When you’re travelling with kids, you’ll want to pack as much fun as possible into every day. The smart approach is to plan your sightseeing around where you’re staying, avoiding the endless treks across town that can make tempers fray. Finding addresses you can all enjoy will also avoid any tantrums – or parental boredom. Seek out zhuzhed up playgrounds, tempting lunch spots and under-the-radar museums.
In the north of the city, the Timhotel Paris Berthier is a friendly, affordable option for families. Bold and bright, its rooms are practical and sleekly modern. It’s right next to Batignolles, one of the city’s most charming neighbourhoods, with its leafy parks and squares, village vibes and new wave of eateries. Central Paris is a quarter of an hour away on the Métro, but there’s plenty to discover on your doorstep.
From charismatic cafés to expansive parks, we’ve picked eight local standouts.
Formerly railway freight yards, this swathe of land is being transformed into a landscaped park. Eco-features include wind turbines and solar panels, while zones run from tangled grassland to vast, reed-fringed ponds. Kids can burn off excess energy at the skate ramps, basketball courts and playground; the unpredictable water jets are the source of much delighted shrieking.
Join the locals for a stroll in this enchanting four-acre park, built at the behest of Napoléon III. Designed in the style of an English garden, it’s full of beguiling features, from meandering paths and small playgrounds to enormous plane trees. Kids will love the pond, with its koi carp and squabbling ducks, while an old-fashioned kiosk dispenses ice-creams and Nutella-slathered crêpes.
For a laidback lunch, head to this cheery Vietnamese canteen – the original outpost of a thriving mini-chain. The decor’s kitsch and cluttered, while the kitchen serves up classic street-food eats, from beef-topped bò bún noodles to tofu-stuffed banh mi. The slow-simmered pho is deliciously comforting; perky spring rolls, dipped (or not) in chilli sauce, should convert any fussy eaters.
Paris is full of casual crêperies, but this place is next-level, sourcing its ingredients from Brittany – including the all-important butter. Lacy buckwheat galettes come with all manner of fillings, from herring to smoked salmon, but you can’t go wrong with a complète of ham, cheese and egg. For dessert, try a decadent crêpe with ice cream and salted caramel sauce.
The antidote to fast-paced modern life? A stroll down Cité des Fleurs, where kids can run up and down the cobbled, car-free lane dating back to 1847. It’s lined with pretty, shuttered houses and handsome hôtels particuliers: wisteria-swathed mansions with flower-filled gardens. Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley once lived at no.27; next door, a plaque commemorates a wartime Resistance cell.
This long-abandoned train station has become a buzzing eco-hub, centering on an urban farm. Tomatoes, runner beans and herbs grow between the old railway lines, and are put to excellent use in the laid-back café. Kids will love the furred and feathered residents including chickens, guinea pigs and Indian Runner ducks. For parents, special events run from flea markets to yoga and live music.
This elegant independent gallery is a showcase for contemporary photography. Its excellent exhibitions often showcase lesser-known talents – and are small enough to scoot around before the kids start to complain. If their attention starts to waver, the café’s just the spot for coffee and cake, and there’s a small children’s playground in the neighbouring park.
The neo-Gothic Hôtel Gaillard looks like something from a fairytale, with its winged gargoyles, drawbridge and slender stone pinnacles. Built by an extravagant 19th-century banker, it recently reopened as Citéco, a museum all about money. Immersive exhibits – and a sense of fun – boost its appeal for kids. You can touch a gold bar, print your face on a bank note, or watch excerpts from Chaplin’s The Bank.
Paris has plenty of things to do on a city break with kids.
Paris can be just as much fun for a child as for an adult, you just need to know the right places to go.
Kids living in Paris tell us their favourite spots for a day out.