A trip to Paris with kids can include a medley of unexpected sights. (Photo: Alamy)
Many American kids grow up on images of Paris: From the children’s book series “Madeline,” and the films based on it, to French-inspired treats like macarons and crêpes, it’s hard to reach adolescence without having developed an imaginative, wildly sensory picture of Paris that nurtures all sorts of travel fantasies.
As you plot a Paris trip with little ones in tow, you’ll have a chance to bring their visions to vivid life beyond the city’s standard must-sees.
Kids and families who are lucky enough to travel to the City of Light have so much entertainment awaiting them.
There’s the Eiffel Tower, of course; the Bateaux Mouches plying the Seine; the grotesque gargoyles (and fantastically creepy crypt) of Notre Dame; and the cozy kids’ room of famed English-language bookstore Shakespeare & Company.
None of these should be skipped. But in addition, there are many other attractions that will delight young visitors — and their parents. Here are a few favorites that can’t be missed.
1. Galeries Lafayette’s Lafayette Gourmet
Sure, at home you keep a close watch on your kids’ sugar intake. But you’re on vacation, and this is Paris, and Paris is synonymous with sweets, so make a beeline for Lafayette Gourmet, the tony food arcade in the shopping emporium Galeries Lafayette.
It might be hard for the kids to choose which treat they want, what with macarons, truffles and candies galore at their fingertips. But they’re sure to be dazzled by the edible eclair art on display at L’éclair de Génie, which does, in fact, appear to have been made by a genie.
The gorgeously decorated eclairs may seem too beautiful to eat, but somehow your kids won’t have a problem scarfing down one of the glittery, shimmery delights.
2. Trampoline Playground at Jardins de Tuileries
If the kids are hopped up on sugar thanks to those scrumptious eclairs, then your next stop might be the Jardins de Tuileries.
It’s among the better-known sights in Paris, but many family travelers don’t realize that among its formal gardens are play areas, including an attraction where up to eight kids can jump on their own trampolines until the sugar high wears off.
3. Le Théâtre des Marionnettes du Jardin du Luxembourg
When the kids are calmer and able to sit down for a bit, it’s time to see a show at the Marionette Theater at the Luxembourg Garden. The theater, in operation since 1933, puts on between two and three shows each day, and the charming venue will make you and your kids feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook setting from another era.
Be sure to bring cash so you can buy snacks during intermission. And leave time after the production for the kids to enjoy the playground next to the theater. They’ll love the cool, zip line–like ride.
4. La droguerie à Paris
Have a kid that loves crafting? Don’t leave Paris without making a visit to La droguerie à Paris, an enchanting arts and crafts boutique that’s stocked floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall with jars of buttons, beads and baubles, as well as colorful skeins of yarn and swatches of fabric.
Here you can buy supplies to make your own Paris-inspired jewelry (the shop also has books full of DIY ideas) or browse the wares and pick up everything you’ll need to make your own travel souvenir charm bracelet so you’ll remember your family trip forever.