Traveling to Paris, France soon? Here is the first half of exactly how to spend a weekend in Paris with young kids, including our Paris itinerary, where we visited, what we ate, all of the best shopping and attractions and activities perfect for children (including our toddler, six year old, and nine year old daughters).
Paris, Part I: Les Halles, Le Marais, Marché des Enfants Rouges, Tuileries Garden, Palais Royal, and The Louvre
Last Spring our whole family flew to Europe for my brother’s wedding. It was a gorgeous wedding held in Germany, where my sister-in-law is from. One of these days I will get around to sharing all about our time in Germany, though for now, I thought a post on Paris, France, and how to travel there with kids, is timely, as spring and summer and peak Europe travel is set to begin.
(By the way, you can read Part II of our Weekend in Paris With Young Kids Itinerary, including my favorite French department stores, visiting Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel Tower, and more, here.)
No matter how many times I visit Paris, France, I can’t help but fall a little more in love with the city each time we travel there. Paris oozes charm, art, great food, and stunning fashion. Now that we have three kids, my travel bug is still in full force, though we’ve had to navigate travel in different ways.
In case travel scares you with young kids, let me tell you: it’s worth every second of all of that planning. And planning is so necessary when traveling with a young family.
How to Spend a Weekend in Paris with Young Kids
Our most recent visit to Paris, France was for a long weekend, and I mapped out where we would stay, a few family-friendly restaurants, great markets, shops and more. I’m a planner at heart, and planning travel is one of my favorite things to do. I put together a loose itinerary for a weekend in Paris with young kids, and I’m sharing it here on Glitter, Inc. in the hopes that it will help inspire your next trip to Paris!
A Weekend in Paris, Part I: Les Halles, Le Marais, Marché des Enfants Rouges, Tuileries Garden, Palais Royal, and The Louvre
Traveling By Train Within France
After the wedding in Germany, we spent a week in the South of France. It was incredible, and I will most definitely be putting together a post all about our time there. For now though, let’s dive right into our trip to Paris!
We decided to take the high speed train from Provence to Paris; specifically we took the Aix-en-Provence TGV to Paris Gare de Lyon. (I used Trainline to reserve our tickets and we were able to easily check in at the train station using our phones.)
The high speed train ride was a breeze, was surprisingly affordable (even the upgrade to business class was inexpensive and totally worth it) and so much easier to navigate with young kids than trying to fly. Our three girls LOVED sitting gathered around a table, in comfy seating, with windows looking out over the French countryside. We played games, ate snacks from the café-bar (located in the center of most train between the 1st & 2nd class), and talked eagerly about all we would do in Paris that weekend.
Where to Stay in Paris With Kids
Hands down, the first thing I recommend when helping someone plan a trip to Paris with young kids, is the Novotel Paris les Halles. I researched for weeks trying to find a hotel big enough for a family of five in Paris. And let me tell you, if you haven’t yet started your search for a family-friendly hotel in Paris and in Europe in general, you may quickly find out just how difficult it is to find a hotel that can accomodate a larger family.
Truthfully, as one of four kids, growing up with a family that traveled often, it never really occurred to me that a family of five or six was all that big when it came to traveling. As an adult with my own three kids, and talking to my parents about travel plans over the last many years, I’ve realized that most hotels, both in the states and abroad, almost always accommodate no more than four people.
Hotel: Novotel Paris les Halles
When I stumbled upon the Novotel Paris les Halles, a modern hotel located in the bustling historical center of Paris, I had a feeling it would be perfect. The Novotel Paris les Halles went above and beyond my expectations.
Booking accommodations for a large family when traveling is always a bit of a gamble. This one paid off in spades. The hotel was everything we’d hoped it would be. The front desk staff were incredibly helpful, even giving our girls coloring books when we arrived, making up our room early (since we arrived before checking hoping to just leave our bags before exploring Paris for the day), and when we got to our spacious city room, peach nectar and chocolate chip cookies were waiting for the girls with a note from the staff welcoming us to Paris.
The Novotel Paris les Halles Is located in Les Halles, and is an easy walk to Notre-Dame, the Samaritaine, the Marais, the Louvre and the Tuileries neighborhood. The concierge at Novotel Paris les Halles is so helpful if you’re unsure what to do with your time in Paris. The hotel is also conveniently located near plenty of easy transportation.
A Note on Our Loose Daily Schedule When Traveling with Young Kids, including Naps and Sleeping:
With three young kids, I quickly learned when traveling to not try to visit too many places in one day.
For us, an early start, exploring one or two areas of a city, and then takeout or a trip to a local market for dinner back at the hotel is always a win for us. Once we’ve explored for most of the day, all the kids really want to do is cuddle in a cozy hotel bed, eat something yummy, take a bath, and sleep.
We try to make sure that at least one activity each day allows the kids to run around and get their wiggles out; whether thats a children’s museum, a playground, or just a huge field tto run in after a picnic lunch.
We also met up with my brother and sister-in-law one day of our long weekend, and it was so much fun spending time with family in Paris.
Naps On The Go: if nap is a disaster on the go, we try to stick in one area for each half of the day – i.e., morning half in one place, back to the hotel for a nap (if needed; otherwise, we try a nap on the go in the stroller if it works), and afternoon half in a different place.
The Best Areas of Paris to Visit with Young Kids
Les Halles, Paris
Les Halles, located in the 1st Arrondissement, is known as the “belly of Paris,” and is surrounded by boutique shops, large department stores, so many great restaurants (including Au Pied de Cochon And Georges), and a vast market that stretches out in front of the St. Eustache church.
Les Halles is easily accessible via the subway and is within walking distance to the Louvre and the trendy neighborhood, Le Marais.
Where to Wander in Les Halles
We wandered Les Halles for the afternoon once we arrived in Paris. A few highlights in Les Halles include …
Church of St. Eustache
We first wandered around the Church of St. Eustache. Its stunning Gothic architecture is definitely worth the stroll.
La Canopée is central to Les Halles, and is a huge indoor/outdoor structure filled with theaters, museums, restaurants and shops spread across five floors.
Westfield Forum des Halles
Westfield Forum des Halles is a popular shopping mall in Paris, France, set on the former central fresh food market site known as Les Halles. This is a huge indoor shopping mall and is a great place to wander, especially when the weather is bad.
The first night in Paris, we ordered homemade pasta and pizza from Rivolta! Paris and it was heavenly. I honestly still dream about the homemade rigatoni with “pesto de pistache” (pistachio pesto) and stracciatella.
Au Pied de Cochon
One of the most famous restaurants in Les Halles is Au Pied de Cochon. This legendary Parisian brasserie serves traditional French cuisine and you’ll definitely need a reservation if you plan to visit.
On our first full day in Paris, we started out walking over to Le Marais. Le Marais is a historic district neighborhood with great vintage shops and unbelievable food. It’s also easy to walk to from Les Halles, making it a perfect starting point for us.
BRUNCH: Twinkie Breakfast & Lunch
We had breakfast at Twinkie Breakfast & Lunch. There is usually a wait, though we got lucky a scored a window table in the tiny restaurant within just a few minutes of arriving.
This charming all-day breakfast cafe is located in the Le Marais and was an absolutely perfect spot for brunch with young kids. The food is delicious and the kids menu is incredible. There were so many delicious options for the kids (including American pancakes, which made our girls SO happy!) and they even start your meal with a yummy bread basket and a tray with mini glass ramekins of Nutella and two kinds of homemade jam.
If you’re wandering Le Marais or are headed to the Montmartre area, Twinkie is a perfect place to fuel up with your kids.
After breakfast, we made our way towards The Jewish Quarter.
The Jewish Quarter
The city’s most famous Jewish neighborhood is in the Marais and has been home to jewish people since sometime around the thirteenth century. Walking the streets of Paris and falling into authentic jewish bakeries made my heart soar and gave me such nostalgia for growing up in Miami and visiting NYC, etc. The entire area is known for some of the best food in Paris, and fashion boutiques, both high end and great vintage, and is still the symbol and focal point of Jewish life in Paris.
Where to Eat in Le Marais
Rue des Rosiers in the Marais district, is full of incredible Israeli streetfood, New York-style diners, and authentic french crepes.
Our first food stop was at Sacha Finkelsztajn – La Boutique Jaune in Le Marais, the most delicious and authentic Jewish bakery (in Paris since 1949), notable for it’s bright yellow exterior. Everything was delicious, and our girls were especially fond of the latkes and the sprinkle cookies.
L’As du Fallafel
The falafel at L’As du Fallafel, a casual, Israeli falafel spot in Le Marais, are unmatched. I’m pretty sure our girls still dream about their warm pita bread and hummus.
Because this place is so wildly popular, you can expect to find a line stretching around the block at L’As du Fallafel during lunchtime; but the line moves quickly and it’s worth the few extra minutes to grab your order to-go and continue on wandering and shopping through the area.
Another hugely popular lunch or dinner spot in Le Marais is Chez Janou. In particular, Chez Janou in the Marais is said to have the best chocolate mousse in Paris.
With indoor and outdoor service, this quick and cozy crepe restaurant in Le Marais serves up absolutely delectable crepes. Truly, I’ve never been a big crepe person, and my goodness, these were just incredible.
Marché des Enfants Rouges
The Marché des Enfants Rouges is the oldest food market in Paris, dating all the way back to 1615, and it’s wonderful. We absolutely love shopping at local markets any time we travel and this market did not disappoint.
The market has everything from local produce, to cheese and flower stalls, plus street food of every ethnicity and flavor profile.
The girls snacked on fresh fruit and smoothies as we wandered the rows of food stalls. This is a great lunch stop where everyone can get whatever they’re craving.
Tuileries Garden (An Amazing Outdoor Play Area for Kids!)
On Sunday, we started out the day strolling through Tuileries Garden and then made our way over to the Louvre, with plenty of exploring and shopping along the way.
The Tuileries Gardens, located between the Louvre Museum, the Place de la Concordes, and the Arc de Triomphe, in the 1st arrondissement, is such a nice spot to let kids play in Paris. It’s the oldest and biggest Parisian garden and is so nice to walk around in.
The garden is home to over 200 statues and vases on display, the Medici fountain, plus so many spaces for kids to wander and play. The young princes Louis XIII and Louis XV once played in the gardens, and now it’s the ideal spot for families and children to play. Most of the activities are located to the north of the garden, on the Rue de Rivoli side.
The Tuileries Gardens are home to the little toy boats that float on the Grand Basin. Kids can pick their favorite colored boat and help to navigate it through the waters with a stick. This adorable activity has been offered in the garden since 1850.
There is a wonderful play area, including a slide, rope bridge and swings, created back in 2015, and the perfect spot to let kids get their travel wiggles out.
The gardens also boast the famous Tuileries trampolines, with the monument of Puss in Boots nearby.
And of course, the gardens are home to the famous carousel; always a hit with kids.
Though we didn’t make it this trip, the Luxembourg Gardens are also beautiful public gardens, located between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. The gardens are right by Saint-German Sulpice, a Catholic church that dates back to the 12th century, and is famously the church is where the 2003 Tom Hanks film, “Da Vinci Code” was filmed.
Les Colonnes de Buren, a.k.a., Les Deux Plateaux in the Palais Royal
Les Colonnes de Buren is next to the Tuileries Gardens and behind the Louvre and is not to be missed. Located within the inner courtyard of the Palais Royal, a stunning landmark in and of itself, lies Daniel Buren’s contemporary art installation.
260 black and white striped pillars, made all the more famous on Instagram and Pinterest by tourists taking the iconic pictures amidst the photo-worthy pillars. The bold columns stand in stark contrast to the classic architecture of the palace and the whole space is just dreamy.
Next up are Pol Bury’s Sphérades; the silver balls that reflect sunlight and all of the stunning architectural surroundings.
If you are wandering around the Palais Royal, or even just passing through the area, it is definitely worth checking out. We found it to be such a fun spot for the girls to run through, play hide and seek in, and climb atop. I also got some of my favorite family photos of the whole Paris trip here.
Les Colonnes de Buren is about a five-minute walk to the Louvre, so an easy trip after Les Colonnes de Buren or Tuileries Gardens.
The Louvre has long been one of my favorite museums in the world. The Louvre Museum is an unbelievably famous art museum in Paris, France. It is located in the city’s 1st arrondissement and is home to some of the most important cultural works of Western art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. The architecture of the Louvre alone is worth spending some time admiring, let along the incredible artwork within its hallowed walls.
The Louvre With Kids: Entry is free for kids, and the Louvre is actually a wonderful place to spend a few hours with young ones. Located on the ground level of the Richelieu wing, there is even a studio space for discovery and creation, where kids can create their own works of art. The Studio has free activities to all holders of a museum admission ticket.
There are also several restaurants, takeaway spots, and snack options under the Pyramid, including Starbucks and even a few sit-down restaurants.
I will say, The Louvre is rather huge, and more than a family with young kids can tackle in one day; so visiting the parts of the museum that interest you and your family, rather than trying to see every last thing, is definitely the way to go.
After the Louvre, we popped over to Angelina Paris, the restaurant and bakery made incredibly popular for their standout hot chocolate. Angelina Paris is located in the Rue de Rivoli, not far from the Louvre. The lines can get long here, so prepare accordingly. The hot chocolate and (a hazelnut cake) were standouts, and Emme declared the pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) her favorite ever.
That’s a wrap on Part I of our weekend in Paris, including visiting Les Halles, Le Marais, Marché des Enfants Rouges, Tuileries Garden, Palais Royal, and The Louvre, with young kids!
Next up, I’m sharing Part II of our Weekend in Paris With Young Kids Itinerary, all about the best French Department Stores, Champs-Élysées, the Eiffel Tower, our favorite macarons, and more, here.
SHOP THE WEEKEND IN PARIS WITH KIDS POST | CLICK LEFT & RIGHT ARROWS TO EXPLORE