As a tour guide in Paris since 2007, I have had a number of grandparents take tours with their grandchildren, and it’s always such a delight to see their faces light up when they first set eyes on the Eiffel Tower, indulge in their first warm crepe, play in the Luxembourg Gardens, and marvel at the treasures in the Louvre.
Paris has so many wonders to explore that it could be a bit overwhelming to narrow down what to see and do. We have compiled a list of our recommendations, organized by category, that will be as much fun for grandparents as they will be for grandchildren.
Paris tour operators offer a myriad of transportation modes to see the city including bicycles, Segways, cars, buses, tuk-tuks, boats, motorcycles, convertible cars, and old-fashioned walking.
1. Bike About Tours
Bike About Tours offers private and group bicycle tours of Paris, Versailles, and the Champagne region. The super-friendly owners (one is from the United States) and staff go out of their way to make the tours fun and engaging. On their night tour, you bike along the Seine River while marveling at the Paris monuments lit up. Adults enjoy a free glass of Champagne and everyone gets a complimentary Seine boat tour ticket. The full-day Versailles tour includes a visit to the fantastic food market, where you select food for a picnic in the gardens of the Versailles Palace, and touring the Petit and Grand Trianon — the summer palaces of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XIV — and the small village and farm of Marie Antoinette. Tours meet at a Le Peloton coffee bar, which Bike About Tours also owns, which serves artisanal coffee, home-baked cookies and cakes, and fresh hot waffles.
2. Paris Authentic
Another fun way to tour the city is with Paris Authentic, which has a fleet of the legendary Citroen 2CV vintage convertible cars. The young, entertaining drivers dress in blue and white striped French Marine T-shirts, a bandana around the neck, and of course, a black beret. Drivers will pick you up at your hotel or apartment.
3. Seine River Cruises
Seine River cruises are a relaxed and easy way to see many of the top Paris monuments. Night tours have the advantage of viewing the Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and d’Orsay Museum lit up, plus the tours are timed so you see the dazzling lights that flash from the Eiffel Tower during the five minutes of the hour. Bateaux Parisiens and Bateaux Mouches are the main companies for Seine cruises, and they offer 60-minute rides and 3-hour lunch and dinner cruises.
For more Seine recommendations, consider my picks for eight fantastic Seine River cruises in Paris.
4. Eye Prefer Paris Tours
My tour company is Eye Prefer Paris Tours, and I lead fun and entertaining private tours of Paris. I specialize in neighborhood walking tours, exploring the off-the-beaten-path surprises you probably won’t find on your own. My most popular tour with children is my chocolate and macaron tour, during which we do tastings at the best pastry and chocolate shops and also stop for hot chocolate at a swanky cafe. I am a former chef and caterer, and I give food tours with tastings of cheese, croissants, baguettes, chocolates, and pastries as well.
Parks, Theme Parks, And Outdoor Activities
5. Luxembourg Gardens
One of the most beautiful gardens in Paris has loads of activities for kids. The 64-acre garden was part of the Luxembourg Palace built for Queen Maria de Medici in 1612. The park has mini-sailboat rentals to float on a large basin, puppet shows, a bee apiary, sandboxes, playgrounds, a carousel, and zip lines.
6. Jardin Des Plantes
The Jardin des Plantes combines a botanical garden and four natural history museums (mineralogy, paleontology, entomology, and evolution) on 70 acres in the Latin Quarter. Besides over 4,500 species of plants, a winter garden, an alpine garden, and a rose garden, Jardin des Plantes is the site of the oldest and first zoo of Paris, dating back to 1794, which originally was the royal zoo of Versailles.
7. Tuilerie Gardens
Nicknamed the backyard of the Louvre, the Tuileries are the gardens of the former Tuileries palace adjacent to the Louvre. In the summer and also during Christmastime, a section of the garden is turned into an amusement park with a Ferris wheel, funhouse, games of chance, a roller coaster, bumper cars, and a giant water slide. Ask for la barbe a papa (daddy’s beard) if you want cotton candy.
8. France Miniature
Just 45 minutes from Paris, you can see a mini-version of Paris and all of France. France Miniature is a theme park that features 117 miniature versions in 1/30 scale of the most significant highlights of every region of France. From the mighty Mont Saint-Michel and the seaside village of Saint Tropez to the chateaus of the Loire Valley and the ancient Roman arena, grandparents and grandchildren will be astonished by these marvelous miniatures. The Paris section includes the Eiffel Tower, Arche de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur. France Miniature also has a small amusement park, a snack bar, and a restaurant.
9. Chateau De Vincennes And Parc Floral
Medieval Paris comes alive in a 12th-century castle and fort with dungeons, moats, and fascinating stories of kings and queens at the Chateau de Vincennes. The one-time residence of King Louis VII in the mid-1100s, the castle is next door to the Bois de Vincennes, or the Woods of Vincennes, and the Parc Floral. Miniature golf, a zoo, picnic areas, musical performances and concerts, a farm with cows, pigs, sheep, rabbits, and goats, and an amusement park in the summer are among the large range of activities.
10. Disneyland Paris
Say bonjour to Mickey and Minnie Mouse when you visit Disneyland Paris. Smaller in size than U.S. Disney parks, Disneyland Paris features the popular favorites Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. At Disney Village, grandparents (and parents) can appreciate the Festival Disney, a promenade designed by architect Frank Gehry.
Culture And Museums
11. Louvre Museum
That Muse makes the Louvre fun and accessible for kids with interactive treasure hunts. The small-group tours are divided into teams of two to four people, and participants are given a list of clues and challenged to compete to uncover the treasures of the museum. Every hunt has a specific theme to keep the players engaged, and bonus questions are asked for extra points. Taking selfies in front of the various artworks also adds to the team’s point total. Private and customized hunts are also available upon request.
12. Centre Pompidou
Still controversial for its unique mix of glass and industrial-looking exposed beams and exposed, boldly colored pipes, The Centre Pompidou, built in 1977, is the main modern museum of Paris. Glass-enclosed escalators expose great views of the city and the top floor has Georges restaurant and cafe. There’s a designated children’s gallery with rotating exhibitions on the mezzanine level.
Just outside the museum, there are mimes, jugglers, acrobats, and musicians who perform, and just across from the museum is the Stravinsky Fountain, with colorful, moving sculptures by artist Nikki de Saint Phalle.
If the grandchildren like spooky skulls, they will enjoy the Catacombs, a series of low-ceilinged caves 60 feet underground, which was used as a mass grave to contain six million skeletons.
Pro Tips: Lines can be long even if you have advanced tickets, so allow a minimum of 90 minutes. If anyone in your group has respiratory problems, like asthma, or claustrophobia, we recommend skipping the Catacombs. There are no bathrooms on site.
Food, Restaurants, And Cafes
14. La Cidrerie Du Marais
Authentic Brittany-style crepes made with buckwheat flour (which is gluten-free) are made to order at the rustic La Cidrerie Du Marais. Besides the savory crepes with cheese, ham, eggs, and other fillings, the dessert crepes include chocolate, sugar, caramel, and Nutella. Apple cider with and without alcohol is a house specialty.
15. Le Relais De L’Entrecote
Le Relais de l’Entrecote, serves some of the top steak frites (steak with fries) in Paris. The set, two-course menu includes a green salad with classic French vinaigrette dressing and tender, sliced steak with a Bearnaise-like sauce served with crispy fries. The meal is under 30 euros a person and includes seconds of the steak and fries. Make sure to leave room for dessert.
Even chocoholics will have trouble finishing the super thick, super-rich hot chocolate topped with a mountain of fresh whipped cream at Angelina. The elegant tea room near the Tuileries Garden also has over-the-top pastries, including their specialty, Mont Blanc, made with meringue and sweet chestnut cream. Angelina also has a full food menu.
Pro Tip: Order just one hot chocolate for two people.
17. Le Souffle
Le Souffle serves sky-high, light-as-air souffles. Savory flavors include chicken, cheese, and spinach. Order a small savory souffle so you have room for the yummy dessert souffles, including Nutella and banana, caramel, and chocolate with hot chocolate sauce.