Is traveling to Paris with toddlers the worst idea ever? Mais, non! With advanced planning (we can help!) and a few indoor attractions at the ready when the weather or tantrums threaten, Paris can be just as dreamy a location with toddlers as it is with older children. You’ll be glad you said, “oui!” to the chance to visiting Paris with a toddler.
Paris can be rainy. When traveling with a baby or toddler, it’s wise to have a list of indoor activities available. Here are a few great options known and appreciated by Parisian parents.
At the Cité des Sciences, La Villette (Science Museum), you’ll find a dedicated section for children aged 2 to 7 (and another one for older children as well), “la Cité des enfants.” In this area, your toddler can experience 5 different areas: I discover myself, I can do, I locate myself, All together and I experiment. Cité des enfants is organized in 75 or 90 minutes sessions. The museum recommends that you focus on 1 or 2 areas only, as time is limited. Note, it is mandatory to book in advance, especially if you’re visiting the museum during France’s school holiday periods. The full museum works well if you have older children to please as well.
Ages: toddler, 2 and older
Le 104 and La Maison des Petits
Le 104, an artistic place that organizes exhibitions, performances and has a great bookshop, café and restaurant, also houses La Maison des Petits (House for Children). Designed by Magali Crasset, with unique shapes, colors, materials and light, you’ll find there a place for “listening, speaking, meeting, using art and play,” as described on the 104 website. La Maison des Petits is only open during select hours but has free access (no booking necessary), but space is limited.
Ages: children under 6, accompanied by an adult
Le Forum des Images
Le forum des Images is a kid-friendly movie theater where you’ll find films you cannot see elsewhere (artistic films, limited run films, independent animated shorts etc …). Le forum des images has a dedicated section for children and suggests specific films for children ages 2 and up.
Film lists for toddlers aged 2 and older (in French only)
Jardin des Plantes
Jardin des Plantes greenhouses are perfect if the weather is cold while visiting Paris. Go to these beautiful family-friendly greenhouses for a “warm indoor exotic walk.” Renovated during several years, they reopened in June 2010 with new paths, new explanations boards and more attractions. The whole family will discover wonderful plant life here.
4 greenhouses are accessible to visitors:
– Tropical rainforest greenhouse: hot and humid atmosphere of an imaginary tropical forest
– Desert and arid land greenhouse, dedicated to the adaption of plants to dryness
– The New Caledonia glasshouse: plants from New Caledonia
– History greenhouse, uses a chronological pathway, history of adaptation to changing environments
Ages: all ages
Located in the Jardin du Trocadéro (facing the Eiffel Tower), Cineaqua (aquarium) is an ideal place for a family outing. Visitors will enjoy 43 aquariums (including one gigantic one!), a shark tunnel, a touch pool, shows, and more. It’s a great place to go before or after experiencing the views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower. Playing in nearby Champ de Mars is a fun way to round out the day.
Ages: all ages
There are plenty of off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Paris with toddlers. A trip there need not just be a sightseeing slog around the many tourist attractions, or even limited to Disneyland Paris (although a day trip there is sure to please!) And don’t forget the simple pleasures of just visiting Paris’ beautiful gardens, where there are carousels, puppet shows, ice cream, and playgrounds.
This is a guest post from Camille Spanjaard, founder of baby’tems, a baby equipment rental and supply company in Paris, France. Camille is a French mom with two small children who has lived in Paris for more than 10 years. She decided to start baby’tems after traveling with her children and realizing that baby equipment rental and supply services existed in many cities, but not in Paris! Odd for one of the most visited cities in the world.
Photo courtesy of Ciao Bambino!
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