By Anne Taylor Hartzell, on November 8, 2013

Paris 5 ways with kids

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. Here in the Hartzell house, it has become somewhat of a shrine, making its way to dream boards, adorning the walls of my oldest daughter’s bedroom, and the frequent topic of conversation over family dinners. Taking this trip as a family has been on our bucket list for a while. We felt like our kids, now 5 and 9, well-traveled and well-versed in the process of traveling long distances, were able to endure the intense sightseeing that my husband and I planned for Paris.

Whether this is your first, or fifteenth, trip to Paris, France (and whether sans kids or not), I strongly recommend doing your homework and laying out a game plan before you go. Our family of four spent seven magical days in centrally located Paris hotels and apartments and we just barely scratched the surface of things to do in Paris with kids. To get you started, below are our family’s top five easy Paris activities and experiences to introduce your kids to. I hope it will inspire you to create your own list!

Viewfinder Tip: Set your expectations for a return visit to Paris with the family. It will be tough fitting in everything you want to see and do, especially if your family falls in love with this magical city.

1. Visit the Eiffel Tower at night. For our first night in Paris, we dropped our bags at the hotel and jumped in a taxi to visit the Eiffel Tower. I’ll always remember the look on the girls’ faces when the Eiffel Tower came into view in the taxi window. As we approached its grand, illuminated frame, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy for experiencing this moment as a family. 

What to do: Walk under the Eiffel Tower to experience its enormous reaching arches, stroll the Parc du Champ de Mars, and capture a family photo with the glowing Eiffel Tower in the distance. Cross the street to hop on the carousel that edges the Seine River on the corner of Pont d’Iéna and Quai Branly. Don’t be shy. Hop on with the kids. How many times can you say you rode a carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the background?    

2. Make reservations to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower by day. Taking a ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower to experience the breathtaking views of Paris was on our must-see Paris list. One of our local Parisian guides with Rue Amandine recommended we reserve tickets in advance to avoid the long queues. You can ask your hotel concierge to do this for you or you can book online. The lift will take you to the first and second floors at the base of the tower where you switch lifts to head to the top.

A view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Paris, France

What to do: Skip the first floor stop and get out on the second floor for amazing views of Paris below and snap a family photo. Wait in line for the second lift to take you to the top and toast with a glass of bubbly at the Champagne Bar.

3. Visit Musèe d’Orsay for an art history lesson in Impressionism and French art. I’m a big fan of Impressionism and French artists like Monet, Van Gogh, Cèzanne, and Renoir. This museum, while still grand in size, also felt a bit more approachable to do with kids.

What to do: The Musèe d’Orsay website has a wealth of information to plan your visit. Stop to grab an audio tour headset at the entrance and then take the escalators to the 5th floor where you can see Monet’s Water Lillies and other famous works of art that children are likely to recognize. Stop at Cafè Campana for lunch and a photo of one of the magnificent, historic clocks of this former train station.

4. See Mona Lisa at the Louvre. No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to one of the largest museums in the world. Be forewarned, you will need a whole day to explore the Louvre, and that won’t even be enough time to see everything, especially with kids in tow.

What to do: This expansive museum overwhelms most adults, so we took it slow with our kids and picked just a few highlights to see: the Mona Lisa, The Wedding at Cana, the Egyptian wing to see mummies, Venus de Milo, and a quick tour through Greek and Roman antiquities. Then, we were all tapped. (Take the metro and enter the Louvre from underneath by purchasing tickets at the newsstand to avoid the long lines above ground.)

5. Snap a photo at the Arc de Triomphe and walk the Champs-Élysées. We ended our last day in Paris meeting friends for drinks at a sidewalk cafe on the Champs-Élysées with the majestic Arc de Triomphe in the distance. 

What to do: Sit for a bit at a sidewalk cafe, or climb the 280 stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe to take in the view from one of Paris’ most famous vantage points. The Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets in the world for luxury shopping and many tourists can be seen exploring the many boutiques and well-known, luxury brand shops. Take the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile stop on the metro for quick access to the Arc de Triomphe and walk the Champs-Élysées.

What are your favorite things to do in Paris with your kids?