5 Experiences that will make your family feel like baguette-eating, beret-wearing Parisians
Paris is a big and sometimes overwhelming city to tackle with kids. Where to start? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite, kid-friendly, and uniquely Parisian things to do. The whole family will get a taste of French culture while creating memories to last a lifetime.
Upon arriving in Paris, my kids were immediately impressed by how many people were getting around on bikes, often with a baguette sticking out of their bike baskets. They were thrilled when I told them that they’d get a chance to see Paris by bike, too. We saw more of the city and learned more about the history of Paris in those four hours than we did during any other activity on our trip - all while having fun on our bikes. My family can’t stop talking about Fat Tire Bike Tours. The tour guides were smart, savvy, informed, and funny. The group size of about 20 cyclists allowed us to feel safe and visible to cars, and the pace was perfect for adults and kids alike. Younger kids ride tandems behind a parent, but my 11- and 13-year olds were the perfect age to navigate the city on their own bikes. From the friendly greeters at the meeting point to the easy bike selection process to the reserved tables at our lunch stop, everything was seemless and made for our favorite family day in Paris. Cost for day tour: Youth (3 and under) Free; Youth (4-11) about $38; Student about $38; Adult $40, depending on exchange rate.
Need more convincing? Read our 5 reasons to bike Paris with Fat Tire Tours.
2/Take a French baking class
My personal favorite activity that we enjoyed as a family in Paris was the macaron baking class at Patisserie a la Carte. Instructor Julie teaches classes in English to six students at a time in this adorable, clean, professional cooking studio. We learned all the key steps to perfect macarons with her gentle guidance: cooking the sugar to make meringue, folding in the batter, piping the batter onto the sheet pans, filling the macarons with chocolate ganache, and then of course, eating them. Besides macarons, you can choose classes for croissants, eclairs, and brioche. Coming home from Paris with a new t-shirt is one thing; coming home with new French baking techniques to try out in your home kitchen is pretty special. Julie welcomes kids (ages 12 and up). Classes last 2-1/2 hours. Cost: about $93/person, depending on exchange rate.
3/Visit Tuilerie Garden
If your kids are like mine, then you need to build some downtime into your busy days of sightseeing. A sprawling public park right outside of the Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries is the perfect, authentically Parisian place for a break. Sit in the green chairs scattered around the fountains or in the shade of the trees and enjoy the scenery, statues, fountains, and people watching. Get lunch or a snack at one of the outdoor cafes, and let the kids ride the ferris wheel (cost: about $12/ride). Because it’s so centrally located, my family found ourselves spending at least an hour in Tuilerie Garden on each day of our trip. The closest Métro stop to Jardin des Tuileries is Palais-Royal-Musée-du-Louvre/Concorde.
KidTripster Tip: If you have younger kids, consider bringing a scooter to Paris to make getting around on little legs easier.
4/Take a river cruise on the Seine
No matter how rugged your young travelers are, there’s only so much of a city like Paris that you can cover by walking. A wonderful way to continue your sightseeing but also get off of your feet is to hop on a river cruise of the Seine, the river that runs right through the middle of Paris. There are multiple boat companies that offer just about the same trip - a one-hour cruise that floats by the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, and Notre Dame. Boats leave from several locations. If you chose Port de Suffren near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement, you’ll likely have no lines or wait time. On board, enjoy snacks and beverages while listening to a live or recorded tour. On a hot summer day, this boat tour offered a perfect breezy and shady seat for us to enjoy Paris from a different angle. Cost: Youth about $7; Adult about $16; depending on exchange rate.
5/Climb the Eiffel Tower at night
The Eiffel Tower is certainly at the top of everyone’s list of landmarks to see in Paris, but if you want a special glimpse that makes you feel especially “Parisian,” go at night. As soon as the sun goes down, the lights come on, and the magic of the Eiffel Tower is multiplied. The crowds thin out, and the lawn in front of the tower fills up with young people gathering on blankets drinking wine. You’ll feel like you’re at the center of Parisian nightlife. To truly experience the tower and to get a view of the city at night, we opted to take the stairs up. The lines are shorter, the price is cheaper, and you get a better sense of the actual structure of the tower. It’s 347 steps to the first level, 674 steps to the second level, and 1710 steps to the top. The view just gets better and better. Cost: Youth about $6; Adult about $12.
Want to learn more about our KidTripster Teens’ Parisian favorites? Click here.
Emilie Brand Throckmorton is a teacher, writer, and most importantly, a mom to 11- and 13-year old kids, who love to travel far and wide but also within their home state of Maine.