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Enjoying Paris with kids in tow

 Things-for-kids-to-do-in-Paris

When you’ve got kids in Paris one of the best ways to start your expeditions is with the BatobusThe Batobus isn’t strictly a sight-seeing boat – rather it’s like a bus line with eight stops along the River Seine where you can hop on and off at will. On the left bank, the stops include the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Notre-Dame and Jardin des Plantes. On the right bank, you have Hôtel de Ville, Louvre, and Champs-Elysées. This waterbus gives the kids a fun start to the day, does not require them to walk long distances and offers them a great view of the city from the river.

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Another great way to enjoy Paris with kids is to use the Velib rental bike scheme, suitable for older children from about 12 upwards. These bikes are available on practically every other Paris street corner and can be rented at favourable rates at the swipe of a credit card.

Kids will also enjoy cycling along the Promenade Plantée, a disused railway track restored as a peaceful raised garden. You can access this garden from the Bastille area of Paris and cycle all the way out to the edge of the city. This is an opportunity to enjoy unusual views of the city from a quiet and safe vantage point.

On Sundays, the banks of the Seine are closed off to traffic leaving the roads free for pedestrians, cyclists and roller-bladers.

It can be a challenge to make museums and art galleries interesting to kids. One trick that works well is to organise a treasure hunt. Give the kids a worksheet with, say, ten famous paintings reproduced on it. Then offer a prize for anyone who finds all the pictures you have listed. While they are hunting for treasure, you can admire the paintings. This works particularly well in smaller galleries like the Orangerie or the Picasso Museum which contain many paintings with which kids may be familiar (such as Monet’s water lilies). And if the kids like Monet’s lilies, why not take a bus tour to see the artist’s colourful gardens in Giverny, where there is plenty of room for the kids to roam and if you don’t want to drive there and back, you can go and return by guided coach tour (in English) with Cityrama.

If you’ve seen the movie ‘Amélie’ and admired the locations where it was shot, you will enjoy cycling along the Canal St-Martin and looking at its iron foot-bridges and tree-shaded quays, a great place for a picnic in Paris when the sun is shining.

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The canal opens up into a basin, the Bassin de la Villette, where kids can enjoy watersports in August. August is a fun time to be in Paris when the quays of the Seine are lined with sand to create virtual beaches, known as Paris Plage. And yes, people put on their bikinis and sun-bathe as though they were on the Med!

Younger kids enjoy visiting the Musée de la Magie, a museum about the history of magic complete with historic magic toys the children can use.

Further afield, another big attraction is Aquaboulevard, a water theme park easily accessible by Metro (Porte de Sèvres). And, of course, if you enjoy the rollercoaster experience, there is always Disneyland Paris, without doubt the most popular place for kids of all ages in Paris, or its French equivalent Parc Astérix (30 kms north of Paris).

If your kids like sport, they may also enjoy attending some of the big sporting events in Paris such as the Roland Garros, French tennis open, which takes place in May/June.

These are just some tried and tested ideas that have worked for us. We haven’t given up on the adult things in life. Some evenings, we like to sit and sip an aperitif on our leafy private patio, the kids love going to the local shops or the market to buy food for an alfresco meal and they love to help prepare it too!

paris-oasisKathleen Barrington, an Irish lady in love with Paris has a short-term holiday rental with its own gorgeous private patio in the fashionable Marais district of Paris within walking distance of the Musée Carnavelet. For more details see www.myparisoasis.com.

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