There are lots of articles and blog posts and even whole books about what to do in Paris with your kids.
There is a botanical garden with rides. There is the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, sailing toy boats in the Tuileries. There’s even – for the really, truly Disney Addicted, a Euro Disney – a Disney World not too far from the city. But what do you do with older kids? This June, I found out:
1. Walk – Maybe this sounds obvious – but Paris is a walking city. There are so many things to see. Walk up the 300 + steps of Notre Dame Cathedral and savor the close up view of the gargoyles on the cathedral itself, and the rooftops of Paris below. Once you’ve made your windy way down, walk over the Berthillon for some hard-earned, spectacular ice-cream.
2. Shop – What tween doesn’t want to look unique? Oh. Well, maybe most tweens just want to fit in. But still, wearing something fabulous from Paris is bound to give any kid an extra dose of cool, and believe it or not, Galeries Lafayettes, the famous department store, has its own, not overly expensive brand that exemplifies affordable Paris chic. After that exhausting shopping spree, head downstairs to the food hall and marvel with them at the variety and beauty of the foods on the display.
3. Leave – Well, leave the city for a half a day, and go to Versailles. The RER (commuter train) is quick and drops you practically right in front of the palace. You and your tweens will love the glamour and drama of the place. The hall of mirrors alone is worth the trip. Tip: Reserve ahead of time and get there a few minutes before it opens: the crowds are insane!
4. Go to the Market – The Parisian Marche – or outdoor market, is a lovely, integral part of every day Paris life. Find out where the local marche is near your hotel, and go there in the morning, to see bustling, chic Parisians buying what they need for the day. The displays are beautiful, and the experience distinctly European.
5. Hit the Louvre – A museum? Yes, a museum. Even the most museum averse kid will be awed by the big three: the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. Plus, the new audio guides with interactive screens guide you through the museum step by step so you don’t get lost. Tip: Once you’ve seen the big three – wander around – away from the crowds – to see other parts of the museum. The re-created royal chambers were beautiful and EMPTY but for us. Also, the children’s audio tour was informative, uncrowded, and fun. It even had on-screen games that taught you something.
6. Try the Wax Museum – The Musee Grevin is – yes – a wax museum. Is it a bit tacky? Yes. But that’s what tweens love about it. But along with Jackie Chan (who knew he was French. Oh. Wait…) and Elton John, they’ll get a fair amount of French History, and you’ll get a tour of a beautifully restored building where the Lumiere brothers showed their first films. Tip: Don’t be discouraged by the less than impressive first part of the museum, where they inexplicably lock you in a room for an unimpressive light show. It does get better.
7. Relax – You’ll never see everything. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, sure. Take the Bateaux Mouches around the Seine. Have lunch in Monmartre and savor the view from Mont Saint Michel. But also just slow down, enjoy the time with your tweens. If you don’t try to fit everything in, it’s a great excuse to come back a second time!