Jardin des Plantes

Some more family-fun ideas to add to la liste

Twirling through the Tuileries

In the north-west corner of this gorgeous garden, you’ll find a whimsical children’s wonderland. There’s a playground, an olde-worlde carrousel, and a delightful statue of Charles Perrault — the Parisian author of such fairytales as Cinderella and Puss in Boots — who overlooks a series of sunken trampolines that will have your kids literally jumping with joy.

A Luxembourg Gardens Afternoon

Devote a good half-day to this beautiful Left Bank park. For a few euros, you can hire a wooden boat for your kids to push around the pond. You might even be able to catch a pony ride. The cafés and stalls will keep you stocked up with sandwiches, crêpes and ice-cream; savour them while watching locals play pétanque and chess. Don’t miss the olde-worlde merry-go-round, which is inspired by tilting-at-the-ring training.

Going for a Spin

There are many fabulous carrousels around town, but for those of you particularly obsessed with the attraction, book a guided tour of the Musée des Arts Forain (Funfair Museum). It’s in French, but non Francophones are given an information booklet in English. And anyway, the fun you’ll have whirling around the old rides — especially the bicycle merry-go-round — will be universal.

Other Museums for Minis

  • Musée de l’Armé (Army Museum). Those who dream of becoming a knight when grown up will find the displays of medieval armoury fascinating.
  • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Hunting and Nature Museum). Vegetarian families might wince at some of the taxidermy trophies. Nevertheless, it’s a fabulously decorated museum that is more glamour than gore.
  • Musée Grévin Paris’s answer to Madame Tussauds is an undervalued gem in this city of quirky museums. You’ll learn about key moments in French history, and meet a host of famous faux faces, in a succession of glamorous Belle Époque setting.

Grande Galerie de l’Évolution (Gallery of Evolution)

Housed within the Musée Naturel d’Histoire Naturelle (National Natural History Museum), this is another museum to visit for the building as much as its contents. Within a glorious exhibition hall, you’ll find a fabulous parade of animals on show, along with accompanying educational resources. One for all young animal lovers. As is the Ménagerie; also set in the lovely Jardin des Plantes, this little zoo is olde-worlde and oh-so Parisian (it was even a favourite of Madeline). Also search out the Dodo Manège, a merry-go-round that features endangered and extinct animals in lieu of the usual horses.

‘April in Paris, this is a feeling that no one can ever reprise …’ So the song goes. Many have waxed lyrical about Paris in the springtime. As Henry Miller once noted, ‘When spring comes to Paris, the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise.’ And it’s true: there’s nothing like Paris […]

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Like so many of the lovely things in life (the little black dress, confetti, macarons, ballet, and so much more …), the carousel originated in Paris.   Rewind to the jousting tournaments of medieval times, knight games that were in part inspired by the myth of Sir Lancelot — that passionate lover, brave fighter and all-round dreamboat. Lancelot […]

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