|Photo by Freeimages.com/Pat Herman|
by Sally Peck, The Daily Telegraph, June 7, 2016
Eurostar is offering children tickets for £10 each way this summer, making Paris - and other cities in northern France and Belgium - a far more enticing proposition for a family break during the school holidays.
Tickets, on sale from today until June 20, allow for travel between July 4 and the end of August, between London, Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Paris, Brussels, Lille, Calais, or any station in Belgium.
Eurostar is offering further savings to passengers through its two-for-one entry deal to a range of museums and attractions, including the Musée d'Orsay, with its wealth of impressionist masterpieces, and the excellent Musée du quai Branly, which showcases non-European tribal art in a quirky modern building.
And if all that culture threatens to overwhelm your children, repair quickly to Paris Plage, where ice cream, sandcastle building, and even a bit of a suntan are yours for the taking from mid-July to mid-August, when the Georges-Pompidou expressway and La Villette canal basin will be transformed into an oasis of deckchairs and fine sand.
Six reasons why your family should visit Paris this summer:
This is the monument we all think we know and yet, when you actually see the real thing, there's still something astonishing about the metal structure, the ride up in the vintage lifts and, of course, the views. It was the tallest building in the world when it opened for the 1889 Exposition Universelle and was originally a temporary structure that was decried by many, including Maupassant, who visited every day so he didn’t have to see it from afar. Tickets bought in advance must be reserved for a specific slot; otherwise, note that queues are shorter if you come late at night – if your children are up for it.
Address: Champ de Mars, 75007 Paris
Contact: 0033 8 92 7012 39; tour-eiffel.fr
Opening times: Daily: Sep to mid-Jun, 9.30am-11pm; mid-Jun to Aug, 9am-midnight
Admission: Lift to top: €17; children 12-24, €14.50; children 4-11, €8. Children under 4 free.
Jardin des Plantes-Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle
Descended from the royal medicinal garden and menagerie, the botanical garden is on a manageable scale but has plenty to occupy all ages, from alpine gardens and palmy hothouses to zoo, playgrounds and cafés. Within the park, the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution brilliantly displays stuffed animals according to their habitats, while other buildings are dedicated to palaeontology and minerals.
Address: Place Valhubert or rue Geoffroy St-Hilaire, 75005 Paris
Contact: 00 33 1 40 79 56 01; mnhn.fr
Opening times: park summer daily 7.30am-8pm
Admission: There is no charge for entry to the park, greenhouses €3, children’s gallery €11 (or €9, ages 4-25), Natural History Museum is free for those under the age of 25, otherwise €9; zoo €13 for adults, free for those under 25.
With its tree-lined quaysides, green metal footbridges and swing bridge, the canal is a picturesque place for a stroll, while watching boats chug through the locks. Opened in 1825, the canal begins at Port de l'Arsenal marina, goes underground by Bastille and emerges after a long tunnel near République. I like it best on Sunday when the quaysides are closed to cars, and cafés and bistros, like Chez Prune and Hôtel du Nord, and shops remain open. You can take boat trips along the canal with Paris Canal ( pariscanal.com ) between the Musée d'Orsay and Parc de la Villette and Canauxrama ( canauxrama.com ) between Bastille and Bassin de la Villette.
Address: quai de Valmy, quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris
Jardin du Luxembourg
The quintessential park in a city where most people don't have gardens is a hive of activity, with its pony rides, swingboats, sandpits and playground, tennis courts, chess players, early-morning joggers, and the round pond where generations of children have rented toy boats. Originally the gardens of the Palais du Luxembourg (built for Marie de Médicis, now the Senate), one side is French style with gravel paths, trimmed avenues, statues and bandstand, the other English style with rolling lawns (no walking on the grass). Best activity of all? People watching from a pale green Luxembourg metal chair.
Address: Place Edmond Rostand, 75006 Paris
Opening times: Daily, from 7.30am-9.30pm in summer
Château de Versailles
If you make just one excursion out of Paris, then it should be to Versailles, for its vision of royal absolutism — "the state is me". Louis XIV called on architects Louis Le Vau and Jules Hardouin-Mansart and painter Charles Le Brun to transform a hunting lodge into glamorous palace and focus of court life. Today, its extravagant ceilings, hall of mirrors, and king's and queen's bedchambers remain fascinating for their excess. The formal garden created by André Le Nôtre, with its spectacular fountains (turned on at weekends from April to October) and huge park allow space for children to run around, too. Avoid ticket queues by reserving ahead, and visit the château itself after 3pm, when it's less crowded.
Address: Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles
Contact: 0033 1 30 83 78 00; chateauversailles.fr
Prices: Château: €18; children under 18 and EU nationals 18-25 go free; Garden free except during Grandes Eaux Musicales
Opening times: Château: Tue-Sun, Nov-Mar 9am-5.30pm, Apr-Oct 9am-6.30pm. Garden: daily, Nov-Mar 8am-6pm, Apr-Oct 8am-8.30pm
Marché Place Monge
Paris has over 80 outdoor food markets but this is my favourite, especially on Sunday when it's a busy local rendezvous. Several stalls where you can buy direct from producers remind that the Ile de France and nearby Picardy are still market gardening regions. Specialists sell organic (biologique) salads and vegetables, apples and potatoes, and there are also excellent cheese stalls, fresh fish from Boulogne and Dieppe, and a few other options – DVDs, saucepans and Turkish jeweller Mr Saygi. There's all you need for a picnic in the nearby Jardin des Arènes (the ruins of Paris's Roman arena), including roast chickens, Lebanese snacks and a charcuterie stall that does steaming choucroute.
Address: place Monge, 75005
Opening times: Wed, Fri, Sun, 7am-2.30pm
Activities contributed by Natasha Edwards, the Telegraph’s Paris expert
Family-friendly hotels in Paris
- Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris Paris, France 8Telegraph expert rating
On the avenue between the Arc de Triomphe and Parc Monceau, grand Royal Monceau was reborn after ... Read expert reviewFrom £601inc. tax Check Availability Rates provided by Booking.com
- Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris, France 9 Telegraph expert rating
This 'Palace' hotel (a notch up from five-star) drips with luxury on one of Paris’ most fashionab... Read expert reviewFrom £248inc. tax Check Availability Rates provided by Booking.com
- Hilton Paris Opera Paris, France 8 Telegraph expert rating
A $50m refurb has seen this Belle Epoque treasure of a hotel, opened in the same year as the Eiff... Read expert reviewFrom£203inc. tax Check Availability Rates provided byBooking.com
This article was written by Sally Peck from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.