Aaaah, Paris has it all. Great atmosphere, fabulous museums, good food and a whole bunch of streets to stroll in, one more picturesque than the other. Nowhere in the world you can find so much charm packed in one city. And what’s more: it’s a work in progress. Despite its rich offering in historical sites, the City of Light is also a vibrating, innovating and surprising place. Let’s go and fall in love.
We made a guide to discover Paris with kids during a weekendtrip (or two, three, five?). This being said, many of the places we selected are interesting for everyone, not just for families, so you might as well use this guide when you are visiting without offspring. For your convenience we broke it down into neigborhoods or quartiers. Interested in more hotspots and must-sees? You can find them in the travelguide 360° Parijs we made for Belgian publishing house Lannoo.
Champs-Elysées / Bois de Boulogne
In the back of the Grand Palais
sits the Palais de la Découverte
, an interactive museum about science. ‘To learn, to play and to discover’, in their own words. In this gem of a 19th century building with lots of grandeur
, kids and their parents discover everything about chemistry, physics, math, optics and astronomy. They can do little experiments, learn about animal communication and even go to ratschool. The museum also offers a wide range of workshops for kids aged 5 and up.
Once the home of wealthy bankers Misses Jacquemart and Mister André, the Musée Jacquemart-Andre
is a real piece of work. The stylish hôtel particulier
of the couple forms the perfect backdrop for their stunning art collection: French paintings and sculptures by David, Chardin, Fragonard and Pigalle, art from the Netherlands with Rembrandt and Van Dyck, not to forget the Italian renaissance with big names such as Boticelli, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Carpaccio and Bellini. Make sure to take time for the temporary exhibitions as well. Also, we strongly urge you to visit the teasalon. It’s gorgeous and has an original fresco by Tiepolo on the ceiling (besides lovely lemon-merenguepie).
On the northside of the huge Bois de Boulogne you can find the Jardin d’ acclimatation
, a supercute amusementpark dating back from 1860. There ’s train- and poneyrides, theatre performances and a farm slash mini-zoo. The little ones can go wild in the playground and of course your visit is not complete without trying the carousel. Très
Don’t be intimidated by its legendary status: if Picasso and Cocteau liked it here, we do as well. The shockingly beautiful art-deco interior, the friendly service and the classic cuisine make Le Boeuf sur le Toit
a place to remember. Please do try the sole meunière
Palais de Tokyo houses the platform for experimental art with the same name, as well as the Musée d’Art Moderne. The first one offers very good temporary exhibitions, while Little Palais aims to please children between 3 and 10 with workshops and other activities linked to the expo. The Musée d’Art Moderne on the other hand specialises in art from the beginning of the 20th century till the beginning of the 21st century, with fauvism, cubism, dadaïsm and of course surrealism, Fluxus, arte povera,… Don’t miss the monumental work La Fée Electricité by the great Raoul Dufy. This gigantic fresco took him a year and it is still the largest painting in the world.
Maison de confiance depuis 1923, says the menu at Savy. White tablelinnen, cloth napkins, waiters with moustaches and a steak béarnaise to make you lyrical: you can find it here. Not to mention the french fries, thin like matches, which is why they call them frites allumettes. And to make it even better, prices are reasonable. Quite exceptional in this neighborhood.
Louvre / Opéra
Delicious Vienna-inspired tearoom Angelina
opened in 1903 and is still going strong. You can try a Mont Blanc here, their patisserie de signature
with merengue, cream and chestnut. But the main reason to pop in is definitely the hot chocolate. It’s widely known as the best in Paris: full, creamy and chock-full of taste.
You haven’t been to Paris if you haven’t tried Chartier
, the legendary bouillon
from 1896, at least once. The food is simple but tasty, with traditionals like oeuf dur mayonnaise
, jambon de pays
, tête de veau sauce gribiche, andouillette grillée, poulet fermier rôti
and of course chou chantilly.
The atmosphere, the interior, the jokes of the staff: it’s all worth queuing for.
Once a bank, Hotel Langlois
is now a threestar hotel with plenty of Parisian charm from the belle époque-era. The authentic furniture miraculously survived a thorough renovation. And what we love most about this place… breakfast is served in the room.
A cosy tiled floor, a long wooden table and smiling staff: that’s Kunitoraya
. The kitchen produces delicious Japanese dishes like udon (noodles in soup), tonkatsu (crispy pork meat) and shrimp and veggie tempura. The food is served in stylish ceramic bowls. There’s lots of Japanese clients, always a good sign. If they don’t know where to eat good food, who will?
La Chambre aux confitures is a conceptstore dedicated to jam. Only in Paris! Minimalistic shelves filled to the brim with hundreds of flavours like wintercitrusfruit, apricot-lavender and geraniumflowers. They even have jamscented candles.
The gardens of the Palais Royal are a green oasis in the heart of the city. You can stroll through the Cour d’honneur along the black and white striped columns of the artist Daniel Buren. Further down the park you find stylish gardens with elegant benches and neatly trimmed trees, surrounded by a gallery with small boutiques and restaurants. There ’s also a lovely rosegarden and a terrain to play jeu de boules, where Parisians enjoy their traditional game as soon as the sun is out.
Beaubourg / Le Marais / Les Îles
The rather fabulous Musée des Arts et Métiers
opened in 1794. It is not as well known as other Parisian institutions but definitely worth a visit. After a few hours in this museum you walk away with a newly found respect for humanity and its many incredible inventions. Allow for enough time! The entire collection contains more than 3000 objects, spread over 3 floors and 7 themes: transport, communication, construction, mechanics, energy, materials and scientific instruments.
At Café Pinson le tout Marais
is enjoying the healthy salads and homemade pastry. This gluten- and dairyfree coffee- and lunchbar boasts a cosy interior and good quality food and drinks, which makes it a nice place for a break during your long walks in the lovely neighborhood.
La Maison Stohrer
dates back to 1730 and is therefore one of the oldest patisseries in Paris. They’re known for their baba rum, religieuse à l’ancienne, puits d’amour
and other sweet delicacies.
Tiny Café Loustic
is a new generation (third wave) coffeebar, where you can combine a high quality shot of coffee (from Belgian roastery Caffenation
) with breakfast, brunch or lunch. Lunch at € 10 is unbeatable, with quiche or a bagel, coffee or tea and a choice of desert such as chocolatemuffins and cheesecake.
Mariage Frères is the place to be for sublime tea: black, green, blue and white tea, lose or in linnen bags, packaged in stylish black boxes. We love the solemn atmosphere here. Next to the shop there’s a tearoom, where you can brunch, lunch or dive into a sweet work of art. With matching tea, évidemment.
Standing in front of the Notre Dame cathedral, you look up to admire the sheer beauty of this historic site. But once you have done that, don’t forget to look down. You will see a bronze star, indicating point zero,
or the geographical centre of Paris. Distances from Paris to other cities in France are measured from here. Pure magic!
The Broken Arm is the très branché conceptstore-cum-café in Haut Marais by the bloggers of Des Jeunes Gens Modernes. Interior objects, artbooks, magazines, shoes, sneakers, fashion for men and women… With lots of plywood, of course.
is situated not far from Opéra Garnier and close to the Grands Boulevards. You’re welcomed by friendly staff and the nostalgic meets contemporary
interior is executed to perfection.
Bastille / Bercy
If you take the steps at bustling Avenue Daumesnil, you reach the Viaduc des Arts. This former railway was transformed into the Promenade Plantée
, an elevated walkway that takes you on a leisurely stroll through the neigborhood. The pedestrian route ends at Jardin de Reuilly, where you can dive straight into the lovely playground if you have kids who need their playtime.
La Fee Verte or the green fairy – a reference to the French liquor absinth – is housed in an art-decobistro where young creatives from the Bastille neighborhood are having a drink or reading the newspaper. It’s a fine place to lunch and dine, with classics such as brochette de poulet, vegetarian lasagna and parmentier de canard.
This tiny place with cool yellow tiles used to be a butcher specialised in horse meat. The V in chevaline was replaced by a Z and voilà: CheZaline
was born. Delphine Zampetti, wife of the well known Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte, produces delicious sandwiches and a few suggestions that change daily. You can eat here (they can only seat 4 people) or order take out. ‘Sandwiches’ actually sounds way too average for what you get: herring with pickles, escabèche bonito with broccoli, escalope milanaise
with candied lemon. Yummie ànd affordable.
La Cinémathèque française is the Paris filmmuseum. It is housed in a smart and exciting building designed by American architect Frank Gehry. With a collection of 40.000 films, it is one of the most important filmarchives in the world. The museum showcases loads of billboards, props, setdesigns and costumes. On top of that you can watch movies, visit the filmlibrary, bookshop and temporary exhibitions, known for their outstanding quality.
The chef of cosy neighborhood bistro Le Temps des Cerises
treats his customers to heartwarming French classics like onionsoup, ray in butter and boudin noir
Uncomplicated and fulfilling.
Merci is le concept store très Parisien, housed in a former wallpaper factory. They offer clothing, design furniture and home essentials in a highly original setting that changes regularly. The pretty Used Book Café is the ideal place to chill with a cuppa. And a book. Of course.
Ever since French director Cédric Klapisch shot his film Chacun cherche son chat
in and around Pause Café
, it’s an institution and popular hangout. The atmosphere is relaxed, coffee and wine drinking clients range from art students to entire families. The menu is filled with simple classics such as risotto and brochette d’ agneau
. The terrace is the perfect hotspot to watch life in this dynamic quartier
Quartier Latin / Les buttes aux cailles
Bibliothèque François Mitterand was designed by French architect Dominique Perrault. You can spend the afternoon here, reading newspapers and magazines, as well as checking out the literary exhibitions.
The front of Cité de la Mode et du Design
– also known as Les Docks – is sitting in the Seine. With its 15.000 m2, this is almost a village in itself, focusing on exhibitions about fashion and design, shops and eateries. Wanderlust
is an interesting festival, where you can discover something different on a daily basis: film, music, fashion, design, contemporary art, dj’s and even workshops yoga and pilates, an organic foodmarket and creative workshops for adults and kids alike.
French architect Jean Nouvel designed the gorgeous Institut du Monde Arabe
, a museum about the Arab world. It shows manuscripts, archeological finds, sculptures, decorative objects and other artefacts of Arabic culture. Le Zyriab is the museum’s restaurant on the 9th floor and serves great Lebanese food and a view to take your breath away. On the groundfloor the same team cooks up simpler but equally delicious Lebanese specialties. Prices here are more moderate.
Jardin des Plantes is a big favorite among Parisians and tourists alike. It consists of 11 different gardens, all with their own vegetation: peonies, rocks, alpine plants, roses… On a sunny day nothing beats a stroll down Jardin des Plantes. For those who don’t feel like moving, sitting on a bench in the shadow of the sycamore trees or picknicking on the lawn is also a terrific idea.
The Mosquée de Paris
was built in the 1920’, as a tribute to the Muslim victims who died for France during the first world war. Inside the complex you find a space for prayer, a hammam, gardens, terraces, a restaurant and a tearoom. It feels like an entirely different world here, closer to Marrakesh than to Paris.
The restaurant serves excellent couscous and you should definitely try one of their irresistible deserts. Free flying birds inside the restaurant add to the magical atmosphere.
The wonderful Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
consists of the Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée,
as well as
the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution.
In the first one you get to look at skeletons of dinosaurs, bears, fish and birds but also of primates and humans. There ’s even one of a Dodo, the now extinct bird. The second one captures the story of life on earth since it all began, some 4 billion years ago. There’s about 7000 forms of animal life to admire, so you’ll need some time to take it all in. One of those is Siam, the Indian elephant who lived in the zoo of Jardin des Plantes for many years. After his death he was added to the exhibition.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés / Montparnasse
Ever since 1831 Deyrolle
has been specialising in taxidermy, the stuffing of dead animals. They sure know how to present the results of their work! It’s a boutique, but actually it feels more like a mini version of the Museum of Natural History in the Jardin des Plantes. Wandering around the two floors, you need more than one pair of eyes to take in all the beauty.
Jazzy music, hospitable atmosphere and great coffee: at Coutume Café
they know the drill. The owners are a couple of thirtysomethings, serving your daily caffeine shot in many different ways. Good coffee was hard to come by in Paris, until a few years ago. Luckily that is changing now. This is the perfect spot for le brunch,
becoming increasingly popular with Parisians.
is much loved in Paris. La Maison du Chou’
s chef Manuel Martinez does the classic version with fillings such as chocolate and mocha, but he also works with seasonal fruit. His filling is not made with custard though, but with a lighter mix of sabayon and cottage cheese. You can buy the pastry to go or enjoy it in the tiny tearoom on picturesque Place Furstenberg.
It’s not only for the building by Parisian starchitect
Jean Nouvel, that you should definitely visit Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain
in Montparnasse. Inside the iconic building, there’s some interesting stuff happening as well. The temporary exhibitions draw an international crowd of artlovers and are known for their excellent quality (this picture shows work of the renowned Ron Mueck
). The foundation also features a specialized bookshop on the first floor and a series of interesting workshops for kids.
The famous l’Hôtel
is the place where Oscar Wilde died, but don’t let that bother you. A drink in the bar of this legendary hotel is a must! The Michelinstarred restaurant is extremely expensive, but the bar is accessible to all. They serve a whole bunch of original cocktails and lesser known whiskeys.
It’s not an option to pay La Patisserie des Rêves
a visit and not
have a bite of anything. They showcase their pastries as if they were works of art, and actually they are. Good to know: you can treat yourself to a sweet treasure and have a seat in the lovely nearby garden of Square des Missions Etrangères. Keep an eye out for Chateaubriand, who ‘ll propably give you a dirty look. Forgive him, the poor guy ’s just jealous of your pastry.
Chef Yves Camdeborde and his wife are the owners of the luxurious hotel Relais Saint-Germain. On the groundfloor of the hotel they run Le Comptoir du Relais
, a modern bistro featuring a menu inspired by terroir and seasonal produce. Bistronomy – refined food served in a simple bistro interior – has been a big hit for years in Paris, so it can get crowded here. For dinner during the week you have to book a long time in advance and also around lunchtime the queue can be long. It’s good to know though, that it’s easy to get in for a late lunch or early dinner, in between regular hours.
The old school interior with its cracked mirrors and low ceiling is a fitting backdrop for the culinary traditions Le Petit Saint-Benoit
stands for. In this neigbourhood restaurant you can dive into grandmother’s staple foods such as boudin noir
(black pudding) avec pomme
, entrecôte béarnaise
, hachis parmentier
(snails). The service is rather brusque, as it can be in Paris, but the food is good and prices are very reasonable. No wonder the writer Marguerite Duras was a regular here (she lived across the street from 1942 till her death in 1996).
Eiffel / Invalides
Boulangerie La Maison Pichard is the bakery haute gamme operated by Frédéric Pichard and his wife. Bread is quintessential in their lives and you can taste it. The crunchy baguettes that leave the oven are to die for, just like the croissants, the millefeuille and the rest of their pastries. An insider tip from the master-baker: before you have a bite of a baguette, you have to break it and smell it.
Musée du Quai Branly is, like so many other remarquable buildings in Paris, the brainchild of architect Jean Nouvel. It aims to initiate a dialogue with non-western cultures, featuring a vast amount of objects from all corners of the world. The exhibitions about Oceania, Africa, Asia and the Americas are on both sides of a symbolic river, to be discovered freely and individually. The museumgarden is worth a walk, even if you don’t visit the museum itself. The terrace of café Branly boasts a magnificent view of the nearby Eiffeltower.
Montmartre / Pigalle
The Cafe les Deux Moulins
– known from the movie Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain –
hasn’t lost its magical appeal. The service has the grandeur of a theatre performance, which is always a treat. Despite the cultstatus of the place, prices are still affordable: the lunchmenu is a bargain at € 15, with entrée-plat or plat-dessert. Tartare saumon
, grilled seabream with tomato and sweet pepper or sauté de porc
: simple, tasty classics from the French kitchen. For desert you need to try the crème brûlée
d’Amelie, île flottante
or the tarte aux poires
Coquelicot is an outstanding bakery and bistro in the quartier of Abbesses, boasting a terrace where you can watch life go by for hours. It’s even heated, so you can use it year round. The place is popular for breakfast and lunch, so during weekends it can get busy. But it’s definitely worth it: the baguettes and croissants are delicious.
The laidback and colourful Hotel Eldorado
combines the cosy bohémien charm of an old guesthouse with the feats of a contemporary hotel. Some of the 33 rooms look out over the lovely garden. A real treat if you ‘re into squeaking doors and old wooden floors! Downstairs the Bistro des Dames serves breakfast and simple yet tasty bistrodishes.
If you like your stuff to have a story, you should pop in chez L’Objet qui parle
. This tiny store on bustling Rue des Martyrs is filled to the brim with interesting objects, like handpainted china, stuffed animals, old apothecary bottles… A real gem.
Canal Saint-Martin / La Villette
At the wildly beautiful bakery Du Pain et des Idées
you ‘re in for top quality baguettes, croissants and escargots chocolat pistache
. Their baked goodies are so sought after, they can even afford to close down in the weekend. Don’t miss the elaborately decorated ceiling!
Looking over the canal, Artazart
is a renowned bookshop where you can easily spend hours leafing through their many publications. An interesting selection of books and magazines about design, fashion, photography and art.
Bobs juice Bar is the brainchild of Marc Grossman. As ‘an American in Paris’ he treats his clientele to daily cold pressed juices, made from veggies as well as fruits. His Green Juice with parsley and ginger and smoothies of seasonal fruit are delicious, as well as the healthy lunch with salads and Japanese inspired rolls.
Hotel du Nord was named after the 1938 film by Marcel Carné, featuring actress Arletty screaming ‘Atmosphère, atmosphère, est-ce que j’ai une gueule d’ atmosphère?’ The movie was not shot here though, but in a studio outside Paris. The food is unpretentious and simple, with staples such as quiche, tournedos, risotto and cheeseburger.
Hotel Le Citizen
is a smart, perfectly situated place along the canal, with very helpful staff that will provide you with lots of good tips for the neighborhood. Rooms are small but very well designed and the oustanding breakfast deserves a special mention.
In Le 104
, housed in a former funeral centre from the 19th century, there’s plenty of exciting stuff happening. Always full of life, le Centquatre contains two big halls, galleries for exhibitions, concerthalls, theater, a library, workshops, a restaurant and a café. Now and then they organise festivals and every Saturday morning there’s a biomarket. Kids under 5 can play in La Maison des Petits, a meetingplace imagined by designer Matali Crasset.
Pink Flamingo’s pizzas are delivered by bike, but you can also devour them at one of their four colorful locations. The dough is made from scratch every day, using organic flour, olive oil and sel de Guérande. Perfect for a cosy picknick close to their first joint, where it all began. After ordering the pizza of your choice, you are given a pink balloon. That way the deliveryboy or –girl will recognise you, as you are enjoying the sun along the canal.
République / Belleville
Lots of good atmosphere, strong cocktails, wildly decorated interiors and a Brazilian inspired menu: that’s Ave Maria
Once a factory for musical instruments and headquarters of the union of metalworkers CGT, La Maison des Métallos
is now a vibrant arts centre and a refuge for Belleville’s creative community. The city of Paris bought the building and transformed it into the place to be for exhibitions, concerts, theater, dance, lectures, workshops and the Café Numérique
, where you can grab a bite or have a drink.
La Petite Fabrique
exudes a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that’s somewhat Scandinavian. On the menu are seasonal dishes like soup, vegetablepie and pasta. Sunday brunch is very popular with the crowd from the 20th arrondissement
The minute you enter Le Charbon
, you get why it has such a cult status in the Oberkampf neighborhood. This is Belle Epoque meets
Far West! In weekends the bar is populated by le tout Paris,
sipping wine and stronger stuff. The terrace is lovely as well.
is the second restaurant owned by the Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte, who cooks up his signature dishes in a Rem Koolhaas designed interior. The difference with adjoining Le Chateaubriand is that the food is served tapas style in the evenings and prices are more accessible. Making reservations is however necessary. Around lunchtime it’s slightly easier to get in. In any case it’s worth the wait: both the food and the setting are top notch.
is the funky hotel chain with Philip Starck designed interiors. Rooms are very well appointed and cosy. All of them are equipped with an iMac that provides guests with useful tips for the surrounding neighborhood, from cool bars to interesting shopping adresses. The hotel is ideally situated if you want to discover the bustling and not so well known quartiers
of Ménilmontant and Belleville. However if you like your classics it’s not the right place, because in that case it’s just too far away from the city centre.