Paris is a wonderful city for a family holiday, with lots of free attractions to please all ages.
Like London, the French capital is never going to make for a cheap destination, but plan your days well and you'll have a truly unforgettable stay in the 'City of Lights'.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a must-see on family holidays in Paris, recognised all over the world and much-loved by kids. You can walk up to the first and second levels by stairs (all 1,710 of them) for a nominal fee, or there’s a lift to the second floor if you’re with younger kids. At the second floor there’s a second lift taking you to the viewing platform at the top. It's now possible to book ahead to bypass the long queues, and kids can pick up a Gus quiz-trail leaflet on the 1st floor to find out more about the tower's history and construction.
The stunning Louvre lives up to its reputation - from the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo to the modern glass pyramid in the courtyard outside. Ask about the guided tours for families, or the program of workshops for kids aged four and up. From the Louvre you can walk straight through to the Jardin des Tuileries, with its sculptures, carousel and donkey rides.
The building of the Centre Pompidou, which looks like it’s been turned inside-out, is as much a tourist attraction as the national collection of modern art inside. If you speak French, check out the artistic workshops for kids 6-10, or attend a Dimanche en Famille (‘Family Sunday’), with activities based around a specific work, artist or theme.
Visit the zoo
Head for the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes at the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle - a mini zoo inside the city’s botanical garden. Set up in 1794 to house animals from the royal menagerie and those rescued from street entertainers, it focuses on smaller animals and their conservation, and includes a unique ‘microzoo’ full of all kinds of microscopic animals.
In northern Paris, the 35-acre Parc de la Villette is the city’s largest green expanse. Here you’ll find, at various times of the year, contemporary circuses, cabaret, street art, cinema, puppetry and more, as well as lots of space the kids to run around on.
Cité des Sciences
Here, you’ll also find the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie and the Cité de la Musique. The first, a huge museum of science and technology, includes the Cité des Enfants, with discovery spaces for kids 3 - 5 and 5 -12, plus a children’s media library, changing exhibitions, a planetarium, a decommissioned 1950s submarine you can explore, an IMAX cinema (the Geode), and a moving cinema (the Cineaxe). The Cité de la Musique is a concert space and museum of musical instruments; family offerings include Wednesday-afternoon concerts and shows for children and parents, music workshops, and tours of the collections with a storyteller, followed by a workshop or by a puzzle to solve.
Take a boat trip
A boat trip down the Seine is a must. Lunches and dinners are pricey around here, but there are meal deals on offer for families so keep an eye out.
For those prepared to venture outside the city, there is Disneyland, 32km from the centre. Lesser-known but well worth a visit is Parc Asterix, not far from Charles de Gaulle airport. The latter includes Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster, plus some fascinating rides modelled on ancient Greek and Roman themes. As with Disneyland, you can choose to stay nearby, although both are straightforward and speedy to access from the centre.
Image via Pinterest.