Last week I spent 2 days with my 6 year old son in Paris. Just the two of us. I’ve never been inspired with what to do in Paris with kids. I’ve always found the city so kids unfriendly! I wasn’t too sure where to start, but as I’m originally a Parisian I knew I had to immediately dismissed the Eiffel Tower visit idea…queuing for hours and getting really cold with the chill wind on the second floor, not for us.
My son, obviously being a boy, we couldn’t set for a whole afternoon of shopping either.
So here’s what we ended up doing…
A bit of history at La Conciergerie
Right on l’ile de la cité, the island in the middle of the Seine river, you can visit La Conciergerie. What is there to see?
- the biggest gothic art room with more than 60 pillars
- the first royal palace in Paris
- prison cells during the Revolution time
- Queen Marie Antoinette’s prison cell and chapel
- a nice shop with cushions, tapestry but also lots of kids books about castles, knights and princesses
There was a room where convicts with a death sentence had to go to get ready to be beheaded. That’s where they get a clean hair cut along the back of the neck and where their hands get tied. There was also another room with the name of 2780 people who got beheaded between 1793 and 1795. As such I had to explain what a Guillotine was and how it worked, using a little leaflet for kids that was handed at the beginning of the tour. My son found it disgusting for sure, but he didn’t mind the visit as whole and learned about who Marie Antoinette was or the three classes of jail cells based on the prisoner’s affluence.
TIPS: The visit is quite short, you can do it in 30 to 45 minutes including toilet break. Warning! There was no toilet paper left so make sure you have tissues with you. It’s quite typical in Paris, better get prepared to the situation.
PRICE: Free for under 26 years old! The lady at the counter said I look younger than 26 but I decided to be honest and pay my 10 euros.
Look for the best ice creams in Paris
We walked up along the Seine river and checked out Notre Dame but didn’t go inside for a visit: the queue was huge! So we took lots of pictures instead. They we walked on, on the side of the beautiful cathedral and across to l’île St Louis for the best ice cream in Paris: Berthillon! We chose a pretty quaint cafe to stop, relax, have coffees and ice cream. The service was great. I wasn’t supposed to order just one scoop of ice cream but since my son ordered the minimal two scoops, I talked the waiter into being a bit flexible and he was.
TIP: choose a sit facing the window as the VIEW is unbelievable, revealing the old buildings of historical Paris and the back of Notre Dame Cathedral.
PRICE: 27 euros for a Chocolat a l’ancienne (where you pour melted chocolate then hot milk in your mug), a cappuccino, 2 scoops and 1 scoop of ice cream.
Address: Le Flore en l’Ile, 42, quai d’Orléans 75004 Paris
Take a stroll on the Seine river bank
When we walked along the Seine river, it reminded us of the animated movie a Monster in Paris that we randomly found on Netflix, featuring the voices of Vanessa Paradis and Sean Lennon. We watched it and I didn’t expect my son to enjoy it given he’s usually more interested in Pokemon and Power Rangers. Just sing along La Seine, La Seine, La Seine…
You can go down the stairs and walk much closer to water. It’s very romantic but at that time of the day, it’s more dog walkers that cross your path and I had to remind my son to watch his step and avoid both falling in the water or stepping on dog poo!
Go and watch a play for kids
Thanks to my friend Amy who’s lucky enough to live in the Latin Quarter, I discovered the Comédie St Michel. They have plenty of plays just for kids and we went to see Blanche Neige voit rouge, a twisted, musical and humorous version of Snow White, in French of course. My son loved it, had a lot of fun and best of all he got picked to go on stage and play the Hunter. He was given a huge beard to wear and had to say “oui, ma Reine” each time the light was on him. Hilarious!
TIP: book online and collect your tickets at the booth
PRICE: 7 euro per ticket, so CHEAP! Much cheaper than the movies and yet you get to see real life actors acting and singing in front of you!
Look for another cosy place for waffles and ice cream
My mum (who lives in Paris) loves Amorino gelato place for their signature move is to shape your ice cream on the cone like a rose flower (she likes bows, ribbons, flowers, everything girly). If you’ve lived in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Luxembourg or the Netherlands, you might know this chain. Too bad for us Swiss and Austrians!
The place is cosy, there’s a room upstairs with wooden beams where you can sit down, there are decent toilets and you still have a view on the cobblestone street and the entrance of the shop. Although the lady was by herself in the shop, the service was good.
PRICE: I was very happy with the bill: only 22 euros for: 2 waffles with 2 scoops of ice cream each + 1 long coffee, 1 cappuccino + one small cone with 3 flavours. In Sydney it would have been like 10 AUD for one waffle and 2 scoops already.
Address: we went to the one on Rue Mouffetard but we also one on rue Soufflot near the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Garden. There are 23 Amorino shops in Paris.
Walk around pretty and meaningful places
We crossed the bridge from l’Ile St Louis back to the right bank, waving at the Bateaux Mouches. We walked around the Latin Quarter, visited a book shop on rue Mouffetard. I also showed my son the Lycée where I studied for 2 years in that area famous for its schools and universities like La Sorbonne. We stopped to see nice fruit and veggie shops and cheese shops where the cheese guy is Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
Have a typical French Japanese meal
One funny fact is that Asian restaurants have different features depending on which country they are in. For example you don’t get fortune cookies in Chinese restaurants in France. Nor do you find California rolls in Japan. Japanese restaurants in Paris though offer this unique skewer made of melted cheese wrapped in beef in a teriyaki sauce. You won’t find that in Japanese restaurant anywhere else in the world, but I grew up in Paris, with that dish part of the lunch menu for Japanese restaurants Rue Monsieur Le Prince near the Luxembourg garden.
So here we are, enjoying cheap lunch menus: 10.90 euros for 6 pieces of salmon sashimis + 4 skewers (2 of which being the beef and cheese wrap) + miso soup + salad + rice.
Best of all my son spend two days without watching/ playing on a screen. What a victory for me!!!