Travelling with children

Despite the care which the city of Paris provides for tourists, it is not possible to assert with total honesty that a journey with children (especially very little ones) will be straightforward. There are long barriers for access to the underground which are difficult to cross with pushchairs. It is often necessary to watch out for ticket sellers to open security gates for you. Access to the underground system is also negotiated by stairs. It is often challenging to pass through with buggies or small children, especially for a single adult alone with many children.

It should be said however that Parisians are often alert and ready to help tourists. It is also worth noting that petty crime is reasonably under control, particularly in the areas of major cultural interest.

In any restaurant they will willingly make space for the youngest or heat up baby food, especially as one goes further away from the tourist centre. However, it is not easy to find services equipped with baby-changing tables or baby seats for the use of guests. Powder milk and nappies are available in supermarkets at cheaper prices than in Italy, as well as baby food and kids’ foodstuffs, with the sole exception of “follow-on milk“.

There are the obvious sights to see when on holiday in Paris with the family, such as the Eiffel Tower, but the there are numerous beautiful gardens situated throughout the city that are a great way to relax with a picnic and let the children enjoy themselves on the playgrounds.

Many gardens have pony or donkey rides along with merry-go-rounds such as the famous old one at the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is a great thrill for the young children, but for the harder to please teenagers there are specific areas for skating and even activities like table tennis at the Parc Andre-Citroen.

During the summer months Paris comes alive with lots of different festivals, fetes and shows which take place all over the city, and from puppet shows to fairs through to open air jazz concerts, there is going to be something to keep everyone amused.

Yet how about going to the beach? Well Paris may not be near to the beach, but every year they create a beach scene on the banks of the River Seine called the Paris Plage where they bring in tonnes of sand and create activities such as volleyball courts and even have a floating swimming pool.

Thinking of the River Seine, why not take a trip down the river on one of the traditional bateau mouches long-boats and see the famous monuments like Notre Dame cathedral, and you could even opt to have lunch or dinner on board, yet the evening is a fantastic experience with the bridges and the Paris landmarks all lit up along the route.

Rather than using the metro, younger children would often prefer a bus ride and you could choose a site seeing tour on an open double decker bus that goes around the city, which is a lot more fun. One particular firm called the l’Open Tour buses has four different routes where you can even get to see places like the Sacre-Coeur Basilica.

You cannot forget about walking along the Champs Elysees with its famous shops, but when those little legs get tired, the Häagen-Dazs ice cream house will be a delight for all members of the family.

Ok, so you would like to get out of the city for the day. Well how about a day trip to a Safari Park at the Parc Zoologique de Thoiry, which also has a beautiful chateau and a unique interactive maze, which is the only one of its kind in the world. Also if you are into outdoor activities then there are a couple of great places such as the Base Regionale de Loisirs de Saint Quentin en Yvelines for activities like fishing, golf, sailing, a wave pool, quad biking, karting and even a tree top adventure centre called the Paris Ouest Aventure.

And of course there are the theme parks like Disneyland Paris and Parc Asterix, which we have all heard about, but what about the Mer de Sable, which has a wild west theme where you can see shows, yet if you prefer wildlife rather than wild rides, you can watch eagles in flight along with tree top walks at the Espace Rambouillet. France Miniature is another theme park designed as a map of France showing numerous monuments and landmarks in miniature, but from here you may even wish to take a short trip to the famous Chateau de Versailles, where you can experience an equestrian show or fountain show on specific days during the summer months.

But what about in bad weather, we hear you asking. Well, Paris is a city that has it all, with a wide variety of entertainment and activities available for all ages. You could think about a visit to the Cite de Sciences and experience the Geode movie dome or different interactive experiments, then venture into the L’Argonaute submarine that sits just outside.

How about a circus? This is often a good family entertainment option and Paris has two main circuses called the Cirque Diana Moreno Bormann and the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione, and you can even book trapeze lessons or see shows at the Club Med World, but for the older members of your family, Club Med World also has a nightclub.

There are so many different options for shows, like magic at the Double Fond or a horse show at the Theatre Equestre Zingaro, but perhaps an aquarium would be of more interest to you and your family and in the centre of Paris there is the incredible CineAqua that has the largest viewing screen in the world.

PlayMobil is a great place for young children where they can actually play with different PlayMobil toys set out in different themes like a castle, or for older children and teenagers the, Aquaboulevard leisure centre will keep everyone entertained with the flumes, wave pool and jacuzzi’s etc, but don’t worry you could in the restaurant watching them!

You have no doubt gathered by now that Paris has so many activities on offer and we are only scratching the surface, but hopefully this has provided you with more of an insight into a city that caters for all ages, so you can plan your holiday and get the most out of it.

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