We spent a magical weekend in Paris this past fall when my mom was visiting. She’s dreamed of visiting Paris since we moved to Europe six (!) years ago, so it was high time. And the boys were also very anxious to see the Eiffel Tower so we decided to travel en famille for a long weekend.
Lucky for us, Paris is just a 3 1/2 hour train ride on the TGV so it’s quite easy to access. We stayed at a perfectly located Airbnb apartment just a 5 minute walk from the Louvre and had a great weekend exploring the city. Since my mom has a hard time walking for miles, we did the Hop On-Hop Off bus one day as a way of seeing what we wanted to see without as much walking. Even with the metro, there are lots of stairs up and down, so the bus was an ideal way for people with limited mobility to get around.
I think there’s clearly no bad time of year to visit Paris, but fall was especially beautiful. We had mostly good weather and the leaves changing color all over the city were gorgeous. Since Lukasz and I had only visited Paris on our own before, I did a bit of research and was surprised at just how much kid friendly stuff there was to do. Here is a list of some of our favorites:
- Pictures and Posing at the Louvre-
Since our guys are just too little to drag through the crowded museum, we settled for showing them the famous pyramid and letting them have a little run around one of the courtyards. We have a few books about Paris, so they were excited to see this iconic sight.
2. Jardin des Tuilleries-
Our two little wild men had a great time
strolling running through this famous park, drawing with sticks on the dusty paths, riding the carousel, and stopping for hot chocolates with a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. There is also a small playground (more for older kids) and a paid area with mini trampolines. Definitely a great place to burn off some steam when your littles need a break from sightseeing!
3. Being Mini-Foodies-
While you generally won’t find kids menus at most restaurants (French kids eat what their parents eat), we found everywhere we went quite receptive to kids and perfectly willing for them to share a full size entree. When we would stop for a drink and a snack, the waiters would bring the kids a syrup to drink along with a small snack of popcorn or bread which was much appreciated! Generally the brasseries are more casual, thus making it a laid back option to dine with kids in tow. And what’s not to love about crepes, pastries, and croissants as big as your head?! The other thing to note is that most restaurants don’t open until 7 or 7:30 for dinner, so staying in a self-catering accommodation is a nice option if you don’t want to have lots of late nights out with the little ones. If you have older kids, there are some food tours that sound amazing…Paris by Mouth is one I’ve heard great things about.
4. Stepping Stones at the Palais Royal-
We stayed close to the Palais Royal, so we had to check out the famous black and white stepping stones, which the kids enjoyed hopping and climbing on. The palace is also supposed to have great gardens, but unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to check them out this time as we had other things on our agenda!
5. Notre Dame Cathedral Playground-
Although it’s small, the playground between the river and the Notre Dame Cathedral is a perfect place for the kids to burn off some energy-especially if they had to wait in line to get into the cathedral! If the weather is nice, you could pair it up with a boat ride along the Seine as there are several tour companies docked just across the bridge.
6. Eiffel Tower-
Of course no visit to Paris is complete without a stop at the Eiffel Tower! It was certainly the highlight of the trip for the kids and for my mom too. We went around 4:30 pm along with some snacks and champagne we picked up at the store on the way there. The nice thing about visiting in the fall is that it gets dark earlier so the lights were turned on at 6 pm, which left us plenty of time to check it out and then head back for dinner. The kids had a great time playing at the playground (with the most amazing Eiffel Tower views), and they were mesmerized when the lights came on and then even better the twinkly light show.
7. Jardin du Luxembourg-
My favorite part of the trip was whiling away a sunny morning at the Jardin du Luxembourg, just like the Parisian aristocrats used to do. The park itself is incredibly beautiful and there was so much for kids to do. From sailing miniature boats on the little pond, to pony rides, to playgrounds, there are lots of options to spend a whole day here. All the activities, even the enclosed playground, comes with a fee so be prepared, but fees are minimal. Our kids had an absolutely magical time riding ponies through the fall leaves and sailing boats along the pond. If you travel with kids to Paris, make sure you put this park at the top of your itinerary!
Paris is a great city to visit with kids and ours certainly had a great time. What are you favorite kid friendly tips for Paris?