Paris is widely considered to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. Jetting off to France's glistening capital city could be just the cultural break for young couples in love. Yet Paris is also a perfect destination for families, with plenty of kid-friendly attractions. This could be the perfect place to brush up on your French, and perhaps introduce the kids to a little culture. So why not break out some Euros and enjoy a stay in the city of light?
The Best Time To Visit Paris
Paris is beautiful at any time of the year, but perhaps best avoided in the heat of August, when most of the city shuts down and many locals spend time in the countryside to escape the stifling temperatures. Visit in spring or early autumn for cheaper prices and more pleasant temperatures. Paris is springtime is particularly pleasing.
The Weather in Paris
Paris has a temperate climate, with highs of around 25 degrees Celsius in summer and lows of around 2-3 degrees Celsius in winter. Rainfall is fairly constant, though not abundant, throughout the year, with a little more expected during the winter. The weather can be variable throughout the year, and can change quickly, so whenever you visit, it is best to be prepared to every eventuality.
There are no specific vaccine requirements for a visit to Paris, but it is best to make sure that you are up to date on all your general vaccinations.
Top Tourist Attractions
The Eiffel Tower – the city's most famous attraction – a wrought iron tower dating from 1889.
The Louvre – Paris' landmark, mammoth art museum. Be sure also to visit Paris' other famous art galleries, including the Musee D'Orsay, and the Pompidou Centre.
Notre Dame de Paris – A towering 13th Century Cathedral on an island in the River Seine.
Arc de Triomphe & Champs-Élysées - a triumphal arch at the end of one of the city's most famous shopping boulevards.
Sacré-Coeur – An iconic hilltop basilica in Montmartre.
The Catacombs – The Cathedral of Notre-Dame was built from rock quarried from beneath the city. This subterranean excavation created a vast network of tunnels beneath the city. Part of this was turned into an underground ossuary, which can be visited – a fascinating, if gruesome, hidden attraction.
Les Egouts de Paris – You can delve beneath the city again at the Paris Sewer Museum. Unusual, but interesting, this is another way to delve into the secrets that lie beneath the city streets.
Museé de Cluny – Amongst the many museums in Paris, it is easy to overlook this small museum of the Middle Ages, where you can see beautiful tapestries.
Coulée Verte – Paris' high line – an elevated walkway in the 12th arrondissement.
Vineyards in Montmartre – Most people are unaware that there are vineyards right in the heart of the city! One lies behind the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre.
What Not To Do
- Don't eat in the major tourist areas – venture further out for generally better quality food at lower prices.
- Don't always travel by road – take a hop-on-hop off boat ride to reach many attractions.
- Don't stick to motorised transport – explore on foot, or hire a bike through the Vélib bicycle rental program.
- Don't always speak English – trying a little French will go a long way with locals.
- Don't get lost in the Underground Railway System – if in doubt, ask.
- Don't stick to one area – explore a range of arrondissement.
- Don't try to see the whole of big museums like the Louvre in one go! You'll just end up tired and overwhelmed.
Book early if you are travelling between April and October, or during the Christmas period. Family-friendly hotels and other accommodation tends to fill up quickly. Prices vary considerably throughout the year. Here are some recommendations for those on a budget, and for those looking for a more luxurious option:
Budget Family Accommodation:
- Staycity Serviced Apartments - a range of 50 apartments sleeping up to 4 people near Gare De l'Est. (Apartments can be a great budget option for families with kids.)
- Mama Shelter – hip and stylish, this hotel has fun, quirky décor and a surprisingly family-friendly vibe.
- Generator Hostel – hostels like this one have private rooms with quad beds, perfect for a family of four on a particularly tight budget.
Luxury Family Accommodation:
- Le Bristol – very welcoming luxury hotel for families, with a good kids menu, a supervised kids' club and playroom, and a garden treasure hunt.
- Four Seasons Hotel George V – swimming pool, family-friendly service with kid's bathrobes, greeting gift for young guests, complimentary baby food and babysitting services. Kids eat free at the hotel restaurants.
- Champs Elysées Plaza Hotel – grand hotel with luxury suites for discerning families and services suited to a relaxed family stay.
Local Food Recommendations
- Buy a picnic lunch from one of Paris' many markets to enjoy on one of the city's many parks.
- Buy a crêpe from one of the street vendors in the Latin Quarter.
- Buy Parisian Cheese at Fromagerie Quatrehommes
- Eat at cool eco-friendly hotspot, La Recyclerie, in the north of the city.
- Get a delicious ice cream at Berthillon on Île Saint Louis.
- Paris was the birthplace of many famous figures, including Baudelaire, Sartre, Monet, Coco Chanel, Edith Piaf, Brigitte Bardot, Marion Cotillard and Emma Watson... to name but a few.
- An oft used French proverb is 'Qui vivra verra' (He/she who lives, shall see.) It is equivalent to 'the future will tell' and 'we'll have to wait and see'.
- French literature has produced many master works, but there are also plenty of contemporary French authors to discover. Édouard Louis is one young French author receiving glowing reviews. His second novel, 'History of Violence' details the perpetual and cyclical nature of violence in society and is particularly timely and relevant. It comes out in the US June 2018.
- The popular Madeline series from author Ludwig Bemelmans enjoy international fame. They are set in a girls' school in Paris.
Places to Visit With Your Kids
All of the attractions already mentioned in this guide can be great for kids. Here are more places to visit if travelling with children:
Paris Plage – In summer, the banks of the Seine become the city's very own beach – the perfect place for kids to play and relax in the sun.
Tuilleries – the beautiful gardens have a great playground, a carousel, a carnival with a giant Ferris wheel in the summer and the odd goat grazing on the grass.
Jardins du Luxembourg – Playground, puppet shows, pony rides and much much more make these gardens are great place to go with kids.
The Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes – not the biggest Paris zoo, but the easiest to get to and very child friendly.
Île de la Cité Flower Market (On a Sunday) – on a Sunday, kids will love seeing the birds that are sold at this popular flower market.
Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen – the largest flea market in the world and the perfect place to rummage and discover odd items. The perfect antidote to mass-produced tat.
Magic Museum – Budding wizards will love this museum of magic tucked away in the Marais district. This is an enchanting place to spend a little time.
Museum of Natural History – a fascinating collection including dinosaur bones and animal exhibits that is perfect for all little would-be naturalists.
France Miniature – the biggest miniature park in Europe.
Parc Asterix – A popular theme park in this part of France based on the Asterix comics.
Disneyland Paris – Disney's European theme park attraction. Families with kids looking to visit should be aware that it is around 40 minutes from Paris center on the RER (Regional Express Network). Trains to Disneyland run at 15 minute intervals between about 5.30am and midnight and are fairly easy to navigate. There are different schedules during the weekend than during the working week. Nervous about public transport? You can also use a tour bus or a hotel shuttle with pick-ups at your central Paris hotel.
Hot Trend in Paris in 2018
Feminism is a hot trend in Paris for 2018, in fashion, political life and on the streets. Women (and men) are revisiting the ideas of gender and inequality and asking questions about these important matters. These issues are on many of our minds right now, and the people of Paris are no exception. Parisians tend to be active politically, and protests are common here, especially in these politically divisive times.
Paris is an ideal city for a family friendly vacation – a place to prove that art, culture and history can all be part of a kid-friendly escape, and kids don't always need loud music, cartoon characters and endless sugar fixes to have a wonderful time.
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