Parisians adore les enfants (children) and the city's residential density means you’ll find playground equipment in parks and squares throughout. Families will find an overwhelming choice of creative, educational, culinary and 'pure old-fashioned fun' things to see, do and experience. Plan ahead to get the best out of kid-friendly Paris.
- Cité des Sciences
If you have time for just one museum, make it this one. Book interactive Cité des Enfants sessions (for children aged two to 12) in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Musée des Arts et Métiers
Crammed with instruments and machines, Europe's oldest science and technology museum is fascinating. Activity- and experiment-driven workshops are top notch.
- Galerie des Enfants
Natural-history museum for six- to 12-year-olds within the Jardin des Plantes.
- Centre Pompidou
Modern-art hub with great exhibitions, art workshops (for kids aged three to 12) and teen events in Studio 13/16.
- Musée en Herbe
Thoughtful art museum for children with an excellent bookshop and art workshops for kids aged two to 12.
- Palais de Tokyo
Palais de Tokyo offers interactive installations, art workshops (for kids five to 10 years old) and storytelling sessions (for three- to five-year-olds) as well as family activities for all ages.
- Treasure Hunts with THATMuse
All ages will get a burst of art adrenaline with a THATMuse treasure hunt at the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay. Play alone or in teams.
- Crafty Happenings at Musée du Quai Branly
Mask making, boomerang hurling and experimenting with traditional instruments…the ateliers (for three-year-olds to teenagers) at this Seine-side museum, devoted to African, Asian and Oceanic art and culture, are diverse and creative.
- Music at Philharmonie de Paris
Concerts, shows and instrument workshops are part of the world-music repertoire at the city's cutting-edge philharmonic hall in Parc de la Villette.
- Bag Painting with Kasia Dietz
Design and paint a reversible, hand-printed canvas tote with Paris-based New Yorker Kasia Dietz during a half-day bag-painting workshop – ideal for fashion-conscious teens (and parents).
- Model Building at Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine
Workshops at Paris' architecture museum see kids (aged four to 16 years) build art deco houses, châteaux and towers in miniature form.
- Equestrian Shows at Versailles
World-class equestrian shows at Château de Versailles are mesmerising. Show tickets and training sessions include a stable visit.
- Sharks at Aquarium de Paris Cinéaqua
Centrally located Cinéaqua has a shark tank and 500-plus fish species, and screens ocean-themed films.
- Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes
- Parc Zoologique de Paris
Observe lions, cougars, white rhinos and a whole gaggle of other beasties at this state-of-the-art zoo in Bois de Vincennes.
Parks & Outdoor Capers
- Sailing Boats in Jardin du Luxembourg
Playgrounds, puppet shows, pony rides, chess and an old-fashioned carousel: this legendary park has pandered to children for generations. But it's the vintage toy sailing boats that are the real heart-stealers.
- Jardin des Tuileries
These elegant gardens stage kids’ activities and a summertime amusement park.
- Parc Floral de Paris
Easily the best playground for kids eight years and older: outdoor concerts, puppet shows, giant climbing webs, 30m-high slides and a zip line, among other high-energy-burning attractions.
- Jardin d’Acclimatation
At this enormous green area with cycling paths, forest, lakes and ponds in the Bois de Boulogne, renting a pedalo or rowing boat is a warm-weather treat (bring a picnic), while 2018 saw a slew of attractions added to its amusement park.
- Locks on Canal St-Martin
- Riverside Play on Les Berges de Seine
Giant board games, a climbing wall, a 20m-long blackboard to chalk on, tepees and events 'n' shows galore line this expressway-turned-promenade.
- Boat Trips on the Seine
Every kid loves a voyage down the Seine with Bateaux-Mouches or Bateaux Parisiens. But there is something extra special about the one-hour 'Paris Mystery' tours designed especially for children by Vedettes de Paris.
- Puppet Shows
- Digital Exhibitions at Gaîté Lyrique
Digital-driven exhibitions, video games for older children and teens, laptops to use in the digitally connected cafe and a library with desks shaped like ducks for kids under five to sit at and draw while older siblings geek.
- Special-Effect Movies at Cité des Sciences
Two special-effect cinemas: Géode with 3D movies, and Cinéma Louis-Lumière screening animation and short films. Top it off with a cinematic trip through the solar system in the planetarium of the science museum.
- Behind-the-Scenes Tour at Le Grand Rex
Whiz-bang special effects stun during behind-the-scenes tours at this iconic 1930s cinema. Stand behind the big screen and muck around in a recording studio.
- Disneyland Resort Paris
A magnet for families, this park 32km east of Paris incorporates both Disneyland itself and the cinema-themed Walt Disney Studios Park.
- Parc Astérix
Shuttle buses run from central Paris to this summer-opening theme park, 35km north of the city, which covers prehistory through to the 19th century with its six 'worlds', adrenaline-pumping attractions and shows for all ages.
- Pink Flamingo Pizza Picnic
Where else are you sent away with a pink balloon when you order? Kids adore takeaway pizza from Pink Flamingo on Canal St-Martin.
- Hand-Pulled Noodles
Watching nimble-fingered chefs pull traditional Chinese noodles by hand at Les Pâtes Vivantes is spellbinding.
- Le Jardin des Pâtes
This Left Bank address, steps from the Jardin des Plantes, cooks up some of Paris' most creative and tasty pasta.
- Dip in at Chalet Savoyard
Everyone loves a bubbling pot of cheese, a basket of bread and a fondue fork.
- Vegan fare
Kids' menus come with organic fruit juice at Gentle Gourmet Café.
Kids can play 'I spy' spotting Parisian landmarks while dining on delicious multicourse menus cooked in the purpose-built galley of this glass-roofed bus.
- Le Train Bleu
Train-obsessed kids will also love the multicourse menus at this magnificent railway-station restaurant inside Gare de Lyon.
- Gourmet at Glou
How refreshing to find a hip wine bar in Le Marais that serves excellent food and fine wine, and caters to children with their own gourmet menu, colouring pencils and paper.
Kids love nibbling macarons at this historic tearoom on the Champs-Élysées but can also get their own three-course menus here.
- Bouillon Racine
A dazzling introduction to French cuisine and art nouveau architecture.
- Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione
Clowns, trapeze artists and acrobats have entertained children of all ages at the city's winter circus since 1852. The season runs October to March; performances last around 2½ hours.
- Musée des Arts Forains
Check for seasonal events at this nostalgic fairground museum, such as its Christmas season during Le Festival du Merveilleux.
- Musée des Égouts de Paris
Romping through sewerage tunnels, learning what happens when you flush a loo in Paris and spotting rats is all part of the kid-cool experience at this quirky museum.
- Les Catacombes
Teens generally get a kick out of Paris’ most macabre sight, but be warned: this skull-packed underground cemetery is not for the faint-hearted.
- An Afternoon at the Theatre
Paris' diverse theatre scene stages bags of spectacles (shows), théâtre classique (classical theatre) and other performances for kids, some in English; weekly entertainment mag L’Officiel des Spectacles (www.offi.fr) lists what’s on.
- Musée de la Magie
- Playful Le Nid
Older children and teens can kick back with board games over a drink, lunch or tasty weekend brunch at this pioneering games cafe in Le Marais – as much for adults as big kids.
Need to Know
- Babysitting L’Officiel des Spectacles (www.offi.fr) lists gardes d’enfants (babysitters); some hotels organise sitters for guests.
- Equipment Rent strollers, scooters, car seats, travel beds and more while in Paris from companies such as Kidelio (www.kidelio.com).
- Paris Mômes (www.parismomes.fr) Outstanding bimonthly magazine on Parisian kid culture (up to 12 years); print off playful kids' guides for major art exhibitions before leaving home.
For an insight into Paris aimed directly at kids, pick up a copy of Lonely Planet’s City Trails: Paris. Perfect for children aged eight and up, it opens up a world of intriguing stories and fascinating facts about Paris' people, places, history and culture.