If you fancy heading to Paris but the thought of taking the kids doesn’t appeal, check out what we got up while we were there as a family. We always find the key to success is in the planning so we have a good combination of activities that keep everyone occupied. We like to do things on the spur of the moment though too. We had such an amazing time in Paris as a family, we were kicking ourselves for not heading back to this wonderful city earlier.
Take a ride on the Metro
Much like the London Underground, the Metro makes it super easy to get from place to place. Our then six year old daughter POD relished being on these trains. She even took it upon herself to dance on one platform while a busker played Jerry Rafferty’s Baker Street on one occasion. Check out the video at the end of this post if you fancy a nose.
We stayed at the 4 Star Meliá París La Défense which is uniquely designed in the shape of a ship’s hull, offering panoramic views across the city. It’s ideally positioned in a quiet location on the Boulevard de Neuilly in the Courbevoie province centred between the two main avenues that lead from the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees to the Arche de la Defense. With the nearest Paris Metro station (Esplanade de La Défense on line 1) almost opposite the hotel, we could reach the historical city centre in ten minutes. Ideal for exploring but without having to stay right in the centre of Paris.
Take in the views from the Eiffel Tower
Both myself and my husband have visited Paris many times but it’s been a while since we’ve ventured up the Eiffel Tower. Truth be told last time we did that I was absolutely terrified. There was a glass bottomed lift in those days which reminded me of the glass elevator in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film. Thankfully the lift feels far safer these days although the journey up will probably make you catch your breath. I decided to see the journey through my GoPro which was the best option let’s be honest. For nerves and for the footage! That said the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower are just spectacular every way you look. Surprisingly our daredevil daughter POD wasn’t especially keen being at the peak but she loved the lower level, looking through all the telescopes to take in as much as she could of the city.
Soak up the atmosphere in Montmartre
Monmartre is a large hill some 430ft up so it was inevitable POD would get a should carriage up the steepest parts. It’s well worth the trek though as the area is teeming with artists and street performers. While much busier than I remember it when I had my portrait drawn there many moons ago, it’s no less charming. There’s a great atmosphere there and POD really enjoyed the street artists.
Relax on the grass by the Sacré-Cœur
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is a popular landmark at the highest point in the city. From the dome, there are impressive views of Paris that include the Eiffel Tower, La Défense and the Montparnasse Tower. This attraction is one of the most popular in Paris and having visited several times before, we opted to head over the road to the gardens. The perfect place to watch the world go by (and play The Trolls Top Trumps!) before finding a quirky cafe away from the masses for a bite to eat.
Look for gargoyles at Notre Dame
Notre Dame is a medieval catholic cathedral situated in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. Considered to be one of the finest examples of French gothic architecture, we find there’s more than enough to keep kids occupied outdoors if the queue is too long to get inside. Gargoyle spotting through one of the many telescopes dotted around is a great game and it was probably a lot more fun for POD too. Being outside meant we also caught a couple of opera singers on the bridge before making our way down the pretty side streets.
Sail a boat at Le Jardin de Luxembourg
Quintessentially Parisian these beautiful 60 acre gardens really are a must see when visiting the French capital. Originally created for Queen Marie de Medici, the widow of King Henry the IV, Le Jardin de Luxembourg is split into French and English gardens with a large pond separating the two. Situated in the 6th arrondissement, a chic district situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter, it’s the most wonderful place to unwind. There’s a geometric forest, an orchard, an apiary, an Orangerie and a pavillion and there are over a hundred statues dotted around. Our highlight was paying just ¢4 for a boat with a yellow sail (our daughter picked it out) which we had for 30 minutes. We were told they make their way back to you eventually and they really do albeit with a little help.
Take a ride on a carousel
Finally, POD loved the carousels dotted around the city centre. There are around 20 in all, mostly situated around the major tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Jardin du Trocadéro, Tuileries Gardens, Carrousel Metro Saint-Paul and Manège du Dodo. Somehow we managed to miss the carousel in the Jardin du Luxembourg which is the oldest in Paris and dates back to 1879. It’s said the decoration is much simpler than many of the city carousels but is unique in its charm.
We honestly could have spent a week in Paris there’s so much to do that POD would have just loved. She finds travelling such an adventure anyway. Even the fountain outside our hotel provided her with the opportunity to take her shoes off, pull her leggings up and go for a paddle. You can check out what we got up to in the video below – enjoy! Do let us know if you’re heading to Paris and find more child friendly spots, we’d love to hear from you.