Paris with kids is easier than you think. Armed with an iPad and kid-friendly snacks, the flight from LAX to Paris flew by (it helped that Gigi and I sacked out for about four hours). And despite the fact that she had bronchitis the entire two weeks we were in France, she was a trooper.
We stayed in the apartment of a friend of a friend, in the heart of the Marais, across the street from a park and down the ways from a supermarket. Gigi loved Paris so much she wants to go back. Here’s why – a list of kid-approved Parisian activities, no museums required.
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Paris with Kids
- The Eiffel Tower: From Little Einsteins to Phineas & Ferb, if your kid watches the Disney channel, she knows the Eiffel Tower like the back of her hand. If you want to take the elevator without waiting in line, be sure to order your tickets online a few months in advance.
- L’Aquarium de Paris: Gigi could have spent the entire trip here! She loved petting the fish (something she’s never allowed to do in the States). I loved the air conditioning. We even watched an American movie, dubbed in French. Combine this with a visit to the Eiffel Tower, they’re on the same (or close enough) metro stop.
- Deyrolle aka the taxidermy museum: Filled with all sorts of animals and spanning a few floors, we spent hours here wandering around gazing at all the animals. And true, this is a museum, but unlike any other I’ve ever seen.
- Boat tour of the Seine: We used this company and it was fantastic. Board right below Notre Dame, and slowly tool around the river, basking in the glory of high-rent townhomes, spectacular views of the Orsay and the Eiffel Tower, and an all-around peaceful way to while away a few hours. Gigi was so relaxed (i.e., jet-lagged) that she slept the entire time!
- Notre Dame: Easily Gigi’s second favorite (after the aquarium) sight of the week. She loved sneaking through the cathedral in search of gargoyles, and even knew enough of the Bible stories to tell us what was going on (which was the original intent of the artwork, I’m sure). Take your kids to the garden behind the cathedral for even more fun – twisty-turny saucers that go round and round, something kids never tire of.
- The Pont Saint-Louis: This little bridge is filled with performance artists. The day we were there we saw roller-skating mimes, a jazz pianist and a guy who could make bubbles bigger than most kids. He also let the kids help out, which Gigi loved. The bridge connects the Île de la Cité and the charming Île Saint-Louis.
- Berthillon Ice Cream: What kid doesn’t love ice cream? This place was a huge hit with Gigi and Mr. Gonzo alike. They both got extra-large scoops from the generous ice cream man, thanks to my limited but apparently welcome French.
- The Metro: Any train, any station, any chance to glide up an escalator or shove a ticket into a ticket machine met with much glee.
What didn’t work?
- Versailles: I thought for sure my little girlie tomboy would love going to a real queen’s castle; she even watched Marie Antoinette with me on the trip over. But, as I discovered, Versailles is not a castle, at least not to a kid. In Gigi’s own words, “Mommy, this is, like, a really big house.” Turns out, a castle is more like this one, with moats and turrets and knights in shining armor. It didn’t help that it was uncharacteristically cold and windy. The McDonald’s outside the train station was a big hit, however.
- Walking: Bronchitis plus jet lag equals zero interest in walking. At least I stayed in shape carrying a 55-pound person through more than one metro station.
Afternoon boat cruise on the Seine – Gigi fell fast asleep
Behind Notre Dame is this incredible park, we found loads of kids for Gigi to play with! Kids = zero language barrier
Our apartment for the week