Fun things to do and see if sharing Paris with your little ones
Spending a week in Paris with the kids would probably mean scheduling your trip correspondingly. While you might not perform on the city’s night life scene as often or treat yourselves to lazy weekends of sleeping in, not to worry, the other side of the coin is not to be belittled. It might actually prove a whole lot funnier!
Whether you’re into enjoying the fine things in life, keen on getting closer to nature, obsessed with the science of life or wild about all things “fun and games”, there’s something for each and every one of you in our basket of cool activities to do with kids while in Paris. Beautiful, happy, exciting and joyous, our kid-friendly Paris will be equally fascinating for the little ones and for the young at heart alike!
Art and spectacles
Meet Guignol, the puppet which has been thrilling French children since 1808! Originating from Lyon but very popular in Paris’ gardens and theatres, the French tradition of Guignol theatre “amuses children and witty adults“, as says the motto of a notable Lyon troupe. Guignol himself is the main character in the marionette show which later started bearing his name. It all started like this: Guignol’s creator, Laurent Mourguet, was born into a family of humble silk weavers. During the French Revolution the silk trade experienced difficult times, so Laurent was forced to become a sort of a dentist (which back in the day practically meant just the pulling of teeth). As the service itself was free (money being made from the subsequently sold medicines easing the pain), Laurent started setting up a puppet show in front of his dentist’s chair to attract more patients. And that’s how Guignol theatre was born! Soon after, his instant success prompted him to give up dentistry forever and become a professional puppeteer, writing his own scenarios and developing original characters. Today you can enjoy this integral part of French culture and history across many scenes scattered around Paris.
Guignol spectacles can be seen at Parc Montsouris (4 €), Parc des Buttes Chaumont (4 €), Parc Floral, Jardin du Luxembourg, Theatre Guignol at Rond-Point des Champs Elysées (4 €)
The biggest science museum in Europe, promoting scientific and technical culture, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is the place to touch Science! Having special areas for children and teenagers (the Cité des Enfants section), the museum’s main goal is to promote public interest in science, research and industry and help children discover the world around them through a series of inspiring hands-on activities and experiments. This unique space for active exploration, highlighting the spectacular and the interactive, proposes a series of entertaining and educational activities, among which repairing your car in a garage, racing with a skeleton, exploring a butterfly farm, building your own house in a mini construction site, getting lost in labyrinths, hearing the sound of two snails having a snack or testing the flight simulator! Parents might help, explain stuff or proudly amuse themselves while observing their little Newtons and Einsteins. Fun guaranteed!
Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is located at 30, Avenue Corentin-Cariou (metro Porte-de-la-Villette), Tuesday-Saturday 10-18h ; Sunday 10-19h ; Ticket fees : Children : 6 € ; Adults : 8 €
Nature and Discoveries
Feel like doing some bird watching, growing a plant or kneading your own bread dough? For an inspiringly “earthy” day of picking your own fruits, watching cows being milked and breathing in the fresh smell of hay, get yourself over to the Ferme du Piqueur some 30 minutes away from the center of Paris. Spread on a meadow, this old farm breeds its own cows, pigs, chicken, rabbits, sheep and horses. If you enroll in their workshops for a day, you will discover the life in the farm at first-hand. You can enjoy feeding the animals yourself in the morning or drawing, cooking, taking a walk in the park, dropping by the orchard, doing some gardening, making your own bread or squeezing your own apple juice in the afternoon.
If you don’t feel like going the full distance but still want to scent the sweet fragrance of the countryside, opt for observing how things work out in the “Ferme du Paris”, located within the city limits.
Ferme du Piqueur is at 92380, Garches (30 mins from Paris), Parc de Saint-Cloud, entry from blvd Raymond-Poincaré. Workshops on Tuesdays – half a day – 8 €; the whole day – 16 €; www.fermedupiqueur.fr; Weekly visits (from 10:30 till 12:30 and from 13:30 till 18h): 2 €
Ferme du Paris is in the Bois de Vincennes, 1, Route du Pesage ; (Metro : Château-de-Vincennes). Tuesday-Friday : 13:30-18h ; Saturday and Sunday : 13:30-18:30h Free for children under 7. Children : 1 €;Adults: 2 €;
Giant water slides, wave pools, cool whirlwinds, geysers and water mushrooms in a tropical setting is not something your kid would want to say “no” to on a warm summer day! This 7000 sq m temple of fun is a real children’s paradise! With its warm 30 degrees water pools, free floaties and giant rubber rings, baby jungles, Antilles beach-inspired Jacuzzis, palm trees, wooden bridges, sand beaches and semi-deserted islands, Aquaboulevard is a good place to be if you want to have a mini-vacation while still staying in Paris. Our advice: Go there early on a Sunday morning and leave around noon (if your kids let you!) when it starts to get crowded.
Aquaboulevard is at 4, rue Louis-Armand (Metro: Balard), Monday-Thursday 8h-23h; Friday until 24h; Saturday 8h- 24h; Sunday 8h – 23h; Ticket fees: Adults: 20 € (from May to September); Children (younger than 11 years); 10 €; Family card for 3 people: 15 or 25 €
Some popular sports to be practiced in Paris would be biking, roller-skating, swimming or even horse-riding (Ile-de-France being the French region where the equine tourism is most widely developed). We found, however, another sport-based activity which blends movement and fun! A new way to visit Paris with the kids, Paris d’Enfants (Paris for kids) organizes treasure hunts and excursions so that children and parents can discover the sights of the French capital together. Tracing the first Parisians from Notre Dame’s crypt to Cluny’s thermal baths, living like an artist on the Butte Montmartre, jumping in feet first in the Middle Ages of the Marais district or discovering the enigmas and mysteries of unknown Paris… The guides and teachers from the Paris d’Enfants team will invite you to taste this playful and active exploration of the city. Montmartre, the Luxembourg gardens, the Louvre museum and the Notre Dame cathedral are just a few of the 15 guided tours available in English.
Paris d’Enfants office is at 169, Rue du Faubourg-Poissonière, information and subscriptions can be taken by phone (01 48 74 92 80) or through their website (www.parisdenfants.com). Treasure hunts’ ticket fee: 10, 12 € (museum tickets not included)