Paris is without a doubt, one of our favorite cities in the world. Bryan and I have been several times together now and we have more than a few favorite spots that we make sure to get back to each time. BUT half of the fun in the city of light is exploring and finding some new, amazing places to add to your list! Below you’ll find some of our favorite activities, cafes, and things to do in Paris – all of which we have done with kids!
If you’ve never been to Paris (or if you’ve been 100 times) you’ll obviously want to do things like the Eiffel Tower (book tickets in advance if possible), Champs Elysees (amazing shopping), Arc de Triomphe (we climbed the steps before kids, view is awesome from the top!) and the Louvre (worth it if you’ve never been – not sure I’d take young kids inside but there is a huge window that you can get some views inside of the Louvre with them that is fun).
Below are some details of our most current trip + a few other tips and spots we’ve loved over the years!
Where we stayed:
We’ve stayed at a few different hotels on or near this street and have stayed at this exact hotel twice. We booked this one, because of its location and two, there are some bigger rooms (especially by European standards) that allowed us to spread out with the kids. Henry and Eloise had their own room and we had 2 bathrooms which was really nice when it came to getting ready in the morning and ready for bed at night. It’s a bit of an older hotel, but it has great character, very friendly staff, a small bar downstairs if you want a glass of wine anytime, and we would definitely recommend it as a nice place to stay. There are rooms with incredible views if that’s what you’re going for, just book accordingly.
In this same neighborhood, we have also stayed at and would recommend:
Overall, it’s the location at Hotel Brighton for us which is the area “Rue de Rivoli”. It’s close to a lot of different things that we really like. Tuileries and the Louvre are across the street, tons of cafes nearby, and it’s only about a 20 minute walk to the Champs-Elysees. There’s a lot of designer shopping a couple of blocks away as well as Ferdi (hard to get a reservation but a fun food spot with great food). There’s a couple of metro stations nearby. If you stay here, make sure to stop at the Happy Cafe for a coffee and a pastry. It’s a bit of a hole in the wall, but the guys working there are so friendly and they have some great grab and go type food if you need something for the kids. They will make you laugh every morning and Eloise absolutely loved going there! If you go, tell them we sent you!
A few of our favorite cafes:
So many street corners in Paris have a cafe, or three, that depending on the time of day, may be packed full of people or empty. You can stop in for a quick espresso or a snack, or stay for 3 hours and have champagne and lunch, you choose! If it’s crowded and there is a host/hostess stand, they will seat you, otherwise, find a spot and make yourselves comfortable! This is very convenient when traveling with a stroller as you can pick a spot with plenty of room. The menus are generally in English, the waiters will come and take your order, and you need to let them know when you’d like a check. This is not 5 star dining, but if you need a bite to eat or a meal that won’t break the bank, this is a great option. Below are some of our favorite cafes:
Cafe de Flore Boulevard Saint Germain, historic, beautiful, can be crowded – Instagram worthy and a very popular tourist spot
Cafe Louise Across the street from Cafe de Flore, a great alternative, good food & you still get great people watching on the busy streets of Paris. (There’s also a new Gucci store walking distance from the cafe in case you want to “just browse” like me HA!).
Cafe Carrousel Across from Tuileries, good food, great people watching with a lot going on!
End of the day, you can’t go too wrong anywhere in Paris. Find a cafe, check the menu and make sure they have something you (more importantly your kids) like, and enjoy! Yes, many of these cafes serve kids butter noodles!
A few of our other favorite spots to eat:
Yes, I know, Ralph Lauren is an American. There are tons and tons of amazing French restaurants in Paris, but this one is our absolute favorite. I love the decor, the patio is stunning, and the food makes me hungry just thinking about it. It’s a bit pricey, but for a splurge meal, we think it’s absolutely worth it. Make sure you get a table on the patio, and I’d say lunch is the best time of day to go. Eloise is great at a nicer restaurant. We try at catch Henry at nap time or when he’s really hungry and will sit, eat, and enjoy. As all parents know, the chances of a nap during a meal are less than 10% but we still try! LOL! I love all of their soups and have had several very good salads here, Bryan swears by the burger and fries. Americans in Paris!
Sips of wine, steps from the Eiffel Tower: Cave Vino Sapiens
Ok, 5 minute walk, but who’s counting? This was a random find (like you’re at the Eiffel and forgot your champagne and google “wine shop nearby” and this is what we happened upon, and we’re so glad we did! They have a few wines by the glass each day, including bubbles, as well as charcuterie boards and bread. We sat on the patio outside and had a great time chatting with a few other couples who had similar experiences in finding this place! They have a ton of wine inside and some very knowledgeable and friendly employees who can help make a selection. You can taste whatever you want inside at the bar. You will quickly find that you do not need to spend a lot of money to have great wine in Paris.
A great Patisserie:
Right next door to the wine shop is Boulangerie Les Petits Gourmands. Everything inside looked INCREDIBLE. We got the kids croissants and have never seen Henry eat the way he did when that got set in front of him. In fairness, it was very, very good. Soft on the inside, crunchy outside, buttered and sweet. They don’t appear to have a website, so I’ve linked their Instagram. Both the bakery and the wine shop are on Rue Saint Dominique which is just across the Avenue de la Bourdonnais from the Eiffel Tower.
We couldn’t get a reservation here this time around, but we’ve eaten here before – it’s been seen on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and is very popular! The food and atmosphere is super fun but it’s a very small spot, less than 15 tables probably so try and get a reservation beforehand or ask the hotel to make one for you. It’s also a very close 5 minute walk from Hotel Brighton.
Areas to enjoy:
Jardin des Tuileries
Arguably our favorite spot in Paris for a variety of reasons. Now, it’s because we absolutely love taking the kids there and watching them explore. There are playgrounds, a carousel, grass areas to have a picnic, so many beautiful statues and fountains… I could go on. I think we truly feel like we’re “in Paris” when we’re in this garden, taking a stroll and watching our kids play. Then we find a cafe within the grounds that has a glass of rose, grab a few of their trademark green chairs, sit back and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Louvre. There’s something about this place that is just quintessential Paris to us, it’s a special place for sure!
Speaking of breathtakingly beautiful spots in Paris to spend some time, this is another one of our absolute favorites! It’s a palace that looks straight out of the movies with amazing grounds and a spectacular fountain. You can rent a wooden boat for the kids and they’re given a stick to chase around the water and help steer it along with the current. Eloise had a blast doing this and I am slightly terrified of what Henry may do someday to make sure his boat is performing up to standard! We have walked here in the past from our hotel near the Tuileries (20-30 minutes), but you could also take the metro or a car if you prefer. There is a ton of shopping and restaurants and incredible buildings between the two in the Latin Quarter, which is probably why we prefer the walk!
A few Paris tips and tricks:
- This applies to any foreign country that you visit, but learn how to say some simple phrases in their language. You must begin conversations in Paris with “Bonjour.” Learning how to say hello, please, thank you, etc will go a long way to having a pleasant experience, especially with waiters.
- Take the metro! Some of the busier stations now have these really cool touch screens where you can map out your journey. It will tell you exactly how much each ticket costs and where to get off or change trains if needed. It’s an easy way to see more of the city, although walking is great too!
- One of our favorite things to do in Paris is picnic! Stop at a local grocery store and grab a bottle of Champagne and some plastic cups with your baguette! Be warned though that a lot of the Paris open grass areas are not for lounging. There are a ton of signs everywhere that tell you not to walk or sit on certain grass areas. An area that we loved was right across the street from the Louvre – a great spot to relax on the grass and picnic!
- If you have somewhere that you know you want to eat, make a reservation. A lot of restaurants in Paris take and seem to prefer reservations. Either call, or have the hotel book it for you – other than that, easily hop into a cafe!
- Make sure you have your international plan active while you’re abroad. We have AT&T and were able to go onto the website at home, activate it ($10/day for 1 line, $15/day for 2 lines unlimited). Yes, there is a lot of wifi options, but if you’re worried about it, this makes the phone situation pretty easy while traveling.
Designer purchases in Europe:
Probably one of my most asked questions….why buy your designer items in Europe and is it more affordable?
- Yes, it is always a few hundred dollars cheaper to buy your bags or designer items in Europe because there are no overhead costs aka transportation costs, duty taxes, import tax etc. Also, on top of that, you can get your tax credited back to you once you leave the country – called VAT tax.
What to do when buying a designer item in Europe to get your VAT return:
- First and foremost, you will need to bring your passport to the store you are planning to purchase from. Some stores let you show a picture of your passport but most require the physical passport in order to start the VAT return process.
- After you purchase your item, make sure you ask the salesperson about getting your VAT return on the item. Some salespeople ask, others do not so make sure if you want that tax money refunded, YOU ask.
- They will process your order and give you a VAT return slip or sheet that you will need to take with you to your next travel destination. For example, I bought a Gucci bag in Paris and got my VAT return slip. When I was leaving Paris to travel back to London, there was a VAT return booth at the train station. There I scanned my VAT receipt and the refund began processing. I received the return money to my bank card about one week later after I returned to the states.
- Another tip: sometimes the VAT return stations make you show your items so make sure you have them easily accessible. For example, if you are leaving out of London Heathrow, they have a few VAT stations and I’ve always been asked to physically show my items in order for them to accept the VAT return, so don’t pack them away in your checked luggage!
When in Paris, BOOK THE PHOTOGRAPHER. Bryan & I have shot professional photos with La’mour De Paris THREE times (once before kids, once with Eloise and then this last trip with the 4 of us – picture above) and have never regretted it! They are incredible and take the most amazing shots that will forever be your best memories. Well worth the money and I can’t recommend CheyAnne enough. She’s from the US so she’s very easy to communicate with and tells you exactly where to meet which makes it so simple! If you book her, please tell her we sent you & give her a hug from us!
I hope this post is helpful for you as you plan your next Parisian trip! We will most definitely be back and can’t wait to explore Paris more as our kids get older! If you’ve missed any of my other Europe travel posts, I’ll link them below again for you all:
PACKING TIPS FOR A EUROPE TRIP