Want to keep the kids entertained in Paris? There’s plenty to choose from. As well as the more mainstream attractions, we’ve thrown in a few weird and wonderful places that we hope will be a fun experience for the whole family.
Cite des Sciences
Get interactive. This large museum has several exhibits dedicated to making science comprehensible for everyone. The Cite des Enfants has two distinct exhibitions for 2-7 years and 5-12 years, offering many activities, games and experiments in a hands-on learning environment. The museum can get very busy, so book in advance or arrive early to avoid the queues.
Location: 30, avenue Corentin-Cariou. Métro stop Porte de la Villette
Situated in the beautiful park of Bois de Boulogne, this is ideal for small children. You could easily spend the whole day here as there’s plenty on offer, including a small zoo, a waterpark, pony rides, numerous play areas, a little train, plus zip lining and rope climbing opportunities. If you’ve brought your own food, there’s a picnic area and places to sit throughout the garden. If you haven't there are various places to eat that suit your budget. The spectacular building of the Louis Vuitton foundation, an arts museum and cultural centre, is a great place for the adults (if you get the time).
Location: Métro stops Porte Dauphine & Porte Maillot
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Explore a museum full of impressive animal skeletons from prehistoric times to the present. In the palaeontology building you will be surrounded by dinosaurs. The Gallery of Evolution has a former royal collection of stuffed animals from around the world, which is fascinating for children. There are four levels of animal displays including huge whales suspended from the ceiling, plus creatures from all over the world. Check out the Children's Gallery for a special treasure hunt exhibition for 6 to12 year olds – parents can come too.
Location: 57 Rue Cuvier. Big Bus stop 6. Métro stop Jussieu
Musée de la Magie
Encounter artefacts from the world of illusion that will entertain or at least bewilder the little ones. Tucked away in the Marais in a vaulted cellar, the museum features a collection of over 100 automates and old moving mechanical figurines. Although the magic show is in French, the performance is very visual, so you can still understand what’s going on.
Location: 11 Rue Saint-Paul. Big Bus stop 6. Métro stop Sully - Morland
Explore Paris’s eerie underground cemetery. Walk through the city’s old quarry, lined with skulls and bones of millions of citizens who were very artfully laid to rest here. Descend 20m (65 feet) down 130 narrow, spiral steps and walk 1.25 miles (2km) through dark passages to reach the ossuary. This is a great adventure for older children, but not for anyone who is claustrophobic. The air is only 14° Celsius (57˚Farenheit) and the surface is uneven and can be slippery, so wear suitable footwear and clothing. The queue gets pretty long, so arrive early or try your luck after lunch.
Location: Métro stop Saint-Jacques
Palais de la Découverte
The Palais de la Découverte - a science museum located in the Grand Palais - is where you can explore chemistry, astronomy, physics and other natural phenomena. There are plenty of demonstrations and experiments, plus a planetarium (extra fee) where you can gaze at the stars and listen to a lecture. Nearly everything is in French, but you can still enjoy all of the highly visual and interactive displays. There is a lot to see and it can get very busy, so arrive early to make the most of the day.
Location: Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Big Bus stop 9. Métro stop Champs-Élysées - Clemenceau
La Chine Massena
This is a great place to go with kids of all ages without having to worry about disturbing other customers. Around the edge of the main dining room, there are big fish tanks full of carp and lobsters that will intrigue young children. There is also live music on the weekends. They are open on Sunday too, great news when many other restaurants are closed.
Location: 96 Boulevard Masséna . Métro stops Porte de Choisy or Porte d'Ivry
Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
A bookstore may not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about things to do with kids in Paris. But it’s a wonderful and enchanting shop. There are children’s readings mixed among the regular stream of literary events, which are free to attend. It’s a real book lover’s paradise - crammed full of works by many famous authors. This quirky shop can get crowded, so if you want to peruse the books, be sure to arrive early.
Location: 37 rue de la Bûcherie. Big Bus stop 6. Métro stops Maubert - Mutualité, Cluny - La Sorbonne or Saint-Michel
Musee de l'Armee
The Army Museum is great for all kids, especially those with big imaginations and sense of adventure. Explore rows upon rows of medieval swords, maces, crossbows, shields, knights' armour and even the tomb of Napoleon I is here. There are several giant cannons lining the small moat as you approach Les Invalides - a spectacle in itself.
Location: 129 Rue de Grenelle. Big Bus stops 2 & 9. Métro stop Varenne.
Visit Marie-Antoinette’s hamlet inside the Château de Versailles, featuring thatched cottages, a vibrant fishpond, flower and veg gardens and a farm. This little haven was the Queen’s escape from the pomp of Versailles – somewhere she could create a space that was entirely hers. Peer back in time and experience a snapshot of history.
Location: Train stops Versailles – Chantiers & Versailles - Rive Droite
A taxidermy shop may sound like a pretty random place to visit with kids, but if you’re yearning to do something away from the norm and enthral the kids at the same time, then this could be it. Go upstairs to discover a huge variety of butterflies, birds, mammals, reptiles and beetles - some the size of a hand. There is also a stuffed baby elephant, bear and mummified human skulls. A place to open up curious little minds.
Location: 46 Rue du Bac. Big Bus stop 7. Métro stop Rue du Bac.
Café des Chats
Something a bit different that will delight children and adults. Visit the Cat Café, where you can enjoy a coffee, tea, dessert or a salad whilst watching cute cats. They have been rescued and given a home here, where they freely roam. They operate a strict policy to ensure the welfare of the cats, so you will have to refrain from stroking a sleeping cat or feeding them. However, with a dozen cats there should be one around to have a cuddle with. Reservations are no longer required, but are recommended.
Location: 16 Rue Michel Le Comte. Métro stop Rambuteau.
104 Le CentQuatre
This vast communal space and community centre (104 Arts Center and Performance Space), is a welcome addition to the Parisian arts and culture scene. It’s home to a collection of performance areas, shops and studios where you can see artists at work. The large building also hosts contemporary exhibits, has a restaurant and café, a bookstore, a natural clothing boutique, a second hand shop and a play area for children. The outdoor space is a great place to relax and have coal baked pizza for lunch - plus it’s free to enter.
Location: 5 Rue Curiel. Métro stops Riquet & Marx Dormoy.