Eight Great Ways to Experience Paris

WITH KIDS AND TEENS

Paris, France is one of the most magical cities in the world.  With historic sites, beautiful architecture, and lovely neighborhoods to explore, you can easily fill your days with busy sightseeing or slow savoring.  During spring break one year we visited both London and Paris.  We had all been to London before, however it had been many years since we had visited and we couldn’t wait to go back.  As for Paris, Mike and I honeymooned there 20 years prior, so it was time to head back, this time with the kids!  While there, we compiled a list of eight great ways to experience Paris, all kid and teen approved!

To start, we sought out an itinerary that fit into the amount of time we had planned.  Each of the kids had things that he or she wanted to see and do.  Since it was our second time visiting, there were some places we wanted to show the kids but also wanted their input. 

The first thing we did was plan where we were going to stay.  We knew an Airbnb was the best option, especially for our dietary restrictions.  We also relish plenty of space to spread out, multiple bathrooms, a kitchen, and a washer and dryer.  When searching on Airbnb, I filter places with these options so I can find the best place for us.  I came across a listing for what looked like the perfect Airbnb.  It had a balcony that overlooked the Eiffel Tower and was only one block away!  Mike didn’t have to twist my arm when I sent him the link and he said, “Book it!”

Once our Airbnb was finalized, I started building our itinerary with where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do.  With just three full days in Paris we chose to do the highlights and added in some special requests as well.  

When we visited

April 2019, our spring break from school.  The weather was nice for exploring, in the 60s with partly cloudy skies.

Where we stayed

Airbnb 3 bedroom flat | Paris, France

The Airbnb was great to retreat to after a busy day of sightseeing.  We especially loved having plenty of space to relax, cook meals, do laundry, and the kids also appreciated some quiet time in their rooms.  We also got a taste for living like a local.  Much more “feet on the ground” than staying in a hotel!

Now for the list of great ways to spend your time in Paris with kids and teens in tow!

The Eiffel Tower

This goes without saying but a visit to the Eiffel Tower is an absolute must during a trip to Paris!  There is something so magical about being up in the tower, looking down at Paris below.  Unfortunately for us, at the time I was looking to purchase tickets ahead of time online, the tickets for our dates were already sold out.  Only so many tickets for a given day are released for purchase online while the rest are available for walk ups only.  I usually book things way ahead of time, however wasn’t fast enough this time!  (book your tickets here!).  While we had a long wait in the line, once we were in the Eiffel Tower people quickly dispersed.  It was easy to move about at a leisurely pace, taking our time exploring.  The Eiffel Tower did not feel crowded at all.

Views from the Eiffel Tower

We also stopped at the café in the tower, enjoying coffee and macarons.  Where better to eat a macaron than in the Eiffel Tower?!  Once we finished our snack break, Mike, Braden, and Ava headed up to the top of the tower while Skylar and I explored the second floor.  We then slowly made our way down via the stairs which was a fun way to go down.  Once we all met back up down below, we unanimously agreed this was our favorite thing to do in Paris.

Place du Tertre, Montmarte

Ava had long been asking for a caricature, whether at a local festival or a fair.  So when I learned of Place du Tertre in Montmarte, the area with plentiful street artists, I knew that a caricature would be the perfect Parisian souvenir.

We took an Uber from our Airbnb over to Montmarte.  It was very crowded and busy and quite different from where we were staying on a quiet leafy street near the Eiffel Tower.  There were artists everywhere, perched on little stools, painting and drawing, places and faces.  We finally happened upon one that Ava said she wanted to try so she sat and got herself a caricature!  It sure was a cute souvenir from Paris as well as supported the local artist community. 

Ava getting her cariacature

We walked this area for a bit, as there was so much to see, from the art, the people, the shops, and the architecture in the area.  After a while, we found our way to Moulin Rouge where we snapped a quick pic and then had an Uber take us back home.

The Louvre

This was a mom and dad pick, as the kids were only a little bit interested in visiting the Louvre.  However, we knew we couldn’t visit Paris without a visit to one of the world’s greatest museums.  Once Napoleon’s home, it now showcases over 37,000 masterpieces from around the world.  Famous works include the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.  We spent only a couple hours here and mainly focused on the famous highlights with our teens for this trip.

The Louvre

It is important to note that the famous works are very crowded.  People seem to lose all sense of manners when trying to get close to them.  If you know this going in you won’t be surprised when you get jostled and elbowed around.  Our kids wanted to see the Mona Lisa up close, which is actually quite small, so you really do need to get close to see it.  We took our time, moving with the crowd and when we were close we took it in best we could.  The Venus de Milo is also quite crowded.  While here, we also took in some Italian Renaissance paintings, the incredible painted ceilings, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Medieval Louvre exhibition, and some Egyptian artifacts.  This was the perfect amount to see for our family of kids and teens without hitting museum burnout.

Crazy crowds at the Mona Lisa

We planned to grab some picnic supplies for a lunch to eat at a park nearby but were so hungry and ready for a bit of rest after our museum going so we ate at McDonald’s in the basement of the Louvre.  Definitely not the gourmet French meal one would hope for, but honestly it was easy, inexpensive, and quick, exactly what we needed at that time!  We also checked out some shops on site, I got my Starbuck’s Paris mug, and finally made our way out. 

Seine River Cruise

One of our favorite things to do in a new place is cruise its water ways.  We can listen to the narration or opt to plug in earbuds and only enjoy it visually – whatever floats your boat!  Mainly, we leave it up to the kids as to how they want to take it in.  Both Mike and I listened to the narration and soaked in as much from the tour as we could. 

Our kids, on the other hand, missed some important sites along the way.  (“What oldest bridge in Paris?”, they say?!). But when traveling with kids it’s important to give them down time, too.  Not every moment can be absorbed, not every site is going to be appreciated, but they definitely do take away something from each trip and sometimes it doesn’t come out until later. 

For example, we visited Paris just a week before the tragic Notre Dame fire in 2019.  We passed Notre Dame on our cruise and I was able to snap some beautiful pics.  However, it wasn’t until we were back home and learned of the fire did Braden inform me that he finally understood what I meant when I reminded them to appreciate all that they were seeing.  I always remind them that you never know how long these sites will be here to enjoy.  Something that I just mentioned in passing, probably trying to get them to pay attention to what we were seeing, actually had an impact.  It was a reminder as to why we travel and cannot take the existence of these sites for granted.

Beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, one week before the 2019 fire

With all that said, the cruise was really enjoyed by all.  Our feet needed a break and it’s always nice to get a different perspective of the city.

The Catacombs

This was a teen pick!  Both Skylar and Braden were interested in visiting the Catacombs.  The Catacombs are an underground passageway where the skeletal remains of six million people are intricately displayed.  The site was developed in the 1800s when health issues tied to the cemeteries in Paris arose and the remains were then transferred underground.  This is a one-mile walk and not for the faint of heart.  While they all agreed not scary, they did say creepy, so use your best judgement with kids.  Our then 12-year-old did not have an interest and neither did I!  Instead, the two of us enjoyed some time at a café across the street, sipping hot drinks and munching on beignets.

A Great View of the Eiffel Tower

I have to add this to the list as this without a doubt contributed to the magic of staying in Paris.  We have had some pretty great views over the years, but this one was definitely the best.  Coming back after a day of busy sightseeing and relaxing out on the tiny balcony with a glass of wine with the Eiffel Tower as our view was just incredible.  Every night, we were treated to the light show and it was the best free entertainment!   There was no need to turn the TV on, instead we just pulled up chairs and watched the twinkling lights show off at the top of the hour every hour starting at dusk. 

View of the nightly Eiffel Tower show from our Airbnb

We splurged on our Airbnb so we had an up close view, but there are several options for all budgets to get a view.  This is a must for a magical Paris trip!

Shopping

Paris is well known for its shopping, however for us when we refer to shopping we seek out food!  We have dietary restrictions in our family so food becomes a very big part of our every day, as it takes planning and forethought.  I learned of Rue Cler, a famous market street in Paris, where you can find anything from fresh flowers to a fromagerie, fruit market, meat market, and vintners.  We enjoyed browsing the stores and getting some fabulous food to make rather simple meals back home.  A baguette and cheese was French style grilled cheese, with fresh fruit on the side.  Paired with wine, of course!

Shopping at Rue Cler

Another area we enjoyed for browsing trinkets was along the River Seine.  This area is great for postcards and vintage books and prints of various Parisian scenes.  Small souvenirs are cheap and plentiful, including Eiffel towers of every size.

The Café Scene

Passing time at a Parisian Café is a must.  We all need down time, whether to rest tired feet after hours of walking or to enjoy some coffee and a treat while people watching for a bit.  Our kids don’t like to hang out long, while I, on the other hand, could linger for hours.  But getting them to chill for a bit so we adults can recharge is an important balance we strike when traveling as a family. 

It is also fun to try out French at a cafe.  While I don’t know a lot of French, I know the important words of croissant, baguette, beignet!  I attempted my French at a café, saying the amount of the item I wanted in French, the item, and finishing off with Merci!  (Un baguette and deux beignet sil vous plait!). Pretty easy!

Our trip to Paris was “magnifique” especially because we experienced it with our kids.  We visited some top sites as well as had some magical moments just simply being in this amazing city together.  In sharing this guide, we hope that this list of faves from our kids and teens helps you plan a trip to Paris.

Read More!

When we visited Paris, we spent a few days in London and then took the train to Paris.  We have a post, Guide to Visiting Two of Europe’s Greatest Cities, London and Paris, where we share the highlights for just a few days in each city as well as our itinerary.

Dietary Notes

As always, everyone’s needs are different.  At press time my husband is grain-free and two of our kids are allergic to nuts and eggs.  Although we seem to encompass a large amount of dietary restrictions, we can only offer advice as to what pertains to our own family, as that is where our expertise lies!

Since we had a kitchen in our Airbnb, we used Google Maps to find nearby grocery stores.  It was easy to get ahold of fresh produce, coffee, and various items for breakfast which we always ate in.  We often packed snacks and picnic lunches so we were sure to grab those types of items as well.

Dining out in Paris was a bit tricky with dietary restrictions.  After a day of sightseeing, we found a highly rated restaurant we wanted to try.  While very nice and apologetic they were not able to assure us that our kids allergic to nuts and eggs would be able to safely eat there.  We decided to grab some items from a nearby market and head back to our Airbnb for our meal.

Having a kitchen in Paris was essential.  Not only were we able to cook meals in but we also prepped picnic items for those who had a hard time finding safe food out. 

For more on traveling with dietary restrictions, be sure to check out our guide:  On the Go with Allergies.