Vacation in Paris Blog

How to Take a Family-Friendly Trip to Paris

Places To Visit - Posted on Sep 14,2015 by Hampton*Jan

Set Your Budget
For any family trip, it’s important to set your budget and stick to it. Travel costs will add up quickly if you’re not careful—you’ll be responsible for flights, food, accommodation, sight-seeing, souvenirs, and more. But it’s entirely possible to do Paris without breaking the bank. Instead of always eating out, think about grabbing food from supermarkets and having picnics—Paris has plenty of beautiful parks. Instead of booking a hotel room, it may be less expensive to look into apartment rentals. If you’ll be visiting a lot of museums, look into getting a museum pass—which will also save you from standing around in lines all day. A little prior planning will go a long way.

Prepare for the Flight
If you’re visiting Paris from anywhere outside Europe, you’re in for an hours-long flight. You might plan to sleep on the flight, but your kids are probably going to be pretty excited about the trip and will likely have a hard time getting to sleep—and no amount of scolding or reasoning is going to fix it. Expect that they’re probably going to be awake for the whole flight and don’t plan anything too strenuous for the day you arrive. Also, sure, all the advice out there says that you shouldn’t nap when you’re adjusting to a foreign time-zone, but if you have cranky kids, none of you are going to enjoy the trip until they’ve got some sleep.

Plan Your Sight-Seeing Carefully
Paris has tons of excellent museums, but if you stack two or three of them in a day, your kids are likely going to get bored and restless. Kids who aren’t particularly interested in art might even rebel at seeing the Louvre one day and the Musée D’Orsay the next. If your kids aren’t having a good time, you’ll spend most of the time trying to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t have a meltdown or do anything inappropriate—and then you probably aren’t going to have a good time either.

The main thing is, be realistic about how many similar activities or museums your children will be willing to do—sometimes, they may just want to hang out at the park playground for the afternoon and no amount of coercion is going to make them happy to do anything else! Factor this into your plan and don’t sweat it if they’re unimpressed by the staples of French culture; it doesn’t mean you’re bringing up heathens.

Look for Kid-Friendly Activities
If the most famous attractions aren’t doing it, there are plenty of lesser-known kid-friendly sights in Paris. One favorite is the Cité des Enfants, where kids will be able to learn through use of interactive exhibits. Or take them to Les Invalides—although you may be unsure about whether your kids would be interested in the French Army, the museum has a great audio-guide, and there are lots of weapons and games that will keep kids fascinated.

Even better: turn your trip into a scavenger hunt or grab a couple Polaroid cameras and have the kids document their journey. Not feeling creative enough to create a scavenger hunt on your own? There are a couple tours set up for you. If they seem a little pricey, check out the Mission Paris book.

Get a Better Guidebook
When I found out about Lonely Planet’s series of “Not for Parents” guidebooks, I was over the moon. Kids often love to play the role of tour guide, and this book does a great job of breaking down Paris’ attractions into fun facts that will be interesting to the kids—and things that you may not already know about. Not keen on lugging around books? Grab the Discover Paris app for your smartphone or tablet. You’ll need to have access to the internet the first time you use it, but after that, your kids will be able to learn about monuments and museums, as well as access multimedia content like audio.

Expect Lines
If you plan to visit a lot of the more popular tourist attractions (for example, the Eiffel Tower) and haven’t pre-booked tickets, expect that you could be waiting a long time to buy your tickets and enter. You may want to bring some snacks and some activities for the kids to do—if you’re okay with them sitting on the ground, books or coloring pages might be a good idea, or you can always play games like I Spy, 20 Questions, Concentration, or whatever else you can think of.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, you may want to download some movies that your kids can watch while you wait—just remember that if you’re downloading torrents, you should use a VPN to avoid any issues that might arise from governmental concerns about copyright infringement. A VPN will hide your personal information and internet activity from both your internet service provider and the government, giving you a safer downloading experience.

Don’t Worry About the Cuisine
You may find a lot of strange-sounding foods on the menu, but even with a picky eater in your family, you should have no problem finding a place with something for everyone. Many restaurants in Paris offer hamburgers, pasta, and other staples of children’s menus—and nearly everywhere offers a cheese plate as an appetizer (I’ve yet to meet a kid who didn’t like cheese!). And hey, if you really have a problem, there’s always fast food…in Parisian style: take your kids to a bakery and let them pick out a sandwich, quiche, or croissant.

Bring your kids to Paris and you’re certain to have the family trip of a lifetime. There’s tons of information about this beautiful French city both in books and online, so get your kids excited about the trip and researching things in advance. Do a little planning and you’ll be able to see and do most or all of the major bucket-list items without worrying too much about keeping everyone happy—bon voyage!
Our Guest Blogger
Hi, my name is Jess Signet. My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)

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