Help make our trip to Europe amazing, Paris edition
May 21, 2016 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Our family will be spending a few days in Paris in June. We're traveling with kids, so our plan is for a mostly low-key trip filled with lazily exploring the city, relaxing in parks, and eating pastries. But we're also looking for other unique or special experiences we could do as a family that would really make our trip special.

We would love to hear any ideas that might involve:

- Meeting and interacting with locals
- Visiting special places in the city/area that might not show up in guide books
- Anything food or wine related that shouldn't be missed

We're staying in the heart of the Latin quarter so any tips about places in the immediate area would be great!
posted by quantum to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Some things my kids enjoyed in Paris (they were 8 and 10):

--sailing model boats in Luxembourg Garden
--seeing the home of the real Nicolas Flamel in the Marais, which is one of the last remaining medieval homes in Paris. This is a good one if your kids have read the first Harry Potter book, as he is an off-page character.
--the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages, which has a real unicorn horn (actually a narwal horn but who's counting)
--eating aaaallllll the crepes with Nutella
--the Catacombs, if your kids aren't easily creeped out.
--there's a street I can't remember the name of that's famous for its graffiti, I think it's in the Belleville area, and my kids took a zillion pictures there.
posted by padraigin at 7:48 PM on May 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

We're staying in the heart of the Latin quarter so any tips about places in the immediate area would be great!

The street market on the Rue Monge is great, but doesn't get a massive amount of publicity, because it's not trying to be anything other than a local market. Also, there's a Roman arena just sort of there in the neighbourhood.
posted by holgate at 8:40 PM on May 21, 2016

Obviously you should sail boats in the Jardin Luxembourg, I'm planning to do that an I'm middle-aged. You would think it would be loaded with tourists, but we saw just as many locals soaking up the sun or playing soccer. The six-year-old loved it and it's easy walking from your area. There were almost all French at the marionette show there as well.
For interaction with locals you'll want to go to the places where they go, so parks are a great place to start. I was amazed how many areas there are for children: a sandbox in the Place des Vosges, playgrounds at the back of Notre Dame, in the the Tuileries, to the west of Les Halles, at the foot of La Tour Saint Jacques, etc., etc. We even went to the indoor waterpark, Aquaboulevard, which was all locals and their kids, but be aware of the strict rules! The greenmarkets are everywhere in the city, and you can meet the farmers and shoppers.
There's a circus museum on the east of the city, by appointment only that looks spectacular. On Sundays various neighborhoods, including Rue Mouffetard near you, are shut to cars as part of Paris Respire ("Paris Breathes"). It's really a wonderful city to take kids, despite the expectation of quiet in restaurants. But there a million cafés, brasseries, bistrots, and other places to eat.
posted by wnissen at 9:22 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Cluny has a small playground outside.
posted by brujita at 10:43 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are websites like VoulezVousDiner that will connect you with a local dinner host. Some hosts have kids, looks like it could be a fun experience.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:05 AM on May 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

In my Paris research on Metafilter I saw someone mentioned the Paris Greeters program, which looked awesome but unfortunately you had to book a little more in advance than I did so they did not have availability. Looked amazing though, and a great way to check off your "interacting with locals" category.
posted by windbox at 6:35 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions so far!

JoeZydeco@ -- VoulezVousDiner looks like it could be a great experience! It's not clear to me which of the hosts have kids -- how could I find that out?
posted by quantum at 8:13 AM on May 22, 2016

I really loved the Musée des arts et métiers, and I think they have many kid-appropriate exhibits. Some really cool history of science and technology stuff.
posted by taltalim at 9:39 AM on May 22, 2016

I've mentioned this here before, but one of my favorite Paris experiences was the flea market north of the city, at St. Ouen. It's enormous and diverse and a bit unruly and very different from the center-city refined Paris experience. The middle of the market is a huge antiques area, and on the outskirts, closer to the metro, are bric-a-brac stands run by immigrants. I found both really interesting. It's not great if your kids are prone to wander off (it is massive and crowded, the biggest flea market in Europe), and it's a known spot for pick-pockets, but if you guys like markets and stay close together, it would probably be a lot of fun.
posted by lunasol at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2016

how could I find that out?

I just casually browsed some of the listings and there were mentions of kids. Perhaps use the help window and inquire if you can get a custom listing of hosts with children in Paris?
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:00 PM on May 22, 2016

Jordan of Oh Happy Day lived in Paris with her two sons for a year and wrote two guides: here and here.
posted by Flamingo at 8:08 AM on May 23, 2016

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