the louvre in paris when it is quiet

Planning a family trip to Paris – Everything you need to know

Paris is on the top of so many peoples bucket lists for good reason. It’s stunning, historic, exciting and romantic but is that enough to keep the kids engaged? With a bit of careful planning then I guarantee the children will have as much fun as the adults so here’s everything you need to know to get ready for your family trip to Paris.

I first visited Paris with my parents when I was 10 and absolutely fell in love with the city. It felt both glamorous and adventurous at once. I was absolutely hooked. Since then I’ve returned many times with friends, my husband and most recently as a family of three. I love seeing the city through my daughters eyes, watching her discover all the things I saw 30 years ago. Everything has changed and nothing has changed and that is all part of the appeal of this famous city.

beaux arts building of the petit palais in Paris

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How to get excited about your family trip to Paris

A family trip to Paris is a once in a lifetime experience for many so you will want to start getting excited about your visit well in advance. Get the kids involved by talking about it often and ask them to make a list of the places they really want to visit.

Have a French night at home

We do this for most places we visit and it’s always heaps of fun. Everyone could dress in the colours of the French flag (red white and blue) with cheap berets if you can find them. Learn the words to Frère Jacques, set up a game of boules in the garden and attempt to build the Eiffel Tower out of lego. Write up a menu and serve french treats such a baguettes and cheese with macarons and crepes for pudding. If you’re feeling brave you could even serve up escargot (snails) although this may put some kids off rather than get them excited! End your evening with a France themed movie (pick from one below) and make your bedtime story one based in Paris.

man and horse statue in paris

Learn some French words

Make sure you learn a few words in French before you travel, this is both polite and will help the kids feel engaged when they’re there.

Bonjour – Hello

Bonsoir – Good Evening

Merci – Thank you

Pardon – Excuse me

S’il vous plaît – Please

Au revoir – Goodbye

Kid friendly French books to read together

For little kids

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, Eloise in Paris by Kay Thompson, A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino, Everybody Bonjours! by Leslie Kimmelman and Sarah McMenemy

For teens and tweens

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, Blade and Bone by Catherine Johnson, A Whale in Paris by Daniel Presley and Claire Polders, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

statue next to the river seine in paris

Movies based in Paris to watch before you go

For the little kids

The Aristocats, Ratatouille, Madeline, a Monster in Paris, Hugo, The hunchback of Notre Dame

For teenagers

Before Sunset, Moulin Rouge, Les Miserables, Amelie

Is Paris good for kids? Really?

Paris can feel a little overwhelming for all of us so just imagine what it feels like for little ones. If you can keep away from ultra busy times at attractions, avoid crowds as much as possible and plan plenty of breaks then yes, Paris really is good for kids. If you have school age children then no doubt they will have learnt a bit about the city in class so will have an idea of what they want to see.

piper quinn sat next to the glass pyramid at the louvre

Paris is not somewhere to relax by the pool all day drinking cocktails, there is so much to see you wont want to waste a minute. Yes, it can be exhausting and you may well return with blisters on your toes and a crick in your neck from looking up at all the beautiful monuments but the memories are guaranteed to last a lifetime. Plus it’s a fabulous city for some on the go learning. I am a firm believer that travel is the best education.

“Paris is always a good idea!”

What to do in Paris with kids

Firstly, don’t feel like you have to see it all. You won’t manage it which will just result in you all being disappointed. Have a rough itinerary of the whole families “must visits” and tweak it to suit your jetlag and the weather. There will be some things you should book in advance so try to plan these later in your visit.

father and daughter walking through the buidlings at the louvre museum

If you’re visiting Paris with kids, this is not the time to be a travel snob. Let them do all the touristy activities they’ve dreamed of, buy the cheap souvenirs, get their caricature painted. You can always come back to explore the endless side streets and hidden corners.

The Eiffel Tower

My number one family friendly activity in Paris has to be a trip to the Eiffel Tower. Instantly recognisable to pretty much all ages you’ll see it towering above the buildings from pretty much all over the city. You don’t need to climb it to appreciate its splendour but of course that is exactly what the kids will want to do. Make sure to book your tickets in advance to climb the steps and take the elevator to the top. It’s pretty much always busy but the views from the top are worth the effort.

Read next: Where to get the best views of the Eiffel Tower

great view of the eiffel tower under a blue sky from the champ de mar

The Louvre

The famous glass pyramid in Paris is another instantly recognisable sight from the City of Lights and another one the kids will definitely want to visit. There’s something so stunning about the sleek glass structure set amongst centuries old, elegant buildings. The Louvre is the largest museum in the world and home to one of the most famous paintings in existance such as the Mona Lisa which is a great reason to visit but there’s also heaps more to see and do.

You can download the Louvrekids app before your visit so kids can enjoy stories and an audio tour as they explore the museum. The Louvre is free for under 18s so if the kids get too rowdy or a bit bored you wont feel too bad about just a quick visit. Book your tickets in advance so your can skip the queues.

the glass pyramid of the louvre museum under a blue sky with white fluffy clouds

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is hugely significant in French history having been used for many key events throughout its past including the coronation of Napolean I. Inside this stunning building you’ll find a secret crypt which houses ruins from some of the cities earliest settlements. It also features in many books and movies based on the city. As I’m sure you know, much of it was destroyed in a fire a few years ago and they are currently going through the slow process of the rebuild. Luckily kids will still be able to spot some of the famous gargoyles.

front of notre dame with a crane working on restoring it

The Natural History Museum and Jardins des Plantes

Surely every kid loves a Natural History Museum, the one in Paris will not disappoint. Not only will they discover all the usual selection of dinosaur skeletons and lifelike models but there are also heaps of hands on exhibits including a brilliant virtual reality space. Once you’ve had your fill of the museum, head outside and explore the Jardins des Plantes, a beautiful park which was Paris’ first botanical garden. Find out more on their website.

Musée d’Orsay

Although it may feel like I’m sending you to heaps of museums, this is one more that should absolutely make your “must do” list. I’ll let you decide which others to visit. The Musee d’Orsay  is a fabulous art gallery on the banks of the river Seine. It’s alot smaller than the Louvre and contains heaps of artwork that will fascinate the kids. If they’re not impressed with the exhibits, they might find it cool that this rather grand building was once a train station.

front of the musee d'orsay museum in paris

The Catacombs

This is probably one for older kids as it’s a bit dark, literally and figuratively. These gory tunnels located under the city actually stretch for 200 miles and date back to the 13th century. Human skulls and bones line the catacombs that were left by kings in the 17th century.

Paris parks

Jardin Luxembourg

There is so much to do with kids in the Jardin Luxemburg it’s a great place to spend a warm, dry morning. There are fairground rides, a huge adventure play ground, tennis courts, a boat pond and a charming puppet theatre. Being fairly centrally located it’s easy to combine this with an afternoon at a museum. During the summer months you can rent a little boat that kids push around the pond with a stick. So simple and yet so effective! It costs around €5 for half an hours peace.

Tuileries Gardens

The Jardins des Tuileries is conveniently located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. It’s a very popular place for locals to bring their picnic chairs, a bottle of wine and relax on a sunny day. You’ll find lots of interesting sculptures, a couple of ponds and a few restaurants in the Tuileries Garden and of course space for the kids to run and play and you to have a quick sit.

Any little fashionistas will be very impressed with the fact that Paris Fashion week is normally held here.

arc de triomphe du carrousel

Family day trips from Paris

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is our favourite day trip from Paris. It’s just half an hour on the train from the city centre and is without a doubt one of the most beautiful buildings in France. Yes, it can get ridiculously busy and the gold covered interiors may not hold the little ones attention for long but the gardens and grounds are just stunning. There’s plenty of space to run around and the opportunities to learn more about France are endless. See some more photos and discover what else to do in the area in my post about visiting Versailles with kids.

I highly recommend booking skip the line tickets before you go to avoid at least some of the crowds. Get your guide always has some good value offers on tickets to Versaille.

sculpture in lake at versailles palace

Disneyland Paris

Whilst this is most definitely not a unique French experience to enjoy on your family trip to Paris I’m sure the kids would love a day trip at Disneyland to shake up the vacation. It’s easy to get a train from central Paris to Disneyland and although not quite as big as the parks in the US you’ll still meet all your favourite characters and get to try out heaps of family friendly rides.

Prebook your tickets to Disneyland Paris and save yourselves some time when you arrive. It’s currently £47 per person for a full day pass.

Surviving Disney Meeting Anna

Paris tours for families

Organised tours are a great way to get to grips with a city, you’ll often pick up lesser known facts about a city and discover secret spots you may want to return to at a later date.

Big Bus Tour

We take these bus tours in most cities we visit, normally on our first day in a destination. It’s a great way to understand the layout of a place and figure out which parts are worth returning to. On our most recent trip to Paris we only had 1 day in the city and managed to cover most of the big sights by using the bus. You can read more about it in our guide to Paris in just one day.

You can tailor your bus ticket to one or two days if you have a bit longer. Pre-book your hop on hop off Paris bus ticket on Get Your Guide to save time.

open top bus tour in paris

Paris: Dark City Secrets walking tour

Older kids will love learning about the darker side of Paris on this 2 hours night walk. You’ll discover the sights of executions, Paris’ prisons, famous ghosts and the demons of Notre Dame. Click here to book your Paris by night tour.

Montmartre Cheese, Wine and Pastry Tour

A big part of your visit to Paris will be the amazing food. Montmartre is a stunning neighbourhood and packed full of charming shops  full of treats to try. This 3 hour walking tour includes a great introduction to the area, exploring the narrow cobblestone streets and stunning mansions with a heavy focus on local artisan offerings. You’ll try pastries, cheese, wine and charcuterie leaving you with full tummies and a greater understanding of the city.

Book your Montmartre food tour.

Where to stay in Paris with kids

For me there is no right or wrong neighbourhood to stay in Paris with kids. Most of them will include at least one thing you want to visit and you’ll have to hop on the metro to get to any others. When visiting Paris with teenagers or as adults only I recommend the artistic district around the Moulin Rouge, it has a brilliantly bohemian feel and plenty to see as you wander around in the evening.

For younger kids, a good option is the 7th arrondissement which is near the Eiffel Tower. My daughter loves catching a glimpse of the tower as soon as we leave our hotel or rental. Marais near the Champs Elysees is another good option, being fairly central and low key relaxed.

view of the eiffel tower from a swet side street in paris

I recommend finding a rental apartment for your time in Paris. They tend to give you much more space and are more economical than hotel rooms. A rental also means you’ll be able to prepare some of your own meals and have a separate space to relax in when the kids have gone to bed.

Book your rental apartment in Paris on VRBO.

If you do prefer hotels I recommend Le Bristol near the Champs Elysees for a fabulously luxurious stay. It has a playground and kids club and is stunningly designed.

Check the best prices for your stay at Le Bristol.

For those with a slightly more modest budget then try the Best Western Plus La Demeure in the Latin Quarter. It’s still very beautiful and in a great location for a relaxed stay.

Check the best prices for your stay at the Best Western Plus La Demeure

What and where to eat in Paris with kids

I don’t really have any favourite restaurants in Paris, we just tend to stop when we are hungry and find somewhere we like the look of. This works best if you head into the side streets off the beaten path a bit. That way you wont get caught out in a ridiculously priced tourist trap.

Cafes and bistros tend to be more relaxed and family friendly than restaurants which also open later.

piper quinn and nigel quinn eating dinner in paris

You’ll also find plenty to keep you going throughout the day in patisseries, delicatessens and boulangeries. Just buy what you fancy fresh in the morning and enjoy a picnic taking in some of those gorgeous Parisien views. You’ll see many locals enjoying a wine with lunch on pretty blankets watching their kids run through the grass. Presuming you’re not driving (and I don’t recommend it in Paris!) this is a lovely way to wind down after a morning exploring.

house boat on the river seine with the eiffel tower in the background

How to get around Paris

For most cities we visit we like to walk. That way we notice the little things as we go, feel energised through the exercise and can take it at our own place. Paris is a very walkable city with many, many street cafes and parks to stop in when you need a break. If you choose a couple of spots you want to visit and walk from A to B it’s perfectly doable.

However, if you’re a bit tight on time you’ll need to use the metro system. Whilst it is a bit old and creaky in parts it’s almost as much of a must do as a visit to the Eiffel Tower when you’re in the city. The metro has 16 lines and over 300 stations. There’s bound to be one close to where you want to go. The stations are divided into zones and you can buy tickets based on which zones you want to visit.

Another option is a hop on hop off bus tour. Whilst this is a more expensive choice you’ll see so much being overground and they tend to visit all the big sights.

parisien building on a sunny day

When is the best time to book a family trip to Paris

In our experience there is no good or bad time to visit Paris. There’s just differences in weather so pack appropriately! The summer months of July and August are when many Parisiens escape the heat of the city to visit the coast so the city may feel quieter. Although this is also when Europeans are enjoying their school summer holidays so tourist attractions will probably feel busier. Christmas is absolutely charming in Paris, although cold and busy.

I would say just keep your eye out for cheap tickets and go as soon as you can!

outside of the paris opera house

What to pack for your family trip to Paris

Things you’ll definitely want to pack include:

  • A portable power bank
  • Small rucksack for essentials
  • Reusable water bottle
  • A decent camera
  • Trainers or walking shoes for the whole family
  • Raincoats
  • Prescription medicine and any specific over the counter brands that suit the kids
  • A money belt
  • Copies of passports and vaccination certificates
  • European adapters
  • Suitable clothes for exploring, simple outfits can easily be dressed up with colourful accessories

If you can avoid bringing a stroller I would. Whilst kids may get tired quickly walking the streets of Paris, strollers often wont fit in the smaller cafes and restaurants, up the Eiffel Tower or in some metro stations. Schedule in plenty of breaks instead, hop on a carousel or pick up a couple of macarons.

fontaine des mers in the place de concorde, Paris

Cost of a family trip to Paris

Paris can be a great value option from the UK, the Eurostar is cheap and fast and takes you right into the city. You’ll also find many low cost flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle which will get you there in an hour. From the US I’d budget around $750 each for flights.

A nice hotel room for a family will be around £250 a night with rentals a little less.

For a one way metro ticket you can expect to pay €7

A meal in a restaurant is around €15 per person but you can easily cut this back by packing picnics and eating in.

Attraction tickets can easily add up with a trip up the Eiffel tower coming in at over €50 per person. Splurge on the things you really want to visit and spend the rest of your time exploring the city on foot. It’s free and just as pretty!

You will be able to use credit and debit cards in most places in Paris so don’t bring too many Euros however you will want some for tips, buskers, snacks and taxis if you use them.

busker at the louvre in paris

Do not forget to factor in the cost of travel insurance for your family trip to Paris. This is so important wherever you are travelling around the world, especially now plans can be forced to change at the last minute.

Are you planning a family trip to Paris? Feel free to pop any questions in the comments below.

If you have longer to spend in France then don’t just restrict yourselves to Paris, it is such a beautiful and diverse country. Have a look at my 2 weeks in France road trip itinerary to discover all the best places to visit and get an idea of distance.

Pin for later to help plan your next Paris family vacation

family trip to paris pin image

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