It is easy to jump into a museum when the weather turns a bit chilly, but winter in Paris never has to be dreary. Whether you're travelling with a toddler, a 10-year old or a teen, you'll find lots of fun activities suitable for the entire family. Enjoy some horseback riding in the gardens of Jardin du Luxembourg or revel at the modern art exhibitions at Centre Pompidou.
Here are some ideas on how to make the most of Paris in the coldest months of the year, making your break fun for the whole family.
Can you remember your first glimpse of the city’s most famous landmark? Worldly travellers may have grown immune to her charms, but for little Parisians this iron lady is still an impressive sight to behold. A night-time visit adds the thrill of being up way past bedtime. Make sure to book your spot ahead: those long queues can give short shrift to the sunniest disposition.
The riverside museum’s train-station past is fascinating for budding engineers, and its collection of 19th and 20th-century art is equally engrossing. Our little art critics’ favourite work? An imposing, almost cartoon-like polar bear, sculpted by Rodin’s assistant François Pompon, who took inspiration from the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes.
A stone’s throw from the Marché d’Aligre, this old-school toy shop is a treasure trove for little shoppers. Behind an attractive red and gold façade, its shelves are laden with all manner of teddies, puzzles and traditional wooden toys. The range of tot-sized costumes is particularly good: pick up a dinosaur tail, musketeer outfit or shimmering mermaid skirt.
The Galerie des enfants (Kids Gallery) will keep the kids occupied for hours with workshops and exhibitions. The activities, devised to get kids to explore modern art will appeal to children 2 and up.
Teenagers will love Studio 13/16, a social place with workshops carried out by artists and free events. There is even opportunity to meet up with artists and experiment with artistic set-ups. Plan your day ahead by looking for ideas here.
Bright, bold and whimsical, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle’s fountain echoes the Centre’s rainbow aesthetics. It’s populated with child-like, Dadaist sculptures: a pair of red lips, an elephant’s head and a firebird. Sit back and enjoy the music-box colours and movement, inspired by the work of composer Igor Stravinsky and the neighbourhood’s street performers.
Located minutes from the Moulin Rouge, this mini tropical haven boasts bright, leafy decor and the friendliest staff in town. Owner and mother Anne has made this a stress-free zone for fellow parents with a play area, kids’ menu, high chairs and diaper-changing facilities. The weekly-changing menu of healthy homemade quiches, poké bowls, sandwiches and pastries for grown folk is also terrific. The only bum note in paradise? Aloha is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Stock up on picnic essentials at this bustling market a hop and a skip from Bastille. The cheeky vendors here sell everything from fresh cheeses and baguettes to piles of ripe fruit and olives. The flea market, which runs daily except Mondays, is a pleasant spot for a rummage. Find vintage toys, retro furnishings, and antique cutlery for your alfresco feast.
Perched at the top of the Buttes Chaumont, this open-air guinguette takes its cues from the Camargue’s laid-back lifestyle. Graze on Mediterranean tapas in the beer garden, order a perfect Neapolitan pizza and catch one of the venue’s family-friendly workshops or live gigs. Rosa Bonheur really comes into its own during the city’s festivals, which it celebrates with gusto.
Little parisiens will immediately recognise the name of this street from a much-loved kids’ tale, featuring a cannibal witch. With its old-school market, hole-in-the-wall cafés and sensational fromageries, it’s a picturesque spot to satisfy rather more reasonable appetites. Look out in particular for the crêperie on wheels, which churns out the city’s biggest and best-value pancakes.