Your Paris visit doesn’t have to include a trip to the Louvre. Make it your own!
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Paris with kids, you’ve come to the right spot! We spent five days exploring France’s capital city with two teens and a tween, and have recommendations for the best places to go in Paris and insider information to make this trip one they won’t soon forget.
Our jam-packed itinerary has some tips for saving money in Paris (spoiler alert: it’s the Go City Paris Pass) but you won’t find many of the traditional spots like the Louvre on our list (GASP!). For kids, we really feel that mixing things up with unique spots like the catacombs and a pretty rad flea market is the way to go to keep them interested and energized with all that walking. Bonus: There’s a low-cost airline that flies direct from SFO (as well as LA, NYC, and soon Miami) to Paris that will get you there without the exorbitant airfare prices we are seeing these days.
Paris Travel Tip 1: Snag the Go City Paris Pass to see all the best attractions.
For our five days in Paris, we grab a two-day Go City All-Inclusive Pass and were able to use it to visit so many attractions. Get your pass in advance because a few of the activities on the list require pre-booking like the Eiffel Tower climb and the Fragonard perfume workshop.
You can visit as many included attractions as you wish using this pass so it’s a great way for first-time visitors to check out loads of museums, monuments and special activities. The pass includes the Paris Museum Pass as well, so you’ll get access to spots like the rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe and Sainte-Chapelle. You can also use the hop-on, hop-off Big Bus to make your way around the city with an awesome view!
NOTE: As we go through our top Paris picks below, we’ll mark the attractions with *Go City* if they are included in the Go City pass.
Paris Travel Tip 2: Take a tour with a local.
There’s really no better way to get to know a city than by booking a tour with someone in the know. We took a private tour of Chateau de Vincennes through ToursByLocals and it was definitely a trip highlight. This massive castle was easy to access via the Metro and didn’t have any of the crowds you can expect at Versailles. Our guide, Ellen, told us all about the history of the buildings and pointed out unique features like the ancient “graffiti” on the walls that was carved when the castle was used as a prison. Ellen really brought the Middle Ages to life and pointed out things we would not have seen on a self-guided tour of the castle.
Paris Travel Tip 3: Explore the city on a food tour.
On our final night in Paris, we took the Paris Montmartre Food Tour with Secret Food Tours and it was a culinary delight! We walked through this gorgeous area of the city and got to sample some of the city’s best treats: crêpes, macarons and baguettes. We also visited a fromagerie and meat shop to snag some charcuterie to enjoy at the end of the tour with a glass of wine. This was a great way to explore the city, learn some of its history, and enjoy some traditional foods.
Best Things to Do in Paris with Kids
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower. *Go City*
If you have kids in your crew and everyone is moderately fit, it’s lots of fun to ascend the Eiffel Tower via the stairs. There are three viewing platforms on the tower and the stairs can get you to the second level. If you want to go to the tippy top, it’s elevator-only. We suggest you book your Eiffel Tower tickets in advance if you visit in the busy summer months, especially if you want to go all the way to the top. Tickets for the final portion often sell out.
2. Visit the Saint Ouen Flea Market.
This was the perfect spot to visit on our first full day in the city. It’s just outside the city limits but is an easy walk from a number of Metro stops. Open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, the flea market has everything from knock-off Nikes to vintage toys from your childhood. The teens really enjoyed snagging some retro posters to bring home. Make sure you find your way to the inner covered section of the market and look for the UFO!
3. Go underground the city in the catacombs.
This was a top pick for the kids in our group and it was a terrific option for a hot day. Now offering pre-booked tickets, you won’t have to wait in a long line before you can make your way under the city to see this macabre labyrinth that has been open to the public since the early 1800s.
4. Cruise the River Seine. *Go City*
This activity is perfect for when you need a little downtime, like after you’ve walked up and down the stairs at the Eiffel Tower. At the foot of the Eiffel Tower, you’ll find a number of companies that offer a one-hour cruise of the River Seine accompanied by an audio tour describing the history of the area.
5. Make your own perfume at Fragonard. *Go City*
The teens really enjoyed this activity that included a hands-on portion where you learned about one of the Fragonard scents and then made your own version to take home with you. Afterward you get a tour of the Fragonard Perfume Museum to learn more about how perfume is made.
6. Climb the stairs to the rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe. *Go City*
For an epic view of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, you’ll definitely want to put this climb on your list. For families with strollers and those with mobility issues, there are elevators that will get you to the top level but for views of the city, you’ll need to take the stairs.
7. Try out the trampolines at Tuileries Garden.
Everyone knows about the mini boats you can rent in Tuileries Garden but did you know there are also trampolines there? Kids 12 and under will love this spot where you can pay a small fee to jump on trampolines in a gorgeous setting. Parents will love that there’s plenty of seating in the shade to relax while the little ones jump, jump, jump!
8. Take in the beauty of Sainte-Chapelle. *Go City*
While Notre Dame may still be under repair (estimated to be completed in time for the 2024 Olympics), you can visit Sainte-Chapelle to get your stained glass window fix. Timed tickets were required when we visited.
9. Go thrifting.
If you are traveling with teens who love thrifting, Paris has some amazing spots to visit like Free’p’Star and Kilo Shop. Just make sure you have enough room in your carry-on for all of the treasures you purchase!
10. Visit famous people at the Grevin Wax Museum. *Go City*
Yes, this might not be on everyone’s “Best of Paris” list but it was definitely a hit with our young travelers. You get to “meet” some famous French politicians and television stars before you hit some more familiar personas like Lady Gaga, Nostradamus and Pope Francis.
11. Walk up the stairs (or take the funicular) to check out Sacre Coeur.
Undeniably one of the best views of Paris can be found at the top of the stairs in Montmartre. Here you can see the Eiffel Tower and the city surrounding it and you can also visit Sacre Coeur (for free). The lines can be long to take the funicular instead of the stairs but it just might be worth it if you have tired travel companions (plus it’s a pretty fun ride).
12. Download the FlashInvaders app and see how many you can “catch.”
Part street art, part video game, this was a particularly fun activity for the teens/tweens. Starting in 1998, an artist known as “Invader” (Frank Slama) began erecting small mosaic art installations on the buildings around Paris, many of them looking like characters from Space Invaders. You can now download the FlashInvaders app to take pictures of these mosaics and get points (it’s now available in 78 cities)!
Where to Stay in Paris with Kids
For our Paris visit during the very busy month of June, we chose to stay at the Meininger Hotel Paris Porte de Vincennes. It offered a family room that could sleep up to six people (two sets of bunk beds and a double bed) and the price was right. The room’s layout worked well because both the shower and the toilet were in their own rooms so multiple people could be using the facilities at the same time.
The hotel has a hostel feel with a communal kitchen and washer/dryers available. Breakfast is offered every morning for an additional fee and we definitely suggest you take advantage of it because you’ll get chocolate croissants, crêpes, fruit, cheese, meat and so much more (did we mention how good the coffee is?). Kids will love the arcade games in the lobby and the fact that ice cream can be purchased at any time of the day. There’s also a bar just off the lobby for when you want to grab a glass of wine after your long day exploring the city.
The hotel’s location was outside the city center but we found that was not an issue because of its proximity to two different Metro lines and bus lines as well. Within walking distance, there’s an awesome pizza place, a boulangerie, and a number of traditional bistros and grocery stores. Bonus: the hotel is just two stops from the Chateau de Vincennes so you’ll definitely have to go there!
How to Travel to Paris with Kids: The French bee Experience
If France has been on your must-visit list but the price is just too much to make it a consideration, look at French bee. This low-cost airline flies direct from SFO, LAX, and Newark (with Miami coming in December) to Paris Orly and we found the service to be friendly and the in-flight entertainment to meet the needs of kids and parents alike (important when you are spending 10+ hours in the same seat). We especially loved being able to watch the plane’s external cameras during takeoff and landing.
French bee makes things a bit cheaper for your family by keeping fees like checked baggage and meals separate so if you don’t need them, you don’t pay for them. Select the Smart fare when booking your ticket and you’ll get both checked baggage and a meal included. If there’s availability in rows 11-15 on your flight, we found that it was worth it to pay a little extra to sit here as it is a smaller section with easier access to flight attendants (if needed).
If your French travels take you beyond Paris, you can book a combo train+air ticket with French bee that will get you to destinations like Bordeaux and Strasbourg. And a mental note for the future: French bee also flies direct to Tahiti!
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Editor’s note: This trip was hosted by French bee, City Pass, Secret Food Tours, and ToursByLocals and partially hosted by Meininger Hotels but all opinions belong to the writer.