Famously refined and unapologetically romantic, Paris may not seem like a particularly kid-friendly destination. But with parks galore, incredible markets, and picture-perfect streets made for aimless wandering, this city is a playground for all ages. Here's how to make the most of your visit to Paris with kids.
Where to Stay
If you're staying in Paris for more than a few days, you'll appreciate the flexibility and convenience of renting an apartment instead of a hotel room. Agencies like Paris Perfect and Hip Paris specialize in higher-end properties, and Kid & Coe has apartments just for families. Airbnb also has plenty of quality, affordable rentals — just be sure to browse recent reviews to make sure you know what to expect.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or neighborhoods, each one with a different vibe. We're partial to Le Marais, which straddles the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. It's central, beautiful, approachable, and packed with parks, cafes, shops, and museums. The 5th and 6th are also ideal for their proximity to Jardin du Luxembourg, one of the city's most famous parks, and Le Bon Marche, an expansive department store that's fun for all ages to browse. Consider the activities and destinations that are most important to your family, and choose your home base from there.
What to Eat
Depending on the age of your children and how well they do in restaurants, you may or may not feel comfortable eating in Paris' finer establishments. Dining out here is often an experience to be savored, and wiggly kids don't always fit in with that vibe. And that's OK. There are plenty of dining options in Paris for families with kids that don't involve white tablecloths.
- Grab picnic supplies at a market, then head to a park. This is a budget-friendly option that doesn't sacrifice quality in the slightest. Buy a crusty baguette, a wedge of comte, saucissons, some fresh fruit, a bottle of water (and maybe a bottle of wine for the grown-ups), then stroll over to a park to enjoy your meal while your kids enjoy running around. Try the historic Marché les Enfants Rouges then hit the playground at the Square du Temple in Le Marais.
- Opt for patio seating. Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, and while quarters can be tight, the vibe tends to be more casual (and accepting of the occasional shrieks from overexcited youngsters).
- Think beyond French food. From Vietnamese pho restaurants and lively Mexican restaurants to Indian street food and even Texas barbecue, you'll find an array of international options in Paris, and many of them are welcoming to families with kids.
- Order in. If bedtime interferes with dinnertime, you can still eat well — often from some of the best restaurants in town. Meal delivery services like Deliveroo, Foodora, and Resto-in will bring a variety of cuisines right to your door. Pink Flamingo is a popular local pizza place, while Sushi Shop is a solid pick for, oui, sushi.
- Use your judgment. Don't assume all nice restaurants are off-limits because you have a rowdy kid to two. Peek in the windows and scope out the clientele and setup. Consider going a bit early before the dinner rush begins. (Parisians tend to dine on the later side.) If you're dying to try a place, go in with confidence and give it your best shot. You can always leave if things get dicey.
What to Do
Many of the top attractions in Paris are kid-friendly, from the Eiffel Tower and Seine river cruises to Notre Dame and the Catacombs. Avoid long lines at popular museums like the Louvre by purchasing your tickets in advance.
The Centre Pompidou caters to families with a Galerie des Enfants (kid's gallery) and Atelier des Enfants (kid's workshop). The main collection of modern art is just as intriguing for all ages, and the view from the rooftop cafe is breathtaking.
There are some lovely children's boutiques scattered throughout the city, such as Bonton, Jacadi, and Bonpoint. Pick up affordable basics like T-shirts, toiletries, and books at Monoprix (France's version of Target), and head to Merci (pictured above) for an immersive shopping experience that includes goodies for both kids and adults.
The parks and squares of Paris are perfect for energetic kids, and most provide incredible photo opps. Visit the Palais-Royal for its modernist art installations in the courtyard and quiet cafe tables under the trees. Go to the Jardin du Luxembourg to sail little boats on a pond and playground-hop. Visit the Tuileries for pony rides, a carousel, an in-ground trampoline, and an adventure playground. Go to Jardin d'Acclimatation for a petit train and old-school rides. Or visit the zoo at Le Jardin des Plantes. And that's just the beginning.
But by far, the best thing to do in Paris —whether you're with kids or not — is to wander. Stop into a patisserie with an irresistible window display, grab that perfect cafe table that just opened up, sit in a park and people-watch while your kid chases pigeons, and get lost strolling through medieval streets. Don't overschedule yourself. Don't wear yourselves out. See where Paris leads you and your family, and you won't be disappointed.