A Family Adventure in Paris – Part 4 – Our Approach to Paris with Kids

Traveling as a family of four (including kids aged 8 and 5), the rules of the road for this trip to Paris would be different than our prior visits.  For each day, we picked a kid-oriented activity, an adult-oriented activity and something that everyone would enjoy.  This allowed for a balanced day.

One of the things we liked from our Hualalai visit over Christmas was that we sort of had our days pre-set because we pre-booked everything prior to arrival.  All of the activities were obviously things we liked to do, but not having to decide each day what we would be doing took away any debate in the morning.  Our days were pre-programmed.  We undertook a similar approach for this trip.

We visited a number of large playgrounds in various districts in Paris.  The kids had a blast, and got to play with local kids.  My wife and I could sit together on a bench and just talk.  Had we been here without kids, we would have simply done the same thing (sat and chatted), but done it at a sidewalk cafe.  This was fine, as it allowed us time to just talk, and at the same time, gave the kids great things to do.  Many of the parks were fenced and set up as one way in and one way out; no kids without adults, and no adults without kids.  There was a guard at the entrance of each of the parks that we visited.  One park even had a small coffee shop.  We typically made this the morning anchor activity each day, and lingered for an hour or two.

The parks that we visited

A great park near Pont-de-Flanders

Paris is still with cigarette brands on kids' rides!

In the southwest corner of Le Jardin du Luxembourg

For the “everyone enjoys” type activities, we planned visits to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and other such sites.  The kids quite enjoyed visiting these iconic sights – things they’ve seen in countless pictures of Paris over the years.  While my wife and I wouldn't have likely visited many of these on our own, they weren’t unenjoyable for us, either.

Sadly, the very top of the Eiffel Tower was closed!

Inside the Arc de Triomphe - My five year old daughter made it all the way up!

Notre Dame

We visited a wax museum.

Probably only found in a French wax museum!

For adult activities, we visited several art museums.  The kids could usually tolerate such visits up to an hour (probably not much less that I could tolerate them!).  We visited three of our favorites: the Rodin museum, the Monet museum and the Centre Pompidou.  We haven’t been to the Picasso museum since it was closed for renovations some years back, but, alas, didn’t make it this time.

The Jean Dubuffet Room at the Centre Pompidou

By 4 pm, the kids (and parents) were usually pretty tired. We'd head back to the hotel for a little down time - either watching a video (my kids or taking a nap (my wife).  In my case, I got to spend a few hours talking to my colleagues back at the office in New York, and some in London.  By 7pm each night, we’d be cleaned up and would head out for dinner.

Getting around Paris

We made regular use of the Metro (subway) throughout Paris.  The Port Maillot stop of the #1 line was on the same block as our hotel.  Essentially any destination is reachable with a single connection off of the #1 line (which runs from La Defense along Champs Élysées and Rue Rivoli to Château de Vincennes).

We purchased multi-day “Visite Paris” passes. Three days was about €25 per adult, and half of that for children.  This provided for unlimited rides on the Metro within in zones 1-3, which covers essentially all of the main city area.

The #1 Metro Line

We did use taxis to and from dinner on two nights, but this was the exception.  Our kids quite enjoyed riding the Metro and after about a day, seemed to know the way around many of the major stations.  One drawback, perhaps, we probably spent an hour+ a day on the Metro, but it was a nice way for the kids to be exposed directly to locals.

This balanced, pre-planned approach to each day provided for a conflict-free week for our trip.