Looking for things to do in Paris with tweens? Well you’ve come to the right place, my family and I just got back from six weeks in Europe — we had tagged along on my husband’s required sabbatical from work — and our family trip to Paris was a highlight that I’m excited to share with you.
My husband and I had been to Paris before, but our three kids hadn’t, and it was at the top of their list of places to go. Our family trip to Paris included a five-year-old, two tweens (ages 10 and 12), and my husband and I, and this travel guide on things to do in Paris with tweens, based on our time there, will give you all of the budget-savvy tips on how to make sure everyone has fun!
Free Things to Do in Paris With Tweens
Traveling to Europe with tweens, or kids with ages between 9 and 12, can be challenging. Trust me on this, I spent six straight weeks in Europe with two of them.
It takes a lot of planning to find things to do that will keep their interest. While they have a longer attention span than our five-year-old, they also think the most important thing in their life is their iPhone.
As much as I wanted to make them leave their phones behind whenever we were checking out Paris attractions for kids, I instead tried to use their iPhone dependency to my advantage. I highlighted the photogenic attractions at each of our stops, and our boys loved taking photos of the different Paris sights and sharing to social media. In fact, we found that we were able to satisfy both my goal to keep costs low by maximizing free things to do in Paris with tweens and our kids’ desire to share cool experiences via Snapchat and Instagram. Win-win.
Free Walking Tours
I am a huge fan of free walking tours because there is nothing cheaper than free! We took all of our kids (even the five-year-old) on a free walking tour in almost every European city that we visited and Paris was no exception. There are several different companies that offer free walking tours in Paris, including Sandeman’s and Discover Walks.
The Sandeman’s tour is a great option for seeing all of the top attractions and is a definitely a great thing to do in Paris with tweens. I also recommend Discover Walks because they offer several different free tours in specific areas like the Latin Quarter and Montmartre. Since this was my fourth time in Paris, I wanted to tour something new, so we went on the Montmartre tour with Discover Walks. It started near Moulin Rouge and ended at Sacre Coeur, two beautiful locations that led to great Instagram shots for our tweens.
Note: As with all free walking tours, please be sure to tip your guide based on your budget and the quality of your experience on the tour. Approximately €10 per person is a good reference for tipping guides on free walking tours in Paris.
Whether you visit at the end of a walking tour of Montmartre like we did or you visit on your own, a trip to Sacre Coeur will impress your tweens. The view of Paris from the top of the hill that the basilica sits on is breathtaking and is a top Instragram spot for those into that kind of thing (I literally took 20 photos of my son until I got one that was “just right” for him to use as his profile picture *facepalm*).
Sacre Coeur, France’s second most visited church after Notre-Dame, is beautiful inside and out. In fact, of all of the churches I’ve seen around the world (and I’ve seen a lot of them), Sacre Coeur has always been my favorite. The basilica is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and is free to enter.
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Somehow I’d never made it to Luxembourg Gardens on my previous trips to Paris. Our family trip to Paris gave me a reason to finally visit the gardens of the former Luxembourg Palace, now home to the French Senate, and I found it the perfect place to take all of our kids. The magnificent gardens are free to explore and there are lots of activities for both kids and tweens.
You will see kids playing with remote boats in the large pond and you can also splurge by paying to enter the LudoJardin which is a recently-renovated, posh-style playground perfect for kids big and small. While it costs €3/child to enter the playground and €1 for adults, we welcomed the small cost of the fun break (and shade, which was key in the middle of the summer!) for us and our kids.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It is located on the western end of the Champs-Élysées and honors those who have fought for France. Visiting the monument and the eternal flame for the tomb of the unknown soldier, located at the bottom of the arc, is free, and visitors can stop by day or night.
If you’d like to give your tweens a quick workout, climb the stairs to the top of the monument. The view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe is incredible and worth the €8/adult fee to enter, as kids 17 and under are free.
Not only is Notre Dame the most visited church in all of France, it’s also one of the most visited in the entire world. A trip to Paris is not complete without visiting Notre Dame, but unfortunately due to a devastating fire in 2019, the inside of the church (which is typically free to visit) is not currently accessible.
While Notre Dame is under construction, the iconic towers can still be viewed from across the street, ensuring a photo opportunity for your tweens.
Unlike visiting the actual Louvre museum (more about that below), checking out the iconic glass pyramids at the main entrance of the museum is free. Our tweens loved taking photos with the pyramids! And if they don’t have an interest in museums (what kids do?) or don’t care to see the Mona Lisa, this might be all you need to do to check the Louvre off their Paris bucket list.
Things to Do in Paris with Tweens | Worth the Money
While there are a lot of Paris attractions for kids that are free to see (like the six activities above), some places will cost money to visit. Luckily, we found kids are free at many attractions in Paris through age 17! While the below activities do cost money (at lease for the adult ticket), they are definitely worth the cost for your things to do in Paris with tweens itinerary.
Your tweens are not going to let you visit Paris without going up the Eiffel Tower. Trust me, I tried to get away with just taking them for a photo opp outside of the most famous Paris attraction, since I had already been there, but that did not go over well. Even my five-year-old wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower, and that’s after we told her that she was going to have to walk up 400+ steps by herself!
We found the easiest way to visit the Eiffel Tower was to purchase our tickets online in advance, which let us avoid the long queue at the ticket office. Below are the 2019 prices for visiting the Eiffel Tower. My husband and I were happy to see discounted pricing for kids and tweens. Children three and under are free.
|Type||Adult||Youth (ages 12-24)||Child (ages 4-11)|
|Lift to 2nd floor||€16,30||€8,10||€4,10|
|Lift to the top||€25,50||€12,70||€6,40|
|Stairs to the 2nd floor||€10,20||€5,10||€2,50|
|Stairs to the 2nd floor + lift to the top||€19,40||€9,70||€4,90|
Note: if you want to take the lift all the way to the top, purchase your ticket well in advance because they sell out quickly. Also, tickets cannot be purchased online if you want to walk up the stairs to the 2nd floor and then take the lift to the top. That type of ticket must be purchased in person.
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Sightseeing cruises are a great way to see a city, and our family so enjoyed the sightseeing cruise that we did in Frankfurt, Germany that I made sure to add one to our Paris itinerary. There are several tour companies offering cruises on the Seine River that vary in pricing, length, and type:
We opted for the one-hour cruise through Bateaux-Parisiens at the recommendation of our hotel and because of its affordability and departure location (near Notre Dame). We found that the one-hour cruise was the perfect length of time for our tweens because it was able to keep their attention!
Our boys made it clear that a visit to the Louvre was a must; they wanted to see the Mona Lisa. Both my husband and I had already been to the Louvre and returning was not a high priority of mine, so my husband took one for the team and took our boys so they could check seeing the Mona Lisa off their bucket list. Luckily, tickets for ages 17 and under are free and adult tickets are only €17.
In order to avoid the long queue to visit the Louvre, I recommend purchasing tickets online in advance. Even with pre-purchased tickets, there is still a line for security. The shortest line can always be found by going to the Carrousel du Louvre, which is underground from the main entrance that is located outside. Most tourists don’t realize that this indoor entrance even exists, which is why the line is always much shorter than at the main entrance!
During our sabbatical trip, we found bike tours to be great ways to explore European cities and keep our kids engaged. The bike tours are not strenuous and are perfect for all ages, even young kids, as they have child seats, trailers, and tandem bikes available for the littlest of tourists!
Honestly, our kids preferred bike tours to walking tours, so I highly recommend doing one on your family trip to Paris. The most popular bike tour company in Paris is Fat Tire and they offer several different family-friendly options that range in length and price.
This to Do in Paris With Tweens | Versailles
If you have time and are looking for additional things to do in Paris with tweens, then a trip to Versailles is a perfect addition to your itinerary. The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France for over 100 years. The massive palace and adjacent gardens are stunning and visitors can easily spend at least a half day exploring it.
Train to Versailles
Versailles is approximately 20 km from central Paris and is accessible via the RER C train. It will take approximately an hour to travel between central Paris and the Versailles-Château Rive-Gauche train station, but this is the most budget-friendly transportation option as it’s only €7,30 per person round-trip. Once you arrive at the train station, it’s a quick walk to the Palace.
Warning! A standard metro ticket (€1,90) will not work for the trip to Versailles, since it is located outside of zone 1. You must purchase a ticket with the destination of Versailles-Château Rive-Gauche which cost €3,65 each way and will include any metro transportation you may need to take to get to an RER C station. We learned this the hard way and were ticketed €75 by transit police when we got to the Versailles station. Don’t make our mistake!
Palace of Versailles Tickets
The queue to purchase a ticket on-site is crazy long, so I recommend purchasing the tickets online in advance. Tickets to explore both the palace and the gardens are €20 and children 17 and under are free. Ticket prices include a free audio guide.
For the quickest access to the Palace, you can purchase a ticket that has a specific entrance time (Passport with timed entry). Though those tickets cost €10 for ages 6-17 (children five and under are still free), avoiding the line to get in is worth the additional spend!
Guided Tours of Versailles
Guided tours are definitely not a budget-friendly option, but sometimes they’re worth the additional cost. When visiting Versailles, I didn’t want to deal with finding my way to the Palace from the train station (even though it ended up being super easy!), waiting in the line at the entrance, or using the audio guide, and opted to splurge on guided tour that allowed us to skip the lines. If this is something that interests you and your family, below are some tours to consider:
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Paris Hotels With Kids | Where We Stayed
Hotel accommodations can quickly become one of the most expensive parts of any trip, which can mean less money to spend on enjoying all of the Paris attractions for kids that are available. In order to keep costs low, I began my search for budget-friendly, kid-friendly hotels in Paris using my go-to Booking.com.
As I discussed in my post The Cheapest Way to Travel Europe, I look for accommodations that are in a great location where it’s easy to get around (by walking or public transportation) and are near restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Since Paris has an impressive underground metro system, location isn’t a huge factor, as long as the hotel is in a safe area and near a metro stop or two. The hotel that checked all these boxes for our family trip to Paris was Hotel Marignan in the Latin Quarter.
Hotel Marignan Paris Overview
The Hotel Marignan is a family-owned and operated boutique-style hotel. The great quality:price ratio along with its unique atmosphere that combines the best of a hotel, B&B, and hostel made this the perfect place to stay in Paris with kids. Their English-speaking staff provided us with local expertise, recommendations, and knowledge on the best things to do in Paris with tweens.
The Latin Quarter was very convenient as it was close to two metro stations. Within a few minutes’ walk was Notre Dame and Luxembourg Gardens. There were also lots of restaurants and coffee shops nearby.
Hotel Marignan offers rooms for one to five people with several room options depending on a traveler’s budget and preference. They offer rooms with ensuite bathrooms, rooms with private toilets and shared showers, or rooms with shared toilets and showers (for one to two people).
We opted for a five-person room with ensuite bathroom and our room was perfect for our family. The room was recently renovated and each of the kids had their own single bed.
Hotel Marignan Paris Amenities
The amenities provided at Hotel Marignan were above and beyond what we expected at the price-point that we paid. We were treated to a true French breakfast each morning with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, orange juice, fresh croissants & baguettes, cheese, jam, and butter. There was free fiber optic highspeed wifi in our rooms and throughout the hotel, and we had free use of the kitchen to store food in the refrigerator or cook meals.
My favorite part was that guests were able to do their laundry for free in their industrial-sized washing machine (with detergent included!) and dryer. After hang-drying our clothes and not having a dryer for over a month in Europe, I was so excited to have access to a dryer!
Hotel Marignan Reservations
I highly recommend Hotel Marignan when looking for kid-friendly hotels in Paris. Pricing depends on the time of year that you are visiting and how many people are in your party. Even though we were there during the height of the summer season, we felt our rate of only €165/night was very budget-friendly especially considering all that the hotel offers its guests.
Although I usually recommend you book on Booking.com, since they often have extra discounts, that actually isn’t the best option for this hotel. Booking’s price doesn’t include VAT and city taxes that you’ll have to pay at the hotel upon arrival. Fortunately, booking directly with Hotel Marignan includes these taxes in their advertised rates making your stay cheaper compared to reserving through Booking.com. Plus, you get free breakfast!
Family Trip to Paris | Next Steps
Let’s be real: planning a family trip to Paris can be stressful. Hell, it’s going to be stressful while you’re there, too, but the memories that you and your kids will make are more than worth it. We visited over ten European cities on our sabbatical, including Prague, Bratislava, Venice, and London, and our kids say that Paris was their favorite.
Overall, for a successful and budget-savvy trip, be sure to find affordable flights into Paris, book an affordable family-friendly hotel, like Hotel Marignan, and reserve as much of the activities as you can online in advance (Louvre, Eiffel Tour, Versailles).
Shout out to Hotel Marignan for partnering with me by offering discounted accommodations for our stay in Paris! As always, all opinions are my own.