Visiting Paris with children

Are you travelling as a family? Head to Paris for the weekend. Read on for our top carefree travel tips, with some surprising routes in Paris that will appeal to both young and old. What’s more, all these walks are free, so you really can enjoy the French capital on a budget.

Family-friendly walks in Paris

Ah, Paris – with its quays, its sights, its museums and its winding streets. Are you ready to explore them during a fun-filled, pleasant stroll in the fresh air? Three, two, one. Let’s go!

Start off with a stroll along the Saint Martin Canal, where you’ll find a number of designer boutiques and great places to eat. Treat yourself to a sandwich from Plan D and eat it on the quayside.

Continue your walking tour by heading to Montmartre. This part of Paris is a bit livelier, and you’ll find more tourists here too. Wind your way through the narrow streets to rub shoulders with the locals. It isn’t unusual to find a flea market in this area. Climb to the top of the hill in Montmartre, either on foot or by taking the funicular, to marvel at the Sacré-Cœur. If you’re still thirsty for discovery after this walk, head down the other side of the hill to Saint-Ouen, where you’ll find one of the biggest flea markets in France.

If you’re craving some fresh air after all that strolling through the city, take the metro to Parc de Vincennes. If you’re in Paris in April or May, don’t miss the Foire du Trône funfair. The kids will love it! If you’re visiting any other time of the year, hire a boat and sail on the lake, or visit Vincennes Zoo and the Ferme de Paris educational farm.

When you finally return to the city, you must visit the Jardin des Tuileries public garden. Your children can hire a boat here and use a pole to try out their cruising skills on the lake. What a wonderful way to end the afternoon! If you’re looking for something warm and comforting in winter, stop off for a hot chocolate at Angelina’s. In summer, enjoy an ice cream at Bachir’s or Berthillon’s a bit further down.

Enjoy live entertainment in Paris

If your children love live entertainment, Paris is the perfect place for you. There are great deals available all over the city, so all you have to do is take a look at the online calendar to find out what’s on. There are all sorts of shows on offer – from stage shows and animal shows to animated films and more besides. While you’re waiting for your preferred show to start, here are a few regular events that are sure to be fun for all the family.

Take your children to the Cirque d’Hiver – a prominent venue that hosts amazing performances and magic shows where animals are in the spotlight. What’s more, entry is free for children under the age of two.

Sticking with the animal theme, you could also head to the Zèbre de Belleville cabaret circus for a ‘dinner show’ aimed specifically at children. And if you’re more a family of film buffs, the Entrepôt concert hall in the 14th arrondissement holds kids’ film clubs every Saturday.

Exhibitions that will appeal to visitors young and old

If there’s one thing you can do with children, it’s visiting exhibitions. Paris is full of places that are designed to appeal to a younger audience but are still fascinating for grown-ups too.

There’s the Cité des Sciences science museum for starters. There are two interactive learning play areas for children aged 2 to 7 and 5 to 12 geared towards budding scientists. There’s also the permanent exhibition on climate change, which is sure to spark your children’s interest in the issues we will face in the future.

The Grande Galerie de l’Évolution – a natural history museum – is situated on the other side of the River Seine. If you want to do something your children are certain to love, this is the place you should go! Take the metro to Jussieu and walk to the magnificent Jardin des Plantes botanical garden. The museum has skeletons of dinosaurs, monkeys, elephants, lions and other wild animals on display to help visitors understand how animals have evolved over the centuries.

If you’d like to savour a cultural treat, head to Paris’ 4th arrondissement and the Georges Pompidou Centre – which is home to the Kids’ Gallery. The tours of the exhibits here are either guided or interactive. Your children can even take part in a series of changing workshops that will teach them how to create and find more freedom.

Our tips for unusual family activities in Paris

To make your family’s stay in the City of Lights truly unforgettable, you need to have a few surprises up your sleeve! Read on for some inspiration for activities that should get you off the beaten track…

Our first suggestion is getting a bird’s eye view of the French capital. Head to the Parc André Citroën and experience Paris like never before as you ascend up to 150 metres above the city’s streets in the famous Ballon de Paris hot air balloon! Ready to take to the skies? Be prepared to be stunned: Paris is just as beautiful from above.

Our second activity will take you onto the water. Hire a small electric boat from ‘Les Marins d’Eau Douce’ on the Bassin de la Villette – the largest artificial lake in Paris. Locals often hire boats so they can enjoy a drink and watch the world go by from the water. It’s like a little oasis in the city.

And our third idea takes you… underground. Head for the catacombs. We recommend taking a guided tour, since it’s so impressive. Follow the guide on your tour through this magnificent underground labyrinth.

Family-friendly places to eat

Fancy a snack to keep the hunger at bay before you continue exploring? In Paris, you can get something to eat whatever the time of day. There are hundreds of places where you can get your fill.

For a family-friendly snack, head to Le Loir dans la Théière tea room and restaurant in the Marais district. Pick a tasty pastry to enjoy while having a well-deserved rest. Our favourite is the lemon meringue pie with extra meringue.

If you’d like to have a drink before dinner, La REcyclerie is a unique, family-friendly café in a former train station straddling the abandoned La Petite Ceinture railway. Enjoy a drink and some tapas while sitting outdoors on the quayside!

A good burger is always a crowd-pleaser at dinnertime. To choose which one you’d like, you need to find your favourite spot first of all. If you’re not sure, here are ours: Le Dépanneur, Le BaB, Le Blend, PNY, Le Ruisseau and Dumbo. All of these establishments prepare their dishes with high-quality, seasonal ingredients!

Finally – on the last day of your trip – immerse yourself in the life of a REAL Parisian. Sunday brunch at an establishment of your choosing is a must when you come to Paris. Our favourite places are Paper Boy and Les Petites Gouttes.

Brush up on your Parisian classics

Do you love Paris, and have you long been dreaming of the day you could introduce your children to the French capital? Missing the city’s must-see attractions is out of the question on that very first visit. Plan to spend a day visiting Paris’ most famous sights. Start your journey of discovery at the Eiffel Tower. Here’s a tip: go early in the morning and reserve your slot. The view will be even more magnificent in the peace and quiet! Once you’re back at street level, stroll along the quays to Notre-Dame Cathedral. Even though restoration work is still ongoing following the fire, you can still marvel at this amazing piece of architecture. Change quays to reach the Louvre museum and its famous pyramid.

Finally, walk through the Jardin des Tuileries, then the Place de la Concorde, to reach the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Head to the Arc de Triomphe so you can tick the last must-see sight of the day off your list. Visitors looking to add a magical touch to their trip should come at Christmas and enjoy all the lights with their children.

Because you deserve to see so much more than the inside of a plane, the journey to Paris is just three hours from Geneva, Lausanne, Basel and Zurich with TGV Lyria. All without the hassle of travelling into the city from Paris’ airports and waiting for your flight. Let’s go! You’ll be in Paris in no time at all.

Go and explore Paris in just three hours by train
With TGV Lyria, your rail travel partner