Paris Picnic

Fortunately, there are many gorgeous gardens in Paris perfect for this purpose. The Luxembourg Gardens and the Jardin des Tuileries, which we explore on our Louvre walking tour, are two of the most celebrated and scenic gardens in Paris, but there are plenty more.

Go in fair weather, and you’ll see plenty of locals, not just tourists, picnicking anywhere there’s a comfortable plot of grass and pleasant view.

3. Take a Guided Tour

Guided Tour

Paris is filled with amazing sights. Sometimes, it’s almost overwhelming. And when you go with kids, they’ll have questions about what they’re seeing. You may or may not have the answers. I didn’t. But a tour guide does!

If you’re traveling to Paris with kids, I definitely recommend taking at least a couple guided tours. We took the Eiffel Tower Guided Climb by ExperienceFirst, and not only did they handle all the tickets, the guide made it much more immersive.

I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower before. Twice. You go, you wait in line, you see the views, and you come down. You did it.

But going on the guided tour made it an experience. Our guide told us all about the tower before we started our climb. Then on the first level, where we stopped for a break, she told us where to find the transparent floor. On the second level, she shared more about this amazing monument and the rest of Paris, including a great tip for an affordable restaurant with authentic French food. (Thank you, Paula!) That’s the great thing about going with a guide — you experience so much more than just the attraction. You get a taste of the real Paris because you’re hanging out with a Parisian.

If I had the whole trip to do over again, I would have done a neighborhood tour, too. One of the things the kids said after getting back was that they wished they could have seen more of the everyday Paris. A walking tour of a neighborhood like Saint-Germain-des-Prés — which a Parisian friend assures me is home to the “real Paris” — would have been perfect.

4. Go off the beaten Parisian path in Bercy

Pavillons de Bercy
Credit: Pavillons de Bercy

Continue southeast along the Seine to the quiet neighborhood of Bercy. Once a bustling wine merchant district, Bercy still has many old wine warehouses, and in one of these, you’ll find a life-size cabinet of curiosities — the Musée des Arts Forains (translated as the Museum of Fairground Arts) aka the Pavillons de Bercy. 

The museum is the world’s largest collection of European carnival art and artifacts from the 19th century. Here, you can race mechanical horses, pedal a bicycle-powered merry-go-round from the 1890s, watch animatronics sing opera, and ride in a funfair gondola. It’s whimsical and utterly dreamlike, unlike anything else in Paris. 

Here’s a video to give you a glimpse behind the scenes.

Outside of the Christmas festival, when there are impromptu shows all around the museum, the only way to experience the Pavillons de Bercy is through a guided tour reserved in advance. They have tours in English during the summer, but we went on a French tour and had plenty to keep us entertained with the many immersive activities. There’s also a handout in English to help you follow along.

You can book your ticket as early as three weeks in advance. It’s well worth the price of admission and was by far our favorite museum of the many we saw during our week in Paris. 

There’s more in Bercy, including the Cinémathèque Française and the Parc de Bercy. Bercy Village, a quaint open-air shopping center, is just four minutes away on foot. We stopped by after our museum tour for lunch. 

5. Make the most of Paris museums

Paris Museums

If you think Paris entertainment is expensive, you’ll be glad to know many of their museums are free for kids. Get the Paris Museum Pass, and you can save on even more. They have passes for two days, four days, and six days that give you free admission to many museums and monuments (including castles!) around the greater Paris region. 

First, make sure you don’t miss out on the museums and landmarks that are free for everyone. There are more than 20 of these, but here are a few everyone should visit whether they’re traveling with or without kids:

  • Musée d’Art Moderne (Modern Art Museum)
  • Petit Palais
  • Arènes de Lutèce (See it with a guide.)
  • Musée Carnavalet
  • Mémorial de la Shoah

Many museums offer free admission to all the first Sunday of the month, but the sites can be more crowded on these days. A few of the best include:

  • Centre Pompidou (closing in 2025 for five years of renovation)
  • Musée d’Orsay
  • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature)
  • Château de Malmaison
  • Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
  • Musée de Cluny (National Museum of the Middle Ages)

In Paris, several of the museums are free for those under 18. We had the kids’ passports to prove their age but never needed to show them — probably because they looked like children. These museums are also free for those under 26 who are members of the EU, but for Americans, they’re only free for the under 18 crowd.

Vincennes

A few top Paris museums free for kids:

Back to the Paris Museum Pass. This is a great cost savings if you want to visit more than a couple museums, but you probably won’t need to buy one for your kids. They’ll get in free to most of the places listed on the pass. However, adults will benefit from free entry at over 50 sites throughout Paris and the greater region. These include some of the area’s most incredible landmarks, such as:

  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Hôtel de la Marine
  • Versailles
  • Château de Fontainebleau
  • Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace
  • Crypte Archéologique de l’Île de la Cité
  • Château de Chantilly

Tip: Budget time for 2-3 museums a day max. We can sometimes do more, but if you’re traveling with kids, they’ll get overwhelmed. Pacing yourself helps everyone enjoy the experience more.

6. Go in the off-season

Petit Palais

My last tip is to go in the off-season. That means not Christmas and not May through August. April and September are on the shoulder, sometimes part of high season. We went in late, and the weather was brisk, but not requiring a heavy coat, and the prices were much better than they would have been in June. 

Spring perk: We even saw cherry blossoms in late March, as shown in the photo above from the Petit Palais.

Fall and spring are also great because they’re not as hot as summer. January can be quite chilly, but lines will be shorter. 

Check the weather before you go. Weather varies widely in Paris. It was actually forecasted to rain most of the week we would be there, but it ended up only sprinkling part of one day during the actual daytime. From what I’ve heard, this is common, so you should still pack umbrellas if it’s supposed to rain, but you don’t have to worry that your whole trip will be a wash.

Looking for more to do in Paris with kids? Take a guided tour with a Parisian to discover the city from an inside perspective!