Passion Points: Family
A member asked us for suggestions on what to do with children on a first trip to Paris. Here is a four-day itinerary recommended by Indagare.
Read about family-friendly hotels in the French capital.DAY 1
- MORNING: Arrive & check in. Take a walk through the neighborhood to get your bearings.
- LUNCH: Have a light lunch at Ladurée, the classic tea salon that has several branches throughout Paris. The original one is on Rue Royale on the Right Bank. If you are staying on the Left Bank, there is also one on the corner of Rue Jacob and Rue Bonaparte, between the Seine and St. Germain.
- AFTERNOON: Take a boat ride around the city and see the main sights from the river. The most centrally located of the bateaux mouches are the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf leave from the tip of the Ile de la Cité by the Pont-Neuf. (Mouche is the word for fly in French, since the boats hover on the surface like flies.)
- AFTERNOON: Go to Paris’ most famous monument, the Eiffel Tower, before sunset and watch the city light up from the second floor of the tower.
Indagare tip: Or if you plan months ahead, book lunch or dinner at Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second platform of the tower.
- DINNER: Considering you arrived in the morning, it’s probably wise to do a low-key dinner near your hotel. You can ask the concierge at your hotel to suggest a bistro-type place within walking distance. If you’re staying in the 6th, a nice option is Fish La Boissonnerie, a comfortable, friendly bistro recommended by cookbook author Dorie Greenspan or Cafe Cassette on the Rue de Rennes. On the Right Bank, Le Castiglione on the Rue St.-Honoré is a good option if you want a typical brasserie or Le Soufflé if you want something old-fashioned and only in France.
- MORNING: Make an appointment with one of our preferred family-friendly tour guides.
- MORNING: Visit the Pompidou, which is particularly fun for kids, thanks to its glass escalators that take you to the top floors to spectacular views and the huge plateau out front, where you find artists and performers.
- LUNCH: If you go to the Musee d’Orsay, try the new Bonpoint café If you go to the Pompidou, have lunch at Georges, the top-floor restaurant with a dramatic contemporary dining room and superlative views. Definitely make a reservation for lunch.
- AFTERNOON: After lunch, take the kids to Deyrolle, the fantastic taxidermy shop that Adam Gopnick wrote about so memorably in The New Yorker. Afterwards, visit the Jardin du Luxembourg, considered by many Paris’ most beautiful garden. Then, take the short taxi ride to the Musée Rodin, surrounded by amazing gardens where oversized sculptures are displayed.
- DINNER: Left Bank: Le Bistro de Paris (33 Rue de Lille, 33-1-42-61-15-84; closed Sunday & Monday), a classic bistro that was recommended by Alon and Betsy Kasha, who run A+B Kasha, a pied-a-terre company in Paris’ sixth arrondissement or La Cigale Récamier, which is a favorite with families and has daily soufflé specials.
- DINNER: Right Bank: Le Soufflé if you want something old-fashioned and only in France. For a more modern experience, Fauchon Le Café in the famous food shop will provide you with a chance to show your kids myriad French culinary customs and curiosities just by browsing the shelves on the way in.
- MORNING: Head to Notre-Dame, on Ile de la Cité, early to beat the crowds (mass is at 8:30 a.m.) After seeing the church, take a quick tour of the Bird Market, where cages of parakeets, canaries and masses of other brilliantly colored species are on display (during the week, this is a flower market; birds only happen on Sunday).
- LUNCH: Have a French lunch at Brasserie de l’Ile St Louis (55 Quai Bourbon, 4th; 33 (0)1-43-54-02-59), which serves simple food and has lovely views of Notre Dame.
- LUNCH: Buy a sandwich along the way: the classics are jambon-beurre (ham on a buttered baguette) and jambon-fromage (ham and cheese) and have it on the quays with amazing views of the Left Bank. Or pop into one of the numerous crèperies on the island. For dessert, seek out Berthillon (29-31 rue saint Louis en l’Ile; 4th; 33 (0) 1-43-54-31-61) for incredible ice cream. There are several copy-cat vendors, so be sure to seek out the original branch.
- AFTERNOON: Book a tour of an arrondissement you have not yet seen and are curious about with a specialist guide who specializes in making the city of light interesting for kids.
- DINNER: A lot of good restaurant options are closed on Sundays. Depending on where you spend the afternoon, here are three options: Allard, one of the city’s most venerable and old-school bistros. La Coupole (102 Boulevard du Montparnasse; 14th; 33 (0)1 43 20 14 20), a lively, loud, large brasserie that serves staples of French cuisine in a soaring dining room that’s bound to keep kids somewhat entertained; Pizza César (76 Rue Mazarine, 6th; 33 (0)1-43-25-63-40) a no-frills (plastic tables) pizzeria whose thin-crust pizzas are backed sur place in a brick oven.
- MORNING: Head to the Musée du Louvre. If you want guidance, you can also visit Paris’ most famous museum with one of our preferred family friendly tour guides, which will provide you with tickets so that you don’t have to line up.
- LUNCH: In the courtyard of the Louvre with a view of I.M. Pei’s pyramid, the Café Marly has a great view and an only-in-Paris crowd.
- AFTERNOON: After lunch, visit the Jardin des Tuileries and look for the trampoline, a favorite of children. It’s a little hard to find, but worth the effort. It is enclosed by a formal garden and hedge and is just east of the carousel.
- AFTERNOON: Parc de la Vilette & Science museum (30 Avenue Corentine-Cariou, La Villette; 19th; 33 (0)1-40-05-80-00; www.cite-sciences.fr), an ultramodern science park and museum located off the beaten tourist path in the northern 19th arrondissement. TIP: On your drive up to Villette, ask the driver to stop by the newly redecorated Fauchon at the Place de la Madeleine and buy some sweet treats to take up to the park with you.
- AFTERNOON: Get some shopping in before you leave. Great one-stop stores include: Le Bon Marché, Paris’ grande dame department where you can take a break at the Delicabar, a cool café/restaurant, and Victoire, a wonderfully edited boutique for distinctly French finds. Or follow the St. Germain shopping route which passes some of the best stores in Paris for unique finds.
- AFTERNOON: If you end up spending the afternoon on the Right Bank, stop by the venerable Angelina for coffee and hot chocolate for the kids.
- Be sure to make especially dinner reservations for all the restaurants to avoid waiting (especially with kids).
- Buy a Plan de Paris par Arrondissement if you don’t already have one. Like the London A to Z, these street guides are easy to use (they are organized by arrondissement or district) and are indispensable for navigating Paris. They are available at most newsstands and bookshops and cost about $10.
- If you don’t want to hire family-friendly guides, consider buying the one-, three- or five-day museum pass, which allows you to skip the line and gets you in to a number of museums, like the Louvre, Orsay, Picasso, Rodin etc. You can order your pass online at www.parismuseumpass.com.
- If you have to choose between museums, we suggest putting the Louvre and the Pompidou at the top of your list. The Musée d’Orsay, where all the Impressionists can be seen, is a great place to visit with an art-inclined tour operator.
Read about visiting museums in Paris with children
Read about great sights for kids in London
Read member suggestions on what to do with kids in New York
For tailored family travel advice or itineraries or to learn about special offers or preferred rates at hotels, contact our booking department by calling 212-988-2611 or by sending an inquiry
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