Paris — love it or hate it, there are few people that don’t consider it to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Visiting Paris with children can be intimidating, even for seasoned travelers. I had a conversation with one of our readers last week that lived in Paris, speaks fluent French, yet is still wondering how she will manage traveling with young kids in a city that she associates with adult-focused activities.
When Ciao Bambino offered trip planning services, this is one of the destinations we covered. It is a place that requires thoughtful planning to master how to best experience all it has to offer with kids. For Paris Week on Ciao Bambino, I’ve invited a few wonderful travel writers that know Paris well to share insight on their favorite places to explore in Paris with children.
The first guest post is from Kimberley Lovato, an American writer who has been living in Brussels with her family (husband and 10-year-old daughter) for the past six years. In addition to writing articles for various publications around the world, she recently launched her own blog, Musings from A Broad, Abroad, about her experiences in Europe. She is also waiting for her first book to be published in April 2010, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, about the Dordogne region of France.
Kimberley visits Paris often throughout the year. I invited her to share a bit about a few of the best events and places to visit in Paris with kids …
I LOVE Paris and have been traveling there since I was 20 years old. Now that I have a daughter, my goal is to introduce her to the city of light, and hope she falls in love with it just like I have, and these locations and events have helped me cast a spell on her so she’ll want to come back again and again.
Le Parc de la Villette
On the Eastern side of Paris, Le Parc de la Vilette is chalk full of wide-open space for toddlers to run, and is home to some interesting sculptures and climbing apparatus. La Cité des Sciences or the Science Museum is also located here and young visitors can touch and play to their heart’s content.
Tuileries Gardens Fair
Not only are they beautiful to stroll around, each summer and during the Christmas season, the famous gardens in front of the Louvre is home to a fair that is a blast for kids of all ages. The Big Wheel (ferris wheel) takes riders high above the city for stellar views, thrill rides do just that for older kids, and the fun house lives up to its name.
One of Europe’s best traditions is the Christmas Market. Strasbourg (TGV from Paris in 2.5 hours) hosts Europe’s most famous, set up around the grand cathedral and over 100-years old. Or stroll the mini wooden chalets in Paris, from mid-November to Jan 1, set up between the Champs Elysées and the place Saint-Sulpice, and full of local crafts and food. Guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.
Breakfast In America
Though you may have come all this way to avoid American food, sometimes a breakfast of eggs and bacon, or a milk shake, just sounds good, and can be a great ‘bribe’ for kids. Drop by the American owned diner — Breakfast in America — in the beautiful Marais district, just off the St. Paul Metro. Be warned, lines can be long so get there early or go at off peak times.
Bastille Day Military Parade
On the morning of July 14 each year, throngs line the Champs-Elysées, from L’Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, to watch the world’s oldest and largest military parade. This is a popular event in France, broadcast on French TV, and some years, guest foreign troops take part in the parade, or foreign statesmen attend it, as does the President of France. Secure a spot by 8:30 AM. near the George V parking garage for an ideal spot, and for easy escape once the parade is over.
The Abbey Bookshop
A charming discovery in the Latin Quarter, with a friendly Canadian owner and 37,000 new, used, and out-of-print books — in English! A great place to browse for a super souvenir, hear a little of your native tongue, and gets some advice on what to do in this amazing city. Events take place year round, so check in often. 29 rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005.
Ciao Bambino recommended Paris family hotels
Paris with kids – favorite activities with toddlers
Paris with kids – favorite parks with toddlers
Paris with Kids – favorite kid-friendly restaurant