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Paris Muse Family Days

Kristen Laakso Kids in Paris-6

Check out our practical resource to help families get the most out of their days in Paris! We’ve hyper-linked maps to many of the locations mentioned below to make it easier for you to find your way around the city.

Day 1: In and Around the Louvre

Spending the day in and around the Louvre can be a stress-free highlight of your family’s trip if you approach it with a plan.

Young treasure hunters searching for Clues in the Louvre museum.

Our first piece of advice is, don’t go it alone!

Our “Paris Muse Clues: A Family Louvre Tour” program — led by our top-notch educators — is the best way to make the world’s greatest museum fun and accessible for kids. This 2-hour “treasure hunt” introduces kids to the major museum highlights and is designed to engross children ages 6 – 12.

If you loved our Muse Clues tour, great news, we recently launched our second family tour at this museum: “A Nile Family Voyage at the Louvre.” Embark on this journey of the Louvre’s vast Egyptian collection to learn why this ancient civilization continues to capture our imagination!

If you opt to visit the Louvre on your own, we recommend planning ahead. Before you go, explore the Louvre website’s interface for children by following the animated character Vivant-Denon. When you arrive at the museum, pick up a free map at the information desk. Make an adventure out of finding the works you saw on the Louvre’s website. Avoid trying to “see it all” as a little bit goes a long way with children in museums.

After your museum adventure, picnic in the famous Tuileries gardens, a huge park which stretches from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde. For lunch, grab sandwiches at the Paul bakery truck just behind the Arc du Carrousel. The Café du Saut du Loup in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is an upscale option, with outdoor seating in the gardens during the summer.

After lunch, kids can let off steam in the trampoline park, at the northwestern side of the park just behind the Jeu de Paume museum. In the summer months, take advantage of the mini-carnival in the Tuileries with games and rides, including a small Ferris wheel that offers terrific views of Paris. Other activities include: pony rides, toy sailboat rentals (for the fountains), a jungle gym and slide in the kids’ playground.

In the mood for something sweet? Get the full French cultural experience by trying out a traditional snack! Crêpes and waffles with whipped cream are available in the park’s cafés and snack trucks. For a more gourmet treat, drop by the nearby Angelina Tearoom and Café which features famous hot chocolate and pastries that are always a hit with the kids. The hot chocolate is so thick your spoon will stand up in it! It’s a popular place, so be prepared for a bit of a wait.

Afterwards, walk back through the Tuileries gardens, through the Louvre’s main courtyard, past the main glass pyramid, through the beautiful Cour Carrée and out into the rue l’Amiral de Coligny. (It’s the first street you’ll run into as you come out of the back of the Louvre). From here, take a second to turn around and take in the back end of the palace, known as “La Colonnade.” King Louis XIV wanted this massive facade to be the Louvre’s main entrance 300 years ago. How intimidating and monumental! Have kids look for Louis’ insginia–back to back Ls– decorating the medallions all along the length of this east façade!

Next, cross the river via the historic Pont Neuf bridge. Dating back to around 1600, the Pont Neuf or “new bridge” is actually Paris’ oldest bridge! In the middle of the bridge on the west side, you’ll see an equestrian statue of King Henri IV. Take the staircase behind Henri down to the lovely Square du Vert Galant park, at the very tip of the Ile de la Cité island. From there, hop on a river cruise with Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf. The one hour cruises take you up and down the Seine river past all the beloved monuments of Paris (the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, the Pont Alexandre III bridge). Although a bit touristy, river cruises are a great way to rest your feet, while continuing to sightsee.

For dinner:

Directly across from the statue of King Henri on his horse is the picturesque oasis of the Place Dauphine, a hidden gem of a square and an excellent place to have a quiet dinner. Try the outdoor terrace at Le Caveau du Palais, one of many little restaurants on the square.

Practical Info:

Musée du Louvre. Open Wednesday through Monday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. From 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Admission: 17 euros. Children under 18 are free. Prepare for your visit at the Louvre’s website in English.

Try our Louvre family tours: “Paris Muse Clues: A Family Louvre Tour” and “A Nile Family Voyage at the Louvre.”

Le Saut du Loup Restaurant, Accessible from the Tuileries Gardens, just behind the Arc du Carrousel, or from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs entrance at 107 rue de Rivoli. 20-50 euros per person.

Angelina’s Tea Room and Café, 226, rue de Rivoli. This street runs parallel to the Tuileries. 15-40 euros per person.

Le Caveau du Palais Restaurant, 17-19 Place Dauphine. 20-50 euros per person.

River cruises with Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf last one hour and cost 14 euros for adults and 7 euros for kids 4-12. Reduced price tickets available if you reserve online. Cruises depart every hour, on the hour from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. between March 15 and October 31. Hours vary in the low season. We recommend taking the cruises at dusk when the natural light is beautiful, or in the evening when the monuments are beautifully lit with spotlights. Visit their website for details.

For more about this area of Paris, consider reserving our “Historic Hear of Paris” walking tour.

Day 2: At the Trocadéro

The Trocadéro neighborhood in the western part of Paris is packed with family-friendly attractions, and great views of the Eiffel Tower to boot! When you arrive at the Place du Trocadéro take a moment to marvel at the Eiffel Tower, just across the river. This plaza, located between two imposing Art Deco buildings, is always buzzing with roller-bladers, skateboarders, and souvenir-sellers. It’s a great spot for a family photo, too.

When you’re ready to head indoors, all of the family-friendly sites we recommend below are within easy walking distance.

The Cité de l’Architecture is a treasure trove of France’s architectural wonders from the middle ages to present day. The permanent collection consists of 850 copies of architecture from abbeys, cathedrals, private mansions, railway stations, skyscrapers and modern apartment buildings (many of them life size!). Kids will be intrigued by the grand scale and minute detail of the models. And the family-friendly museum itself is light-filled and airy, with floor to ceiling windows. You’ll find “activity stations” where kids can draw and manipulate architectural models. There is an audio/video guide in English for Mom and Dad, too.

The Musée de la Marine is one of the oldest maritime museums in the world. Highlights of the collection include: the “Ocean,” a 19th century sailing vessel equipped with 120 canons, a gilded barge built for Napoleon, and dozens of model boats dating from the 18th century. Kids can also observe the in-house restoration team at work.

The Ciné Aqua Aquarium.
The Ciné Aqua Aquarium.

The Ciné Aqua Aquarium is a recently renovated aquarium featuring 500 species of fish, invertebrates, sharks and coral.

For little ones, there is a touch pool where kids can feed and touch cod. The cinema features movies about aquatic life as well as kid favorites like Spiderman (in French).

Take a lunch break at:

The Cité de l’Architecture’s Café Carlu is a good casual option for lunch. In addition to great views of the Eiffel tower, virtual tours of the museum’s collections are available on the café’s touch screens. Café Carlu, 15-20 euro per person.

Carette’s (4 Place du Trocadéro) A Paris institution, famous for its pastries and hot chocolate. Wonderful for an afternoon snack, although it serves lunch and dinner as well. Carette Patisserie and Tearoom, 4 Place du Trocadéro. 10-40 euros per person.

In the afternoon, try one of the museums you didn’t visit in the morning or walk down the hill towards the Eiffel Tower. On the way, play in the Jardins du Trocadéro park and ride on an old fashioned carrousel. If you’d like to climb the Eiffel Tower for your afternoon activity, don’t forget to plan ahead and book your tickets online.

Practical Info:

La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
Palais de Chaillot, 1 place du Trocadéro, in the 16th arrondissment.
Open every day except Tuesday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (Thursdays until 9 p.m.)
Admission 8-5 euros. Free for under 18’s. If traveling by metro, take line 6 or 9 to the Trocadéro stop.

Le Musée de la Marine
Palais de Chaillot, 17, place du Trocadéro, in the 16th arrondissement.
Open every day except Tuesday from 10a.m.-6p.m.
Admission: 8-6 euros. Free for kids under 6.

2, avenue des Nations Unies, in the 16th arrondissement.
Open every day from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.In July and August until 10 p.m.

Day 3: Dino Fun and Other Natural History Wonders

Skeletons in the Museum of Paleontology at the Jardin des Plantes.
Skeletons in the Gallery of Anatomy and Paleontology at the Jardin des Plantes.

Creepy crawlies! Giggling monkeys! Old dinosaur bones! Discover these and more at the Jardins des Plantes park, a kid-friendly place where the whole family can enjoy a Parisian ambience.

The Jardins des Plantes was founded in the 17th century by King Henri IV for scientists to cultivate medicinal plants. Naturalists once brought their specimens, collected from around the world, back here for study. It’s been dedicated to scientific research for over 300 years; there are laboratories on site still in use.

There are several attractions here—all part of the National Museum of Natural History—but we recommend beginning your day at the world’s oldest zoo, the Ménagerie. Founded in the 18th century (when many an exotic animal was made homeless after their owners were guillotined during the French Revolution), the zoo is now home to kangaroos, camels, llamas, panthers, flamingos, orangutans, monkeys, anacondas, geckos, crocodiles and giant tortoises.

For lunch:

Either bring picnic supplies or purchase food from little kiosks around the beautifully-landscaped park. There are several picnic tables inside the zoo, some with “animal views.” If you need a break from the outdoors, the nearby rue Mouffetard is a charming market street with cafés, bakeries, specialty cheese shops, and fresh produce stands (great eye candy for kids!). At the bottom of rue Mouffetard try the La Salle à Manger restaurant with outdoor dining, featuring reasonably priced organic food and snacks. Teens might enjoy shopping for souvenirs, trinkets and inexpensive clothing here.

After lunch:

Return to the Jardin des Plantes to experience the wonderful world of plants and flowers. Stroll through free exhibits in several large Greenhouses (Les Grandes Serres) organized by theme (tropical forests, deserts, for example). There are also playgrounds with jungle gyms, for kids to be kids.

The Grand Gallery of Evolution at the National Museum of Natural History.
The Grand Gallery of Evolution at the National Museum of Natural History.

Another afternoon option is the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution. The Gallery demonstrates the basic principles of evolution and celebrates the planet’s incredible biodiversity, with an engaging visual spectacle. Interactive activities (tapping on buttons to hear different animal noises, for example) don’t require knowledge of French.

The weird and wonderful at the Gallery of Anatomy and Paleontology .
The weird and wonderful at the Gallery of Anatomy and Paleontology .

For more old-fashioned fun, try the Gallery of Anatomy and Paleontology (Galerie d’Anatomie comparée et de Paleontologie) at the other end of the park. This 19th century building is a dusty, old treasure trove of the weird and wonderful. The ground floor features spooky skeletons of turtles, crocodiles, giraffes and pythons. There’s even an Indian rhinoceros, brought here from Versailles in 1770. Families with squeamish little ones should skip the creepy jars of deformed organs, embryos and other medical anomalies in display cases along the sides of the galleries (but they might just startle your underwhelmed-by-everything teens!) Upstairs, there are fossils, bones and dinosaur models that cover over 600 million years of life on earth.

Leave the park via the Quai Saint Bernard (Seine river side of the park) and walk up the riverbank to end your day with a Batobus boat ride back to the center of town.

Practical Info:

To get to the Jardin des Plantes, take métro line #7 to the Jussieu or Censier Daubenton stops. Or take the Batobus boat up the river to the Jardins des Plantes stop. For the closest stop to your hotel, visit the Batobus website.

The Jardin des Plantes
36, rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire 75005
Open from 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Opening hours for the greenhouses vary.

Zoo (Ménagerie)
Open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon-Sat.
Sundays from 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Admission: 8 euros. Free admission for children under 4.
More info

Grand Gallery of Evolution (Grande Galerie de l’Evolution)
Open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday to Monday
Admission: 7 euros
More info

Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology (Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée)
Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m
Admission: 7 euros

La Salle à Manger Restaurant, 138, rue Mouffetard.15-30 euros per person.

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