3 days in Paris with kids: A family-friendly itinerary

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

The O'Hallorans

The OHallorans

We’re made up of Lyndsey, John and Erin, who all love a new adventure. We try to get away as much as possible, especially during school holidays and variety is a must for us. That means staying anywhere from a luxury hotel to a hostel and it’s not often we go to the same place twice. 

Planning a break in any city with children can be a task in itself. If you’re visiting Paris soon and not sure where to start, this 3 days in Paris with kids itinerary is full of ideas, including some lesser known attractions to visit. 

Where to stay – a family-friendly hotel in Montmarte

No matter what city you’re planning to visit, choosing where to stay with kids can be tricky. You’ll want somewhere close to public transport with a comfortable room and if possible, with breakfast thrown in too.

For a 3 days break to Paris, the ibis Styles Paris Montmartre Nord is a fantastic choice for families. We’ve stayed here ourselves so this is a personal recommendation. Situated in the artist’s area of Montmartre, you’ll find metro stations a 5-minute walk in either direction. Getting into central Paris is easy and it doesn’t take long at all.

7 year old girl standing in front of large windows at ibis Styles Paris Montmartre Nord

We found the rooms to be incredibly comfortable, with one of the best beds I’ve ever slept in. Kids are bound to love the huge Parisian windows, looking out into the street. Breakfast is available at this hotel and is included in the price depending on where you book (we used Booking.com). Not much of Paris is open before 10am so breakfast at the hotel means a stress-free start to your day.

Day one

Arriving late afternoon (metro, hotel and Angelina Paris)

We arrived via the Eurostar in the afternoon on our first day. After spending some time sorting out our Metro cards and finding our hotel, we didn’t have too much of the day left. Sadly, the weather wasn’t on our side so we had to change our plans around a little bit.

Originally, we had planned to visit Angelina Paris in the morning but it’s a great place to go if you need to get out of the rain. Founded back in 1903, Angelina is well-known for its hot chocolate and patisserie, specifically the Mont Blanc (combination of crackling meringue, airy-light whipped cream and chestnut cream vermicelli).

Mont Blanc at Angelina Paris
Signature Mont Blanc at Angelina

Angelina was a bit of a treat for us. It was the only thing we splashed out on during our trip. If you want to try something truly Parisian then this is the place to be. The tea rooms are busy so expect a short wait to get in. You’ll get to experience a beautiful tea room with the best cakes. The hot chocolate is an acquired taste though so maybe get one to share to start with.

John and Erin at Angelina Paris
John and Erin at Angelina Paris

Evening (Sacre Coeur)

As our hotel was in Montmarte we decided to spend our evening exploring a little bit and also visiting Sacre Coeur. The church can be found up on a hill, which has 222 steps leading up to it. However, there is also a cable car, known as the Funiculaire duMontmartreyou can ride up to the top. The cable car costs 1 metro ticket so it’s worth it to miss the steps going up but you can easily walk back down again. This is such a fun thing for young kids to experience, and it will also save their little legs.

Montmartre funicular

Sacre Coeur is open from 6:30am to 10:30pm daily and entrance is free. As we had already spent quite a bit at Angelina, it was nice to do something free to keep our spending down. There is the option to climb the 300 steps up to the Basilica’s dome however, this is an additional charge and only during certain times of the day. 

Inside the church is absolutely stunning and well worth a look around. You are asked to be quiet as you go around, which isn’t always easy when you’re visiting with children. Erin actually asked why there weren’t any activities for children to do while we were there! There is plenty to see though, including the beautiful stained glass windows, figures and paintings. 

Once you’re finished looking around inside Sacre Coeur be sure to spend some time taking in the view outside. It’s a good idea to start your visit just as it’s getting dark outside because after not too long, you’ll also see the Basilica all lit up at night. As long as you have clear weather, which we did not, you’ll get some of the best views of Paris from Sacre Coeur. There are viewing stands which you can pay to use and these are great for kids. You’ll get a lot of people trying to sell cheap tourist souvenirs here such as locks to put on the railings. They don’t tend to bother you too much though, and I found they backed off when I said I wasn’t interested. 

Day two

Morning (Cluny Museum – National Museum of the Middle Ages)

Personally, I think the bigger art galleries and museums in Paris can be quite overwhelming for children. If this is your first trip, it’s a good idea to pick some lesser-known museums which children might be more interested in. We chose the Cluny Museum – National Museum of the Middle Ages for our first stop of the day. 

This museum is open daily except for Mondays, from 9:30 to 18:15. Entrance costs €12 for adults and £10 for concessions. There are lockers available to store your bags. Large bags are not allowed in the museum. 

As you can guess from the name of this museum, it’s all about the Middle Ages. The museum is filled with stunning pieces such as statues of Apostles, stained glass windows, jewellery and coins as well as paintings. We all enjoyed walking around this museum, taking in the history and reading about the pieces. As a smaller museum, it’s easier for children to look around, without being met by crowds of people in front of one thing. 

We had a reason for wanting to visit this particular museum over others. In one of the exhibits, you’ll find ‘The Lady and the Unicorn’, a tapestry which is part of a larger set. As big Harry Potter fans, we wanted to see this as it’s used in the Gryffindor common room in the films. The tapestries fill a whole room and are very popular. There are seats in the middle though so you can have a sit down while you wait to get a bit closer. 

Top tip: It’s a great idea to take a drawing book and pencil for the kids. Erin loved drawing her favourite things in the museum! 

Lunchtime (Paris Pantheon)

After the museum, we found somewhere local for lunch. We didn’t have a plan so just tried to find somewhere on the walk from the museum to the Paris Pantheon. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in this area, including fast food chains so you won’t struggle. We’re not foodies and tend to stick to something safe when we’re abroad. We opted for pizza for lunch at a corner restaurant on Rue des Ecoles, called En Face. We paid around €50 for 2 large pizzas, 2 portions of fries and 3 drinks. The food was delicious and a lovely choice for families.

2 large cheese pizzas with fries and mayonnaise from En Face on Rue des Eccles in Paris
Cheese pizzas with fries from En Face on Rue des Eccles

We had planned to go inside the Paris Pantheon after lunch but we’d spent more time doing other things in the morning than we’d planned. Instead of going on, we decided to walk past instead just to look at the building. If you do want to go in, it has an entrance fee (€11,50 and free for children) which includes entrance to the main building and the crypt. You can also pay an additional €3,50 for access to the panorama at the top.

Exterior view of the Paris Pantheon

Afternoon and early evening (Jardin des Plantes)

We spent the afternoon at Jardin des Plantes, a 20-minute walk from the Paris Pantheon. This is an ideal place for the whole family as there is a variety of things to do. Entrance to Jardin des Plantes is free, and it’s lovely to walk around the botanical gardens. We chose to visit the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, one of the world’s oldest zoos in the middle of the French capital. Full-priced entrance tickets cost €13, with the reduced rate being €10. You can buy tickets either online in advance, or at the ticket office on the day of your visit. There may be a queue during busy periods.

John and Erin at the entrance to Jardin des Plantes

Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes is only a small zoo and you can expect to spend a few hours there. It’s a lovely place for kids of all ages, as well as adults and it was nice to do something outdoors. The enclosures are a really good size and there’s a wide variety of animals to see here. We really enjoyed the reptile house, looking for red pandas and watching the big cats prowl around. 

Erin looking out at an animal enclosure

Top tip: a short walk away, close to one of the university buildings, you’ll find a great shop selling super cheap crepes. We paid around €7 for 3 crepes and it’s right near a metro station. 

Crepes near Jardin des Plantes

Day three

Morning (Museum of Modern Art)

This was the busiest of our days in Paris. We had a fairly early start to make sure we could fit it all in. Being able to have breakfast at the hotel was a big help. It meant we didn’t waste any time trying to find food. 

On the way to our first stop of the day, we took a short walk to the Arc de Triomphe from the metro station. Although the Champs Elysees is usually a really busy street, you’ll find it quieter first thing in the morning before the shops open. This means you have a chance at getting slightly better pictures from the road opposite. Unfortunately, you’ll never get a picture without any cars in it. 

Lyndsey and Erin stood near the Arc de Triomphe

I wanted to make sure we got to see at least one art gallery while we were in Paris so I chose the Museum of Modern Art. Not only was it close to two other things we were doing that day but entrance was also free! Inside, this is a very different museum and one I think is great for kids of any age. From one piece to the next, you’ll get something really different. Each piece was a great talking point and we all had favourites. It’s a good idea to make up a scavenger hunt before visiting with children. This will help them have things to search for as you walk around. 

Exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art

We spent a couple of hours at the Museum of Modern Art, roughly from 10am to 12pm. This was plenty of time for us as a family and it meant that Erin didn’t get too bored. Our next destination was a short walk away!

John and Erin looking at art at the Paris Museum of Modern Art

Lunchtime (Aquarium de Paris)

Next up was the Aquarium de Paris, located at the Trocadéro. This was a 10 minute walk from the Museum of Modern Art, which took us along the River Seine. If you have time, adding a Seine river cruise to your itinerary is a great idea. 

You’ll probably want some lunch before visiting the Aquarium de Paris and there are lots of choices close by. Just outside of the aquarium, you’ll find an outdoor eatery, offering things like sausages and fried chicken. Alternatively, there are stalls selling crepes and waffles at the entrance to the Trocadéro. There is nowhere to eat inside the aquarium so it’s a good idea to grab something before you go in. 

Erin with fried chicken outside Aquarium de Paris

The Aquarium de Paris isn’t cheap and you can expect to pay around €26.50 for adults and €19 for children. We tried to plan activities that were a mix for everyone on this trip though, ensuring we picked some places that we knew Erin would love. The aquarium is quite small but it’s a lovely place to spend a few hours. You’ll find so many different kinds of tropical fish, a great jellyfish area, a small cinema and a koi carp pond where you can try and touch the fish. Although the short films in the cinema were in French, we were still able to enjoy them and following along. This area is about half way through the visit and it’s a great way to have a little bit of a break. 

Koi Carp pool at Aquarium de Paris
Koi Carp pool at Aquarium de Paris

Afternoon and early evening (Eiffel Tower)

For our last activity of the day, we had pre-booked tickets for the Eiffel Tower. We bought these via Viator, as tickets on the official website had sold out when I tried to book. You’re given a timeslot for your visit and you’ll need to go through a few sets of security before you’re able to start your visit properly. There may be long lines to get through security, depending on when you choose to visit. Be sure to leave some extra time for this. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower was the only thing Erin had asked to do on our trip to Paris. When we arrived, she was so happy and excited. I had never been up either so I was also excited. As one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, that first view of the Eiffel Tower is pretty special. 

Close view of the Eiffel Tower

You can choose tickets that include either steps or the lift up to the second level, and then there will be a lift right up to the top. No matter which level you go to, you’re going to get some of the best views of this beautiful city. Older children will be able to look out easily. You might need to help young children to see some things. Me and Erin spent quite a lot of time looking out and seeing what we could see. It was really fun to see if we could find buildings and attractions we had already been to. You’re not rushed and you can spend as much time on each level as you want. 

Family photo at the top of the Eiffel Tower

​For families, it’s good to know that there are plenty of options for toilets. You won’t go far without finding some. There are also places to grab some food or souvenirs while you’re visiting the Eiffel Tower. If you’re feeling fancy, there’s a champagne and macaron bar on the top level. 

Seeing Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower is definitely a Paris bucket list item. I’m so glad we got to do. this as a family. After such a long day, we didn’t stay out for this evening. We headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Day four

Morning (Exploring Montmartre and the Montmartre Museum)

Although our hotel was in the middle of Montmartre, we didn’t spend much time exploring the area. We had a free morning with no real plans so we decided to have a walk around and head to a museum. The streets of Montmartre are really beautiful and they’re well worth discovering. From cobbled streets to window gardens, there’s something to pique your interest on every street. Montmartre is quite a hilly area of Paris though and you’ll come across quite a lot of steep sets of steps. We took these quite slow going up but going down was much easier. 

Lyndsey standing in the middle of a street in Montmarte

The museum we visited was the Montmartre Museum. This area is known for being home to many artists over the years including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. We wanted to learn more about the area’s history and this is the perfect museum for that. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and costs €15 for adults, €10 for teachers and students aged 18-25 and €8 for children aged 10-17. Children under 10 are free. 

Entrance to the Montmartre Museum

The Montmartre Museum is home to the last working vineyard in Paris. Although you cannot go in, you can get a great view from the gardens. As you walk around, there is plenty to see both indoors and outdoors. The gardens are lovely to sit in, and you can see Renoir’s swing as well as a scene right from his paintings. Inside, you can discover paintings all about Montmarte, Chat Noir, and the artists who lived in the area. We found this to be such an interesting museum and again, Erin took her drawing pad with her. This is a great way to keep little kids occupied while you’re reading about the collections. 

Renoir's swing at the Montmarte Museum

One area of the museum that we really loved was the recreated artist’s rooms. Although not much of the original rooms survive, a fantastic job has been done to recreate what they would have looked like. This was so interesting to see, as Montmartre was an area where lots of artists lived at one point. As somewhere we hadn’t planned on visiting, it was perfect for a family trip and there was something for all of us to enjoy. 

Artist's residence in the Montmartre museum
Artist’s residence in the Montmartre museum

Lunchtime (Cafe or picnic lunch in Montmartre)

Montmartre is a great place to grab some lunch because there are so many places to choose from. You won’t go far before coming across another cafe, restaurant or fast food chain. Montmartre is a really good place to eat as a family too because you’ll find all different kinds of cuisines. There are some lovely green areas in Montmartre too, so a picnic lunch could also be an option. Fresh baguettes, cheeses and fruit are easy to find and you’ll have a wonderful time taking in the atmosphere of Montmartre while having lunch. 

Pretty street in Montmarte

Afternoon and heading home

Sadly, after our time in Montmartre it was time to go back to the hotel and pick up our luggage. We had a train home booked for 5pm. We arrived at Gare du Nord at around 3pm, when we were able to go through security and wait for our train. Gare du Nord was quite stressful compared to our experience with the Eurostar from St. Pancras. Luckily, we arrived a bit early and had some time to relax before boarding the train home.

We had a fantastic time and I think 3 days in Paris with kids is a good amount of time. We fit a lot into this time which was made easier by missing out big attractions such as the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral (closed during our trip) and Disneyland Paris. Paris with kids is easily doable but I think you need to choose your activities well, and make sure there is something for everyone. 

Read more about our holiday to Paris:

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