Once your kids can ride a bike there's no better way to see Paris than cycling about it. The high spot of our recent half-term break was a morning spent exploring the Marais, Bastille, Louvre, St. Germain de Pres, Les Halles and many back streets in between.
Our guide, Paul, founded Bike About Tours with a friend and gives a charming and personal view of a city he clearly loves. Some of his enthusiasm rubbed off on the kids who particularly relished spotting locations from Ratatouille, or finding out how many Parisians slip in dog poo each day. Paul takes only safe back streets and cycleways, stopping for lunch at a boulangerie on the way.
Every so often we would park the bikes and explore a secret garden or a hidden alleyway on foot, letting Paris work its magic on children and adults alike. By the end of four hours we felt like we belonged. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
Paris is perfect for those with kids, and especially the park at La Villette. On the Canal de l'Ourq there is the awesome dragon slide (almost two stories high), playgrounds designed for specific age groups, a submarine my five-year-old nephew wants to return to with his big brother and cat (!) (3€ each). Just by the park bikes can be hired that take the whole family along the traffic-free canalside to the forest of Sevran, where coffee and ice cream can be had in the old poudrerie, where Nobel of the Nobel prize worked - well worth a visit. And if it rains, back at La Villette there is always the Cite des Sciences - again with exhibits tailored to tots and to slightly older kids. Further afield, there's Paris Plage for sunbathing, sandcastles, misters, boules, rock-climbing (5 years old and upwards), the fountains and concerts at Parc Andre Citroen, the fireworks on July 14, or the swimming pool on a barge by the Francois Mitterand Bibliotheque, or the fantastic mini Paris Plage at Canal St Martin where another five-year-old loved her tot-sized pedalo and the tea dances and water fountains. Paris is perfect for families, especially in the summer, and since almost everything referred to above is free or cheap, it won't break the bank. Plus - no hours spent travelling to, or queueing at, airports.
Just get on Eurostar and you are within 15-20 minutes walk of most of the above.
Les Tuileries is the most central park in Paris. It stretches its 'à la Française' alleys and lawns along the Seine river from the Louvre museum to the Concorde square. There is a large round central fountain where an ancient Parisian hires out beautiful yachts made by himself - the boats sail across the fountain and the kids are armed with long canes to push them into another direction. We grabbed a coffee and sat around the fountain watching Paris go by and the kids were entertained by the boats for an hour - what more could you ask for 15 euros!
Use les tuileries metro station on line 1
It is a sprawling park area with amazing outdoor play facilities and a huge children's museum and science museum. You could easily spend 2-3 days just exploring this area. There are theatres and restaurants as well.
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