Paris with kids
Where to go with the children is one of the top five questions I am always being asked. To answer this question, I chose to ask children themselves about what they preferred during their stay. Action!
Mickey is without a doubt the winner of the category and this, I must confess, makes me a bit sad…am I already rigid? Anyway, the big mouse has a very detailed Internet site www.disneylandparis.fr where you can get information on opening hours (they change all the time!), the works agenda of the rides and a mobile app with estimated wait times for attractions and scheduled showtimes (www.disneylandparis.co.uk/mobile-app).
- do you need to go to Disneyland and/or Walt Disney Studios? Without hesitation, a day in Disneyland is more than enough. The crazy guys who went to the Studios said they were disappointed. Why is that? "Because Disneyland rocks". Kids…
- what’s the damage? A full day ticket will cost between 47 EUR and 75 EUR per adult and between 40 EUR and 67 EUR for a child (between 3 and 11).
- how to get to Disney? All the information are here.
The easiest way is to take RER trains (RER A) and get off at "Marne la Vallée-Chessy". The trip will take about 1 hour and it will cost you 14,60 EUR (return). During school holidays, there is less traffic and you can try to drive there: it should be a bit quicker, a lot friendlier, but the car-park costs 20 EUR.
- one last detail I have read on their Internet site : "It is not allowed to bring any food or drinks in Disney Parcs". Surely their sandwiches are better than yours…
Don’t think about leaving the Eiffel Tower out of your schedule. This amazing building really deserves a climb... so join the 7 million annual visitors! A word of advice:
- Things to know before going up
There are lifts at the feet of the North, South, East & West pillars of the Tower. No surprise, of course it is strictly forbidden to go up in the Tower carrying a knife or a parachute (really !). Bottles or cans are also forbidden and prams which cannot be folded up. Good to know.
- Which floor to visit?
The Eiffel Tower has 3 floors: The first is the Tower’s Museum with a glass floor and is 57 metres above the ground. The 2nd has a panoramic view at 115metres and the 3rd has a very panoramic view & a champagne bar at 280 metres. Without wanting to encourage you to drink the view at the top is by far the most impressive.
- Lift or stairs?
The first 2 floors can be reached by using the 2 big lifts or the 2 flights of stairs. To reach the 3rd floor you are obliged to take the 4 yellow & orange lifts from the 2nd floor (there are no stairs). The lifts take 1 minute from the ground floor to the 1st, 1 minute between the 1st & 2nd floor and 4 minutes from the 2nd to the 3rd.
With the stairs allow 15 minutes from the ground floor to the 1st floor and 20 minutes from the 1st floor to the 2nd floor.
If you are fit & in good health and you have a small budget I recommend the stairs. It is the only way to understand and experience Eiffel’s genius… And “the icing on the cake” is that I have noticed that the tickets are not controlled on the way down. So go up on foot & come down free in the lifts…
If you choose to take the lift I would recommend that you come down by the stairs from the 1st floor. It is really very pretty!
- Waiting time
To be honest this is the downside of the visit…
You will have to queue 4 times:
- On the ground floor for the lift or the stairs. The queuing time is minimum 30 minutes for the lift, much less for the stairs. Attention! The ticket "skip the line" sold on the internet only avoids the queue to buy the ticket, afterwards you join the line with the other visitors without any priority.
- To go up from the 2nd to the 3rd allow 15 minutes of queuing,
- To come down from the 3rd to the 2nd allow 0-15 minutes,
- To come down from the 2nd to the ground floor 0-15minutes. There is never a queue to come down on foot by the stairs.
A small piece of advice: Always compare the queues. For some inexplicable reason the visitors seem to queue without any special order so sometimes you can save 15 minutes by just walking a few more metres. On the ground compare the queue at the North pillar to that of the West (lifts) and the South pillar to that of the East (stairs). On the 2nd & 3rd floor there are 2 queues for the yellow & orange lifts. And lastly to come down with the big lifts don’t forget that there are 2 queues per lift as they carry the visitors on 2 levels.
- when should you go ?
No need to say it’s better when it’s nice and warm. What really matters is the timing: without online booking you can shorten this waiting time at around 8 pm when everybody is having dinner. And if you get lucky, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset!
Eiffel Tower wait times forecast for 2016
It is good to know that if you want to take some beautiful pictures: 20000 light bulbs twinkle 5 minutes before each hour, from dusk till 1 o’clock in the morning.
- Lift entrance ticket
Valid to 2nd floor: Adult: 11 EUR, 12/24 years’ old : 8,50 EUR, 4/11 years’ old: 4 EUR.
To top: Adult: 17 EUR, 12/24 years’ old : 14,50 EUR, 4/11 years’ old: 8 EUR.
- Stairs entrance ticket
Adult: 7 EUR, 12/24 years’ old : 5 EUR, 4/11 years’ old: 3 EUR.
- Ticket office for a 2nd chance
You have bought a ticket for the second floor (lift or stairs) and you decide that finally it would be good to go to the top. The Eiffel Tower is prepared for this and has a ticket office on the second floor which sells a special ticket for 6 euros just to go the 3rd floor.
- Internet reservations
Buying tickets on the official site ticket.toureiffel.fr is strongly advised so you don’t need to queue for the 1st lift. The only available tickets are for the lifts from the ground floor to either the 2nd or 3rd floors.
If the official website is fully booked and if you are rich some sites like www.ceetiz.fr or www.getyourguide.fr resell full price tickets from 39 EUR.
Without booking on internet you can buy tickets at the ticket office at the base of each pillar but you will have to queue (see above).
- Can we eat or have a drink?
There are several restaurants, a self-service and a gastronomique restaurant but frankly everything is very expensive. Ex: A glass of Champagne is 12 EUR... Served in a plastic champagne glass! Everything goes up with altitude but one needs to know how to stay reasonable.
- last but not least...
The management heavily insists on the presence of gangs of pickpockets in and around the Tower. You have been warned...
More info: www.tour-eiffel.fr
Les Bateaux Mouches
Paris is one the most beautiful city in the world, and what about enjoying its beauty from the deck of a boat? Kids definitely have good tastes... Several companies offer cruises on the river Seine and the best offer is to be found on www.vedettesdupontneuf.com
If you book online (a one-hour cruise), it will cost you 11 EUR for an adult and 5 EUR for a child. Remember that the boats sail off until 10pm. The lights coming from the boats are just fantastic.
It has been scientifically proven: 99 % of kids would love to go for a ride in the conductor’s cabin on the underground. Before, with an imploring look and a lot of chance it was possible but now with the Anti-Terrorist Plan the orders are strict and it is no longer allowed. However all is not lost, lines 1 & 14 are automatic so you can sit in the drivers place in the 1st and last cabins. Success guaranteed! Another statistic, 99% of parents would rather take the bus!!
Renting an electric boat
When I discovered for the first time «Marin d’Eau Douce» in 2014, I immediately thought that the idea was great and how come nobody had thought of it before. Renting an electric boat without a license on the Canal de l’Ourcq. It is very successful and the boats (5, 7 & 11 people) are never empty. There are 40 kilometres of river routes which are accessible, with the Science Museum de la Villette in the East & The Bastille in the South. What a wonderful atmosphere!! Silently and at a speed of 8 km/h you can see some houseboats, go under the 1885 bridge which opens and even go through the locks of the Saint Martin Canal.
Some details to prepare you for your trip:
- Children are allowed on board from the age of 6 months,
- It is possible to have a picnic on the boat,
- You need to have a 300 EUR deposit.
Open every day from 9 am to sunset.
The boat for 5 people costs 70 EUR to rent for 2 hours.
More info: www.marindeaudouce.fr
Le Musée Grévin
I am always stunned by the success of this museum. While the Playstation is today’s Star and wooden toys are on the wane, wax statues are loved by all! You will find practical information on www.grevin.com and find out that tariffs are rather costly : 24,50 EUR for an adult, 21,50 EUR for students and 17,50 EUR for children between the age of 6 and 14.
Jardin du Luxembourg et Tuileries
The younger ones love these gardens. Situated at the heart of the capital city, they can safely ride poneys (in a cart or on the animal’s back), go on the rides, do trampolining, go on the swings, eat a crêpe, and will even ask for more.
Perfume Museum – Fragonard
It is surprising but it’s like that: The excellent French know-how of perfumes, recognised worldwide, has only 3 museums in the whole of France. The first one in Grasse (French Riviera), the second in Versailles (the incredible but very detailed Osmothéque www.osmotheque.fr) and the last one is in Paris in the Opera district. The House of Fragonard is the owner, and this detail is important as after a 30 minutes tour the "guide" transforms into a future salesperson and tries to persuade you to buy the perfumes in the shop which is bigger than the museum itself. This is why the visit is free !!
Having said that I do advise you to go as it is really top class. The museum is installed in an old theatre from 1880 which has been transformed into an ancient velodrome. The Parisians learnt the art of pedalling in the 19th century. A real sight to see... the collections, modest sure but of very good quality, and we learn a lot about the history of perfume, fabrication secrets, the bottles. Obviously you will have to guess certain smells and the kids love this game. In brief a very pleasant and free outing in central Paris. What could be better?
Open every day from 9am – 5pm, 3-5 Square de l'Opéra Louis Jouvet, 75009 PARIS, Tel: 01 40 06 10 09
This is the type of day-out children do not think about but just love once they have been convinced…
The Parc de la Villette and its cultural infrastructures are definitely a success. Adults love le Zénith, the Grande Halle’s programme planning and the other events. They like to play and walk in the huge park. Children love the dedicated fun and educational areas. To name but a few activities : the Cité des Enfants (2/7 and 5/12), Explora, the planetarium and the Géode, a cinema shaped like a ball. The Villette is a smart world that every member of the family will enjoy even the hard to please young ones. Needless to say tI suggest you check out the website on www.cite-sciences.fr and leave the Palais de la Découverte out for good.
Le Jardin des Plantes
Everyone knows that children love plants and animals. Like the Villette, the Jardin des Plantes will work wonders with children thanks to the variety of its collections and its clear museography.
The living world is highlighted by the quality of the various sites: Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Ménagerie, Galerie de Minéralogie etc. To find out more, check out their websites www.mnhn.fr and www.galeriedesenfants.com
Is taking the children to the Louvre a challenge? It depends on the tour you are planning for them…What they like best is usually the ancient Egypt period. The museum is great for this: mummies, sarcophaguses, sculptures etc. Egyptians were the fathers of design: even big bad wolves look like cute doggies… Some tips:
- there are a dozen of entries to access the Louvre besides the Pyramide’s. So don’t waste 20 minutes of your time in the main courtyard and opt for the other entries as indicated on www.louvre.fr
- the museum is free for under 18s and EC nationals between the age of 18 and 25. It is free every 1st Sunday of each month and on July 14th.
Le Palais de Tokyo
To conclude, a good suggestion that I got from a family from Normandy. Their kids were delighted to go there so I am just forwarding this idea...
“The Palais de Tokyo is an emerging venue for contemporary art, striving to build up activities for the young visitors. Part of an original and fun approach to contemporary art, the Tok-Tok activities have been designed to place the children at the very core of current creation. There they can develop their observation, creativity and independent skills.” blablabla … "Through originality, humour and innovation, the activities offered attract both parents and children."
I suggest you have a look at their website www.palaisdetokyo.com as you need to enroll!