Best Family Friendly Attractions in Paris: Part Two

family friendly attractions in paris versailles

The gardens of Versailles on a beautiful sunny day

In our last post, we told you about some of our favorite family friendly attractions in Paris. In Part Two, we’ll round out our list of places to visit in the City of Lights that we think most families can enjoy together. We visited each one of the sites and attractions listed, and have included as many tips as possible to make your vacation an unforgettable family adventure.

If you missed Part One, you can read it here.

Centre Pompidou

Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou, with its exterior escalator, can be a lot of fun for kids

I was really surprised by how much Bella liked the Centre Pompidou, Paris’ modern art museum. She was fascinated by the bold colors and sculptures, and she told me that modern art was her “favorite” when we left. After visiting, I can appreciate its appeal for kids.

At this large museum, you will find works by modern artists, like Picasso and Miro, that most people are familiar with. It’s also a good place to discover artworks and artists you might never have heard of before. Most of the art is definitely eye-catching and will keep everyone entertained.

Pompidou Terrace

One of the terraces at the Centre Pompidou

There are a few things, besides the artwork, that may be of special interest to families. One is the Galeries d’Enfant, where kids can make their own modern art sculptures from foam and plastic pieces. Many of the building pieces were inspired by art from the galleries, so it’s a good place to stop before viewing the art.

Galeries Enfants

The Galeries Enfant

Another family friendly place are the terraces on the gallery floors. These outdoor spaces have pools of water, interesting sculptures, and great views of the city. They’re also quite relaxing! The kids should also enjoy riding the museum’s escalator. It’s on the outside of the building, which we both thought was pretty cool.

Practical Information/Advice

Tickets for the museum are 14€. Kids are free. The Paris Museum Pass is also accepted here and lets you skip the ticket line.

The museum is open until 10pm, which is later than most other attractions. It is closed on Tuesdays.

Though it can get busy, it is typically not as packed as the Louvre. It can get a little busy on rainy weekend days when nobody wants to be outside. Special exhibitions can also draw in crowds, but there is no way to predict this.

Be sure to check out the fountain full of sculptures in front of the museum. Often, there are also street performers in the same area. Many of them are very talented and worth watching (tip if you stop to watch and enjoy it).

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe, the world’s largest triumphal arch, located at the western end of the famed Champs-Elysees, is sure to be a hit with the kids. Though you must first ascend 284 steps to reach its summit, it is worth the climb. Once atop the Arc’s viewing platform, you will have sweeping views of the entire city. Incidentally, some of the best views of the Eiffel Tower can be found here. Be sure to walk around the entire platform, and try to identify all the famous landmarks.

Inside the arch, before the last flight of stairs, is a small information center. Here, you’ll currently find an interactive exhibit that lets you look at all the many triumphal arches scattered around the globe. Let your kids spend some time exploring here while you all take a break from climbing.

Eternal Flame

The Eternal Flame and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Once you descend after your visit to the top, stop by the eternal flame and memorial to France’s Unknown Soldier. It’s a good reminder of the purpose of the arch and a good way to start a conversation about French history.

Practical Information/Advice

To get to the Arc, take the underground pedestrian tunnel off the Avenue de la Grand Armee. Do not try to cross the traffic circle as cars do not stop!

The Arc is open until 11:00pm in the summer and 10:30pm the rest of the year, so you can visit after other museums are closed. It’s also open 7 days a week, making it a good choice for a Tuesday outing when many other museums are closed.

Tickets are 8€ for adults. The Arc is free for kids under 17. The best way to visit, however, is by using the Paris Museum Pass. This pass lets you skip the ticket lines, which are often unbearably long.

There is an elevator, but it’s primarily reserved for persons with mobility issues. It takes you to the gift shop level, though, not the top. A further climb of roughly 40 stairs is required to access the viewing platform from this level.

Montmartre

Sacre Coeur

The Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre

Montmartre is not a single site or museum. It’s actually an entire neighborhood on the northern edge of the city. But it’s one of Paris’ most iconic places. When you envision the Paris of street artists and cafes, you are thinking of Monmartre. Though it’s become very touristy, it still retains plenty of its old charm.

Cafe

Enjoying a lunch break in the Place du Tertre

There’s a lot for families to do in this section of the city. You should definitely visit the Sacre Coeur Basilica, which is the giant white church on top of the hill in Montmartre. To reach it, you can either take a funicular ride up from the base of the hill, or you can take the stairs. Kids may not want to linger long inside the church, but there are some great views of the city from walkway in front of it.

Another good bet for kids is to head to the Place du Tertre. This is the Montmartre’s town square, and it’s full of shops, cafes, and street artists plying their wares. Granted, the artists here are typically not that great, but your kids probably won’t notice. This is also a good place to grab lunch and people-watch. The restaurants here are generally family-friendly.

Moulin de la Galette

The Moulin de la Galette, one of two remaining 17th century windmills in Montmartre

Among the other sites in this area are the Salvador Dali Museum, St. Pierre’s Church (one of the oldest in Paris), and the Moulin de la Galette. This last is one of Montmartre’s two remaining 17th century windmills. There is now restaurant located underneath, but you can take photos of the windmill if you aren’t dining there. You can also explore some of the many shops in the area. Choose what your family is most likely to enjoy and make a day of visiting the neighborhood.

Practical Information/Advice

Montmartre can be packed on sunny weekends. If you find yourself here on a busy day, watch your pockets and be on the lookout for scam artists: this area is full of scammers and thieves on busy days. Also, be aware that the area around the Moulin Rouge is rather seedy, especially at night, though it’s not particularly dangerous.

Visiting the Sacre Coeur Basilica is free. You can pay to visit the dome and the crypt (8€ for adults; 5€ for ages 4-16; free for those under 4), but there’s no need. The crypt is rather sparse and the views are just as good from the porch in front of the church.

The Salvador Dali Museum, if your family is interested, is 11.50€ for adults, 7€ for ages 8-26, and free for those younger than 8.

The Church of St. Pierre is free.

The funicular accepts Metro tickets, so there is no need to buy a special ticket to ride.

Musee d’Orsay

Musee d'Orsay

Interior of the Musee d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay is another of Paris’ vast art museums, but this one is dedicated mainly to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works. Fans of Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, and Cezanne will find much to admire here.

This can also be a great place to take the kids, provided you handle it correctly. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to spend all day enjoying the artwork unless you’ve got some serious little art fans with you. It is possible to take in the highlights, though, because many of the works are either recognizeable or at least interesting.

polar bear stature

We loved this polar bear statue

The museum is housed in a former train station, which your kids might find interesting. Look for giant clock located at one end of the building that passengers used to use. The architecture of the Musee d’Orsay is really quite stunning, and should impress the whole family.

There are a few pieces that are especially intriguing for the younger set. Look for the bronze statue of the dog wearing a bandage on his foot on the ground floor. There is also a giant statue of a polar bear on this floor, located next to one of the museum’s small cafes. Bella loved both of these, and so did I.

In the Impressionist section, be sure to visit Degas’ famous statue of the little ballerina. This was another favorite for us, and the rooms leading to it are full of familiar works by Monet and Renoir, among others.

Degas Sculpture

Admiring Degas’ ballerina sculpture

Bella’s favorite, and one of the best exhibits for kids, is the model of the Paris Opera House at the back end of the ground floor. Along with the model itself is a model of the streets of Paris located under clear tiles that you can walk over. We had to visit this twice during our visit.

Practical Information/Advice

Admission is 12€ for adults. The Musee d’Orsay is free for kids under 18. The Paris Museum Pass is also accepted here and gets you past the long ticket lines. You will have to wait in the security line, though.

The museum gets insanely crowded on Tuesdays, when many of the other city’s sites are closed. Avoid visiting on Tuesday if possible.

The Musee d’Orsay is closed on Mondays.

Versailles

Versailles

The Palace of Versailles

While not technically in Paris, it’s still pretty close. No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to this former royal palace and grounds. Thank goodness it’s also a good place to take the whole family.

Versailles is so large that it easily warrants its own separate post, so I will just cover the family highlights here.

Your ticket includes free audio guides, which your children may or may not like. Kids will receive a special paper guide they can look at while you listen. The audio guide is only for the main palace.

Versailles Gardens

A look out into some of the fabulous gardens of Versailles

Aside from the palace, there are acres of gardens to explore. You can often find swans gliding along the Grand Canal, which Bella found entertaining.

If everyone’s up for it, be sure to visit the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, two additional mini-palaces on the property. Napoleon once used the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon was Marie Antoinette’s private hideaway. Of the two, the Petit Trianon is smaller and more manageable with kids.

To conserve your energy and entertain the kids at the same time, you can take the Little Train from the main palace out to the Trianon Palaces.

Definitely don’t miss the Petit Hameau, also located in the grounds of Versailles. This was a miniature working farm that Marie Antoinette commissioned so she could pretend to be a peasant farmer. Ridiculous as this sounds, the Petit Hameau is quite picturesque and relaxing. This is usually a favorite for young visitors Versailles.

Petit Hameau

One of the buildings of the charming Petit Hameau

Practical Information/Advice

Plan to spend an entire day here. There is a great deal to see, and you want to leave time to wander the gardens and grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafes or concession stands.

To get to Versailles from Paris, take the RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche Station. This trip takes about an hour. You can purchase round-trip tickets from the automated ticket machines or from the manned ticket booths. The cost is 7.10€ for adults and €3.55 for kids ages 4-9.

The best value ticket is the “Passport.” The cost is 18€ for adults. Children under 18 are free. This ticket gets you access to all of the buildings I’ve mentioned. The Paris Museum Pass is also accepted here. If you want to ride the Little Train, you need a separate ticket, which you can purchase at the Palace’s North Terrace or at any of the stops. The round-trip cost is 7.50€ for adults, €5.80 for kids ages 12-18, and free for kids under 12.

Do yourself a favor and buy your Palace tickets in advance online if you don’t have the Museum Pass. This will save you a lengthy wait at the ticket office, though you still have to wait in the security line.

I also highly suggest that you arrive as close to opening time (9am) as possible. The security lines can be brutal, and they only get longer as the day progresses.

Tuesdays are very busy, since many Paris museums are closed on this day. If you visit on a Tuesday, it will be too crowded to enjoy.

Versailles is closed on Mondays.

Honorable Mention Family Friendly Attractions in Paris

Tuileries Gardens

In the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre

We visited so much in Paris that I could not possibly discuss everything here. I’ve only covered in detail the places we visited that both Bella and I feel that families can most enjoy together.

Other places you might want to check out with your kids are the Conciergerie Muesum, the Marche aux Fleurs et Oiseaux (Flower and Bird Market), the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages, the Tuileries Gardens, the Luxembourg Gardens, and Saint-Chapelle.

There is even more to visit in this amazing city. What are your favorite places to visit in Paris?

 

1 Comment

  • DGGYST July 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    You know how to live girl! So, have you heard of “Paris Syndrome”? it’s when traveller’s go into full blown shock and start hallucinating because Paris didn’t live up to their expectations!

    Reply

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