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Though Paris is touted as a romantic city, it’s actually full of fun things for kids, too — from jousting for a brass ring on the carousel in the Luxembourg Gardens to ice skating under the stars. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five best things to do with kids in Paris:
1. Play in the Luxembourg Gardens. Located in the sixth arrondissement, the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens are chock-full of kid-friendly activities. Saddle them up on the vintage carousel, so they can joust for a brass ring as it goes round and round. There’s also a fantastic playground that will keep little ones entertained for hours.
2. Treats in the Tuileries Garden. A stroll through Tuileries Garden is soothing for the whole family. While your children chow down on French ice cream (similar to gelato), you can relax by the ponds and soak up the history of the palatial gardens.
3. Take a boat tour. Hop aboard a bateau mouche (open-air boat) for a tour along the Seine. It lets you take in all of the sights without traipsing through the numerous arrondissements with your kids in tow. They’ll love sitting on the top deck and seeing the city from a different point of view.
4. Visit Disneyland Paris. There’s something about this amusement park that makes it irresistible. Perhaps it’s the characters we’ve grown up with or the French counterpart to “the happiest place on earth.” Either way, you and your kids will have a ball on the rides.
5. Ice skate under the stars. If you’re visiting the City of Light during the winter, definitely pencil in a night of ice skating. Rinks are scattered throughout the city, but we love the one at the Eiffel Tower, where the first level is transformed into an ice rink.
While Paris' charms will probably appeal more to adults, there are several activities that will make it a fun trip for the little ones too.
1. Exploring Egyptian tombs and mummies at the Louvre. The iconic museum has an impressive collection of artefacts from civilisations that developed in the Nile Valley from the late prehistoric era (c. 4000 BC) to the fourth century AD. The main draw is the funerary art room, which contains a rich collection of mummy portraits, which is bound to keep you as well as the kids in complete awe!
2. La Géode 3D cinéma is a large mirror-finished sphere in the park of La Villette in north-eastern Paris. Located inside the impressive modular Cité des Sciences (the science museum), the Géode is halfway between sculpture and monument; the enormous silver sphere looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie rather than in picturesque Paris. Worth seeing at the moment are wildlife films Under the Sea, Born to be Wild and Arctic. (Note: some of the films are in English with French subtitles and some are in French).
3. The Foire du Trône is a lively funfair that takes place every year from March to May in the scenic Bois de Vincennes; a park southeast of the city. The star fair rides include the Star Flyer and the Power Max, but for something a little less gut wrenching, there is also a Ferris wheel and the usual fair ground games. This year the fair will run through 26 May.
4. An evening at the Cirque d'Hiver (which translates as 'winter circus' although it runs all year around) is a surreal experience taking you right back to a time before videogames and the internet filled most of the kids’ days. And not only is the show an experience to remember but the oversized circus tent setting is also spectacular. A show lasts about two and a half hours and includes some of the most talented acrobats, trapeze artists, tigers, dogs, horses and clowns presented by the ringmaster Monsieur Loyal.
5. If the term ‘Greennovation’ arouses your curiosity, then this festival’s for you. We Love Green is one of the most wholesome events in the city, with music from some of the biggest names, a beautiful setting in the Parc de Bagatelle (one of the city's many gardens), and, as its name suggests, 100 per cent green values. This year the festival will run from 14-16 September and the line up includes C2C, Norah Jones and James Blake. There are also lots of workshops and activities centred on the environment for kids of all ages.
Luckily, between the foie gras and impressionist museums, there are actually quite a few things to do that will please the little ones. Here are my suggestions for the top five things to do with kids in Paris:
1. Tuileries Gardens: This is one of the best places to take the kids on a nice day, as there are several activities to do. It has a gated play area, free trampolines, a beautiful vintage merry-go-round, and toy boats to rent. Plus, after all that playing, you can enjoy an ice cream together on the lawn.
2. Cooking Classes: If you see a bit of foodie in your kids, then they might enjoy taking a cooking class while in Paris. Les Coulisses du Chef is a great place to test their culinary skills, as they offer classes for kids every Wednesday from 3-5pm.
3. Le Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes: This is the oldest working zoo in the world, that was opened just after the French Revolution. It's a great place to take the kids as it has easy stroller access and picnic tables for lunch in the park.
4. Le Jardin d'Acclimation: On the west side of Paris is one of the largest parks in France, where you'll find over 50 activities to do wtih kids. Some of the highlights include a lake where you can rent kayaks, theaters that host puppet shows, trampolines, pony rides, miniature golf, outdoor and indoor playgrounds, and an enchanted river trip. The park also has a roller coaster suitable for children between 6 and 8 years old.
5. Les Bateaux Mouches: No trip to Paris is complete without a ride down the Seine on the famous Bateaux Mouches, the oldes boat cruise in the city. Offering rides throughout the day, it's a great way to see monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the famous bridges of Paris while relaxing atop the long barge.