Traipsing around Paris with children in tow? Not a good idea, right? Wrong, says Mara Gorman, family travel expert and blogger at motherofalltrips.com, who has some top tips on how the whole family can have a ball.
Paris is one of the world’s most engaging cities, with more sights than you can ever fit into a week’s stay. But what happens when you throw children into the sightseeing mix? With a little careful planning, you can have your cake and eat it – you can experience some of Paris’ finest attractions, eat amazing food, explore the city’s green spaces, AND have happy children to boot.
Choose your museums wisely
Be creative about the art museums you visit. The Louvre (below) and the Musee d’Orsay are of course amazing and world-class museums, but can be insanely crowded with tourists who only want to take selfies of themselves with the art. The Musee Rodin, Musee Picasso and Musee Marmottan Monet are all smaller, single-artist museums that are perfect to visit with kids because you can all actually see the art.
Play in the gardens
The Jardin du Palais Royal is an oasis in the centre of Paris, ideal for some down time in-between sightseeing. Five minutes from the permanent hustle and bustle around the Louvre on Rue de Montpensier, this garden is tucked back from the street, has a lovely fountain and some quiet cafes. Children and grownups can play in a cool art installation of 260 black-and-white striped columns by sculptor Daniel Buren that’s set up in a large courtyard.
Head for the markets
Parisian markets are a great bet for dining in Paris with kids. A good one is the Marche Monge at Place Monge, which has over 40 stalls and is open from early morning to mid-afternoon on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s near the Jardin des Plantes and the Jardin du Luxembourg, both great spots for a picnic. The city is also home to an abundance of small butchers, grocers, traiteurs (purveyors of prepared foods like pates and terrines), bakeries and supermarkets that will keep you provisioned with excellent produce and meat that you can prepare any way you like. Since French restaurants can be unyielding, this is a good option for families with very young children, children with food allergies, or very picky eaters.
Amusement park fun
Got kids who love amusement parks but want to keep your visit French? The Jardin d’Acclimatation is a charming, old-fashioned, and very French amusement park that’s accessible via the metro in the Bois de Boulogne on the western edge of the city. Among its delights are a miniature train, a puppet theatre and a petting zoo.
Burn off some energy
Need to stretch your own (and your kids’) legs but don’t want to leave the city limits? The Promenade Plantee (69 Rue de Lyon, 75012) is a three-mile long urban hiking path planted with community gardens. It starts in the 11th Arrondissement near the Place de la Bastille and ends at the Bois de Vincennes, which is also home to Paris’ zoo – stop by on your way home to see over 180 different animal species.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.