11 Jan Paris with kids 3 day itinerary
After enjoying time in London we travelled on the Eurostar to Paris, arriving late and staying 3 nights. We also spent the last night of our family trip in Paris after returning from Germany. Altogether, this gave us three full days of exploring the city. Our kids knew a lot of the landmarks in Paris from books, shows and movies so, we had a wonderful time sightseeing as a family. Our visit to Paris was in late October, early November.
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Three day itinerary for Paris with kids
We had taken an evening Eurostar from London to Paris and a subway mistake meant we arrived at the hotel late at night. The next morning was raining so we didn’t rush out. After enjoying breakfast at the hotel and letting the kids play in the room, we headed out into a rainy Paris day.
Not wanting to visit the Eiffel Tower or any garden in the rain, we decided to go view the Louvre Pyramid. Although we weren’t going inside the museum of which the pyramid is the main entrance, it is still a famous Paris sight. The large glass and metal pyramid was built with the same proportions as The Great Pyramid of Giza. It stands in the courtyard of the beautiful Louvre Palace and is surrounded by 3 smaller pyramids that act like skylights for the underground museum.
Walking in Paris with kids
Our four-year-old was feeling the previous late-night (and most likely jetlag) so we were glad that we had brought our stroller along. With him sleeping, we walked through Paris to our next sight. Walking is always our favourite thing to do when travelling and our 7-year-old is such a great walker meaning we can see different parts of the city instead of taking transport between each place. We roughly followed google maps, finding shelter where we could and then walked up Champs-Élysées.
Arc de Triomphe
Our eldest son had been playing a Europe train game that features the Arc de Triomphe and we had done some research at home so, he was excited to see this Paris sight in person. We stood for a moment watching the cars driving around the roundabout, there are no lines and it seemed chaotic to us. We woke up the four-year-old and all headed down the stairs to the tunnel which leads you to the arch. The kids thought it was cool to walk under the road and then pop up in the middle of it.
From Arc de Triomphe we walked through some more of Paris’ pretty streets. After walking 2.5km we came to Gare St. Lazare station where we took a subway back to the hotel.
As the day before was raining, day 2 in Paris was our designated day for visiting Eiffel Tower. Luckily the weather this day was nice and clear. We hadn’t pre-booked tickets because we didn’t want to get up the tower and not be able to see anything due to fog.
The first line for the Eiffel Tower is just for passing security to enter into the grounds. This was the worst part of lining up as the ground outside was wet, muddy and slippery. After passing through security we found the line for purchasing tickets for the stairs. We noticed the almost empty line next to it for pre-purchased tickets and thought about buying ours online for the next time slot but didn’t want to risk not receiving them in time. If you are visiting outside of peak time like us maybe wait to see the weather forecast but purchase your tickets the night before. The time we waited for tickets was 45 minutes and then we had to pass through security again.
We chose to take the stairs because the lift would mean more waiting and we thought it would add to the experience. You can take the stairs to the second level and then you need to take the lift up to the top level. We decided to pass on the top level after reading reviews and blog posts and didn’t feel that we missed out on anything.
The stairs allow you to view outside as you climb up. It also gives you the chance to see the architecture up close. It shouldn’t be a problem if you are somewhat fit. At one point I couldn’t keep up with our seven-year-old and he ended up a few flights above us. We stopped at the first level to walk around and look out before continuing up to the second level. You are able to walk right around the tower and get amazing views out over Paris.
We couldn’t say no to a ride on the carousel across the road, it’s beautiful and has views of the Eiffel Tower! It was 10 Euro for 4 people so we all went on. For a dose of family travel reality, our kids spoiled the moment by arguing about wanting to ride the same thing.
We walked across a bridge over the Seine to view the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Gardens. There is another carousel here that may give you a better viewpoint. The kids spent some time playing around the steps while we took photos. We then continued walking up to Palais de Chaillot which is a popular spot for Eiffel Tower views. We bought a sweet and a savoury crepe to share from the stall.
From Palais de Chaillot we found a nearby bus stop and travelled to Luxembourg Gardens. The gardens are formal and walking on the grass is not allowed. Being from Australia it was strange for us to see people sitting on chairs around the square of grass. The kids weren’t impressed that they couldn’t run or play on it.
A highlight of Luxembourg Gardens is the boats on the pond. You can hire a wooden sailboat and watch it glide around on the water. The boats were all hired out so we just watched them before our youngest needed a toilet. We walked to the other side of the gardens. The toilets in the gardens are unisex, fairly clean and free to use. We had to join a short queue outside. When we returned to the pond, some boats had been returned so we decided to hire one. For 3 Euro you get thirty minutes. The sailboat comes with a long wooden stick for pushing it out on the pond.
Each boat has a different countries flag. Our eldest is learning Spanish at school so chose the flag of Spain. It was so much fun! The boys chased ‘our’ boat all around the pond, guessing where it would end up.
Walk to Notre Dame
We walked to Notre Dame completely by accident. From Luxembourg Gardens we walked to Circus Bakery because Tim wanted to buy their baguettes. The walk took us down streets with those typical beautiful Parisien apartments with flowers on the balcony. After a quick stop at the bakery, we continued strolling, mentioning how nice the area was when we realised we were now in front of Notre Dame.
Eiffel Tower at night
We made it just in time to see the Eiffel Tower ‘sparkle’ at 8pm from Champ de Mars. It is lit up in golden lights from sunset until 1am but has blue sparkling lights for 5 minutes each hour. We ate our baguettes with salami while staring at the Eiffel Tower. Be prepared to be pestered by touts in the area trying to sell things.
After spending 2 weeks in Germany we took an early train to Paris, arriving at about 10am. We left our luggage at the hotel and spent the day in the Montmartre area.
After taking the subway we roughly followed google maps to Sacre Coeur. The basilica is located on top of Montmartre Hill so, we walked up the sloping streets and then climbed some stairs. There is a funicular that goes up to the top but we were already halfway so, continued walking up.
Baguettes and Eclairs
We purchased baguettes with cheese, meat and pickles for lunch from Boulangerie Raphaëlle. The kids also decided on Eclairs for a treat. We walked back to a garden at the bottom of Rue Maurice Utrillo so we could sit on a bench seat.
The Montmartre area is hilly and full of beautiful buildings and streets. We aimlessly walked and found ourselves back in front of Sacre Couer where the kids found a playground. A tantrum followed after we asked them to leave so they missed out on visiting a Paris park with a large playground. With the help of a distraction from some cats, we continued walking through picturesque Paris streets before ending our day.
Where to stay in Paris with kids
We didn’t have much advance time to book our Paris accommodation. After searching both hotels and Airbnb we were left with anything remotely near our budget being outside of the main areas. We chose to stay at Ibis Styles Paris Massena Olympiades in a standard room with two double beds. We wanted somewhere that wouldn’t be too complicated to get to from Gare du Nord and the main Paris attractions.
The room was small but good enough and the hotel breakfast included delicious croissants. The direct area was quiet and we enjoyed a dinner at the Vietnamese restaurant next door. It was, however, too far from the Paris sights and the journey took away a bit of our time in the city. This, of course, was our compromise due to late booking and a tight budget. If you are staying in Paris with kids, try to stay somewhere that will get you to most of the places in under 30 minutes.
Paris with kids travel tip
Paris subway tickets can be purchased in a carnet or book of 10 which gives you a discount. kids under 4 travel free. For kids aged 4 – 9 single tickets cost the same as adults but a carnet of 10 is half price. The tickets are also valid for a single bus journey.