A Paris Weekend with Kids (in January!)

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Our family absolutely loves visiting Paris with kids and recently enjoyed a family weekend in Paris. Now that we’re living in London, it feels like a dream to be able to go just for a couple of days!

Here’s everything we did on a weekend in Paris in January with kids in tow. I’d love to hear any of your favorite Paris things to do, as well!

Where to Stay in Paris with Kids

Paris is divided into a series of 20 areas (arrondissements) that spiral outward from the center. In general, I love several of the single digit arrondissements, especially if it’s a relatively short Paris family trip. If you’re wondering where is the best area of Paris with kids, here are some of my favorites:

  • 1st Arrondissement: this is right in the center of things and near the Louvre. Easy to get to lots of activities, but fewer restaurant options and not as charming of a vibe.
  • 2nd Arrondissement: the 2e is home to Rue Montorgueil, a charming pedestrian area with shops and food. It’s also the financial center of the city. It tends to be quieter but with great access to other parts of the city. If you’re wondering which arrondissement to stay in Paris with kids, this is a great choice if you want to be close to everything and quieter evenings.
  • 3rd & 4th Arrondissements (Le Marais) – this is one of the most lively areas of Paris and centrally located to lots of activities. It has lots of great (and often inexpensive) food, shopping, green space, and is walkable to many museums and tourist sites.
  • 6th Arrondissement (St-Germain-des-Pres) – this is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Paris. It’s historically the artsy student area, but has turned into a luxury district. It has excellent access to attractions like Luxembourg Gardens, is easily walkable to the big museums, and has terrific food and shopping.
  • 18th Arrondissement (Montmartre) – while this is a bit further out of the center of the city, it’s a great option for families as it’s close to Sacre Coeur Basilica and the other attractions in the Montmartre neighborhood. It’s also well connected to the rest of the city and close to Gare du Nord if you’re taking the train to and from Paris, and tends to be quite a bit less expensive than staying in the center.
  • 12th, 19th, & 20th Arrondissements – these are all further out of the heart of the city but close to bigger green spaces, like Bois de Vincennes, Parc de la Vilette, Pere Lachaise Cemetiere, etc. I’d recommend these areas if you’re spending a longer time in Paris (at least 5+ days).

Paris Packing List with Kids

Here’s our general visual packing list we give our kids for clothing and other items. And then here are a few specific items we really love to pack when visiting Paris with kids:

  • Lightweight folding stroller – Paris is not the time to bring along a giant stroller. There are lots of narrow doorways, small tables, and crowded museums. I highly recommend a lightweight umbrella stroller.
  • Big carabiner – I always like hooking a big carabiner to our stroller to attach any purchases we make (and Paris very much lends itself to making purchases).
  • Baby carrier – lots of the streets are cobbled and some don’t lend themselves to strollers. We’ve used and loved this carrier for over a decade. We’ve also used this lightweight packable carrier for over a decade and it’s super lightweight (under a pound) – great if you’ll be taking it on and off.
  • Sturdy shoes – Paris is very compact so we always end up walking a TON because it’s often just as fast/easy to walk as it is to take the Metro. Here are our favorite travel shoes.
  • Mini portable charger – My battery always tends to get low by the end of the day from using it for navigating, photos, and looking up things around the city. I always carry a mini portable charger with me and love that this one doesn’t require a cord. This is my current most used charger, and here are some more that I love.
  • Crossbody bag – I like carrying a small crossbody for essentials that I can keep close to my body and easily access. This makes it easy to put in front of me on places like the Metro, too, for extra safety. I LOVE this belt bag that has room for diapers, wipes, and other essentials but still is easy to carry around. (Code PASSPORTFAM10 gives 10% off.)

Saturday: Day 1 Paris Weekend Itinerary with Kids

Visiting The Paris Catacombs with Kids

This first morning in Paris, we slept in a little bit since we’d arrived at our Airbnb past midnight the night before and were all pretty exhausted (plus there’s a one hour time difference from London, so our bodies felt like it was an hour earlier than it was). We managed to make it out in time to grab some pastries from a nearby shop before heading over to our Paris Catacombs tour with kids.

We’ve wanted to visit the Catacombes for YEARS but they tend to sell out quickly and we haven’t managed to get tickets two other times we’ve tried. This time, we got on to purchase them right when they opened up a week before and had no trouble (plus, we were there in January during a slower tourist time).

Sometimes, anticipated activities don’t quite live up but this totally did! We all loved it. We spent a little under 2 hours there exploring the labyrinth of underground tunnels and bones. Most were relocated from other cemeteries and churches because of fear of disease, and others were taken directly there (including during the start of the French Revolution). It was fascinating to see, and the audio guide (included with adult tickets) was terrific.

You can get tickets directly on their website HERE, or if those are sold out (or if you want to add on extras), I would check out a skip-the-line tour or one combined with another activity (like this one that includes a Seine River cruise).

Tips for Visiting Paris Catacombs with Kids

Here are a few tips if you’ll be visiting the Paris Catacombs with Kids:

  • If you have a child that won’t be comfortable walking for 1-2 hours, I highly recommend taking a carrier. Strollers aren’t allowed below. We love this carrier as well as this lightweight one (great for folding up and stowing if you won’t use it the whole time because it’s small and lightweight).
  • Take a jacket, even if there in the summer – it can get quite cool underground.
  • Get at least one audioguide, and you may want to consider getting extras for kids. There’s tons of fascinating info!
  • Get a tiny bit familiar with the French Revolution beforehand – just a quick Google search to get to know some timelines and why it came about will make parts of the tour more interesting.

Lunch At Breizh Cafe with Kids

After visiting the Catacombs, we headed over to Breizh Cafe for lunch. We visited the location in the 6th Arrondissement because it was closer. Know that this is a very popular spot that gets crowded, so be prepared to either wait or eat outside. We ate outside in January on quite a cold day but we were in the sun so it was fine! (We’ve also eaten outside in September, and that was much more pleasant.) Do not miss the salted butter caramel (caramel au beurre sale), their homemade specialty. This is definitely one of the best places to eat in Paris with kids so put it on your list!

Wander through St. Germain

After eating, we decided to walk over to the Louvre Museum. The walk takes just a few minutes more than taking a bus (under 15 minutes), and it’s just so lovely to wander through, pop into chocolate shops (chocolatiers), bakeries (boulangeries), pastry shops (patisseries), and more. We stopped into 6th Arrondissement location of the darling honey shop, Famille Mary – the lady working was so so kind to our kids, gave them samples, and was just overall lovely. We picked up some local honey and it was so fun to watch it get bottled! Highly recommend.

We also wandered along the river and let each of our kids choose a French poster. They cost 3 each and our kids were thrilled – we’re planning to frame them as a set in our play area.

Visit the Louvre Museum with Kids

If I’m being perfectly honest, the Louvre isn’t my favorite museum in Paris by a long shot. I love the intimacy and scale of the Orangerie, the tatpestries in the Cluny, the history in the Picasso, and the interactions in the Musee de la Musique. But my kids were keen to see the Mona Lisa, so of course we had to oblige! I highly recommend a timed-entrance skip-the-line ticket during high season. Even in January, the line to get in was long (although we were able to skip some with a baby), and it was MUCH longer when I was last there in October. This guided tour ticket is also a good option.

The MOST important tip to visiting the Louvre with kids (or without, for that matter) in my mind is to keep it short. It’s really easy to get lost in exploring the literal hundreds of thousands of things to see, but I find my kids (and I) do best when we have a few specific things in mind to check out and then leave while everyone is still in good spirits. It’s also worth noting that if your kids are interested in the Mona Lisa, it will likely be crowded, but the employees are often really kind to families. When we were there, we waited to get to the front of the rope to see it more closely, and an employee offered to have our kids come under to get closer and to take a photo for us. It was so nice of him!

I always like having some sort of book to provide a little guidance and allow my kids to search for things in a sort of makeshift I Spy game. They always LOVE doing this! There are tons of options for books or cards for doing this – here are just a few we love.

  • Discover the Louvre Together – we have the English version of this book but it doesn’t seem to be stocked anymore. Too bad because it’s excellent! I forgot to bring it this last trip and was regretting it.
  • 3D Pop Out Guide – this children’s 3D map is short and sweet and perfect with younger kiddos.
  • The Louvre in 90 Minutes – Since we forgot the first book, we grabbed the English version of this guide book in the museum shop and it was great. We didn’t go through all of it – maybe about 1/3 – but it was perfect to give my kids a photo to look for as we popped through to a few famous favorites, and to explain a bit of background to them.

Dinner + Eiffel Tower

Since the top of the Eiffel Tower was closed on this last visit, we decided to skip going to the top. Instead, we decided to just wait to watch it sparkle, which it does every hour on the hour after dark until 11pm. After the Louvre, we stopped by the Maison du Chocolat in the indoor hallway on the way to the Metro (perfect for a tiny pick-me-up for everyone) and then took the Metro over to Rue Cler. Once we arrived, we popped into Fromagerie Griffon to pick up some great cheese to take home with us, and the workers were so kind. Seeing all the different kids of cheese was one of our kids favorite things to do in Paris!

Rue Cler is a cute street with some classic restaurants – perfect for a quick weekend in Paris with kids. We chose to eat at Le Petit Cler – it’s charming and very French with good food. Fortunately, we went early enough (around 7) that they got us in right away and had room for our entire family (again, this was in January! I’d definitely make reservations if you’re there during a busy season). Since we were only in Paris for a weekend, we decided to do a sit-down dinner and dessert, and it was lovely.

Once we were done, we walked over to Rapp Square for a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower. We caught the 9pm sparkle, then headed back to our Airbnb to get some sleep.

Day 2 Paris Weekend Itinerary with Kids

On our second day, we started off by stopping into Bo&Mie boulangerie, which is excellent. It’s a chain, but a good one, and was close to our apartment. It was perfect for picking up some breakfast.

Lunch in the Marais

The Marais has all kinds of terrific food, including some that is fairly inexpensive. We picked up various falafels from L’As du Falafel and from King Falafel to do a taste test (don’t tell anyone, but I think I prefer King, though L’As is the one I’ve had many times before and is much more famous!). Perfect if you don’t want to do a full sit-down meal.

Visiting Sainte-Chapelle with Kids

From there, we headed to church, and then over to Sainte-Chapelle, one of my favorite places in Paris. The stained glass is absolutely stunning, and it’s pretty breathtaking walking up the stairs to see it open up. Depending on the ages and patience of your kiddos, you may want to consider doing the audio guide. We hadn’t done it before but opted to do it this time and it was really worthwhile. It was really interesting actually hearing what some of the thousands of different scenes in the stained glass were.

Our older kids were quite interested in listening, and we ended up getting a couple more audioguides for the sole purpose of our younger kids having some buttons to push. They listened a bit but were mostly excited to have a device to play with, and we were happy to have some distraction so we could listen. 😉 (The audioguides are only 3 each, so it felt well worth an extra 6 to be able to actually learn about the chapel!)

Sainte-Chapelle with Kids Tips:

  • Take a carrier. Again, strollers aren’t allowed upstairs.
  • Try to time it during naptime if you have a toddler – it was much easier to listen and enjoy while she was sleeping.
  • Be prepared for some extra waiting time to go through security, even if you have advance tickets.
  • Speaking of, I highly recommend purchasing advance tickets, especially during busy seasons. If they do sell out, you can also purchase tickets here, or here’s a combined ticket for Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.

Family Walking Tour of Paris

After Sainte-Chapelle, we walked back to Hotel de Ville to meet Zoë from Le Petit Guide for a family-friendly walking tour of Paris. I’ve been wanting to do a tour with her for years, and was thrilled we could finally make it happen.

Spoiler: it was fantastic!

Zoë was a) really terrific and engaging with kids and b) had tons of interesting tidbits and historical info to share. Despite being very familiar with Paris, Dan and I learned so much and I know our kids did, too. The best part was she made it so fun for them – she brought along sketchbooks and colored pencils, we stopped for treats (yes, we ate ice cream from our beloved Berthillon even in the freezing cold), and she had fun games for them to play and things for them to look out for along the way. Our kids were so into it!

I highly recommend scheduling this on one of your first days in the city – it gives such a great overview of some popular areas before you go off exploring. We did the Central Paris tour as our kids love Notre Dame and some of the major sites and it was excellent. We loved learning more about the Marais, walking across Ile St-Louis, and experiencing the river areas. I’m anxious to do her Montmartre tour next time!

Dinner in Paris

We ended our evening with heading up to Bouillon Republique for dinner (a recommendation from Zoë). It was great! A good casual sit-down restaurant that’s very inexpensive for Paris. I wouldn’t say it was the best food I’ve ever had but it was a solid 7/10 and perfect for a quick meal before heading to the train station to catch the Eurostar back to London. This is a great choice for where to eat in Paris with kids because it’s fast, tasty, in a great location, and fairly authentic.

There you have it – everything we did on our family weekend in Paris! Will you be visiting Paris with kids anytime soon? I have lots more suggestions of our favorite kid-friendly Paris activities in THIS POST!

IF YOU LIKED OUR PARIS WEEKEND ITINERARY WITH KIDS, YOU MIGHT LIKE THESE POSTS TOO:

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