Visiting Paris with kids is something I’ve wanted to do for years so I was thrilled that we got to go this summer. We only had a few days in the city but we packed a lot in to our family trip to Paris and I thought I’d share some of our favorite things to do in Paris with kids.
Climb the Eiffel Tower
When it comes to visiting Paris, the Eiffel Tower is probably pretty high on the list of things to do. It’s an iconic symbol of the city (as much as the Parisians might hate that!) and getting to climb to the top is the number one thing to do in Paris.
The first thing to know about climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower is that it should be booked in advance. There are a limited number of tickets to climb to the summit and they do sell out, especially during busy periods.
If tickets to the summit are all sold out, you might still be able to climb to the second floor. If all tickets are sold out for the day you want to visit, then try booking through a tour guide or checking with your hotel concierge; summit tickets were sold out for the day we wanted to go but our concierge was able to get us on a guided tour instead. You can check for availability and book tickets for the Eiffel Tower here.
We opted for a tour guide partly to learn more about the history of the tower. It was built for the 1889 World’s Fair, where it won first place. At the time, it was the tallest building in the world at 300m tall. It has been painted a few different colors over the years, including bright red (you can imagine how well that went down with the people of Paris!) The color it’s painted now is a paint color exclusive to the Eiffel Tower!
There are three different levels you can climb to on the Eiffel Tour. The first and second floors are accessible by elevator or the stairs; 327 to the first floor, then another 347 to the second). After that, you need to take the elevator. If your kids are pretty active, they won’t have too much trouble with the steps.
On the first floor, you’ll find food and drink options, as well as bathrooms. There’s also a self-guided tour available for kids that you can get the info for on this floor. This is a great way to get kids involved and help them learn more about the tower.
On the second floor, you get a great view of the city. If you or your kids aren’t huge fans of heights, then this is a good way to get a birds eye view of Paris without having to go up too high. Since you’re still quite low to the ground, it’s also easier to find the major attractions. One of the coolest things that was pointed out us was a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty that is facing the original Statue of Liberty in New York City!
If you do choose to go all the way to the summit, you’ll need to wait for an elevator to do so. We waited about 30 minutes in the middle of summer, so I would imagine that’s typical for busy times. The elevator ride to the top took longer than I thought it would, but the views were amazing on the ascension and even better once we got there!
We visited on a morning that was quite hazy, but I still thought the views were incredible. You really get a sense of the scope of Paris from up there, and how unique the city looks compared to cities in the US. We were there about 10am, but I can only imagine how much more amazing the views would be in the evening or at night.
Watch the sunset from the Arc de Triomphe
Although not as popular as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe is another Paris icon that is worth the climb. In this case, I would say that it’s worth timing your climb for a specific time: sunset.
The Arc de Triomphe is at the end of the Champs-Elysees, one of Paris’s most famous streets. The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. It lists the names of the French victories and generals on the interior and exterior walls, and underneath you can find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Arc de Triomphe stands at 50m tall, so the top boasts some pretty great views, the best being the fact that you can see the Eiffel Tower from the top. There are 284 steps to the top, so less than the Eiffel Tower, and my kids managed it without too much complaint. It is quite a narrow, winding staircase so definitely take your time.
The views are pretty great any time of day, but if you can time your climb with the setting sun, they’ll be even better! We had dinner on the Champs-Elysees and then climbed the Arc de Triomphe afterwards. This is a very popular time to visit; the queue to climb was long, and the top was crowded, but all manageable. The views for us were absolutely worth it!
Have dinner on the Champs-Elysees
There are no shortage of amazing places to eat in Paris! On almost every street you can find brasseries, bistros, and cafés with outdoor tables where you can sit and people watch. But I think the best place to people watch while you eat dinner is on the Champs-Elysees.
This is one of the most famous streets in Paris. Here you can find designer shops and lots of incredible restaurants. We chose one at random to have dinner and sat back to watch the world go by. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was so much fun. All of the goings-on around us meant the kids were happily distracted while waiting for their food, making this one of the best things to do in Paris with kids!
We didn’t find many kids menus in the restaurants in Paris, but we did find a couple of places that would make a kids portion of an entrée if you asked. Otherwise we just had our kids share something, or chose something we thought would be a lighter dish.
Visit the Musee D’Orsay
There are some amazing museums in Paris, but not all of them are going to be interesting for kids and there’s nothing worse than walking around a museum with a bored kid. There are a couple that I think are a pretty safe bet when it comes for looking for things to do in Paris with kids and the Musee d’Orsay is one that most older kids will tolerate or even enjoy.
The Musee d’Orsay houses a vast collection of Impressionist paintings, including works by Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. If your kids have any interest in art and are a little older, then you might find paintings that they’re familiar with here such as Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette or Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone.
There is a guide at the museum that makes for a fun scavenger hunt as you can ask kids to look for the famous paintings in the guide as you go from room to room. I think this museum is best done as a self-guided tour if you have kids since they can go at their own pace and you can leave once they’ve had enough, but there are guided tours available as well.
Visit Disneyland Paris
We live less than 30 minutes from Walt Disney World in Florida, and yet we still took a whole day out of our family Paris trip to visit Disneyland Paris! It’s one of those things that you’ve just got to do on a family trip to Paris!
I have a whole guide on visiting Disneyland Paris with kids that is perfect for those who are more used to Walt Disney World; Disneyland Paris has a few major differences that you definitely need to know before you visit!
Disneyland Paris is about 20 miles outside of Paris and the best way to get there in my opinion is to take the train. The RER A line going East takes about 40 minutes to the Gare du Marne-la-Valle-Chessy, which is a train station right at the entrance to the parks. There are two parks: Disneyland (sometimes referred to as the Magic Kingdom) and Walt Disney Studios. Each park requires a separate entrance ticket.
We just did a day trip to the parks since we were short on time, but you could easily tack a longer trip on to your visit to Paris. You can find info on the Disneyland Paris hotels here and ticket info here.
Walk through the Montmartre
The Montmartre district is an area of Paris most famous for two things: the Sacre-Coeur and the amazing artists who work there. It also has some of the most amazing places to eat in the city, and is another great place to sit outside and people watch.
The Sacre-Coeur is the second most visited monument in Paris, and sits at the summit of the butte of Montmartre. In order to get to the summit, you can either take the stairs or the funicular, which is a small cable car that heads to the top. The stairs aren’t too strenuous but if you’d rather take the funicular, you can use Metro tickets.
The Sacre-Coeur (which translates to ‘Sacred Heart’) was completed in 1914, and entrance is free. You can walk around the Basilica on your own, or book a guided tour. You can also climb to the dome (there is a charge for this) which is 300 steps and offers the most amazing panoramic views of Paris.
Strolling around the Montmartre is a fantastic experience that everyone visiting Paris with kids should try to make time for. The artists there have their work on display and will often be looking for people whose portraits they want to create. It’s so much fun to walk around and see the incredible talent on display.
If an artist approaches you to draw a portrait of you, you can politely decline if you wish, but this is a chance to get an amazingly unique souvenir. The artists are very talented and you can ask to see their previous work to see if their style is the kind of thing you’d like. You can also ask prices and check if they take cash only or credit cards. Many artists will offer to draw you as you sit outside a café eating or drinking, which is a great way to have a portrait made if you don’t have time to sit for one separately.
Take a boat trip on the Seine
A boat trip on the Seine is not only a fun, relaxing activity to try on a family trip to Paris, but a great way to get your bearings of the city and see the fantastic views. There are numerous different tour companies that offer boat trips of varying lengths and some are more suited to kids than others so it’s worth researching to see which ones are best for your family.
If you don’t want to take them time to take a guided boat trip, then another fun way to both see the city from the water and get around the city is to use the Batobus. This is essentially a water taxi with nine stops along the Seine, stopping at attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre. You can check out the route and buy tickets for the Batobus here.
Another cool option is to book a boat tour along the Seine for the evening. You can book a dinner cruise or just a guided tour, but timing your trip for the setting sun means you can watch the city of lights come alive at night. If you book late enough, you can even see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night from the water, and many tour companies will time their passing of the tower to coordinate with the lights dancing!
Try all the French foods!
One of the things I was most looking forward to when visiting Paris with kids was trying all of the best French foods with them. I had a list of things to try and in the four days we were there, we managed to try most of them! I’m a huge foodie and one of my kids is following in my footsteps so I knew he’d be excited to try some new foods too.
I have a whole post on the best French foods to try in Paris with kids where you can find all of my suggestions for French food that’s fun to try without being so different that kids won’t go near them! Some of the first foods we tried were a Croque Monsieur (which is basically a fancy ham and cheese toasted sandwich), macarons, and crepes, all of which were a big hit.
You can find traditional French food in most restaurants in France, and restaurants will usually post their menus outside so you can read through before you go in. Brasseries are the best places to try traditional dishes like steak frites in a more casual environment, boulangeries are best for fresh bread products, and patisseries are perfect for sweets and pastries.
Explore the Musee du Louvre
If your kids don’t mind visiting another museum, then the Musee du Louvre is the most famous museum in Paris. It is also the busiest and the most crowded, so it’s definitely worth buying your tickets online in advance – you can buy tickets for the Musee du Louvre here.
The most famous painting on display at the Louvre is the Mona Lisa, and it’s the painting that most people who visit want to see. On my first visit to the Louvre several years ago, I was quite surprised at how small the Mona Lisa actually is, and since it’s behind glass and there’s so many people trying to see it at once it’s actually quite hard to see at all, especially with kids. So while I would definitely aim to see it while visiting, I would look out for some of the other works of art as well.
If you visit the Louvre with kids, download the Louvre app. Here you can find stories about the paintings and artists that will make the museum come alive for them. This is a great way to keep them engaged and help them learn more about the art on display.
You can also book a tour guide of the Louvre who will set up a treasure hunt for kids. This is run by a licensed company who offer a complete guided service where kids complete a scavenger hunt with clues to find hidden treasure. The tours are personally created for kids of all ages, and this is a fantastic way to tour the museum and get them learning. You can book a tour of the Louvre with kids here.
Watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night
To add the perfect ending to your family trip to Paris, it’s worth keeping those kids up in order to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night – and if you time it right, you’ll be able to see the lights dance and sparkle!
The lights on the Eiffel Tower sparkle on the hour every hour for a limited time every night. The time this begins and the length of time it continues is very much dependent on the time of year; obviously as it gets dark much later in the summer, the tower will light up later than in the winter.
The show always concludes at 1am, and this is perhaps the most spectacular show since the yellow lights on the tower are turned off and you just see the white lights dancing. Most younger kids won’t make it to 1am, but if you have older kids who can make it to 1am, then this is the show to see.
We visited Paris in July and had to wait until 11pm for the tower lights to sparkle, which meant keeping the kids up quite a while past their bedtime, but it was absolutely worth it! It was such a memorable experience, and the tower looks absolutely beautiful at night.