Plan a Family Trip to Paris with These Tips
Dreaming of a family getaway to Paris? I’ve got you covered! It’s no secret that planning a trip, especially with kids, can be both thrilling and a tad daunting. To make it easier, I’ve crafted a flexible itinerary and sprinkled in some family-friendly tips.
Our first European adventure after relocating to Germany was to the city of Paris—a destination I’d been dreaming of visiting. With iconic spots like the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and Notre Dame, I was excited but also a little nervous. Could our family of four really visit all the sites we wanted to see?
Now, here’s a little secret: I’m the planner in our family. Give me an itinerary and I’m in heaven. My husband, though? He’s Mr. Spontaneous. So, for this trip, I did something out of character—I ditched the meticulous plans and embraced spontaneity. Can you believe my husband and I landed in Paris with zero itinerary? We opted to savor Paris at our own pace. And the result? An unforgettable, laid-back weekend that our family will cherish forever. Maybe you’ll be inspired to wander Paris just like we did! Now let me share some of our adventures with you, plus some helpful tips.
Tip: Stay Close to Attractions
We boarded a train in Germany and after a 3-hour journey, we found ourselves in Paris on that very morning. The kids did great on the train ride. From the main station, another short train ride took us to our Airbnb, nestled in the 17th arrondissement, close to Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.
Staying in a prime location was crucial for us, so we opted for a comfortable apartment that fit our budget to reduce commuting time in the city. It’s worth mentioning that we booked only a few weeks ahead, making this spot one of the nearest available with our limited prep time. It turned out to be a convenient pick for our first trip to Paris.
Once we settled into our Airbnb and rested a bit, we ventured out. The neighborhood had grocery stores, a daily market, and a bakery and café serving mouthwatering croissants, beignets, and freshly baked bread. It felt like we had everything right at our doorstep.
Our First Look
The Arc honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Below it, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I rests solemnly. Despite the hustle and bustle of tourists and vendors, the monument was an impressive sight.
Next, we made our way along the iconic Champs-Élysées. Known as one of the world’s most famous avenues, we strolled past the high-end stores, the street performers, the restaurants, the parks, the fountains, and everything in between. And, feeling a tad adventurous, we decided to walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower. It might’ve been a bit of a stretch, but with the weather being so wonderful and after all the walking we’ve done since moving to Europe, it just felt right.
The Eiffel Tower
As the Eiffel Tower came into view, my husband and I were completely awestruck. After years of anticipation, seeing this iconic monument felt like a dream come true. We continued our walk along the river on a bright, sunny day and soon crossed over to approach the tower. It was a surreal moment. Soon enough, my daughter’s eyes lit up at the sight of a crêpes stand. The allure of genuine French crêpes was too tempting to resist. Biting into them with the Eiffel Tower as our backdrop is still a cherished family memory.
As we reached the tower’s base, we channeled our inner tourists – clicking away, capturing memories. And for a touch of vintage charm, the kids rode the nostalgic carousel nearby. For those looking for great deals on souvenirs, this area is a treasure trove of street vendors with quirky keepsakes.
We continued nearby to the Trocadéro Gardens. A 25-acre garden located directly opposite the Eiffel Tower on the other side of the Seine River. The open area is a fantastic spot for the kids to release some of their energy and it was a great place to stop to relax or grab a snack. But the highlight was the impressive view. Many say that some of the best photos are taken from this vantage point and I can see why. Breathtaking is an understatement, with the beautiful greenery, flowers, and impressive fountains surrounding the area, it framed the Eiffel Tower perfectly.
After our lovely time in the gardens, we wandered over to Palais de Chaillot. Here there was an even higher vantage point overlooking the Trocadéro Gardens and the Eiffel Tower. Plus, the Palais itself is an architectural gem from 1937, filled with history, a theatre, and museums.
The courtyard between the buildings was alive with street performers. From dancers that had my little ones clapping along, to comedy to some sporty basketball antics. Such a fun and unexpected way to round out our day.
By the time evening approached everyone was starving. A quick, family-friendly dinner and then it was back to our Airbnb. Everyone needed a good night’s rest, especially with more Paris adventures on tomorrow’s agenda!
Tip: Watch Your Belongings
Paris is a stunning city, but like many tourist hotspots, it has its share of pickpockets. Always be mindful of your surroundings and store those precious items safely and close. If someone approaches you to chat, to sign something, or to offer to take a photo of you, it’s best to keep moving. Particularly around the Eiffel Tower, on public transportation, or other crowded areas, some might use these moments to swipe your belongings. Stay alert while enjoying your time in Paris.
Tip: When Dining Out, Keep It Simple
In the city of romance and gourmet dining, sometimes keeping it simple is the key – especially with young, energetic kids in tow. Trust me, navigating the elegant bistros of Paris with a lively 6-year-old and an adventurous 2-year-old can be a little… well, challenging. Plus, remember that many French restaurants have that mid-day break, making a late lunch or an early dinner a bit tricky. Tip: Reservations for dinner? Often a good call.
Would you believe we only ventured into a “fancy” restaurant once on our trip? And while I’m sure we missed some mouthwatering dishes, it made our meals so much more relaxed and enjoyable for the little ones.
I have a little confession: my kiddos might’ve indulged in a few more McDonald’s and Burger King meals in Paris than I’d usually allow back home. But a little secret? The quality at these chains in Europe seems a notch above what you would receive in the USA. And, you know, quick meals mean happy kids and smooth sailing for us.
We also enjoyed dining out at the local bakeries for breakfast, they were a perfect way to begin the day. An excellent idea is to find a Farmer’s Market and purchase some fresh bread, cheeses, fruits, and maybe a bottle of wine, and have a lovely picnic in one of the city’s picturesque parks or gardens.
Another option is to keep an eye out for the vendors throughout the city offering crêpes, sandwiches, and other tasty treats. These are just a few ways we kept everyone well-fed, avoided the ‘hangry’ meltdowns, and saved the potential stress of upscale dining. Opting for simple, flexible meals worked well for us!
Adventuring in Paris: Day 2
After stopping for a fresh breakfast from a local bakery, we were off to sightsee. We decided to bypass the trains, tour buses, and taxis and walk to our destination. We had the privilege once again of walking by the Arc de Triomphe as we traveled from one end of the Champs-Élysées to the other end at Place de la Concorde.
Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. Our favorite part of the square was a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics honoring the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. Fun fact: it’s one of two obelisks gifted to France by Egypt back in the 19th century.
Next up, we stumbled upon the lovely Tuileries Garden, nestled right between Place de la Concorde and The Louvre. Perfect for families! There’s a big pond with cozy chairs all around, so you can just sit back and chill while the kiddos either play around or toss some bread to the ducks. Oh, and don’t miss the street vendors! We treated ourselves to some ice cream and coffee by the water. Absolute bliss!
After what felt like a marathon of walking, we found ourselves in front of The Louvre. Now, if you’re not up to speed, this isn’t just any museum—it once housed French royalty. It’s also the world’s most-visited and ranks as the third-largest. As much as we were tempted, we decided to save exploring its vast galleries for another Parisian adventure. But let me tell you, just wandering around the grounds and having that iconic photo moment by the glass pyramid? Totally worth the walk.
Tip: What To Do On A Rainy Day
Rain in Paris? No worries, the city’s got you covered! There’s a treasure trove of museums waiting to be explored, so just remember to bundle up in your rain gear. Think waterproof jackets, those cute rain boots you’ve been wanting to wear, and covers for the little ones’ strollers. Be sure to have an umbrella overhead, there can be a lot of walking in between landmarks.
With rain in the forecast, we spent our last full day in Paris visiting The Cathedral of Notre Dame and the French National Museum of Natural History. Due to the unfortunate fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in April 2019, we could not get close to the cathedral. Reconstruction was underway to rebuild Notre Dame exactly as it was prior to the fire. Currently, it is closed for worship and tours until further notice. It was still an impressive sight to see as we walked along the river to our next destination.
Bonus tip: On this particular day, we hopped on a train from our Airbnb. Please note that the train stations have a lot of stairs and they are not stroller-friendly. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but we managed. Definitely something to keep in mind.
Day 3: French National Museum of Natural History
After arriving at the French National Museum of Natural History we made our way through a couple of fantastic exhibits. My kiddos were over the moon seeing those massive dinosaurs in the paleontology gallery! And the comparative anatomy gallery? Just as impressive.
We continued on through the garden area that housed endless amounts of trees, plants, flowers, fresh fruits, and vegetables. We wrapped up our museum visit marveling at the sparkling treasures in the Geology and Mineralogy Gallery.
And despite our last full day in Paris being a bit rainy, we still had a blast. The rain didn’t stop our fun. After all, as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Thank goodness we were able to navigate the rain comfortably!
Tip: Paris By Night
When we booked our trip on a bit of a whim, we missed out on securing tickets ahead of time to ride the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. (These are available to book 60 days in advance.) And with the kiddos, climbing staircases at landmarks wasn’t a preferred part of our agenda. (Stair tickets can be booked 7 days in advance.)
But, as they say, when one door closes, another opens! Just beside the Tuileries Gardens, we stumbled upon the Roue de Paris – the Wheel of Paris. On a spur-of-the-moment decision, we chose to hop on at dusk, rising to a height of 55 meters. Admittedly, it was a tad on the pricier side, but the private gondola and the panoramic views made it worthwhile. My little ones were mesmerized, especially my 6-year-old daughter. It turned out to be the perfect way for us to see Paris from above.
Rounding off the evening, we were thrilled to discover an adjacent summer fair, packed with fun rides for all ages and the mouthwatering aroma of classic fair treats. It’s funny how our Paris days, even unplanned, had this touch of enchantment to them, always falling perfectly into place.
Au revoir, Paris
To tell you the truth, it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of what Paris holds. Yet, I can’t wait for our next adventure here. We’ll stay in a different district next time, just to see the city through a fresh lens. As the kids grow, I imagine we’ll dive deeper into the gourmet side of Paris, savoring those dishes they might find too “grown-up” now.
Still, looking back at our trip, it was just what we needed- no regrets whatsoever. The memories we’ve made we will always hold dear. Paris, you haven’t seen the last of us, until next time!
How about you, friends?
Would you like to visit Paris? Have you been to Paris?
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Disclaimer: Please know that while I pour my heart and soul into providing you with the most accurate and up-to-date information, the world has its way of changing. The details and insights shared here were accurate at the time of penning them down. However, in time, some specifics might shift. Always double-check before making any plans. Safe travels and warm wishes.