Paris can be intimidating with kids, but it doesn’t need to be. First and foremost, it’s important to have a plan before arriving in the City of Light. Be sure to read our tips How to Save Time and Skip the Lines in Paris and if you need a place to stay, check out our Best Places to Stay with Kids in Paris. When you’re ready to start planning, here are the best things to do in Paris with kids.
Best Things to Do in Paris with kids
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Should You Buy a Paris Pass?
This really depends on what your family wants to visit and the amount of time you have available for Paris sightseeing. There are two different types of passes, a Paris Museum Pass, and a Paris Pass. The Paris Museum Pass comes in 2, 3, 4 and 6 day durations and is activated the first time it’s scanned at an attraction and is valid for the following days of the pass. It covers entry to over 60 Paris landmarks (including the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, and Arc de Triomphe). The Paris Pass includes everything in the Museum pass as well as a one day pass for the hop-on hop-off bus, unlimited travel on the Metro and local RER buses, and fast track entry to several museums. Before purchasing, make a plan of what you want to see and weigh it against the cost of the pass to be sure it’s the right choice for your family.
Tips for visiting Notre Dame
Notre Dame is one of the best things to do in Paris with kids, even after the fire. Don’t be intimidated by the long line in front, as it tends to move rather quickly. The main queue is only for entrance to inside the cathedral and admission is free. Visitors who want to climb the 387 steps of the tower to the top of Notre Dame need to head to the side away from the river. There is typically a line there as well, but it is not nearly as long as the one in front. Paris Pass holders are not able to bypass the line, but an app called JeFile allows you to book a time for entrance (times are released at 7:30 am every morning). There is a cost to climb the tower, and those under age 26 pay less than the adult admission. Also, if you’re looking to pass time with the kids, there is a playground on the grounds of Notre Dame opposite the front side (so I guess the back side?). One parent can wait in line while the other takes the kids if necessary.
What to see at Musée d’Orsay
Even if your kids don’t like museums, be sure to make a stop at Musée d’Orsay. Housed in the former Orsay rail station, exploring the building itself is part of the experience. Art loving parents will enjoy the works of Degas, Seurat, Renoir, and Van Gogh. Make time to see the view from the clock on the 5th floor and outdoor space looking out toward Sacré-Cœur and the Tuilieries Garden. Still wondering how to survive a museum visit with kids? Check out this post.
Where to take a cooking class in Paris
Whether your family loves macarons or baking bread, a food tour in Paris is always a good idea. These are things to do in Paris with kids that are outside your typical excursions. Family friendly locales include Patisserie a la Carte, Cook’n with Class, and Ecole Ritz Escoffier. Be sure to make a reservation in advance as classes fill up quickly.
How to avoid the crowds at the Louvre
My best advice for visiting the Louvre Museum on a Paris family vacation: have a game plan. Know what you want to see in order to get in and get out. There are several entrances to the Louvre and the main one is always crowded. Try going through Le Carrousel de Louvre entrance. There’s still a security check point, but it’s a lot faster. Purchase self serve tickets at the kiosks in the ticket office to save time if you don’t have advance tickets. There are cafés in and around the museum in case anyone gets hungry. Expect there to always be a crowd around the Mona Lisa unless you arrange for a private museum tour before or after hours. Here are a few we would recommend: Louvre Murder & Mystery Tour (tweens & teens would love this), Skip the Line Family Friendly Tour, or Louvre for Families: Gods, Queens, & Heroines (Have questions about a Context tour? Here’s why we love them.)
How to get to Sacré-Cœur
For a close up view of Sacré-Cœur Basilica, head to Montmartre. The neighborhood around the church is filled with shops and restaurants and young children will enjoy riding the carousel at the base of the steps. Don’t be intimidated by the steps leading to the basilica, there is a funicular to reach the top and a Metro ticket allows access. Admission is free to Sacré-Cœur, but if you wish to climb the dome for a view, that’s a separate cost and a different queue. We felt the views were beautiful from the front of the church and didn’t do the 300 step climb to the top.
Book your tickets to the Eiffel Tower in advance
The easiest way to save time is to book a ticket on line through the Eiffel Tower website. Doing this will save hours of waiting in line. You still have to go through security, but a ticket saves time. I would highly recommend having lunch at one of the tower’s restaurants as my kids said they loved this more than climbing the Eiffel tower itself. You can book a tour that includes lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel and admission, allowing you to skip several lines and go straight to the restaurant. For a high end experience, consider a dinner reservation at the Michelin starred, Jules Verne restaurant. Reservations will need to be made far in advance and there is a dress code.
Note: There are different levels of the tower (2nd etage and sommet) and each level has a different admission price. The sommet is the very top of the Eiffel Tower. It can be quite windy and a bit unnerving as it is 276 meters above the city, but boy the views are amazing!
Arrange for a Paris photo shoot
When you are wondering what to do in Paris with kids, why not take some family photos? We went through Flytographer (you can read all about it here), which I would highly recommend. The kids thought it was better than the photos I always beg for and we cherish the images Lucille captured.
See the views from Arc de Triomphe
At the western end of the Champs-Élysées lies the beautiful Arc de Triomphe, built to honor those who fought for France. It’s worth a visit for its stunning sunset views of Paris, the engravings, and statues. There is an admission to climb to the top. An elevator can cover over 200 of the steps, but visitors will need to be able to climb the last 64 if they want to take in the views.
Take the metro to Disneyland Paris
Personally, we did not do this, but if your family loves Disney, this is going to be one of the top things in Paris for kids. I love this post from Global Munchkins that explains what a visit to Disneyland Paris looks like. It’s easy to reach from the city, so if your kids love Disney, make time for a day trip.
Try a river cruise on the Seine
Boat tours on the Seine are a magnificent way to see the city day or night. We took a dinner cruise with Bateaux Parisiens which included a 3 course meal and drinks as we sailed from the Eiffel Tower down to the Musée d’Orsay and looped around. Although it rained for part of the ride, it was a romantic way to see the city at night. Another option is to take the local water taxi (Batobus) which makes stops at most of the major monuments along the Seine.
Explore the Paris parks and gardens
When the weather is delightful, it’s the perfect time to explore the gardens of Paris. Jardin du Luxembourg is the ideal spot for picnics, so grab snacks beforehand from one of the local markets. On the grounds is the stunning Luxembourg Palace, home to the Musée du Luxembourg, the oldest public museum in Paris. It wouldn’t be my choice for kids, so stick to the playgrounds outside and the giant pond with the miniature sailboats. Luxembourg Gardens has boats that are available to rent by the half hour and children love chasing after them.
The Jardin de Tuileries separate the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde. This is the perfect place for kids to let off some steam. Children can run around the park, while parents enjoy crepes, admire the gardens, and people watch (or maybe that’s just what we like to do). For a spectacular view, catch a ride on The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde. Kids and adults alike will love this Parisian ferris wheel. Other great Paris parks include Jardin des Plantes (the main botanic garden in Paris) and Champs de Mars with the perfect view of the Eiffel Tower.
Go underground in the Paris Catacombs
This underground burial site might be fascinating for tweens and teens, but may prove too scary for younger children. Visitors descend 130 steps underground to see the remains of millions of Parisians whose bones were transferred here during the 18th and 19th centuries. The labyrinth winds under the streets of Paris and is quite an eerie experience. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended as the lines are notoriously long. Consider taking a Skip the Line Tour to save time with kids.
Step back in time on the grounds of Versailles
Versailles is another destination where you will want to book tickets in advance. The easiest way to do this is through the attraction’s website (Château de Versailles) and I would recommend doing the guided tour. Here’s why: upon arriving at the palace you will see a tremendous queue (it doesn’t matter what time of day, it always exists), this is the line for people with reserved tickets. As you are facing the gate, there is a building to the right, this is where the guided walking tours begin. Lines are much shorter and even non-existent at times. The guided tour visits sections of the palace the general public cannot visit or doesn’t have access to until later in the day. Definitely worth a few extra Euros to skip the line. If you want to learn more about what to do in Versailles, read THIS POST.
For a full tour of Versailles, consider trying the Context tour “Versailles for Families: Secrets of the Gardens”, the Fat Tire Bike Tour of Versailles, or a Viator Private Skip the Line tour. They’re all good options.
*Note: It takes some time to reach Versailles from central Paris, and it’s about a 10 minute walk from the train station, so plan accordingly. There is food available in the café on site, in the gardens, and in the local neighborhoods. It might be helpful to bring snacks along for the long day.
These are just some of our favorite places to go in Paris to help get you started. Paris with kids is amazing, just be sure to plan ahead.
Still looking for ideas? Don’t miss our post Best Playgrounds in Paris that Shouldn’t Be Missed
*This post originally appeared in January 2018, but was updated in October 2019.