Guide to Visiting Paris with Toddlers

Photo from iStock.com/encrier

With its immense history and numerous sights, Paris can feel like an intimidating destination to take on with a toddler in tow. Still, so much of the city’s charm is its atmosphere and spirit, which families with young kids can enjoy by focusing on neighborhood walks, boat rides along the Seine, merry-go-rounds and park picnics. Save bigger attractions like the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe for next time when kids can get more out of those experiences.  

While it’s natural to want to hit some of Paris’ monuments and museums, it can be hard visiting these sights with a toddler. Long lines and crowded spaces are a lot for younger ones (even adults!) to handle and made even trickier when you factor in needs such as feedings, naps and diaper changes. Seek out simpler open-ended experiences and enjoy seeing the City of Light through your toddler’s eyes. In fact, seeing the city at a slower pace makes you feel more like a local rather than a visitor.

Paris with Toddlers
Toddlers can run and play in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Photo by Virtuoso

Paris with Toddlers: Essential Tips

Neighborhood Walks and Boat Rides

Strolling through some of Paris’ 20 arrondissements, stopping for croissants and ice cream along the way, is a low-key pleasure that toddlers and adults will enjoy. From the Eiffel Tower and Luxembourg Gardens areas on the Left Bank to the Marais, Tuileries and Montmartre neighborhoods on the Right Bank, it’s enjoyable to explore many of these arrondissements on foot with no agenda or set route.

TIP: When heading to Montmartre, ditch the stroller, which is harder to maneuver through the hilly neighborhood. Instead, hop aboard Le Petit Train de Montmartre, a train-style trolley that takes a 40-minute tour of the artsy village, offers history about famous residents Picasso and Van Gogh and passes Sacré-Coeur and the Moulin Rouge.  

Another toddler and family favorite is seeing Paris from the water. Hop aboard one of the Bateaux Mouches riverboats and take an hourlong trip alone the Seine, past sights including the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame and more. 

We can help you plan the Paris family vacation of a lifetime!

Our Family Travel Advisors work with you one on one to book vetted kid-friendly accommodations, craft a custom itinerary, arrange private tours and guides, and more. Click to get started!

Puppet Theaters and Carousels

The tradition of puppetry, known as marionettes in France, goes back hundreds of years. One of the most popular and enduring characters is Guignol, who was invented in 1808 by Laurent Mourguet, a silk weaver-turned-dentist in Lyon who used puppets to attract patients to his dental practice. Catch a show at the Marionettes du Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, where daily performances of fairytales such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood entertain kids and adults alike. While performed in French, the 45-minute shows, with creative costumes and sets, will capture toddler imaginations nonetheless.

Maybe it’s their vintage style or picturesque setting, but there’s an undeniable magic to Parisian carousels. While you’re likely to find one within a short walk no matter where you are in the city, a few of the most notable carousels are at the Trocadero, the Eiffel Tower, below Sacré-Coeur and within the grounds of the Tuileries Gardens.   

Paris with Toddlers
Allow plenty of downtime in playgrounds and parks. Photo by Virtuoso

Parks and Gardens

Paris boasts such beautiful parks that it’s easy to while away an entire day ambling along gravel paths and around formal gardens. Pack a picnic and bring a blanket!

Toddlers will enjoy the often-missed Jardin des Plantes, which dates back to the 17th century and encompasses botanical gardens, a natural history museum and a zoo on its grounds. (Even if you don’t pay admission to the zoo, you can easily spot kangaroos in an exterior enclosure.) There’s also a small playground, perfect for toddlers, next to the zoo entrance. And the intimate, 1-year-old Les Belles Plantes café-brasserie nearby is a gorgeous setting for brunch or afternoon coffee.   

Iconic and centrally located in the 6th arrondissement, the Luxembourg Gardens were inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence and created by Queen Marie de Medici in 1612. From dozens of statues of royalty, scientists and literary figures to a fountain pool where children can rent and sail wooden toy boats, these gardens are beloved by locals as much as tourists. One of our favorite Paris memories includes watching our children sailing their little boats and meeting and other kids from around the world in the process. It’s in those travel moments that parents too can chuckle and commiserate with other parents over the universal experiences of tiredness, sleeplessness and joy! Just west of the gardens is Judy Cantine Qualitarienne, a healthy and modern café where the chocolate cake is sure to make little bellies happy. 

Though it’s advisable to skip most major sights with a toddler, the exception is the Eiffel Tower. Picnic on the grass below and just marvel at the splendor of it. Yes, you can certainly ride the elevator up the lattice tower, but this is a more crowded and hurried experience than relaxing on the grounds. Either way, it will be a family memory of a lifetime. 

While it may feel hard to miss some of the star attractions on a trip to Paris, remind yourself that seeing it at a slower pace that matches your toddler’s attention and stamina doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.  

Paris with Toddlers
With a few basic tips, Paris with a toddler becomes much easier to enjoy. Photo from iStock.com/encrier

Practical Advice for Traveling in Paris with Toddlers

Parisians welcome families, but the City of Light isn’t equipped with loads of facilities specifically catering to babies and toddlers per se. Knowing what to expect and being prepared will help you navigate Paris with your little one in tow.

  • Restaurants rarely have high chairs on hand, so plan to hold your little one or pack a convenient, lightweight portable model that can slide over most chairs. As anywhere, it’s important to be mindful and respectful of your fellow diners, and kids dining out in Paris are generally expected to behave. If your toddler has a hard time staying seated, consider taking away some meals and eating them picnic-style in a park where everyone is at ease.
  • Diaper changing facilities are few and far between, so keep a changing pad or several disposable pads with you in case you have to lay your toddler down in a grassy patch or on a bench.
  • While you can navigate the city with a stroller, bring the lightweight umbrella kind rather than a big, bulky one. Several metro stations have elevators, but in some cases, you will need to carry the stroller up and down stairs. If you don’t want to lug strollers, portable cribs, bouncers and such, rent them! Paris-based Baby’Tems carries a variety of baby and toddler gear.

Relevant Links:

Browse all family-friendly accommodations and things to do in Paris on Ciao Bambino

52 tips for traveling in France with kids

Paris with kids: Guide to the 8 central arrondissements

Slip back into Belle-Époque Paris at the historic Hotel Lutetia

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let Ciao Bambino! Plan Your Dream Trip with Kids
Get the latest family travel news, exclusive deals & more!

Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about special promotions, perks, tips and hot destinations.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign In

Want to save all the great intel and tips you are finding on Ciao Bambino? My Trip Planner allows you to bookmark articles, family-friendly hotel reviews, and family vacation packages. Simply click the heart icon on anything you want to save. Site registration is required to get started. Happy planning!

Create an Account

Please fillout the form below to create your free My Trip Planner account.

Coronavirus Update

This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.

Learn More

Thanks for using Ciao Bambino!

Stay up to date on the latest in travel finds and news for families. Join our newsletter!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.