paris with kids
I just had someone ask me for recommendations on things to do in Paris with kids again so I thought it would be good to get it online on one place. So, here goes.
1. Pizza Picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower. Does visiting French restaurants with kids make you nervous? Avoid the whole thing by picking up a pizza at Gusto Italia (their veggie pizza is really good) then take it across the street to the park for a picnic right in front of the Eiffel Tower.
2. Bike Rides. Velib, Paris’ public bike system is amazing, the only problem is there is no way to bring the kids along. Paris’ bicycle path system is extensive and biking is one of my favorite ways to get around especially when tourist season hits. If you are nervous about biking in a big city stick to park paths and some of the bike paths along the Seine. You can rent bikes with kids seats right here.
3. Le 104. This is one of the most special places in Paris. It is part art installation, part interactive museum. The installations are made to play in and “experience” and are perfect for both children and adults. In addition to the changing exhibitions Le 104 is also home to my favorite carousel in the world.
4. Seine Boat Tour. Pick up a ride at Ile St. Louis for an hour long cruise through the center of Paris at sunset. The kids love the boats and you can see the big sites in one fell swoop.
5. Puppet Show. Some of the bigger parks like Jardin de Luxembourg and Champ de Mars have the classic old marionette shows. They are in French but have a lot of physical comedy that any 3 year old will think is hilarious. Check for exact times but they are usually in the afternoons on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.
6. Carousels. There are as many carousels in Paris as there are Starbucks in Manhattan. That might be a slight exaggeration but really, they are everywhere. It is so great to be able to stop throughout the day and treat your kids to a carousel ride.
7. Toy Sailboats. Some of the parks like Jardin de Luxembourg and the Tuileries have adorable toy boat rentals run by equally adorable old men. You choose your boat and send it off into the little pond with a stick to guide it. It is surprisingly entertaining and makes for great photos.
8. Parc Floral. A friend introduced me to this impressive park last year. It is enormous and has the best toys of any park I’ve been to (they are really awesome!) If Disneyland were a public park it would be Parc Floral. Mountains of slides, ziplines, fields of flowers, and snack bars aplenty.
9. The Cité des Enfants is one of our favorite kids museums. It’s especially great for younger kids and toddlers. Lots of science related toys to play with. A really well done children’s museum.
10. Ferris Wheel. In the winter the Ferris Wheel sits prominently at the bottom of the Champs Elysees (and during the summer months there is one in the Tuileries.) Hop on for a ride and a 360 degree view of the city.
all photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
When people come visit from out of town (to either San Francisco or Paris) besides the list of things I suggest to do I always include happy little experiences. So I thought it would be nice to document all the “happy” things we like to do in Paris. I’m starting with the Champ de Mars. (Not all of them will be kid friendly but this one is.) In front of the Eiffel Tower there is a giant park called the Champ de Mars. Besides being a nice place to picnic the park has hidden gems all over it. Some of the things we like to do there:
See the Marionette Show. There is an very old Marionette House where they put on live shows. It is so adorable you’ll want to die. It’s usually open on the weekends and once during the week. Our kids love this and beg to go every time we walk by.
Ride on the Carousel. There are carousels all over Paris but this one is particularly charming because it is cranked by hand by a sweet old French man. There is a game where all the kids hold sticks and try to “catch” the metal rings as they go by on their horses.
Ride the Go Carts. On the weekends there is a little track with go karts set up for kids to race. I didn’t take pictures of this but its just as cute as you might imagine.
Lay on the Grass. Grab a crepe or a cotton candy and hang out in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and watch people taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Just a tip: I usually avoid going under the tower itself. It’s really crowded and will kill the vibe of your pretty day at the park.
ps: A sad little thing happened this morning. Moses fell off a stool and broke his clavicle. He is doing ok now but it was a little scary going to the emergency room at 7am. So far strong pain meds and newly downloaded videos have been the best cure.
It is so warm today! We decided to celebrate the warm weather (finally!) with a trip to get some Berthillon ice cream on Ile Saint Louis behind Notre Dame. Our favorites so far are passion fruit and pear–sooo good. There are so many things to explore now that the weather is warming up, you can feel the whole city in a good mood. (Ps: Thanks to Sharon for holding our cones (and not eating them) while I took Moses in search of a potty.
Berthillon Ice Cream | 29-31 rue Saint Louis en l’ile 75004 Paris | Metro: Pont Marie
photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day
Last weekend we went to The 104 and had such a fun day. I thought I would share some pictures in case anyone wants to visit. The 104 is a public art center and it is really a special place. I would describe it as a MOMA meets a small carnival. It is located in the northern part of Paris and when you first walk in you see a large carousel. It is the most beautiful carousel I’ve ever seen. It is made up of giant metal bugs. I know it sounds funny but it is really unbelievably cool. Whoever is riding can control how the animal moves different parts of its body. The pictures don’t do it justice. Not only was it beautifully designed but we rode on it and it was really fun.
The next building had art installations that change all the time. But they were different than anything I’d seen because they were installations that you experience, for example they had a conveyor belt where everyone takes off their shoes and lays down on and gets carried across the room. Or some of the other exhibits they had were one where you sit down on a chair in a big plastic room and for 30 seconds air blows a bunch of balls around and you just sit there and have that experience until its the next person’s turn. Another was a giant maze made out of cardboard.
The whole space was beautifully designed (see the chain link fence that looks like lace.) And I liked it because they had things that appealed to every age. There were lots of kid friendly activities but there were also things just for adults like regular art installations and a nice wine bar. Besides all that there is a really great thrift store in the back (which is how I found it after some readers suggested it.) Why don’t more thrift stores have a giant kid friendly art center attached to them? Brilliant!
This is a great place to visit if you are in Paris with kids or if it is bad weather. We loved it and will definitely be back soon.