Things to do in Paris with a Toddler – Parc de la Villette

Paris with a toddler
Le Géode – Cinéma. Photo credit: Yetunde Oshodi

You’ve wanted to go to Paris for so long but now you have a baby so you’re thinking, I’ll put it off and wait till he or she can appreciate this amazing city. I agree and disagree with that statement. While I admit that it is not always easy to travel with kids, I have always been a traveling kid myself, so I strongly believe that kids benefit from travel even at a very small age. My son has already collected a few stamps in his passports and we don’t intend to stop there.

So why not take your toddler to Paris? It does require same planning and strategizing but I would say mainly it’s about mapping out where you can change him or her if need be or what means of transportation would make it easiest to use your oversized stroller. It’s also smart to know where the parks are. My advise is not to carry too much and to bare in mind that Paris is not the most child-friendly city when it comes to facilities. I laugh at myself when I read that last sentence – I am the queen of carrying too much – thank God for the stroller! A great blog to follow with lovely tips on traveling with kids and things to do with kids in Paris is Mama Loves Paris. I am dying to meet this lady and hope to gain from some of her insight.

I think it is important to come to terms with the idea that the day can’t be all about what you want to do when you have a little one. My son is now 2.5 years old or something like that, and I have yet to show him the Eiffel Tower or even Sacre Coeur. He’s seen the Champs Elysée and the outside of the Louvre. We did go to Musée d’Orsay last year with Remi – I think the security guards were not quite as amused as we were. 

Paris with a toddler
Musée d’Orsay. Photo: Yetunde Oshodi

The Remster. Photo credit: Yetunde Oshodi

Let’s face it, toddlers have other priorities. 

Now generally when we get up to Paris, I don’t have much time for anything besides work and perhaps an appointment at my favorite Paris salon, but since we have no babysitter and no daycare when we  head up north and I don’t plan enough ahead to arrange such things, Eric and I generally take turns occupying the “monster”, I meant the little darling . . . You may have had the pleasure of hearing him as he ran through the school screaming just so he could hear his own voice. 

Paris with a toddler
The Remster. Photo: Yetunde Oshodi

Ok to be fair, the above picture was taken over a year ago. He is so much more mature now. Haha!

I decided that it was high time that I devoted a day just to him and you know what? It was fantastic and he was so much easier to deal with in general. We took my favorite mode of transportation in Paris, the bus, from Jules Joffrin station (#60) toward the Parc de la Villette. I had debated taking him the the Jardin d’acclimatation but it was a bit more complicated to get to without using the metro which I hate to do with a stroller but it does look like a lot of fun as well. Another option could have been simply to take him for a picnic in Parc Monceau or in the Butte de Chaumont or even on the Promenade Verte but I had already been to those places even if he hasn’t yet, so I wanted to go back to a place I’ve been before but for entirely different reasons this time.

We got off at the Canal de l’Ourcq bus stop and walked East towards the water. Remi was delighted and ran ahead of me admiring the boats in the water. He was ready for action. 

Bassin de la Villette. Photo Credit: Yetunde Oshodi

 

 

If you have never tried turning things over to a toddler (more or less), I highly recommend it. I had a lot of fun just giving in a little more than usual to be sure that he had a great time and would be sufficiently fatigued to take his nap. It is ridiculous how much I get done before 9 am these days.

We strolled along the Bassin de la Villette which is just a lovely to walk down as along the Seine and entered the immense park that offers a music concert hall (Le Zenith), numerous garden, a science museum and the incredible new, Paris Philharmonic. I think we must have just touch on a dot of the park and it is well worth another visit. 

Remi rode the kiddie roller coasters and tried his hand at driving a car like a maniac. After I told him I had no more change (remember to use an ATM before entering the park as you may be searching for one for quite some time.) It would have helped if I had referred to the interactive map kindly provided by the park. But seriously you don’t need to pay for a single thing to keep a toddler entertained so why waste your money – not with so many cool free things around – like that giant slide we passed by. I was way too frightened to try it with Remi as flashbacks to his fractured tibia came to mind from our last joint sliding experience over a year ago.

paris with a toddler
photo credit: Yetunde Oshodi

Paris with a toddler
Photo credit: Yetunde Oshodi

It’s interesting to visit a place you’ve already been before with a new person and especially fun when that new person is your toddler. They can point out some of the things that you just hadn’t paid attention to beforehand.

There is a lovely children’s park Le Jardin des Vents et des Dunes (the Garden of wind and dunes) which is for kids up to 13 years of age and is well protected so no errant children can take of to pastures unknown. There are separate sections for different age groups. I was sure Remi would race to the sandbox (I had packed a change of clothing just to be sure), but instead, he went for the trampoline – because who doesn’t love a trampoline, and even made a buddy.

 

Paris with a toddler
Photo credit: Yetunde Oshodi

 

Your children will love this park where you can ride bikes, enjoy rides, even watch open-air cinema, learn something and have a blast at the Cité de la Science et de l’Industrie 

After the park we had to head for some food – I luckily had anticipated Remi not wanting to stop his playtime and had packed him a lunch which he enjoyed as we strolled down the basin de la Villette all the way to the Canal St Martin for mommy to get some lunch of her own. I saw quite a number of tempting eateries along the way, but I was determined to get to a specific address and was not deterred by my citymapper app telling me that it was a 40-minute walk or was it 30? I’ll tell you all about where I ate in another post. 

Would I do this day over again? In a heartbeat. 

You will also find a theme park, the Foot Foraine is set up in the Park in honor of the Euro,  running till July 10th for 18-month-old and up including water slides, pools of balls, trampolines and more. But why pay when you can do stuff for free.


Looking for more ideas?!

While our classes at Cook’n with Class Paris are not suited for toddlers, if you are traveling with kids from ages 6 and up, be sure to check out our Cooking with Kids class as well as our Cuisine en Famille Class!

For other fun activities and experiences in Paris with children or toddlers see our latest blog post – 10 Exciting things to do with kids in Paris!

“Article modified on February 6, 2019.”


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