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Activities

Family Travel: Guide to Paris

Written by Feather + Flip for Building Blocks.

Paris is a magical city that captures both parents and children at any age. Whether you’re visiting the iconic sites or just taking a stroll through the city, here are our tips for your family trip to Paris.

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WHAT TO PACK

Their favorite backpack. Universal truth: kids love backpacks. Maybe it’s the cute design, maybe it’s feeling like a grown-up and having a space to carry their special items. Either way, a special new pack (ideally stocked with some snacks and toys for the airplane) is the perfect treat for a kid about to embark on a long flight.

Those must-have dining essentials.  Don’t forget that traveling in Paris means you will likely be dining out quite a bit. Make sure to bring along the essentials like a bib or a clip-on baby seat packed into your diaper bag — they will surely save many a meal.

A few tiny toys. Most hotel rooms don’t come with toys, so bring something small that won’t weigh down the luggage but will provide a little in-room entertainment during jet-lagged mornings. The wooden Super Hero Set is easy to clean and great to tote around the city for post-meal playtime in the park while mom and dad relax for a minute.

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A lightweight jacket. Even a summer day in Paris can turn chilly if the clouds roll in, plus museums and restaurants can be cold. Bring a lightweight jacket that folds up and won’t need a lot of space.

A kid-friendly camera and/or waterproof case. It might sound crazy to give a kid a camera, but choose an unbreakable (and waterproof!) digital camera so your little ones can document their trip while you keep your phone safe in your pocket. It’s great entertainment while waiting in museum lines or for lunch, and the resulting pics show the city through your child’s eyes.

Snack time storage. Airplane food is pretty terrible these days, so be sure to bring a bento box with a few favorite snacks. Although these are technically for kids, they’re also great to pack one with more adult eats so everyone can have something edible on the flight.

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WHAT TO DO

Favorite Parks and Playgrounds

Parents will be pleased to find small parks and playgrounds almost anywhere (there’s even one within the Notre Dame grounds). Here are a few bigger ones we hit on every visit:

Place des Vosges: this gorgeous square in the Marais is the city’s oldest, has a great playground and is surrounded by hip cafes and shops. Plan an afternoon (at least!) in our favorite Parisian neighborhood. Also nearby is the Square Leopold Achille, another wonderful park to check out.

Jardin des Tuileries: next to the Louvre, this gorgeous park has a fountain where children can launch mini-sailboats, a summer fair with carnival rides, trampolines for bouncing out post-museum jitters, and the Roue de Paris, a supersized ferris wheel with views across the city

Jardin des Plantes: Paris’ botanical garden is next to the Natural History Museum, and there’s also a small zoo to visit. Don’t miss the Labyrinth, a garden maze created in the 18th-century that’s still a hit with kids.

Rainy Day Play: Done with museums but rain killing the park vibe? Head to the department store Le Bon Marché, which has a bookstore with a fantastic kids’ section. The stuffed animals at Deyrolle, the famed taxidermy shop, is a Parisian oddity kids will adore as well.

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Favorite Museums

It’s impossible to pick the best—families could fill weeks touring Paris’ amazing museums—but these are a few to hit on a first trip:

Louvre: The Louvre can be overwhelming, but done right, it’s a magical experience for families. We’ve discovered some fantastic guides that lead children on an art-inspired scavenger hunt through the museum (Paris Muse, we love you!).

Musée Picasso: reopened recently after a massive renovation, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of the painter’s work, yet it’s still small enough that antsy kids can enjoy without running out of patience. Tip: just around the corner is a great pizza spot, Pink Flamingo.

Centre Pompidou: this famed contemporary gallery has the colorful art that captures a kids’ imagination as well as fantastic children’s programming, from workshops designed for toddlers to studio events aimed specifically at teens.

Favorite Restaurants

We’d need a novel to name all the best Parisian eats, but these are a few near the main sights you’ll visit with kids:

La Favorite: classic café in the Marais, great brunch or casual dinner after an afternoon of museums and exploring.

Les Cocottes: casual chic comfort food near the Eiffel Tower.

Angelina: famous pastries and hot chocolate near the Louvre; grab some treats and eat them across the street in the Tuileries

Le Castiglione: smack in the middle of Rue St.-Honore shopping, clubby, cool and with people watching and amazing cheese burgers.

Berthillon: ice cream on the Île de la Cité, a sweet treat after a visit to the Conciergerie or Notre-Dame.

Museum Eats: Paris’ museums have great food as well as fantastic art. The Pompidou, the Palais de Tokyo, the Petit Palais, the Musee Rodin and the Quai Branly all house cool cafeterias worth a visit even if you weren’t popping into the exhibits first (but more fun if you do).

 

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