Visiting Paris with children

Here’s our top ten things to do in Paris with younger children.

There’s a lot to take in in Paris, and with any large town it can get exhausting travelling from one sight to another, so take your time and don’t try to do everything in a short time. Travelling with children to Paris, especially younger children, means you’ll have to be prepared to see less to enjoy more!

1)Eiffel Tower

Kids love the Eiffel Tower. You don’t even have to go up the tower, just getting some good photos of it underneath or near it is a big thrill for younger children.

If you want to go up the Eiffel Tower then you can choose between the stairs or the elevator. The lines are shorter on the stairs and  the price is cheaper, and you get a better sense of the structure of the tower. The stairs are wide which allows faster visitors to pass resting families easily. The stairs will only take you to the 2nd level however. To get to the 3rd level (the top) you can take the elevator all the way up or stairs to the 2nd level and from there an elevator to the top. The queue for the elevator on the 2nd level is shorter than on the ground floor but can still take up to 45 minutes.

You can buy tickets in advance (and skip the line) – and you can purchase them up to 3 months in advance. The website will often show tickets are sold out but if you keep trying back you might get lucky as additional tickets are often released right up to the day before. If you can’t get advanced tickets consider visiting at night as lines are shorter. If possible visit on a clear day and you should be able to see as far as Chartes cathedral 80km away. It is also very windy up there and cold, so be prepared. Visiting at the end of your Paris visit can also be a good idea as kids will recognize different sites from around the city. There aren’t many shops near the Eiffel Tower so if you want to picnic on the grass around the tower then buy supplies before arriving.

After your visit go to the small playground and carousel at the south end of the Champ-de-Mars.

2) Louvre Museum

Loure Museum in Paris with kids: This museum is pretty big so the biggest challenge here is, as mentioned before, not attempting to cover everything and having a plan. It would take weeks to see everything. Pick out 1 or a few paintings in advance, learn their history, discuss them with your kids, and then seek them out when you’re there. Buying post cards of art works beforehand and then searching for them is also a fun game.

3. Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with Kids: This fabulous building has of course been affected by the fire but take a tour of the tour of the Île de la Cité and area and learn the history of the Notre Dame.

Over 800 years old, this Gothic masterpiece sits on top of a Roman temple. In 1804 Napoleon crowned himself here and during the mass to celebrate the 1944 Liberation shots rang out. Get the most from the visit by watching Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) to give the kids a real feel for Paris in the Middle Ages. Closest Métro to Notre Dame: Cité.

4) Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur with Kids: Sitting high on topMontmartre hill with incredible views of Paris this church is a fascinating place to visit plus the surrounding neighborhood features a collection of charming streets, shops, and restaurants so it’ss easy to spend an entire afternoon exploring the area. There’s a funicular tram to take you up to the Sacre Coeur if the steps are too much.  You can climb to the top of the dome but the view from the hilltop is splendid enough. Be aware that there is a continual mass inside the cathedral and silence is the rule. There is a lovely little park behind Sacre Coeur. Away from the crowds, cool off in Square Suzzane Buisson on Rue Giradon. A statue of Saint Denis who was martyred here and gave the area its name sits in the centre of the square. Walk back down Rue Lepic, which has two of the many windmills that once dotted the hill and lots of interesting shops and cafes.

5) Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe with Kids: enjoy wonderful views both day and evening of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, and the rest of the boulevards that radiate out from the arch. You can climb up this building through a tight winding staircase to get to the terrace on top (there is no elevator). Napoleon celebrated his victory over the Russians and the Austrians at Austerlitz in 1805 by building this triumphal arch. When it was built it was in the fields on the edge of Paris. Since then occupying and liberating troops have marched under it and the July 14 military parade takes place here.

6) Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum with Kids:  In the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle there is a lot to seeand can easily fill 3 or 4 hours. The nearby Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Antatomie has a fascinating old fashioned collection of skeletons. Also in the park is the Ménagerie – the oldest public zoo in the world. It is small and intimate zoo, classically Parisian in feel, and small children love it, even if it does not have the big safari animals.

7) Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs with Kids: Under Paris there is a rabbit warren of tunnels and caves and they have a ghoulish history. In the tunnels known as Les Catacombes are the skeletons of six million Parisians and it is a great attraction for understanding the history of Paris. In the late 18th century the cemeteries were a breeding ground for disease and illness. The graves were emptied and the bodies stored underneath the city in the Catacombs. There are 6 million skulls and skeletons – victims of the plague, the French Revolution and the guillotine.  The bones are laid out in spooky patterns and a spiral staircase leads down to this strange underworld. It isn’t as ghoulish as it sounds and most kids are not scared by the sight.

Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to Paris: