Paris, here I come! The City of Lights with the most beautiful avenue in the world, aka Les Champs Elysées…The City with the famous Eiffel Tower and so many Michelin star restaurants. And of course, the City with the most amazing croissants…Should I stop here? All these adorable attributes of the French capital are all well known all around the world. But what’s in it for our children? Would you be interested to explore how you can spend a week in Paris with your kids? Read on…
I would like to tell you about why Paris is a fantastic city to explore with your kids. I will give you my favourite recommendations about what to do, where to eat, where to stay. And some of my personal, best kept secret places that you won’t find in the travel guides.
But let’s pause my story for a moment. I know you might be anxious about travelling to Europe, even more so to Paris with all the recent events like the seemingly repetitive demonstrations from the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Jackets). You’ve probably seen unfortunate scenes of violence in the French capital on TV. Even the almighty Google suggests this one question when you search Paris – “Is it safe to go to Paris now?”
As a former Parisian who left the city in 2000 to set up a new life in London, I still believe the city is safe. And is still among the greatest cities to explore with your family, be it for a long weekend or a longer holiday like a week in Paris.
So let’s resume my story about why you and your children would love to spend a week in Paris for your next holiday. Soon enough, you will understand why a week would be the perfect duration to fully immerse yourself in the city. And upon returning home, you will gleefully gushing to friends that you “felt Parisian for a few days”.
How Paris is structured with different districts numbers
Paris is divided into 20 districts and a number represents each one of them. The oldest and most central districts start with a single digit number. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore further out areas like Montmartre in the 18th district or the village-y feeling Butte aux Cailles in the 13th District. The locals also like to divide the city into people living on the Left side of the Seine River vs. the Right side. We call it Rive Gauche or Rive Droite.
So let’s start with an important part of your Parisian journey:
Where should you stay for your week in Paris?
With all these districts, you could certainly be confused about where to stay in Paris. My suggestion would be to stay in a two different parts of the town to experience the different vibes. I would start by staying in a more residential area for 3 nights like the 18th District closed to Montmartre. But also the 17th District close to Place des Ternes, or the upmarket 16th District close to the Eiffel Tower.
Hotels or Apartments? It really depends on how big is your family. Would you need a catering service ? Or would you like having a big living space area to accommodate you and your children?
So it really is up to you, but for some of my suggestions for great Parisian apartments and child-friendly hotels, read on…
In the 16th District, you could stay in this beautiful 3-bedroom apartment with 1,000ft2 of space and a great living area. Or you could splash the cash in the 5* Molitor Paris – MGallery by Sofitel hotel, famous for its huge, glass roofed swimming pool. You could book 2 connecting rooms for your family. And finally, you will enjoy breakfast every morning and special entertainment for the kids on Sundays. What more could you ask for?
In the 17th District there is a hidden gem- IDEAL BABY & KIDS is a duplex apartment with 3 bedrooms. You will also find all the equipment necessary for babies and young children. Plenty of toys in the children’s bedroom too. So this place is a dream comes true for families visiting Paris especially for a one whole week in Paris.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, the 3* hotel Art Hôtel Batignolles in the trendy district of Batignolles is a great choice. With 2 adjacent double rooms perfect for a family of 2 adults and 2 children.
Source: Art Hotel Batignolles
Finally if you would like to stay near the Sacré Coeur close to the Angels, the 18th District is the place to be. Parts of this area are very hilly so could be difficult if you’re travelling with a pram. This lovely 2-bedroom townhouse will please any family, and being so close to the famous Butte Montmartre is really a treat.
The design team behind the Sweet Inn agency has done a great job to make this place a welcoming family retreat.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, the Best Western Plus Hôtel Littéraire Marcel Aymé is a great 4* which welcomes families in a 1-Bedroom Apartment large enough to sleep 2 Adults and 2 Children (on a sofa bed).
It is quite rare to find hotels with this convenient, apartment style accommodation. This hotel has a rating over 9/10 on Booking and 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor so you’re sure to be impressed.
Source: Sweet Inn
Source: Best Western
After 3 or 4 nights on the outskirts of the City Centre, I would suggest you stay in the heart of Paris where Lutèce was born. Lutèce was the former name of Paris when it was the property of the Roman Empire. The name changed to Paris at the beginning of the 3rd century.
In the 1st district where you have the beautiful Tuileries Gardens, you could stay in this 2-Bedroom Apartment. This is indeed a perfect place for a family of 3.
The 1st District also has a great little hotel called Hôtel Mansart – Esprit de France that is located at the corner of the prestigious Place Vendome. This hotel offers a 400ft2 family room, which is actually two connecting rooms. You will sleep in the Classic Cosy Room and a Superior Capucines Room, perfect for a family of 3 or 4. The added bonus of a welcome gift for the children is sure to delight them for you week stay in Paris.
Source: Sweet Inn
Source: Hôtel Mansart - Esprit de France
In the 4th district, the oldest part of the town, there is lots of choice for accommodation. But if you’re after a great living space, the comfort of multiple rooms and an exceptional view over Notre Dame de Paris, this 2-Bedroom apartment is the one to book. The memorable, totally instagrammable views from the balcony while you eat breakfast are simple stunning.
Fancy staying in a hotel instead? The 4* Hôtel du Jeu de Paume, ideally situated in the Ile Saint Louis has a duplex room which can sleep up to 4 people, or you could choose to stay in a 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom apartment if you need more space.
The hotel’s breakfast room is really impressive, with its historic wooden beamed ceiling that contrasts with its sleek, contemporary furniture.
Source: Plum Guide
Source: Hôtel du Jeu de Paume
Another area worth staying in is the 6th district where you can take your kids to the Luxembourg Gardens. If you would like to experience staying in a typical Parisian flat, this 3-bedroom apartment recently listed on Airbnb is a great choice for families who want to stay a week in Paris.
You’re sure to be charmed by the great views and beautiful wooden floors.
Need a family-friendly hotel in the heart of the Latin Quarter? The 4* hotel Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche has everything to please families who can stay in 2 connecting rooms with all modern decor and amenities.
Source: Hôtel Trianon Rive Gauche
Now that we have covered where to sleep, let’s look at what you could do in Paris on a sunny day.
Gardens and Outdoor Activities in Paris
We have already listed on BabyBreaks our favourite best parks in Paris that you can explore all year round. But I am going to let you in on some more hidden gems that are not necessarily in the guidebooks. And of course I will stick to the places where your children will have fun, as well as you.
In the South of Paris between the 13th and the 14th district lies a beautiful park called Parc Montsouris. This big green area has a lake with black swans, beautiful Chinese and Japanese trees, a children’s playground, a small theatre with puppet shows and even pony rides.
Not too far away, you can let your children run wild for the afternoon at the Square René le Gall. From the entrance you can stroll with the pram all the way down to the playground, which offers multiple activities for different age groups. The park is especially beautiful when the roses are in bloom, and you can stop for lunch on one of the picnic tables..
The oldest part of town
I have already mentioned to you about Lutèce earlier. If you want to know more about this fascinating Roman city you can visit the Arènes de Lutèce. This arena used to be where gladiators and lions would fight for their life in front of baying crowds. Roman men would sit at the lower tier of the theatre, close to the action, while poor people, slaves and women were relegated to the top. In spite of its grizzly past, this atmospheric site is well worth a visit to soak up the ancient history. Constructed in the 1st century AD, you can almost see the lions and hear the crowds as you stand in the huge open-air theatre. A fantastic place to get kids excited about history.
Jardin des Plantes will delight your children
Still in the same area, a lovely afternoon can be spent at the Botanical Gardens: le Jardin des Plantes. You can admire the rich diversity of flowers and plants while your kids spot frogs and feed ducks in the ponds. There’s even a small zoo here – the Ménagerie is one of the oldest zoos in the world, opening during the French Revolution in 1794. Surely a highlight for your kids during your week in Paris. If you visit in the spring there is a good chance your children can see some newborn animals, which they will be enchanted by.
Last but not least, on the North West side of Paris, there are 2 great gardens loved by the locals: Jardin des Batignolles and Martin Luther King garden. On sunny weekends, these parks are full of people soaking up the sun and letting their kids burn off some energy in the playgrounds. The Luther King garden is quite a recent addition to the numerous green areas of Paris. It has plenty of space to sunbathe, kids playgrounds, Ping-Pong tables and even a large skate park.
Are you still in two minds about a week in Paris with your children? Let me tell you about all the great kids activities you could in the capital.
Arenes de Lutece in Paris
Jardin des Plantes in Paris
Jardin des Batignolles in Paris
Parc Martin Luther King in Paris
Parc Montsouris - Paris, France
Kids Friendly Activities in Paris
So many museums and sightseeings. In any areas of Paris, you can discover places that even locals fail to recognise. So my list of suggestions is again totally non exhaustive. At BabyBreaks, we have selected the top things to do with kids in Paris if you only have a weekend to spend in the French capital. So I will look a bit further by picking activities off the beaten track when you have more time to explore if you stay a week in Paris.
La Conciergerie: a great venue to go back in time
I would start by spending a morning at the famous Conciergerie closed by Notre Dame at the Ile de la Cité. Formerly known as a medieval palace, this place was also a big tribunal institution during the French revolution and was the place where the last queen Marie Antoinette was jailed.
This site is magical because of its recent renovation. I really love the fact that they also thought about children by letting them rent an iPad for 5 euros. So they discover by themselves the different rooms. There is also a a 3D treasure hunt where your kids will need to find 5 golden coins.
I would also take the combined ticket to visit the famous Sainte Chapelle, probably one of the most beautiful Gothic chapel in the world with incredible stained glasses all around. Be careful that there are a lot of little steps to go up to the Sainte Chapelle on the 1st floor so not so great with pushchairs.
Have you been to the Catacombs before?
In the 16h district, you will walk around the Eiffel Tower and not too far away you can visit the Modern Art Museum. Unfortunately the workshops for children are only in French language but you can guide your kids towards the permanent exhibition. And let their imagination explaining what the artist wanted to express with over 13,000 works.
Back to the South of Paris, I can’t recommend enough to queue in the morning to spend a few hours underneath Paris Catacombs. It might freak you out but it could be great fun with children if you prepare them in advance with the visit. This site explains how complex the city of Paris was built under the street level.
The Catacombs are so unique that they only allow 200 people at a time. I would encourage you to visit the Catacombs either at 10am or at 7pm and please don’t steal a bone! The ticket box closes at 7.30pm and you can visit the site until 8.30pm everyday of the week. Fun fact: in 2017, 41% of visitors were North American.
Experience Magic at l’Antre Magique
Last but not least, you can take your little tribe to a magical show called l’Antre Magique. You won’t need to speak French. The show will delight every kid under 10 willing to be surprised by the magic tricks in a little old private theatre. You could also find some shows in English or with English subtitles, more information available here.
BabyBreaks Tip: If you need to get a stroller for your baby or toddler, make sure to check out Baby’Tems where you can hire baby equipment during your stay in Paris.
Did I give you enough reasons to visit Paris with your Children this year?
Wait for my recommendations about places to eat in the French capital.
MAM in Paris
Catacombs in Paris
Source: L'Antre Magique in Paris
Conciergerie in Paris
Where can I find the best patisserie or great family friendly restaurants & cafés in Paris?
Most of people around you would say that eating in Paris is easy because French have a great cooking. This is a bit cliché I know.
What about if I reveal to you about the best places to eat in Paris?
What about a restaurant where you will feel at home because your kids will be taken care of with great child menu or even soft play areas. These places exist, you just need to know about them as they change so often and usually are secret places kept by the locals. We have listed our favourite favourite family friendly restaurants in Paris before on BabyBreaks so feel free to try these places as well.
La Maison d’Isabelle: the best croissant in Paris
If you are looking to eat the best croissant in town, you need to go to Saint Germain district at La Maison d’Isabelle. The bakery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 6am for early risers like me until 8:30pm. It is closed on Mondays because every baker needs to rest at least one day a week.
If you are keen to taste the best macaron, you already know about Ladurée or Pierre Hermé so maybe try other places like Gérard Mulot or be adventurous and go to the shop held by the Japanese pastry chef Aoki Sadaharu.
An easy going restaurant for everyone: L’Enfance de Lard
So let me expend the list with more local findings. If you are looking for a typical French bistro with great quality food on a little street in the old town, I would book a table at L’Enfance de Lard. This venue is not too far from Saint Sulpice where you kids can eat a great chicken with mashed potato. Or get a starter like the famous Mimosa Eggs. The place looks authentic and the owner is very nice.
If you are looking for a morning or afternoon coffee shop not too far from the Eiffel Tower, try Mama’Lou. Your kids will enjoy a great soft play area while you sip your favourite hot drink. The place also has great facilities for young children with high chairs, baby changing room…The venue also organizes workshops in French and in English so visit their Facebook page to see their events.
Feel like eating on an island: Chalet des Iles is the place to be
Let’s impress your partner and your kids for a great dinner at the Chalet des Iles. This place is famous with Parisians because it can host a lot of tables outside. Advance booking is highly recommended and expect a bill above the average price (a nice treat during your week in Paris). Once you are there, you feel like being in the countryside with great food to taste all evening. You can also try the restaurant for a Sunday brunch. Oh did I tell you that you need to take a ferry-boat to access the little island where the restaurant is? And why not spending the afternoon in the Bois de Boulogne, one of the biggest green area on the boundaries of Paris downtown.
Another place to treat yourself is Little Breizh where you will eat the best Crêpes (French pancakes) in the French capital. Located in the St Germain des Près district, this is a great restaurant for a nice family lunch or dinner. The place is small but very popular with travellers all around the word thanks to its glowing reviews.
A new kids-friendly restaurant in town: Garden Café
With young kids in mind, you can also try the newly open restaurant called Garden Café on the West side of Paris. The venue has a great modern bistro feeling but also hides a secret kids dining room that will please all children under 5 (I know that even my older son would love that place).
The joy of eating Little French cakes in Paris
Am I missing something? Yes French Patisserie. French love their cakes and chefs all around the world come to Paris to be inspired by the rich culture of little cakes. One particular area to try these cakes is in the 9th district on the rue des Martyrs street. Maison Landemaine, Sébastien Gaudard, Maison Arnaud Delmontel or Fou de Pâtisserie will make you want to try every cake once you have entered the premises. Expensive cakes but so good to complete your tasting buds while spending a week in Paris!
Maison d'Isabelle - Paris, France
Gerard Mulot in Paris
AOKI - Paris, France
L'Enfance de Lard - Paris, France
Little Breizh in Paris
That’s it! This is the journey that I would like to suggest to you on your next holiday week in Paris. You won’t regret it and I am pretty sure you will come back for a second visit maybe on a different season to explore more and see different sides of the Parisian life.
#1 This article was written with love while listening to some great music composed by the French artist Eric Satie
#2 I can’t recommend enough to watch family-friendly movies about Paris like Ratatouille or Notre Dame de Paris or Amélie Poulain or A Monster in Paris.
#3 Share these tips on your favourite social network.
The post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.