Paris is the ideal destination for a family holiday as it offers plenty to do for the whole family. Perhaps surprisingly, many of the city's big name attractions, even the famous museums, really appeal to kids, and they'll get just as much enjoyment from climbing the Eiffel Tower or getting up close and personal to the gargoyles on Notre Dame as Mum and Dad will.
The key to a family-friendly holiday in Paris is to mix up your sightseeing. Even the hardiest of adult travellers will soon tire of endless visits to museums and churches and standing in long queues, so it's only natural that the kids could get a little cranky if you overload them with culture. Plan your sightseeing so that everyone is happy. Include fun things that the kids will enjoy like a hop-on hop-off bus tour, or a ride on the Batobus (a hop-on hop-off boat that cruises the Seine).
Other child favourites include the Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries Gardens, where a mini amusement park is located during the summer months, the Catacombs (more suited for older kids and teenagers), and of course, Disneyland Resort Paris. Paris' ferris wheel, on the banks of the Seine, is another popular attraction, as are the many merry-go-rounds found around the city and in various parks. Another theme park that kids love is Parc Asterix, a whole park dedicated to the French comic book character and his friends!
The colour and aromas of a French market are sure to appeal to kids, too. They are also a great place to grab some provisions for a picnic lunch which the whole family can enjoy in one of the city's lovely parks or alongside the River Seine!
During winter, hire some ice skates and join the throngs of Parisians ice skating on the temporary rink set up in front of Hotel de Ville (Paris' town hall). On rainy days there is still plenty to keep the kids amused - check out the Science or Doll Museums or visit the aquarium.
A bit of pre-holiday planning can go a long way to helping you and your kids enjoy a trip to Paris. Here are our top tips to enjoy a family-friendly holiday in Paris:
- For larger families or longer stays, opt for an apartment rather than a hotel. Most hotel rooms will only accommodate up to three people, anyway, and apartments give you the option of cooking your own meals.
- Child-friendly B&B's can be perfect for those who want an authentic Parisian experience. Many B&B owners live 'on site', providing you with all their local knowledge and a cosy home to return to.
- Plan your sightseeing so that all family members are happy. Alternate your days of visiting castles, museums, churches, etc with visits to amusement parks, or gardens where the kids can kick a ball around.
- If you know you'll definitely visit some of the major museums and attractions, pre-purchase your tickets before you leave home. Pre-purchased tickets allow you to skip the queues, saving heaps of time.
- Be relaxed - your holiday routine will be different to what the kids are used to at home, but what they'll learn from their Parisian holiday experience will benefit them for life.
Get more tips about travelling in Europe with children in my eBook "Europe with Kids - How to travel Europe the easy way" >>