Emilie Walmsely is one of the co-founders of the international urban mother’s lifestyle blog, Babyccino Kids and an animation producer. She lives in Paris with her two daughters, Coco and Violette. She is half-France and half-Irish, but grew up in Germany and the USA and then lived her whole 20’s in cosmopolitan London, which makes her pretty much as European as you can get.
In London she met her Babyccino co-founders, Courtney, Michela and Esther. They decided to start Babyccino Kids as a way of staying in touch and exchanging information on all the exciting things to do in their respective cities.
Jardin d’Acclimatation. Photo Credit Nancy Solomon
Paris is famous for romance and culture, not necessarily as a child-friendly city. I remember when I first moved here, I wondered how I would be able to bring up two kids in a city where the only places I found to take them were small parks for smokers where kids were not even allowed to walk on the grass!
In fact, with a little bit of research there are tons of things to go with kids of any age. For the older children, the museums and children’s theaters are fabulous. A lot of them arrange ateliers to introduce children to art and history (though these are mostly in French). For younger children there are loads of playgrounds and entertaining places to go to get rid of some excess energy.
Here is my list of the some of the off-the-beaten-track places in Paris to go with kids:
The Jardin d’Acclimatation has been around for at least 100 years. It is a funny mixture between a zoo, fun fair and playground. If you have time, it is well worth taking the little steam train from the Porte Maillot entrance to the park. In the summer time there is a great water play area for kids to run around it. During the whole year kids can go have a great time on the merry-go-rounds, roller coasters and play areas.
The playground around the Parc de la Villette is a perfect afternoon out on a sunny day. Part of it is subdivided into play areas by age groups from birth to 12. The smaller kids get to crawl around giant soft bouncy waves, while the older kids get giant hamster wheels and flying foxes. This is a great place to go if you are visiting the Cite des Enfants, the Children’s Science Museum.
Butte de Chaumont. Photo Credit Titou.net on Flickr
The Butte de Chaumont must be one of my favorite parks in the whole of Paris. I love its crazy, gothic lake, island and waterfall. It is also one of the only parks in Paris where you can sit on the grass anywhere and relax. For kids, there are pony rides, swings and the ubiquitous merry-go-round.
The Tuilerie Gardens is not strictly off the beaten track, but I do recommend taking kids to the trampolines located in the center of the the gardens. After a few hours of walking around the Louvre, a visit is a genius way of getting rid of some excess energy. I am actually really disappointed that they don’t do the trampolines for adults too.
The Musee en Herbe is a lovely little art museum just for kids. The exhibitions change regularly and they run workshops in parallel to teach children more about the painting and develop an appreciation for art! I really like the arts/ crafts and book shop attached to it. It’s a great place to get craft supplies and get inspiration for craft projects!
The Balzac Cinema does a great matinee once a month of old silent films accompanied by a live orchestra. Old Buster Keaton movies and some of the oldest animation ever produced are shown. Kids love it and as an extra special treat they get a tub of ice cream included in the entrance price.
Merry-Go-Round in Paris. Photo Credit Nancy Solomon
Children do love merry-go-rounds and Paris has one of almost every corner. One of the most beautiful one is the one at the foot of the Butte de Montmartre underneath the Sacre Coeur. It looks like a kitsch-romantic cake topping and actually became famous as one of the location in the film “Amelie”
The Luxembourg Gardens is one of Paris’ central most parks. The play area is great. You do have to pay and entrance fee but that does mean that it isn’t as full as most park play areas and it is completely worth. Yet again the merry-go-round beside the play area is fantastic, the rides are beautiful wooden animals.
Gallerie de l’Evolution. Photo Credit Omar Omar on Flickr
The Gallerie de l’Evolution in the Jardin des Plantes is one of my children’s favorite place to go. This natural history museum is a world away from the spooky, dusty stuffed animal museum’s of my childhood. The Gallery has recently be redone, is absolutely stunning, and a great place for children to discover the world’s wild life up close.
The 400 Coups Cafe is a newly opened cafe in a lovely little neighborhood in the twentieth arrondissement. It is one of the first kid-friendly cafes in the capital and I have been spending some quality time there, letting my kids run around while I am relaxing, sipping coffees with my friends.
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