How to plan a Paris itinerary with kids

With its 20 arrondissements connected by a busy metro system, Paris can feel intimating at first. The key to planning a Paris itinerary with kids is to plan your days ahead of time, grouping destinations by proximity and utilizing walking tours to bridge the gaps (figuratively and literally).

paris-itinerary-with-kids

When planning our five days in Paris, I started by making a list of our must-do’s, which included the usual suspects: the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, and d’Orsay. Of course, at this point in my planning, I knew I was missing a lot. To properly fill out my itinerary, I utilized itinerary planning services that offer local recommendations, walking tours, and dining picks. Once I had ‘B list’ destinations and restaurants in the mix, I organized my days based on where we could walk after only one or two metro rides per day. Finally, I bought every ticket possible ahead of time, including Paris Museum Passes, which allowed us to skip every entrance queue we found (and we found quite a few).

Itinerary services we recommend:

Momaboard:

I’ve known the folks at Momaboard for years, and I was thrilled to learn they’d launched their trip planning program. Momaboard pairs traveling families with local experts with kids of their own. After a brief questionnaire about our trip, the ages of our kids, and our interests and goals, our Momaboard expert put together several days’ worth of itineraries for us, including detailed directions, dining recommendations, and fun facts en route.

How I used this information: certainly, families can use the itineraries ‘out of the box’. They’re ready to go. However, since I already had a very loose sketch of our our days would look, I instead mixed and matched the attractions suggested. For instance, our Momaboard itinerary suggested a morning in Montmartre followed by an afternoon near the Eiffel Tower. I did both, but broke them up into two different days. By far the most useful part of our Momaboard itinerary: the dining recs. We are not foodies, and we have hungry teens to feed, and all the restaurant picks were right on target for us.

notre-dame

TraveLove:

We also tried out Travelove on this trip. Similar to Momaboard in that Travelove uses local itinerary-builders and asks families questions ahead of time, Travelove printed us a multipage, bound guidebook with custom itineraries, walking tours, and maps…lots and lots of useful maps. They also put together a journal/activity book for our ten-year-old that included custom-built questions and activities based on our particular itinerary. He had a lot of fun with it.

By far, the best attribute of our Travelove service was the walking tours suggested. They went point-by-point, with great maps and descriptions. For instance, they put together an excellent walk from the Tuileries to the Lourve, which we actually walked in reverse. Starting at the Lourve after our morning there, we walked along the Seine past the booksellers, Latin Quarter, and Notre Dame, learning things along the way.

Here’s what our itinerary looked like by the time we’d implemented both these services and gathered ideas from other guidebooks. (I recommend Rick Steves.) Our must-dos we started with are highlighted.

louvre-with-kids

Day 1:

Metro from our neighborhood in Montmartre to Musee de Lourve. Morning at the Louvre, followed by a walking tour along the river through the Latin Quarter to Notre Dame. Dinner in the Hotel D’Ville area. Metro back ‘home’ in time to walk to Sacre Coeur at night to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle.

Day 2:

Metro from our neighborhood to the Eiffel Tower area, where we booked a morning Fat Tire Tour of the Concorde and Invalides area. (See separate post.) Lunch at street vendors under the tower, followed by a stop at a creperie recommended by Momaboard. Timed tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower at sunset.

fat-tire-tours

Day 3:

Metro from our neighborhood to the d’Orsay Museum, followed by a shorter stint in the Rodin courtyard (recommended by a tour guide). Built-in ‘free’ afternoon; we spent it watching the new Star Wars movie followed by a visit to the Paris catacombs.

Day 4:

Toured the area near the Arc d’Triumph and Champs Elysees, including dining recommendations from Momaboard. We concluded our day with a boat tour along the Seine, and explored the seasonal Christmas markets. Almost all of this day was built out based on local recommendations.

Day 5:

Viator tour through Normandy to see D-Day beaches and museums (see separate post).

paris-metro-tips

Getting around:

We used the Paris metro system exclusively. We found it very easy to use once we got our bearings, with good signage and multiple stops. Each day, we hopped on the metro from our Montmartre neighborhood (Chateau Rogue stop) and rode it multiple times per day. To do this, we found multi-day metro passes to be crucial (see below).

A word on the Paris Museum Pass:

The Paris Pass allows families to skip the long lines at museums, and gives parents the freedom to plan shorter museum visits (with the pass, it’s no big deal if you only spend 30 minutes checking out 2-3 major works). Kids are free at almost all museums (18 and under) which is wonderful, but if they don’t have a kids’ Paris Pass, you’ll still need to wait in line to get them a ticket (silly, I know). Because the Paris Pass comes included with a multi-day metro pass, it may be worth it to pay for kids’ passes along with adults, so everyone can skip the lines. Without these passes, we would have waited over an hour to get into the Lourve and Notre Dame each (instead we walked in immediately). Look for the Paris Pass or advanced tickets queue, or ask for it. Note: a few locations indicate they ‘don’t guarantee line skipping’, such as Notre Dame. I asked the guard at the start of the line politely if we needed to wait in line, showing our Paris Pass, and he waved us right in.

General tips:

Seek out the less touristy cafes and food carts, but not at the expense of hunger. After hours in the Lourve, we knew we should go in search of a crepe or baguette, but everyone was hungry and tired and ready to revolt if we walked in the wrong direction. The museum cafe sufficed (and actually had very good takeaway sandwiches).

Give kids spending money: there are so many tempting treats as you walk along the streets in Paris, you’ll be saying ‘no’ every ten minutes if you’re asked to open your wallet that often. Give kids money of their own to spend on tasty but small change treats such as macarons, eclairs, and crepes.

What are your best tips for touring Paris with kids?

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. I love the plan. This is very helpful. Would like to hear more about your tour.

  2. I wish our kids enjoyed Paris as much as we did, while it was very touristy in a lot of places, there were opportunities to get away from those areas and see more of the Paris where people live and work. Sometimes I think that’s the best part. It could be that our kids were too little at the time to appreciate these places, but we’ll be trying again in a few years when they’ll be closer to 5 and 8!

  3. We have not yet visited Paris, but it’s on our list! I think that these planning services would be very helpful for us. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Great tips! I didn’t know about the Momaboard service – it would have made life a lot easier on our trip to Paris if we would have had dining suggestions ahead of time!

  5. Superb plan..
    A 5 day plan to Paris, would rather say a more of precised one, I guess almost covered every part.
    and yeah this information provided will really help us out.

  6. Wow. A trip of a lifetime!

  7. What an adventure! You definitely hit some of our highlights for sure!

  8. Thanks, these are very great tips we could advise to the guests of our hotel (the Hotel Napoleon http://www.hotelnapoleonparis.com/en ) in addition to our concierge services.

Leave a Comment

*

Shares