Paris is a fabulous place to travel en famille (as a family), with a host of specially designed activities for kids of all ages, both inside for rainy days as well as out and about in the city.
From the best places to go with kids to top planning tips on accommodations and how to travel around, here is our guide to exploring the French capital with les enfants (children).
Is Paris a good place to travel with kids?
As Europe's most densely populated city, Paris is well practised in catering to kids' – and parents' – needs. There are parks and playgrounds galore, many restaurants have children's menus (though high chairs are less common), plenty of hotels can arrange lits bébé (baby cots) and/or interconnecting rooms, and numerous museums and cultural spaces have specific activities for kids.
Where is best in Paris for kids?
All of Paris' arrondissements (city districts) are well connected but the most central – the 1er arrondissement to the 8e arrondissement – are especially well suited for families to minimize time spent traveling and allow you to pop back to your accommodations for supplies or naps. The 5e (aka the Latin Quarter) and 6e (St-Germain) are ideal for their proximity to the Jardin du Luxembourg, many family-friendly restaurants and hotels, and a wonderful French geography–themed sweet shop, Le Bonbon au Palais.
Best things to do with babies and toddlers
Head to Jardin du Luxembourg, a park dedicated to children
Paris' most enchanting park is the 23-hectare, chestnut-shaded Jardin du Luxembourg, which Napoléon dedicated to the city's children. Delightfully old-fashioned activities include prodding 1920s sailboats on its octagonal pond, riding ponies or its carousel, and catching a marionette show at its theater.
Other Parisian parks with puppet shows include Parc Monceau, Parc Montsouris, and, by the Eiffel Tower, Parc du Champ de Mars. Parc de la Villette has futuristic playgrounds and attractions, music venues and museums.
Boat trips on the Seine are fun for all the family
For a memorable overview of the City of Light, a river cruise through Paris' heart is hard to beat. Companies include Bateaux-Mouches, Bateaux Parisiens and the hop-on, hop-off Batobus, as well as Vedettes de Paris, which has hour-long tours tailored specifically to families with children.
Another engaging journey is a canal cruise with Canauxrama from Bastille through an underground section then passing through the locks and swing bridges of Canal St-Martin en route to the Parc de la Villette.
Best things to do with elementary school-aged children
Wander the city's gardens, forests and playgrounds
The city's botanic gardens, the Jardin des Plantes, contains a small zoo, the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes. At Paris' edges are two rambling forests, Bois de Boulogne in the west, and Bois de Vincennes in the east. Younger kids will adore amusement park Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, which has 44 individual attractions such as "rafting adventures", "speed rockets" and funfair rides, and is most endearingly reached by taking a mini train from Porte Maillot. Bois de Vicennes is home to the Parc Floral de Paris, with fantastic playground facilities and an open-air concert venue, Paris' largest zoo, the Parc Zoologique de Paris, and a moated medieval castle, the Château de Vincennes.
Explore the hands-on world-class art and culture museums
Dedicated children's museums include the magic museum, Musée de la Magie, and art museum, Musée en Herbe, with permanent and changing exhibitions, activity sheets, guided tours and workshops. There are also some great hands-on workshops at the exhibition space Palais de Tokyo; the city's architecture museum, Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine; and the landmark Centre Pompidou modern-art museum and cultural center, which has a 1st-floor space for kids aged two to 10. The city's mightiest museum, the Musée du Louvre, has a dedicated family space called the Studio and an app aimed at children aged 7–11.
Best things to do with tweens and teens
Visit the city's entertaining science museums
Science is made entertaining for kids, tweens and teens at the Cité des Sciences in the Parc de la Villette, which includes a planetarium; at the Galerie des Enfants, within the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, a branch of the natural-history museum, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle at the Jardin des Plantes; and the Palais de la Découverte (ages 6 and above), which is at a temporary location at Parc André Citroën while its premises are renovated and redeployed as a Paris 2024 Olympic venue. Europe's oldest science and technology museum, the Musée des Arts et Métiers, has a special audioguide for kids.
Have a magic-filled day at a theme park
This list would not be complete without Disneyland Resort Paris, comprising both Disneyland Park, with all the classic rides, characters, and pays (lands), and the film- and TV-focused Walt Disney Studios Park.
Further out, 35km (22 miles) north of the city and linked by shuttle bus, is summer-opening Parc Astérix, with shows and thrill-seeking rides for all ages based on the famous comic books.
On a rainy day, head to Cinéaqua or Centre Pompidou
Cinéaqua is a winner with kids for its cinemas screening ocean-related films and not least for its shark-filled aquarium. One of the best cinematic experiences for kids is a self-guided behind-the-scenes tour using sensor technology of iconic 1930s cinema Le Grand Rex, where you can stand behind the big screen and take part in making a film, from recording studios to special effects.
As well as its first-floor space aimed at children aged up to 10, Centre Pompidou has a lower-ground-floor visual, multimedia and performing-arts area for teenagers aged 13 to 16.
Planning tips for visiting Paris with kids
Paris' efficient, inexpensive public transport system whisks you around the city. Children up to four years travel free; under 10s pay half price. On the metro, the front carriage of driverless lines (1 14 and, by the end of 2022, line 4) are fun for kids, while lines with overground sections (2 and 6) provide great views, though stairs to the subterranean stations are extensive and corridors can be long.
Parents with strollers will find it easier to get around by bus. Avoid traveling at peak hours, when all public transport is crammed. Take extra care when crossing roads, as drivers frequently ignore pedestrian crossings and lights. Kidelio hires out strollers, car seats and other paraphernalia, with five collection points around the city.
If you're in Paris from October to March, you can catch clowns, trapeze artists and acrobats at the 1852-founded winter circus Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione.