Paris: Reconnect in the family-friendly French capital
Text: Kate Harvey
The city of Paris is monumental – both literally and figuratively. That’s why a little help from the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau will make your family trip one to remember forever. Whether you’re planning a whistle-stop tour or an extended break, the cultural and culinary capital of the world will capture the imaginations of even the most jaded of youngsters.
Paris is a sensory delight for all ages, and unlike most city breaks, is more or less two hours away from most other major European destinations, such as London and Amsterdam. It is, therefore, the perfect antidote for antsy kids with the hunger to learn and explore. You may not have yet realised, but Paris is teeming with instructive and innovative activities for children. And the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau is keen on developing the city’s reputation even further; by harnessing the educative power of new technology.
A ‘swipe’ at the museum
A short attention span is an all-too familiar dilemma for parents of digital-age children. Drag a child around a museum against their will, and they’ll consider it a boredom-auditorium. But bring it to life, and you’ll guarantee a lifelong interest in nature, history, art and culture, to boot. “Head to the Palais de la Porte Dorée,” an exceptional Art Deco building-cum-aquarium, advises Corinne Menegaux, general director of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ticking boxes for both parents and children, the aquarium is now home to more than 300 species of tropical fish from all over the world, including sharks and an array of jellyfish. With touchscreen guides to make exhibits easy to understand, it’s a must for your family itinerary.
Science and nature
While Paris is home to some of the best ‘traditional’ museums in the world, there are also some to be discovered in the more bucolic spots of the city. “The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is in one of the most luscious parks in all of Paris, but is also a place for kids and adults to explore the countless secrets of science,” explains Menegaux. The Cité des Enfants offers two exhibitions: one for two-to-seven-year olds and the other for five-to-12-year olds to learn while playing both in and outdoors.
A passion for art begins here
The stylish capital city guarantees free entry to all national museums for under-18s, while some offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month. “Paris is the ideal destination to familiarise children with art and culture, and bring out their creative streak,” explains Menegaux.
Not only is the ‘inside out’ Centre Pompidou an architectural marvel, but it is widely considered to be one of the best modern art museums in Europe. Visit Studio 13/16, a multimedia space dedicated to teenagers and adults as they make their first foray into art appreciation. Visitors can expect interactive artworks and creativity workshops across multiple genres.
Discover France’s wonder of the world
Nothing quite says Paris like the Eiffel Tower. Whether you climb halfway or hop into the elevator to the top, an adventure game of ‘Suis Gus’ is sure to keep the family entertained for hours on end. As you make your way around, learn all about the fascinating history of the tower.
Suitable for adults, teenagers and children, you can solve puzzles as a family, while you navigate the old map from 1889 and walk in Gustave Eiffel’s footsteps. And after a long day of scavenging info, step back and admire the Iron Lady as she is illuminated throughout the evening.
All the city’s a stage
Paris is geared up for family entertainment: from magicians and street artists in Montmartre, to puppet shows near Notre Dame, there is something around every corner. And in the ‘smart playroom’ in the Musée de l’Illusion, the fun continues. Using intriguing educational puzzles, the museum provides magic, laughter and surprise for all the family. Expect a brain workout that will challenge your vision and intellect – and certainly keep you entertained.
Find the perfect family accommodation
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Paris, it’s good to have a helping hand. The Bureau features a list of accommodation options that can be booked online. Perhaps you prefer a central location, or triple and four-bed rooms for the family to stay together – you name it, they’ll find it. “We work closely with the tourism sector to develop family offers. Last summer, for example, families enjoyed hotel offers from Novotel and Citadines,” reveals Menegaux.
Enjoy the culinary heritage
The cost of a Parisian weekend can really add up if you don’t know where to look. The Bureau offers tips and tricks on where best to eat and drink, which can come in handy when you’ve got more than two mouths to feed.
And for foodie families, there are a whole range of special culinary experiences. Head to the Musée du Chocolat, where the ‘Choco-Story’ gives kids the chance to embark on a chocolatey treasure hunt, and see a real chocolatier at work.
From play areas for the little ones to blow off some steam, big dining tables and pastoral settings, the Bureau can assist with every aspect of your trip, to make it as stress-free as possible.
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