My vivacious daughter Charleigh emphatically chose Paris to celebrate her fifth birthday. She had her heart set on seeing the Eiffel Tower because her favorite superhero Ladybug Girl fights bad guys in Paris. I created the ultimate itinerary of activities in Paris for kids that adults will equally enjoy.
1. Disneyland Paris
Adults the world over simultaneously refer to Disneyland as the happiest place on Earth. Our kids have visited both American Disney locations so a trip to Paris Disneyland was highly anticipated. All the magical elements of Disney have been built with perfect precision in Paris.
We spent a total of 13 hours riding rides, exploring, eating, and generally just soaking in the Disney experience. I have a lot of thoughts and tips for future guests at Disneyland Paris. Stay tuned for an in-depth review of the park later this summer. Just know that it is a definite must on your activities in Paris for kids itinerary.
2. Lunch at Le Malakoff
Very near our hotel in the Trocadéro district, we stumbled upon a row of bistros from which we were going to chose for lunch. We settled on Le Malakoff since their host outside was the most welcoming. Upon seating, we were provided with English menus and given time to decide.
The fixed menu style meant we were all provided with multiple courses but with quite a bit of flexibility. They accommodated my onion allergy with kindness and knowledge of ingredients. My daughters appreciated being able to end their lunch with a giant bowl of ice cream topped with a cookie. Oh, and the best part, this restaurant has a peek a boo view of the Eiffel Tower. It is, in my opinion, a quintessential Parisian lunch experience.
3. Catacombs of Paris
Many people reached out to me after I posted on social media about taking my kids to the Catacombs. I realize not everyone considers this to be an appropriate activity for a grade schooler. Bret and I decided a long time ago to be fairly matter of fact with our parenting style. We, for the most part, tell it like it is.
Death is just a reality of life. Getting to put the catacombs into a historical context for our kids was actually very powerful. Jefri ended up being more interested in the mining that occurred in the tunnels prior to the bones arrival there. If you're into using the world to educate your children you should definitely put the catacombs on your short list of activities in Paris for kids.
4. Palace of Versailles
This is one of those things that end up on your list of possible activities because of name recognition. All of our travels have included some sort of historic castle day, so Versailles made it on the list. I honestly didn't even google it.
I purchased time-specific entry tickets (and THANK GOODNESS), which allowed us to bypass a line of thousands upon thousands of people. After entering the palace it became immediately obvious that this was not a half day adventure like previous castles.
Yes, the palace was dripping with gold and incredibly beautiful.
Sure the fountain show set to music was mesmerizing.
Indeed the gardens were impressive.
But by far our favorite activity of the day was boating around the canal with the Palace of freaking Versailles in the background. Seriously magical. I mean I cried.
5. Lunch at Angelina
After deciding to spend the entire day at Versailles we selected Angelina for lunch. I cannot recall what I originally ordered, but it wasn't to my liking. My husband begrudgingly switched meals with me. He had ordered the truffle ravioli.
I love to eat. So I do not say this lightly when I say it was the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. Honestly, I couldn't stop talking about how delicious that ravioli was. In all our travels I can only recall repeating a dining option once at Old Ebbits in Washington D.C.
I begged my husband to let us stick around until dinner and eat at Angelina's again. Alas, the kiddos were on the brink of exhaustion well before we needed another meal at Versailles.
But fate dealt me a lucky hand. Turns out Angelina's is a chain. There ended up being a location just a couple of blocks from our hotel in the Vendome district. Before any opportunities presented themselves to eat at that location, we stumbled upon the Angelina inside the Lourve! Thank goodness I got to eat that truffle ravioli again. It is heaven.
6. Noodles at Sanukiya
If you've read my Travel Tips for Siblings That Fight, you know that one of the ways to keep the peace is separating the kids. One particular night nobody would agree on what to eat for dinner. And by nobody, I mean the kids.
Jefri was set on Japanese food while Charleigh wanted anything but Japanese. I did a quick Yelp search and found a restaurant within walking distance that served udon. Jefri loves udon.
Upon our arrival, I was pretty surprised to see a line down the block. It was on the later side for a dinner rush. We got in line to assess our options. There wasn't any other Japanese restaurant that was walkable and open so we decided to see if the line moved quickly. A family in front of us was from Washington D.C. and informed us that Sanukiya was a Michelin star rated restaurant.
Fairly quickly we were seated and my daughter engaged in some conversation with the waitress in Japanese. The waitress was incredibly sweet speaking to my daughter multiple times even with a packed restaurant. We were both happy with our noodles and katsu.
7. Louvre Museum
Traveling with a family means balancing priorities all day, every day. While the Louvre wasn't necessarily a top priority for activities in Paris for kids, it was certainly on the top of my list. Whenever there is something I want to do but I know my kids will resist, I go into research mode.
I discovered the Louvre had audioguides in Japanese, a fact my daughter Jefri would be thrilled about. For Charleigh, I pitched the Egyptian exhibit since she loves the movie The Mummy with Brendan Frasier. Both girls were pretty stoked about seeing the Victory statue as Nike is headquartered just a few miles from our home.
It's all in how you sell the activity. Everyone was as excited as mommy to see the Louvre.
8. Dinner at 58 Tower Eiffel
We had told Charleigh she would not get to actually eat inside the Eiffel Tower as she requested because it was fully booked. However, upon our arrival to the base of the tower, we revealed we would, in fact, be celebrating her birthday with a meal at 58 Tower Eiffel.
My only complaint was that they decided to argue with me about my request for no onions and insisted that they only covered everything in shallots. Upon googling shallots and showing the waiter he did apologize and correct the mistakes.
At first, I was disappointed with our seating because we were near the interior of the tower and didn't have much of a view. But after walking over to check out the view from the tables along with the windows I realized they had no iconic tower structure visible in their photos. From our table, it was visibly clear from all our dinner photos where we were, inside the Eiffel Tower. Seats along the window get a lovely view of the city but no iron structure in their photos.
9. Climbing the Eiffel Tower
After enjoying dinner you are allowed to walk up to the next level of the tower. Unless you pay for an additional lift ticket your dinner does not include transport via elevator.
The stairs are steep and they seem to go on forever. As a parent, this was absolutely one of the scariest activities in Paris for kids. Terrible scenarios kept crossing my mind of all the things that could go wrong while we were that high up. Thankfully nothing went wrong and nobody got hurt.
The views from that second level of the Eiffel Tower are breathtaking.
10. Lunch at Le Coupe Gorge
On our way to Notre Dame, we stopped for lunch at Le Coupe Gorge. We were seated upstairs and immediately I noticed the menu was a little out of our comfort zone. There were pigs feet and kidneys on what appeared to be a very short list of menu options.
The waitress came over and suggested a pasta option which wasn't on the menu for the kids to split. She mentioned some specials and both my husband and I selected from items she verbally told us. I explained my onion allergy as I do at every restaurant. Moments later the chef arrived upstairs to explain what he could do in accordance with no onions. We agreed on a meal and had a short chat before he retired to go cook.
The food was spectacular. We decided to have dessert. The waitress offered menus but then also said the chef could do a surprise dessert if we just state what kinds of things we like. We had such trust in the chef after our amazing lunch that we decided to let him create a custom dessert. I don't know the name of what we ate but it was a mess of sugary goodness.
One final glorious touch to our experience at Le Coupe Gorge was the proprietor showing us photos of his son after our meal. Before we left he presented us with some homemade nougat as we paid the bill and thanked us for coming in.
11. Notre Dame
On our last day in Paris, we had actually intended on visiting the Natural History Museum. It wasn't until the morning we woke up and navigated directions that Google informed me that the museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Our back up plan was Notre Dame.
We visited Notre Dame April 9, 2019, exactly 6 days before the now infamous fire.
Notre Dame was on my short list of activities in Paris for kids because of the jewels. The cathedral itself wasn't going to get my kids excited, but jewels always thrill them.
In addition, after our visit, we spent some time in the town square letting the kids play with bubbles. There was a street performer doing giant bubbles for the kids to chase. I always keep money on me to tip the fabulous entertainment on the streets of Europe.
11 Activities in Paris for Kids
Paris is the ultimate mashup of history and cutting edge. My kids loved their visit to Paris, and the adults did as well.
If you've been to Paris, drop me a comment telling me something we need to see on our next visit.