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Best Things To Do With Kids

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Children can appreciate Paris just as much as adults do. It takes thought, choosing the right activities to participate in together, but young and old can end up equally as satisfied at the end of the day.

Nothing will pop mom’s balloon quicker than dragging a bored and tired toddler through the labyrinth of the Louvre, remorseful for having totally abandoned the notion of naptime. But with some careful planning, both parent and child will be less prone to tantrums and unhappiness.

First thing to ask yourself is, “What kind of child do I have? What makes him happy and what makes him miserable.” Make compromises. If your four-year-old needs to burn off lots of energy playing outside each day, don’t plan on strapping her into a stroller, expecting her to enjoy the Italian Renaissance rooms as much as you do. She might have zero interest in being wheeled around a big old building with seemingly nothing going on for hours on end. However, if she has spent the morning exploring one of the great Parisian parks and has a fully tummy, she might just beg for a nap in the stroller, giving you two hours of dreamy museum time. That way you both get what you need.

The following is a list of activities that a family living in Paris might be found engaged in. I have not included the huge blockbuster tourists-with-kids outings, like Disneyland. I am suggesting places where people of all ages find beauty and enjoyment daily. Make sure your digital camera is all charged up!

TOUR EIFFEL
Champ de Mars
Metro: Bir Hakeim
www.eiffel-tower.com

Heck, yes, Parisians ride the elevators to the top of the Eiffel Tower. They just time it right. Nighttime is amazing up on the viewing deck, and first thing in the morning will find shorter lines as well. I don’t care how old you are, this incredible monument of engineering brilliance is thrilling to be around, under or on top of. To a kid, it’s a building you can see through like no other in the world. If you have a heart, the Tour Eiffel will win it. Just being near it, is exciting. There is a huge green space here, called the Parc du Champs du Mars which extends from the Tour Eiffel to the Ecole Militaire, with gardens, grass and a playground for the young ones. No need to ride the elevators if you don’t feel like it. It’s cool just being close.

THE PARIS METRO
Metro and RER Map (A Must-Have)
Goes Everywhere

Where you live, there might not be a subway system. In fact, your kid might never have been on a train before. The underground metro system is not only efficient, it’s a way of life. It’s got its surprises, like the Egyptian décor of the Louvre-Rivoli station, and music. Frequently a violinist or accordian player’s piquant notes vibrate sweetly through tiled passageways leading to the platforms. Going through the turnstile, navigating the hundred-year old tunnels, waiting expectantly for the train and finally seeing it come into view, boarding and riding, is a trip! Make it a regular adventure. By the way, Metro Line#14 is serviced by a driverless, automated train so go up front and play conductor.

JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG
Metro:Odeon or RER Luxembourg

This is a very special park, loved by everyone, used daily by the people who come here with or without children. The formal gardens with sculpture, fountains and terraces, once part of the palace grounds belonging to Marie de Medici in the 1600’s, is a thing of beauty. There are great vantage points for sitting, avenues for strolling, a café for dining, bandstand music in the warmer months for entertainment, and so much that’s appealing to children.
The Marionettes du Jardin du Luxembourg gives regular performances (check seasonal schedule) which have been enchanting audiences since 1933. Pinocchio is charming even if you don’t understand a word of French. Watch the childrens’ faces as well as the puppetry. This is classic Paris for kids.

Another activity which generates huge enthusiasm from young people, is the sailing of model boats at the Grand Basin, the boating pond. The little boats can be rented in the winter on Wednesday afternoons and weekends, and daily in summer. The pond is surrounded by garden chairs for parkgoers. There is also a playground in the park, a vintage carousel, and a very fine patisserie, Dalloyau, right outside the gates, at 2 Place Edmond-Rostand.

CITE DES SCIENCES ET DE L'INDUSTRIE
30 Avenue Corentin Cariou
Metro: Porte de la Villette
Hours 10am-6pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-7pm Sunday
www.cite-sciences.fr

Paris is endowed with a multitude of museums to consider experiencing with children. There are museums devoted to military history, decorative arts, sculpture, fashion, history, painting through the ages, and so much more. If you need a break from the art circuit, a weekday excursion to the Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie, located in the Parc de Villette, is tremendous fun.

The museum’s ingenious, Cite des Enfants (Children’s Village) is divided into age-appropriate sections, completely hands-on and interactive. Program a robot, be a camerman in a broadcast studio. Learn about electricity.
Plus, there’s a lot more fun to be had in the park. Check out the Geode, a stainless-steel sphere with a 180-degree film screen inside. Movies are 45 minutes long and make you feel like you are part of the action. There’s also a French navy submarine dry docked there, The Argonaut, accessible from level 0 of the museum.
If all else fails to amuse, resort to simple outdoor play. The Parc de la Villette has ten playgrounds with themes, including the Jardin du Dragon, with its giant dragon slide.
Come on, mom. It’ll be fun.

ANGELINA
226 Rue de Rivoli
Metro: Tuileries
Hours: Daily, 9:30am to 7pm, Closed August

Why put a tea salon on the list of things to do in Paris with children? When it’s famous for its hot chocolate and its location, it deserves to be there. Angelina is located directly across the street from the Jardin des Tuileries, the beautiful park laid out by Andre Le Notre, over three hundred years ago. Beneath the shelter of the arcades on Rue de Rivoli, Angelina beckons, with its old-fashioned marble-top tables, mirrors and murals.

Decide for yourself. Is this the richest, most aromatic chocolate drink ever? Many believe so.
A word of advice: Avoid weekends, and peak hours when the wait for a table can be lengthy. Come in the morning or mid-afternoon on a weekday. Sandwiches and salads are served as well, but the sweets are irresistible.

CIRQUE DE PARIS
115 Blvd. Charles-de-Gaulle, Villeneuve-la-Garenne
Metro: Porte de Clignancourt, then Bus 137
Call regarding “Childrens’ Day”: 01-47-99-40-40

Cirque de Paris offers a very special childrens’ day at the circus. It begins with time behind the scenes, meeting animals and performers, getting made-up and being introduced to apparatus, such as the tightrope. Next comes lunch with the troupe and an afternoon performance. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the world of the professional circus.

MUSEE DE LA POUPEE (Doll Museum)
Impasse Berthaud (near 22 rue Beaubourg)
Metro: Rambuteau
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm
www.museedelapoupeeparis.com

The appeal of this museum is the collection of rare French porcelain dolls from the 19th century, displayed in period costume, set amongst furniture and toys of the time. If you have ever played with dolls or live with someone who does, this museum will charm you.

BERTHILLON (Ice Cream)
Original Shop: 31, Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile
Metro: Pont-Marie
Hours: 10am-8pm, closed Monday and Tuesday

Even when it’s cold and rainy, Berthillon draws a crowd. The little island of Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile is like a village within the city of Paris, and Berthillon is one of the island’s most popular destinations. When you ask a child if they want to go for ice cream, do they ever say no?



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