5 top tips to make your first family cultural trip to Paris a real success

It is not easy organising holidays abroad and finding activities which will make everybody happy. The whole family is enthusiastic but each member wants something a little bit different. Arthur, five years old, is after loads of fun and is desperate to see the Eiffel Tower. But his sister Mary, who is nine, would like to visit the Louvre and learn all about the history of Paris. Then there’s your husband, who wants to explore French gastronomy and try his hand at a French cooking class. And that’s before you have even considered yourself! You want to make everyone happy and spend a wonderful time forming lifelong memories with your family.

Culture with kids

Paris is a fantastic city to visit with kids – there are so many things to discover! It has a local feel and is perfectly safe to walk around. I think a family holiday should be all about everyone being together and sharing quality family time. Because I have organized so many successful family breaks, I want to let you in on a few of my secret tips to help you organise the best possible trip for the family.

Get the accommodation right

You are struggling to decide between a hotel and an apartment. But do you really have to choose? There are some really excellent apartments located in 4 or 5 star hotels. Personally, I think it is the perfect option for a family, letting you enjoy the freedom of an apartment – with its own kitchen or kitchenette – alongside the services typical of a hotel: daily cleaning, helpful reception, and breakfasts in the morning. If you are set on staying at a hotel, my advice is to choose a child-friendly one which will help you make your stay easier.

Say ‘yes’ to museums and culture

But with a special and fun family twist… museums and cultural destinations can quickly get boring for kids. To keep the young ones engaged, you have to take a different approach to make them interested and enthusiastic. First up, I advise you to bear in mind what they like and what they want to see. But that’s not always enough: you have to find places aimed directly at kids, and luckily for you there are a lot of very interesting such places in Paris. For example, if your child is passionate about science you should visit the famous Cité des Sciences. Or if one of them likes the magical world of the funfair, you cannot miss the Musée des arts forains, a fantastic place where you will find carousels and other carnival attractions dating back to the early 1900s.

Ask for help

If you are looking for an overview of Paris’s many artistic masterpieces, it is better to book a trip with a professional, local agency. First of all, they know everything about Paris and the best ways to see the sights. You are sure to save time, find museums open and, most importantly, you will be escorted by a professional and English-speaking guide. They can organise part or all of your trip depending on your preferences and requirements, and I am sure it will be of great help to you and fill your trip with good – rather than bad – surprises!

Experience culture in many different ways

Not just the museums, Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower. To get to know Paris better, it is essential to explore French culture in all its forms. French gastronomy is renowned the world over, so make the most of your time in Paris to try escargots, pâtisserie, pain and fromage. And if you fall in love with French food, you can have a cooking class (there are loads of different options in Paris). If you are not so interested in cooking you can have a break in a very typical Parisian café and get a private French lesson. Then it will be easier for you to chat with the locals and navigate the city without getting lost.

Enjoy the parks and gardens

Your children need to have some time to relax. Paris has plenty of big parks and gardens everywhere, so I suggest you choose a hotel with a park nearby. Whatever the season, you can enjoy a quiet moment outside with the children playing safely in a place specially set aside for them. Le Champ de Mars (near the Eiffel Tower) and the Jardin du Luxembourg with its pond full of model boats are very good places for a lovely time with your family.

Paris is perfect for your first family cultural trip and I am sure you will leave with a wonderful set of lifelong memories.

Magali Déchelette is CEO at Family Twist.

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Comments (9)

  1. Tam says:

    Ah, don’t forget the wonderful history of France! Versailles is a must…and the stories of the musketeers…the kings and queens…the artists, the writers…learn about them and tell the stories to your children! I’ve taken my children to Paris a couple of times, and since I am a history lover, I had all kinds of stories to keep them riveted, regardless of their ages.

  2. LOVE Paris. My favorite attraction is the Louvre, the largest museum in the world, which was established back in 1793. I think something few know is that The Louvre was not originally built to house a museum, back in 1190 they were concerned about the potential of invasion of their city and this building was built as a fortress to protect against possible raids. So it’s definitely had quite a lengthy historical significance.

    What a great post, thanks for sharing!

  3. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks for that, Taylor. Another interesting fact about the Louvre surrounds the pyramid which opened in 1989. Not only was it unpopular with architectural conservationists, but they’re also not a favourite with film-makers. This is because any film directors who want to shoot the inner courtyard in their movies have to pay royalities to the pyramid’s architect, I.M. Pei. That’s why films often focus on the older architecture in Paris – get a more recent building in shot and it can add significantly to the budget!

  4. Definitely agree with this article ; if you are looking for a 5-star hotel, I would recommend to stay either Rue de Rivoli (Le Meurice, Bristol, close to center of Paris) or Avenue George V (Fouquet’s Barriere, Four Seasons George V, close to Champs-Elysees) because the rest doesn’t worth it. Then for both culture and transportation, many options exist for tourist to get unlimited passes, you can ask to any RATP office.

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, Francois… always good to have hotel recommendations, too.

  6. Thank you for all your comments.
    Very true that the kids will be very interested by cultural/history anecdotes. During your visit at the Louvre, do not forget to visit the lower level where you can see the foundations of the former medieval castle. The youngest ones will be impressed. You can still admire the stone-cutters’ signature on the walls!
    One good way to keep your family stimulated during the trip is to start the cultural discovery way before the travel dates by reading books about Paris, watching movies the kids would love (a monster in Paris, Ratatouille, the Hunchback of Notre Dame…) or even bake some typical French recipes, right now is the time to bake the famous Galette des Rois.

  7. Kerry says:

    There is so much to do in Paris with a family! My family spent two weeks in a home exchange in the Paris area during the summer of 2009. Some of the activities that thrilled our kids and gave us parents great joy to observe were: Paris Plage on the Seine; the fabulous children’s playground and the pony rides at Luxembourg Gardens; The ferris wheel and rides in Tuilleries Gardens; Versailles night time spectacular with fountains, music, special light effects and the biggest bubble machine you ever saw!

  8. Stuart says:

    Definitely your article sounds an informative and helpful, so thank you very much for sharing with us here. I agree with this post and I was travelled Paris last year with family. We enjoyed our trip. I recommend Paris to people who are looking the great destinations for their tour with family, wife or alone.

  9. Ana David says:

    As a parisian mother of three children, I can say Paris is one of the best destination with kids. There is always something to do with them. If you are looking for a child friendly hotel, I recommand you 9HOTEL OPERA, Hôtel Bel Ami. Do you prefer an appartment ? You can try Helzear Rive Gauche Appartements. You want to relax after visiting the Eiffel tower, go to “Une Mère, une Fille à Paris” a restaurant that loves children.

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