Most people think of Paris, France as a “romantic” destination, but did you know that it’s also an incredible family vacation destination? We spent a few amazing days there last month and can’t wait to go back again! Keep reading for our favorite Paris moments to help you plan the perfect trip to France!
21 Fun Things to Do in Paris on a Family Vacation
At the end of my Things to Do in London on a Family Vacation post, I mentioned that we started our weeklong vacation in England and finished it in France. As promised in that post, this week I’m sharing all of the amazing family-friendly Paris attractions that we visited.
Batobus Along the Seine
In London, we toured the city on the iconic double-decker red buses. In Paris, though, we went with the Batobus. It’s basically a hop-on/hop-off cruise that takes you through the heart of the city. Like the London bus, you can jump off whenever you want, tour the attractions at your own pace, then jump back on and head to the next spot. The kids enjoyed the ride so much!
Passes are extremely reasonable, too. If you buy online, a one-day pass is 19 € per adult and 9 € per child (3-15). Toddlers and infants ride free. Tickets cost 1 euro more if you don’t buy them online. Two-day passes are only 4 euros more. They also have year-long passes for 70 € for adults and 45 for kids. If you’re planning to use the Batobus every day during your vacation, it may be worth it to get the annual pass.
Climb the Eiffel Tower
You can’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower! I mean that literally, as it’s viewable from so many areas of the city. 😀 But I highly recommend actually seeing it up close because there’s really nothing like it.
We ended up climbing the Eiffel Tower by foot instead of taking the elevator. It was definitely a hike but the kids loved it. If climbing up 1665 steps doesn’t really sound like something you’d want to do on a vacation, though, just take the elevator. Even if you don’t go in the tower, just standing outside of it to snap a few touristy photos is an experience you’ll never forget.
If you love art and history (or art history!), visiting the Louvre is a must! One of the world’s most famous museums, it showcases everything from ancient Greek sculptures to US-based artists. And, of course, it’s the only place to see the real Mona Lisa.
Unlike the Tate Modern in London, the Louvre isn’t free for adults (kids under 18 are free, though). But at 15-17 Euros per adult (cheaper in person than online, which is weird since it’s usually the opposite), it’s still reasonable. Plus, you get access to the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions of the Louvre AND access to the Musée Eugène-Delacroix as long as you visit within 48 hours.
The Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre
The “Sacred Heart” church is known for all of the “locks of love” attached to its gates. It’s not the only place to do that. Nor is it even the most famous. But while most of the other spots around the city are geared more towards lovers declaring their unending affection for each other, this one was more geared toward families.
Paris keeps saying that they’re doing away with all of the love locks throughout the city. But my kids were still able to put a lock with their names on it. So for now at least, you can still do this iconic Paris activity.
Again in Paris, we went to Roland Garros, another venue for grand slam tennis. While the name may not be as familiar as Wimbledon is to those who aren’t major tennis fans, it was super high up on my own tennis star’s list of things to do in Paris.
For those who do know tennis, Roland Garros is home to the French Open, one of the most famous and important tournaments. Depending on when you go, you can take a guided tour of the stadium from the locker room to the famous courts while learning about the history.
Champs-Élysées is one of the most beautiful avenues in the world. It’s hard to believe that this vibrant street began all the way back in the 1600s as just a dirt road lined with trees. It’s 1.2 miles long, so you could easily walk down the entire street in just a few hours with plenty of time spent taking pictures. There are so many things to see along the way, too. The lower part, which runs through a park, takes you by the Palais de la Découverte, the Grand Palais, and the Petit Palais. The upper part starts at Charles de Gaulle and the Arc de Triomphe.
Arc de Triomphe
Even if you don’t decide to walk Champs Elysees, at least make it a point to stop by the Arc de Triomphe. It was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon (and completed in 1810). So, if you think about some of the other historic sites in the city that date all the way back to the founding of Paris, it’s actually one of the “newer” Paris icons.
If you want to go into the Arc, you can either buy tickets for a self-guided tour or take a tour with a guide. But like the London Tower, it’s enough to just visit the outside of this magnificent landmark.
Les Jardines de Luxemburgo
Les Jardines de Luxemburgo (Gardens at The Luxembourg Palace) are the most beautiful gardens in a city filled with extraordinary gardens! The gardens were commissioned by Marie de’ Medici during the 1600s because she missed her gardens in Florence (where she was from).
With all of the statues and places to just sit back and enjoy the view, they are so nice for families. You can play tennis, learn about beekeeping, and more. Kids can even rent little wooden sailboats that they can sail in the duck pond. It’s just a really nice place to take a break and relax between exploring other parts of the city.
Sample Paris Delicacies
Food is its own attraction in Paris, and one you definitely don’t want to skip! For the adventurous types (like my son and my husband), you can order escargot (snails) at pretty much EVERY restaurant in the city. My daughter and I stuck with steak tartare, though. We all really enjoyed all of the pastries (SO many pastries!!!), bread, and all of the little cafes everywhere.
Leave time to just walk around the city
As we did with London (and on our big European vacation last year) we saved some time in our schedule to just walk around and explore without any specific destination in mind. Paris is a full sensory experience, between the mouthwatering aromas coming from the cafes, all of the flavors to sample, and the bright lights and vibrant colors everywhere. Speaking French was fun because not everyone speaks English or Spanish so you really need to try, so it’s a very educational experience for the whole family.
Take the Eurostar to London
While we went in the opposite direction (London to Paris), if you’re starting in (or even mostly just staying in) Paris I still recommend hopping on the train to London. It’s about a two-hour trip underwater, so you could pop over to London for a day, then pop back. That’s probably one of the coolest things about visiting Europe in general- the fact that you can just “pop” by a whole different country for an afternoon!
Other Places to Visit in Paris
We managed to fit A LOT into just a few days! But like London, Paris is HUGE and full of SO many other things to do. Here are some attractions that we either didn’t really get to see much of or just passed by and want to see more of next time:
- Paris Catacombs- Admittedly one of the creepiest Paris attractions, the catacombs are still a pretty neat place to visit for families. They have guided tours that explain the history, architecture, and meaning behind the ossuary (the wall of skulls).
- The Conciergerie– Speaking of somewhat creepy places to visit, the Conciergerie is where Marie Antoinette lost her head. Literally!
- Pere Lachaise Cemetery- Yes, it’s a graveyard. But it’s one of the most famous in the world, with eternal “residents” like Chopin and Jim Morrison.
- Sainte-Chapelle- If you’ve ever seen pics of the famous stained glass windows in Paris, chances are they were taken at this famous church. Fun fact, those windows date all the way back to the 1300s!
- Versailles-The over-the-top palace built by King Louis XIV is definitely a site you’ll never forget. The only downside is that it’s outside of the city (about 12 miles west), so it’s not really something you can just “pop” by.
- Pompidou Centre– While the Louvre is by far Paris’ most famous museum, if you’re a fan of modern art you’ll want to visit the Pompidou. Even the building itself is a work of modern art.
- Pantheon– This “Balcony of Paris” is one of the best places to see the whole city from one location.
- Pont Neuf- If you go to the Eiffel Tower you’ll be able to see the city’s oldest standing bridge. It was built back around 225-250 BCE, making it over 2,000 years old!
- Palais Garnier- If you’re an opera fan (or even just liked the Phantom of the Opera), you’ll want to add this to your list. You can either just tour the attraction itself or try to get tickets to see a show.
- Notre Dame Cathedral– Even though the 2019 fire damaged the cathedral’s roof, you can still visit one of the world’s most famous churches. We only saw it from the outside and it’s gorgeous!
Where We Stayed in Paris
We booked a little boutique hotel within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower (in the La Motte Picquet district), called Hotel Ares Eiffel. Staying near the Eiffel Tower was ideal. The Batobus was just 5 minutes away and it was right across from the famous Village Suisse antiques market. It’s within walking distance of just about every major attraction. Or you can hop on one of three Metro lines if you want to save your walking energy for Champs Elysees.
Paris isn’t just for lovers! It’s perfect for the whole family!
Between all of the historical sites, the beautiful palaces, and the amazing food, there really is something for everyone in Paris! We managed to fit so much into the few days that we were there. If you can plan for a longer trip, though, there’s a TON more to see and do. Plus, from Paris, you can hop on a train and be in London in 2 hours.
Speaking of England, don’t forget to check out my things to do in London for everything we did on the first half of this trip. I also included a packing list that applies to Paris as well. I hope you enjoyed learning about our trip! Check out my travel guide category for MANY more amazing family vacation destinations.