Paris with kids
Paris with children can be daunting. When one considers hours spent reading poetry in the park or having a nutella crepe while walking down a boulevard, adding your kids to the equation may be almost unfathomable. However, the city can be surprisingly kid-friendly if you know where to look.
Of course, the obvious choice to bring energetic young children is a place where they can be noisy and obnoxious, without getting withering stares from the other patrons. Paris is known for its well-kept and spacious public parks. Many of them have built-in activities like boats for rent, carousals and playgrounds. The best part? They’re free. It’s not uncommon for the children of well-heeled Parisians to be also playing in the same parks, so chances are good that your kids may even get a French lesson or two from the other children that they befriend.
Granted, you can’t spend your entire trip to Paris in the park. One of the best places to take kids is the Cité des enfants. This “city of children”, as the name loosely translates, is an Exploratorium of sorts that allows children to explore and discover the world around them. Be prepared to have to drag your children away – there are activities to target every age group that they can learn from. The Cité was specifically designed to be accessible to all, so everyone will be sure to feel comfortable here.
Depending on what time of year you are in Paris, there are several seasonal activities that are incredibly kid-friendly. During the winter months, there are ice-skating rinks set up all over the city. Bundle up and hit the ice! Most of the rinks are well lit, so you can enjoy them at any time of the day. Afterwards, go and grab a chocolat chaud (hot cocoa) from one of the many neighbouring cafés to warm up. If you are in Paris in the late summer, bring your kids to the Paris Plages. Beaches are set up along the Seine in an effort to embrace summer, complete with deck-chairs, ice-cream sellers and buckets of sand. Swimming in the Seine, however, is prohibited for safety reasons.
Perhaps one of the most daunting things about traveling to Paris with children is trying to find a kid-friendly restaurant. Given that French dinners can last up to three hours with several courses (many of which may have your kids turning up their noses in disgust), finding a place where you can all eat in peace can be a challenge. That being said, there are still places in the city where you don’t have to sacrifice meal quality for kid friendliness.
One of the best options for lunch are Eric Kayser or Gosselin. Both bakeries are recognized as being among the best in the city, and offer a selection of take away sandwiches and meal items that can easily be transported into a picnic in the park. Given food that they recognize, even picky-eaters will be able to find something that they like. For dinner, try Chez Clemant or Les 400 coups. Both are known for their kid-friendly atmospheres and accommodating staff.