Paris is a wonderful city to visit with kids. For many families, the main reason to be in Paris is to visit Disneyland. Yet the city has so much more to offer, especially for families. We’ve put together a list of 5 alternative fun things to do in Paris with kids that they are going to love.
Not everything on this list will be suitable for kids of all ages. However, the variety means there is sure to be something to suit every taste and budget! Proof that Paris is a family-friendly destination.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you use these links to make a purchase. Thank you! Please read our full disclosure for more information.
1. Visit a museum
With over 130 museums in Paris to choose from (that’s nearly double the amount in Amsterdam!), you are bound to find a family-friendly museum that will spark your child’s interest and make your list of fun things to do in Paris with kids.
One advantage is that most museums are indoors so that it does not matter what the weather is like. At many museums, children can also visit for free.
Our top 5 museums for kids:
i. The Louvre
Possibly the most famous museum in the world, the Louvre has is great both for its architecture and its masterpieces. Most children have heard of the Mona Lisa by about age 10 and want to visit it, just for the bragging rights.
However, with over 30,000 artworks to see in a museum that’s more than 60,600m2, you should not try and see it all. Most children will have seen enough after two hours. Likewise, don’t force your child to listen to an audio guide – they will not care what is being said after the first two or three masterpieces.
Instead, choose a few pieces or areas and focus on those, ignoring the rest. One tour suggested by the Louvre looks at the pieces that appear in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Apes**t music video. If you or your child are a fan…
ii. The Orangerie
While kids won’t necessarily care for the intricacies of his brushstrokes, they are likely to be impressed by the mere size of the paintings. Some of them are absolutely huge!
iii. The National Museum of Natural History (MNHN)
Of course, we had to visit this museum during our recent trip to Paris – it has dinosaurs. But it and the rest of the Jardin des Plantes have much more to offer and is also huge! For more information, check out our review on our sister site Mrs Maiasaura.
iv. The Cité des Sciences (Science & Industry Museum)
This is one museum that we have not had a chance to go to yet (you only want to spend so much time inside museums when you’re in Paris, especially in Summer!), but I have heard lots of good things about it. And it is open on Tuesdays when many top museums – including the three mentioned above – are closed (it is closed Mondays instead).
The museum is very hands-on – it’s all about experimenting and exploring and learning at the same time. There are two main sections: one designed for children aged 2 to 7, the other aimed at children aged 5 to 12. Older children, for example, can take part in games and activities (most of which are translated into English) related to the human body, communication, water, gardens, factories and how a TV studio works where kids can see what it’s like to be a TV presenter. Older children will enjoy the sections on the human brain or space.
v. Musée des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts)
This museum is one I am definitely going to visit on one of our next trips to Paris, even if we have to book a tour to visit it.
The unusual Museum of Fairground Arts is full of fairground paraphernalia and mechanised performances that will “thrill both the young and the young at heart”. See fairground attractions from the Belle Époche and even ride on some of them.
Most of the tours are conducted in French, but there is an English handout available. During Summer, English tours are also scheduled.
Entry is (almost always) by tour only, but tickets are quite reasonably priced.
2. Visit the zoo(s)
For our family, no list of fun things to do in Paris with kids would be complete if it did not consider some animals. Fortunately, Paris has numerous options.
i. The Ménagerie
The second oldest public zoo in the world that is still in operation can be found in Paris in the Jardin des Plantes, where the National Museum of Natural History is also located. It was established between 1798 and 1835 to house the animals of the menagerie at Versailles, which had been abandoned after the French Revolution. Further, a new law required all exotic animals in private ownership to be donated to the menagerie at Versailles, the Museum of Natural History or put to sleep.
Known as the Ménagerie, it covers a five-hectare area of the Jardin des Plantes and is home to about 600 animals and 189 (smaller) species. these include takines, red pandas and the Amur leopard, one of the rarest cats on earth.
Entry costs EUR 13 for adults and EUR 10 for students and persons under the age of 26 who reside in the EU. Children aged 3 and under can visit for free.
But the menagerie is not the only zoo in Paris.
ii. Paris Zoological Park
The Paris Zoological Park, AKA the Bois de Vincennes Zoological Park or Vincennes Zoo opened in 1934 to complement the Ménagerie and house some of the animals that were too big to comfortably live in the Ménagerie. Like the Ménagerie, it is a facility of the National Museum of Natural History.
From the start, the zoo has been dedicated to observing animal behaviour, with the animals in enclosures that more closely resemble their native habitat. This lead to the closure of the zoo between 2008 and 2014, when the zoo was renovated, reviewing, enlarging and regrouping enclosures into five biozones. One of the zones includes an art installation with animal faces and an “obstacle course”, where children are encouraged to remove their shoes and socks and experience the different ground coverages beneath their feet. This one was a huge hit with Miss M!
One of the landmarks in the park is a 65m high artificial rock, affectionally known as “big rock” (so imaginative…). The rock houses the amphibian exhibit and the various enclosures that surround it also utilise the rock in their enclosures (otters, birds of prey, aviary). The rock is so large, it can be seen from outside the park – we could see it from our hotel room!
The Zoo also has a wonderful tropical greenhouse. Fruit bats, sloths and various birds roam freely and the greenhouses are even home to some manatees!
In Summer, the Zoo has special nocturnal sessions on Thursday evenings. This is a great chance to experience the animals as they “go to bed”, with the zoo open until 10 pm. Numerous food and drink stands are established in the courtyard, with this area open until 11.30 pm. When we went, numerous families were enjoying a picnic in the zoo and seeing the animals at dusk. Please note: the restaurants of the zoo are not open during these sessions (and the snack machines will not accept all cards…).
Tickets cost EUR 20 for adults, EUR 15 for children aged 3 to 12 years and EUR 17 for students or persons that have a ticket (less than 3 months old) from one of the other Museums (or the Ménagerie) that are part of the National Museum of Natural History.
iii. The Aquariums
Paris actually has more than one aquarium, too.
– The Aquarium de Paris
The Aquarium de Paris has over 7,500 sea creatures, including one of the biggest shark tanks in France with 50 sharks and the largest jellyfish exhibit in Europe.
The Aquarium de Paris is located at Trocadero. Tickets are cheaper online, but prices vary depending on the day and time of day (adults: between EUR 16 and EUR 24; children aged 3-12 years: 11 to 17 EUR).
Paris also has a Sealife, which is just outside of the city in Serris (take the RER A train to Val d’Europe station). It has various themed areas, including one that focuses on the French coast, and an exhibition on sacred fish from China and Asia.
Tickets cost EUR 20,95 for adults and EUR 16.90 for children (aged 3 to 11) when purchased online.
– The Tropical Aquarium
The Palais de la Porte Durée houses the Tropical Aquarium. Built for the International Exposition of 1931, the Palais was designed as a museum of the colonies, representing the territories, the history of colonial conquests and its effect on the arts. The aquarium, which was also created for the Exposition, showcased the aquatic fauna of the colonies.
Renovations after 1985 restored the aquarium to its former glory and improve water quality. The aquarium is currently home to around 15,000 animals and 750 species.
Tickets cost EUR 8 for adults and EUR 5 for children. The Palais de la Porte Dorée is just a short walk from the Porte Durée Metro Station and the building itself is actually worth a look.
We actually stayed at the Motel One Paris-Porte Dorée, which is coincidently located next door to the Palais de la Porte Dorée and across the road from the Zoo, The location was great, the hotel was clean and fun, and the staff were friendly and helpful. Wil
3. Visit Château de Versailles
The Château de Versailles is perhaps the jewel in the crown of the French national museums. This former royal residence is definitely worth a visit.
Rather than repeat myself: Find out what you need to know before visiting Versailles with kids.
4. Tour Ladybug and Cat Noir’s Paris
Is your child a Miraculous fan? Take a tour of Marinette/Ladybug and Adrian’s/Cat Noir’s Paris!
There are five advantages to the tour:
- Most of the places you will want to visit anyway
- Your children will do a lot more sight seeing than they would probably otherwise tolerate
- You have an easy way for them to prepare for the your trip (watching Miraculous and noting where they are) and
- It will help give some of the sights you will see more context for your kids
- The willl have bragging rights with all their friends
Of course, we can steer you in the right direction and show you all the sights you should include: check our Miraculous Tour post.
5. Take a class
Perhaps top on our list of fun things to do in Paris with kids – and one we have not yet had the chance to try ourselves – is to take a class. It’s a great way to personalise your family trip to Paris.
There are various classes to choose from. Whether it is how to bake croissants or macarons, how to make chocolate, or a tour of various bakeries to learn about the art of French pastries (and taste them, of course!). Some classes are specially designed for children and there are even courses available in English.
Speaking of art, why not try an art class? Various museums offer art classes where budding artists are inspired by masterpieces. (And if you don’t have the time or funds for a course, what’s to stop you from taking some sketching pads and pencils to your favourite art museum to let your kids draw?).
Photography is an art form. Older kids may enjoy a photography tour, with an expert helping them improve their photography while seeing Paris. You could even find a tour of the best Instagrammable sites in Paris.
Alternatively – this was something we nearly did during our visit to Paris – arrange for a photographer to take photos of your child. While this is popular for engagements, several photographers offer packages for kids photos. And you can get some balloons to make the photo session even more enjoyable.
There are bike tours and (animal) yoga classes, escape games and various themed tours. If you are planning on being in Paris for at least a week and have a soccer-mad child, you could even see about them doing a soccer training camp with the Paris Saint-Germain Academy.
Try some of these fun things to do in Paris with kids
Make it an even more memorable and unique trip with some of these fun things to do in Paris with kids! Disneyland is great – we love it too – but there are so many other family-friendly things to do in Paris that you are sure to find something to suit everyone. And I know this list only just scratches the surface of what Paris has to offer.