Paris. The City of Light. The City of Love. Paris is a place that conjures up feelings of romance. This may incline you to leave the kids home with their grandparents for a week so you and your spouse can have a getaway. Which certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
But Paris isn’t just for adults. My two older kids and I had a fantastic time back in May (SEE: 3 Days in Paris: Day 3 – Savoring the City). There are plenty of things to do for kids, and young ones can certainly enjoy the French capital in their own way. Here are three reasons to take the kids to Paris:
Plenty of parks and activities for children
The abundance of parks within Paris amazed me. From the nice little playground alongside Trocadéro Gardens, to the expansive park of Luxembourg Gardens, there are plenty of spaces for kids in the City of Lights. We visited a few during our three days in Paris.
Our favorite by far was the Luxembourg Gardens. You can enjoy the gardens themselves for free, but you’ll have to shell out a bit of cash for activities. Perhaps the most classic is renting one of the wooden sailboats to navigate around the pond for €4.
There is also a fantastic playground on the west side of the gardens that will cost you €2.50 per child and €1.20 per adult. It may seem crazy to pay an entry fee for a playground, but this one is totally worth it. Honestly, it’s the nicest I’ve ever seen, and with the usage it gets, it makes sense to charge a fee for the upkeep.
The best part is that they don’t have idiotic rules preventing such fun things as a merry-go-round. My son flew off and landed hard a few times, but always got up with a smile on his face. It was play at its best. I enjoyed watching my kids engage with other children, even hampered by the language barrier. Most of the kids obviously spoke French, but there were a few who spoke English, obviously on holiday in Paris from England, as well as a couple I overheard who were speaking either German or Dutch. The playground definitely sees its share of foreign tourists!
Free entry into many museums
Paris caters to families by offering free entry into many of the museums and historic sites. Admission into the Musée de l’Orangerie, the Saint-Chappelle, the Conciergierie, was at the cost of a single adult ticket. Kids always get in free.
The definition of child is broad as well. You don’t have to pay for admission until you are 18. All the more reason to bring your teens to visit Paris!
This is a stark contrast to many attractions in the U.S. where children often pay adult prices at ages such as 12 or 13. In some cases, this makes sense. In others, it seems rather unwarranted. I was happy to be spending far less than expected to access several sights in the city.
It’s an unforgettable adventure
Visiting Europe is not a simple undertaking, especially with kids. But neither is it as hard as you might think. Why not have an adventure there instead of a family trip to Disney World?
Many (most?) kids ideal vacation is likely a visit to the happiest place on earth. But a trip to Disney is definitely not without substantial cost and planning in its own right. With miles and points, a trip across the pond is just as doable as a trip to Orlando, maybe even more so. Our trip to Disneyland in southern California was about as costly as our trip to Europe. Which one will they likely remember more?
There are times that I wondered how much my kids picked up during our brief week in Paris and Luxembourg. Some of what we saw really engaged my them, while other things did not. During the trip I hoped that enough history and cultural experience moments would stick. So the times that I have heard them relaying their experience to friends have been a delight and make me very glad I took them on the adventure.
A vacation with kids in a foreign country may seem daunting to some, but with adequate planning and preparation, it can be a great adventure. Take your kids to Paris. You won’t regret it.