If you have only a short time or just want to plan the perfect day within your larger itinerary, consider visiting a few lesser known Parisian attractions. My family visited these locations when our children were 10, 8, and 5 years old. It was a perfect day!
One Day Itinerary in Paris: Perfect for Families
- Jardin des Plantes
- Walk along the Seine
- Lunch at Bistro Richileu
- Jardin des Tuileries
- Monmartre Neighborhood
The City of Love is a wonderfully romantic getaway, but it is also a magical place for families. Let’s imagine one perfect day for you and your little ones in France’s most iconic destination.
Start Your Day Off Right: Jardin des Plantes
Start your day with a breakfast of croissants or pain au chocolat and a cafe au lait. I recommend Maison Cocherel located at 6 Rue Linné, the Northwest corner of the Jardin des Plantes. Just note it is closed on weekends. Beginning at Jardin des Plantes, you are just 200 feet from Gare Austerlitz should you need to come in by metro or taxi. This substantial park is home to several interesting sites. The grounds contain several gardens and expansive grounds to stroll. In addition to the museum listed below, it is also home to a small zoo (Menagerie) that opens daily at 9 am and a children’s museum that can be packaged with other museum tickets.
We recommend the Galerie de l’Evolucion and Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée. Kids and parents will be impressed by the scale and variety of animal species and skeletons on display within these two buildings. The Evolution Museum features over 7,000 taxidermized species including large animals like an elephant, hippo, and giraffe. Our children were amazed at being so close to these creatures and with the ability to appreciate their scale. The Paleontology Museum (also called Natural History Museum on some English translations) features the skeletons of dinosaurs, early mammals and many other species. This is a must stop if you have a dinosaur enthusiast in your group. Note they are both closed on Tuesdays and open at 10AM.
Walk Along the Seine
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is just less than one mile along the Seine from the Jardin des Plantes. The cathedral has been closed since the devastating fire, but it is still a sight to behold from the exterior. Although this most visited monument in Europe is not currently open to tourists, you can view the still intact twin bell towers from the plaza next to the cathedral.
Along this walk, you will also encounter the bouquinistes or “book sellers” with their easily collapsible green stands selling books and tourist collectibles. These stands are often passed down within families. Finding your souvenirs from these small stands supports local small businesses and adds to your Paris experience.
Lunch at Bistro Richileu
Jardin des Tuileries
Grab one of the hundreds of green metal chairs and enjoy the fountains and gardens. This is a great timeframe for a break at the park or to head back to your hotel or apartment for young families.
For those ready to continue on, take a taxi or the Metro to Pigalle station on the southern boundary of the Montmartre neighborhood. Walking west from here will take you through the “red light” area including the Moulin Rouge. (This is limited to shop windows with provocative displays. Depending on the age of kids, this may welcome some discussion).
Across from Moulin Rouge is a little train that runs most days until 6pm or later in the summer. It’s a 40 minute ride cycle for 6 euros per adult. It stops by Sacre Coeur where you can get off and re-board after your visit. We rode without getting off and visited Sacre Coeur by another method.
An alternative or addition to the train ride is to proceed about 4 minutes walk North from Pigalle station to the area near Abbesses station. There is a park with a carousel, vendors selling crepes and the famous “Love Wall”.
From here, it is a quick 5 minute walk to the bottom station of the Funicular, a short railway from the base of the hill to the location of Sacre Coeur. You can use your metro card to board the Funicular as well. We used Passe Navigo for our visit which I highly recommend if you are in Paris for long enough to make use of it. This second method offers more time and access to the winding cobblestone streets, shops and character that is uniquely Montmartre.
This full day of sightseeing should leave even the most energetic of youngsters ready to “dormez bien.”