How to get there
There are two very simple ways of getting to Paris. The most simple is probably the Eurostar if you live in, or within easy reach of, London. The beauty of going by train is a shorter check-in period and the lack of luggage restrictions. Plus, you are bang in the heart of the most beautiful city in the world when you alight. With a Leisure Select ticket you can book a table and food and drink is included so if you’re travelling at a meal time, the kids won’t get fidgety. If travelling in Standard, you’ll have to make do with the buffet, but the selection is not too bad and there is at least plenty of room for kids to stretch out in the aisles if they come to pick what they want.
If you’d prefer to fly, you can get a quick and easy flight from most airports in the UK with Air France, British Airways as well as Easyjet, Ryanair (from Scotland and Ireland) and BMIbaby from East Midlands Airport.
A lot of the centre is walkable, which is good because many metro stations lack lifts/escalators which can be a problem with pushchairs and buggies. Taxis aren’t that expensive in Paris if you need to get somewhere quickly. However, if you do choose to take the metro, the bigger stations are more accessible and the system is open from about 5am until gone midnight. The maps are colour-coded and easy to decipher. Prices depend on the type of ticket that you get, but a ParisVisite pass is good if you plan on visiting museums and galleries as it offers many discounts and free entries.
Most restaurants are family friendly and kids will love simple meals followed by crêpes or un chocolat chaud! Walk around and check out what’s on offer. Often the best places will have kids’ menus and a selection of Menus du Jour at various prices for adults and older children.
Hotels.co.uk has a fantastic selection of Family Friendly Hotels in Paris, so you’ll be safe in the knowledge that the children are just as welcome as you are. Expedia also have a family hotel category. Self-catering apartments are an option if you fancy more of a home away from home.
Where to go
If the weather is lovely, it’s worth taking a boat trip down the Seine. There are various stops along the river where you can hop on and enjoy the sights! Company Bateaux Mouches also offers amazing lunch and dinner cruises too if you fancy eating a little differently!
The Eiffel Tower is always a great idea and after all, what Paris is best known for. With children, it is definitely worth paying a little bit more to take the lift. Try to avoid the queues too by avoiding weekends if you can although it’s always busy. It may be possible if you book into the restaurants, as you can queue jump, but it’s all worth it once you see the views anyway! Also, to keep children busy, they do sell a cool activity book on the first floor that includes a quiz to do on the way around the tower.
The Louvre has a great programme of workshops for children and you can print out thematic trails in English to follow around the museum.
For fabulous outside spaces, Paris is full of parks, such as the Jardin des Tuileries just next to the Louvre Museum. At the other end, if you cross Place de la Concorde, you’ll also find the Champs Elysées. If you fancy a bigger park, the the Jardin du Luxembourg boasts a puppet theatre, an aviary, boules games, a pond and statues to look at, so the kids will be entertained for hours! Take a picnic on a sunny day and enjoy the atmosphere.
If your kids are more into discovery centres, you’ll find the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry) and the Cité de la Musique at the Parc de la Villette. It’s not very central so you may have to make a day of it. For amusement parks, try the Jardin d’Acclimatation, Parc Asterix and of course Disneyland Paris, but you’ll probably need a whole other weekend to get around that!
The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum) has various attractions that interest children, such as a mini zoo in the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden, as well as skeletons, fossils, stuffed animals and crystals to look at in the museum itself.
Finally, for something a little bit different, try the Musée des Egouts de Paris (Paris Sewers Museum!), where you’ll find an intricate world underneath the buzz of the city.