Fun Family Activities to do When Visiting Paris in Winter
Paris is always a good idea, but is it worth visiting Paris in winter with kids? This article looks at some of the best family activities you can enjoy in Paris with kids – whatever the weather.
Whether you are planning on exploring Paris with a toddler, a preschooler or older kids, there are some tips you need to know in order to make the most out of your family trip.
Paris has some of the best landmarks in France and is a great city to explore with kids.
Don’t be caught out with opening hours, unpractical transportation choices or forgetting essential travel gear that you thought would be standard in Paris. Fret not, this guide will leave you fully prepared for visiting beautiful Paris in winter with kids.
Is Paris child friendly?
In terms of ticking off popular attractions with local transport, Paris is fairly child friendly – but it does depend on the age of your child and the mode of transport you take.
The Metro is not great for pushchairs, even those who have compact travel strollers can find it difficult, if not impossible to navigate down the steps and very narrow gates single handedly.
If you can use a baby carrier, then do! Ditch the large stroller at home and opt for a baby carrier if possible. Many buildings in Paris (museums, metro stations etc) are only accessible by stairs.
We did not find any step free street to platform lifts on our last couple of visits but if you only need to use Line 14, that is fully accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs, with elevators to street level in every station. However, every connection of that line with an older line has a few stairs.
The bus makes travelling around Paris with kids so much easier. There is a two stroller limit, so sometimes you will need to fold up your stroller.
Top tip: If you are traveling with a stroller, enter the bus through the back doors, and pay once you get on. If the bus is crowded, pay at the front doors before getting on, but indicate that you’ve got a stroller and enter at the rear. leave the large stroller at home and opt for a baby carrier if possible. leave the large stroller at home and opt for a baby carrier if possible.
Using the Paris Metro with kids
With older kids, the metro is easy to use if you don’t wish to walk. If you are not sure how many trips you’ll need, buy a re-loadable Navigo card which can be bought at Metro Stations. (Take passport sized photos with you to get the card) The Paris Navigo Decouverte is a multi-use transit card covering all of the Metro Paris area, good for the Paris Metro (subway/underground), RER trains (including the CDG Airport train, Disneyland Paris, and Versailles), buses (including Orly airport buses), trams & surburban Transilien trains.
Alternatively, buy single tickets but these do cost more per journey. Another option is to purchase a ‘carnet’ – a pack of 10 single trip tickets which are valid on the metro, RER and buses within Paris.
Paris Paris Travelcard, or Paris Visite Pass
A further option, is the Paris Pass which allows unlimited journeys for 1,2,3 or 5 days on buses, metros and RER (local trains) within Paris, within the central zones. It comes with a booklet of discounts at various outlets within Paris. Paris Travelcard, or Paris Visite Pass, is valid for the entire duration of your Paris Pass package and can be used on the public transport network at any time of day, any day of the week.
An attraction in it’s own right, but another great way to get around Paris and see the sights is via the Big Bus Tour. This is one of my favourite things to do in any city with kids. We can keep warm, dry and hop on, hop off whenever we want.
Do French restaurants have high chairs?
Most don’t have highchairs or the space to put your stroller by your table. If you have a little one that needs one, do bring your own portable high chair which can fix to a variety of chairs.
Is it easy to eat at a Paris restaurant with kids?
Lunch is normally served from 12-2. Most restaurants don’t open until 7:00 to 7:30 pm for dinner so if you kids are used to eating earlier, you may want to consider these family friendly restaurants like these, or stay in an apartment style Paris family hotel like ApartCity which has a kitchen.
When we visited Paris with a baby, it was really hard for us to find somewhere to eat for dinner, as 7pm was her bedtime and that’s when the majority of restaurants open for dinner. I needed her stroller to be reclined so she could stay asleep. We ended up back at our hotel grabbing a quick bite, rather than the delicious French bistro meal I had envisaged.
What Can You do in Paris with Children in Winter?
If the weather is kind, Paris has an abundance of outside parks and areas to play in. Grabbing a freshly baked baguette or pre bought picnic snacks from Monoprix is positively encouraged – but if you are visiting Paris in autumn or winter you do need some back up plans or at least some respite from the cold and/ or rain which includes some kid friendly restaurants options.
This section looks at indoor and snowy/rainy day activities plus outdoors things to do in Paris when the weather is good.
Holiday lights and Christmas market tour for families with Get Your Guide
Soak up Paris’ festive atmosphere with a kid-friendly guide. The tour includes Paris’s largest indoor Christmas tree, magical window displays and pass streets and roads that have been transformed into holiday postcards.
Visit an old-style carousel, enjoy a warm festive drink and marvel at the illuminations. Finally, make your way inside the Jardin des Tuileries Christmas Market (Le Marche de Noel) to discover regional holiday specialties and attractions for the kids plus see the Eiffel Tower.
Clare Thomson has visited and says “this quirky museum in the Marais is a must for aspiring magicians. Down in its 16th-century vaulted cellars you’ll find a treasure trove of tricks, props and illusions from the 18th century to the present day.
It’s all brilliantly interactive, with distorting mirrors, secret boxes, handles to turn and illusions to figure out. My kids really loved the magic show which is included in the price of the ticket. It’s quite a small museum and only a short walk across the Seine from the delicious ice-creams at Berthillon on the Île Saint-Louis.” Clare shares more quirky and hidden gems of Paris here.
Address: Musée de la Magie, 11 rue Saint-Paul
Lunch on board the Bateaux Mouches
Nell from Pigeon Pair and Me recommends this delightful way to see the sights. She says, “It’s a very easy way to see a lot of the main sights, without having to drag small children around by foot. You embark the boat, and eat lunch while sailing past the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre….. there’s a child’s menu and although it doesn’t feature nuggets and chips, it’s perhaps more suited to picky eaters than some French menus. We’ve been twice: once for Dave’s uncle’s birthday, and once for my mum’s 70th.”
And if you are worried about it being cold, worry no more, the indoor area is heated to keep you toasty warm!
Festival of Lights
From mid November onwards, enjoy the Festival des Lumieres (Festival of Lights) at Jardin de Luxembourg.
Enjoy the Paris Parks.
With good weather or a snowball fight in winter visit the Parisien Parks. Tops family friendly parks include:
Parc Andre Citroen. View Paris from a hot air balloon at a surprising price!
The balloon, ‘Ballon de Paris General’i is in Parc Andre Citroen. Tickets can be bought at the box office in the park and the balloon goes up three times an hour from 0900am to 30 minutes before the park closes (weather dependent). If you want to see a great view of Paris, then this is a must.
Prices: Adult: €12; Child (3-11 years):€6; Free for under 3s
Le Jardin du Luxembourg, Odeon.
During the summer the popular family friendly Le Jardin du Luxembourg park welcomes throes of people to its model boating lake, pony rides, ice-cream stands, puppet shows, pedal karts, sandpits, metal swing-boats and a merry-go-round.
The playground has an entrance fee but the gardens are free. The park is open during winter until 16:30.
From mid November onwards, enjoy the Festival des Lumieres (Festival of Lights) at Jardin de Luxembourg. Cathy from Mummy Travels delves more into the parks
With various rides including a vintage carousel and fairground rides, a little train and currently a prehistoric safari, this park is a favourite with my friend who lives in Paris.
Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie
This enormous science museum is also a good option when the weather is bad outside. Book a session in Cite des Enfants. The kids can do heaps of activities for 1.15hrs. There are also many interesting expos in the Cité de Science. My friends young daughter loved the transport section, robotics, sounds, the brain, Cabanes expo, body and sports. The planetarium is also nice although in French. There is a real submarine outside, which isalso very interesting to visit plus an IMAX cinema and planetarium.
The Eiffel Tower is an obvious place to visit in Paris, but the iconic landmark is well known by children and somewhere they are definitely excited to visit. Jenny From Monkey and Mouse bought tickets to go to the very top of the tower where there were the most amazing views across the city. Herkids were happily pointing out landmarks they could see from the tower, it certainly was fun for all the family although you need to be prepared for the queues!
Every child loves chocolate don’t they?! Jenny From Monkey and Mouse explains, “Our trip to the chocolate museum in Paris was a definite highlight for us all, beginning with a self tour around the history of chocolate, taste testing chocolate along the way. Starting off with bitter cocoa solids until the present day where sugars and milk are added, it was interesting to taste the history of chocolate! Then there was the chocolate making demonstration, chocolate sculptures and the Lego hunt, everything . It’s easy to get to, right across the road from the Bonne Nouvelle metro station.”
Get Your Guide ticket entrance ticket here for the chocolate museum
Kid friendly Museums
Are your kids culture vultures, Horrible Histories fans or looking for an indoor activity to escape the cold or rain? Then you may be interested in taking a family friendly guided museum tour while in Paris? Check out some of the great options offered by places including Get Your Guide:
Enjoy a museum visit visit which keeps kids entertained and engaged. Kids will travel through Egyptian mythology, Greek antiques, and Italian art, such as the famous Mona Lisa.
Kids get given an activity booklet, tailor-made according to their age range (from 3 to 6 or 7 to 12 years old). They will follow the same course, but with adapted challenges. With this ticket you skip the line too! If you have younger children head to the playground near by.
Enjoy a private treasure hunt around Paris which includes a cable car ride.
Scavenger Hunt in Musee d’Orsay
THATMuse organises treasure hunts in some museums including the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay.
Fans of the Disney film the Hunchback of Notredame, will be keen to visit this historic masterpiece. You can not currently go inside due to the fire where the spire and the roof were destroyed. Do watch out for pickpockets outside the front.
The Catacombs are not for little ones, but are a fascinated glimpse into the gruesome past. The Paris Catacombs were originally a quarry with hundreds of kilometers of tunnels burrowed beneath the streets of Paris.
When the cemeteries of Paris became overfilled, the city started moving the dead into the Catacombs. Get Your Guide offers skip the line tours so you can avoid ticket counters and lines with an audio guide.
Ice skating in Paris
If you are wondering whether December is a good time to visit Paris? Then yes! Many seasonal ice rinks are conveniently placed next to Christmas markets so you can indulge in the festive atmosphere. Some of the most popular pop up iceskating rinks in Paris are:
- Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel – outdoors)
- City Hall (in front of Paris Hotel de Ville – outdoors)
- Le Grand Palais des Glaces – (indoors)
- Village de Noel des Champs-Élysées (outdoor)
If you like the Madeline books, you can use the landmarks featured to do a Madeline trail. This one I found is very detailed.
Playmobil Fun Park
Situated just outside of Paris, in Fresnes to the south of the city centre, the Playmobile FunPark offers 12 play areas, including a separated area for toddlers aged 18-36 months. There’s a cafeteria where parents can watch their children play. It is a fairly easy journey by train and bus from central Paris.
Park Asterix is about 40 minutes drive from Paris and offers roller coaster rides, attractions and spectacular shows with characters from the hit books. Travel through time and enter the Roman Empire, delve into Ancient Greek mythology, brave the Vikings and walk through the streets of Paris from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Formerly known as Euro Disney, Disneyland Paris is an entertainment resort in Marne-la-Vallée, France, a town located (20 mi) east of Paris. It now consists of two theme parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney Nature Resorts, and a golf course. If you can’t get to Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland California or Tokyo, then indulge in the Disney magic here!
Where should a family stay in Paris?
With young children, staying somewhere central is best, and then you can avoid using the metro with a stroller. My favourite area, if you want to be based in central Paris, is Saint Germain (close to Le Jardin du Luxembourg, Louvre, Jardin de Tuileries and the Seine.) There are lots of picturesque streets, cafes, shops and restaurants. The Les arénes de Lutéce is also lovely and within walking constance to a lot of places.
Rue Cler in the 7th Arrondissement (quieter, slower paced, village-like feel, but still close to many attractions and the Eiffel Tower), and Le Marais and place de Vosges, (less touristy, hip and trendy but still family-friendly).
If you are visiting Disneyland Paris there are options to stay on site like the other resort, or look for a family friendly hotel near Disneyland Paris. We opted for a Staycity one bedroom apartment in Marne la Vallée as it was very close to the park (5 minute free shuttle) and about a 30 minute train ride to get into central Paris.
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