Paris is flirty, fun and fabulous – it’s also fantastic for families!
We take a look at 6 great things for the whole family to enjoy in and around Paris with some great ideas from Voyages-SNCF.com…
1. The Louvre
The Louvre is one of the best known museums in the world. Housing Leonardo’s Mona Lisa (apparently 80% of all visitors head straight to see this painting), the Venus de Milo and Vermeer’s Lacemaker amongst its 35,000 works of art distributed around 300 rooms, it’s certainly one of the largest and the busiest. There’s so much here, it’s worth doing research before travel to pinpoint exactly what you want to see during a visit as the collection can be a little over-whelming for the unprepared and tiring for a family visit: its reach ranges from the Middle Ages to 1848. In fact if you wanted to see everything and spent just 10 seconds in front of each exhibit without ever taking a break – it would take you about three months!
Formed from two palaces brought together – the Louvre and the Tuileries, the building dates back to the late 12th century and was France’s main seat of power, being the home of the French heads of state until 1870. Known equally today for the stunning glass pyramids by architect I M Pei, the perfect modern counterpoint for the classic architecture of the palace, a great place to view this juxtaposition is on the terrace of the Café Marly. (Booking recommended as it gets busy).
Don’t Miss: The Fashion & Textile Museum within The Louvre but accessed via Rue de Rivoli. There are 152,800 pieces including costumes, accessories and textiles from the third century to the present day. The greatest names in fashion are represented with creations by Paul Poiret, Popy Moreni, Madeleine Vionnet, Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
Metro: Louvre – Rivoli
2. Parc de la Villette – Paris’s Largest Park
Parc de la Villette is a park like no other. The largest urban cultural park in Paris, covering some 55 hectares of space in the northeast corner of the city, La Villette was designed by architect Bernard Tschumi with a deconstructionist philosophy. It’s a mix of buildings, red enamelled steel follies dotted around the space, modern architecture, museums, playgrounds and activity areas for all the family. There are ten themed gardens – shadows, balance, dragon, childhood fears, islands, movement, bamboo, trellises, dunes and mirrors with unusual decor – think metallic birds, mirrors and even pedal windmills.
Kids will love seeing the Argonaut submarine which has sailed around the world ten times before retiring and resting here. Visitors can stroll along the banks of the Canal de l’Ourcq which dissects the park, originally commissioned by Napoleon to bring fresh drinking water to Paris, now very popular on sunny days with musicians, artists and entertainers – as well as boat rides and a perfect place to relax (especially on Sunday!).
Don’t Miss: The Cité des Sciences – the biggest science museum in Europe with a planetarium, submarine and silver-domed IMAX cinema, La Géode. Built in 1985 La Géode is an architectural work of art and is one of the most striking buildings in Paris, measuring 36 meters in diameter and covered with 6,433 stainless steel triangles. Also nearby is the fascinating Cité de la Musique – a collection of over 8,000 different musical instruments in an inter-active environment.
Metro: Porte de Pantin
3. An Art Deco gem!
This is certainly an attraction for all the family. The monumental Palais de la Porte Dorée is a stunning piece of architecture, designed by Albert Laprade. A synthesis of Art Deco, French classical style and the art of the colonies, it was built for the World Colonial Fair in 1931.
This unique building houses two museums. Kids will love looking at over 300 different species of tropical fish at the Aquarium Tropical from the famous clown fish (think Finding Nemo) to piranhas and even the odd shark. You might even come face to face with a crocodile – originally introduced from Dakar in 1948!
Metro: Porte Dorée
4. Centre Pompidou – one of Paris’ most controversial building
The Pompidou Centre, designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, certainly divides opinion between its supporters and its detractors. Turning classical architecture on its head back in 1978, the design shows the structure of the building rather than hiding it – it’s a large transparent box with an exposed frame of tubular steel columns and trusses running the length of its circumference. Even the glass enclosed escalators are conspicuously positioned outside the columns. Named for former Prime Minister Georges Pompidou who commissioned it, the centre today has become a much-loved part of Paris.
Very family friendly, this mixed-media centre offers an inter-active Kids Gallery, Kids’ Studio and Studio 13/16 for teenagers,
Don’t Miss: Musée Grévin – Family-friendly wax museum with lifelike models of French historic and contemporary figures.
5. Splashing about in the City!
Paris can be hot in the summer so many Parisians take their families to cool off and have some fun at the pool! The Aquatic Centre of Neuilly just outside the centre of Paris is considered to be the best swimming area in the city with a sports pool for lengths and laps, a training pool, water slides and a fun pool plus plenty of lawns to sunbathe and relax. There’s also a spa, hammam, saunas and UV cabins. Just relax and enjoy the sunshine for just €6 (approx £5) per person.
Alternatively, visit Aquaboulevard in the south-west of Paris which features the biggest pool area in the city with two wave pools, eleven water slides, Jacuzzi, a sandy beach and a lazy river.
Don’t Miss: Paris Plages – from mid-July to mid-August, Paris is transformed into a seaside destination with beaches, beach sports, deckchairs and buckets and spades and more!
Metro: For the Aquatic Centre of Neuilly, take the Metro to Les Sablons / For Aquaboulevard, take the Metro to Balard.
6. Who can resist the lure of Asterix?
There are several exciting theme parks close to Paris but Parc Asterix has a little extra je ne sais quoi. With 39 different attractions including many for the under-fives, let Asterix be your guide taking you through the ancient worlds of Gaul, Rome, Greece, Egypt and the Viking era for a fun and different take on Europe’s history. As their motto decrees, it’s the only remaining place in France where the true ‘Gallic Spirit’ prevails!
Metro: Palais-Royal then shuttle bus from the Louvre.
Reservations, information and bookings: www.voyages-sncf.com – the European Rail Experts