6 day winter Paris itinerary with kids – see what we did in Paris in January with kids
We got the chance to visit Luxembourg and Paris in January 2023 because my husband had a work trip over there, making his flight free. We decided to give it a whirl even though the weather wasn’t ideal and some things were closed! I’m not sure how useful this winter Paris itinerary for kids will be because I don’t think many people go in January on purpose, and our itinerary would’ve looked much different in a warmer month, but I’m going to write it out anyway, just in case. So if you’re visiting Paris in winter with kids, or just want my general Paris tips I wish we’d known, keep reading!
We pack light but always have room for one stuffie; they don’t normally come out and about with us but we had a sick family member who the kids were trying to cheer up with silly pictures.
Check out these other posts while you’re here:
- Prepare for your trip by reading & watching some children’s books about paris & paris movies for kids
- Top tips for visiting the louvre for kids in 2023
- 40+ things to do in paris with kids
- 7 steps to plan a family vacation
- 20+ tips for taking kids to art museums
The forecast for the week in January we visited was initially all rain but then we only ended up getting one drizzle-y day, for which I’m thankful! My kids wore wool base layers under hiking pants and their down coats over fleeces, every single day. We typically mix museums up with outdoor stuff but the temperature made that tougher without true winter coats, I wish I would’ve packed a little warmer; temperatures were high 30s/low 40s. January meant some things were closed or not available (like the toy boats in the park ponds, some of the outdoor theme parks) but it also meant significantly shorter lines and very few crowds.
It doesn’t fit in an itinerary because we did it going to and fro but one of our very favorite parts of Paris was the Space Invader app!
You download the above app and then keep your eyes peeled walking around, looking for pixelated mosaic art along the streets. The majority of the ones we found were near intersections! Then you open the app and “scan” it – if it is an authentic piece it’ll give you (arbitrary) points. There are some imposters which were kinda fun to find too. You can read more about the artist behind it here, it’s all free and we really loved it.
Another aspect that doesn’t fit in an itinerary list is just walking around. We took the Metro or RER-A train for almost all our transportation (one private cab to the airport) but tried to get out at different stops and walk home past different neighborhoods. There were obvious things to look at and enjoy, like the random gorgeous statues and plentiful street art, but also I loved all the ornate and colorful doors (as seen on instagram) and funny little shop displays, like the taxidermied rats at the exterminator shop and these gorgeous key blanks (??) in the window of a hardware store.
General tips for Paris travel
- The metro is the underground subway – there are comprehensive blog posts out there about navigating it, but the top tip I was glad to have was to KEEP YOUR TICKETS until you’ve exited 100% and are streetside again. There are ticket enforcement officers that randomly stop you in the tunnels and verify that you’ve paid, if you can’t find your active ticket it’s a 30 euro charge per person. We threw ours away right after we got off so it wasn’t confusing which was active on the next metro ride.
- No feet on seats/benches/anywhere you sit. I know some people will say this is common etiquette wherever you travel, but it’s hard with kids after walking all day. People feel really strongly about it, you can get fined on public transport for doing it, so stay on top of it.
- Most public bathrooms have a cost; sometimes card only sometimes cash only – even in the food court of a mall for example. There were free public toilets along the street in some places which were great- see above for a visual, but make sure not to let someone hold the door for you after they leave because there is an automatic cleaning cycle that occurs once it is closed.
- Water is not free in restaurants, you pay for the bottle.
- It’s smoggy during the week! Look at the weather and prioritize a weekend and/or a sunny day for long-range city views off the top of any tall monuments.
- French law states you have to have your passport on your person at all times. I kept all 4 of ours in a fanny back worn crossbody style.
- I ordered all our train tickets through the Omio app – it worked great and was easy to understand. There are other options but I price compared between the resellers, found this cheapest and easiest to navigate in english. I also then could get 2% cash back through Ebates/Rakuten!
- If you want to use a taxi, the G7 company/app was highly recommended and we had a good experience using it for our ride to the airport, it was cheaper than taking the metro/train – however they did NOT bring two booster seats per our request, they brought one infant seat, so buyer beware there if you don’t have your own seats.
- Google maps served us well navigating the metro/trains & we used Ubereats pretty often to get delivery to our Airbnb!
- If you’re flying from far away, don’t forget that most airlines offer a kids meal! You have to request it more than 24 hours in advance, different spots depending on the airlines.
- There is a paris pass that gives discounted admission to tourist sights, we didn’t use it but check it out.
- Paris is notorious for pickpockets and scams – be smart about where you keep your money, leave your bag, and stay skeptical of strangers. The one scam we saw was outside The Louvre where a guy had some pretty white birds, if someone stopped and took a picture he put it on their hand and then demanded money. I’d read some advice that only tourists are on their phones and to keep it in your pocket, but we used ours to navigate and saw literally everyone else on theirs so take that with a grain of salt.
- We used the Mission Paris: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure book throughout our trip, it was well done!
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6 day winter Paris itinerary with kids
Where we stayed in Paris
We stayed in this Airbnb that was further out from touristy stuff but close to a metro stop with a great view (pictured above). Don’t forget you can earn Delta airline miles booking Airbnbs! There are lots and lots of hotel options but we planned last minute and didn’t have a ton of options; with older kids it was worth more Metro rides to save money than staying in walking distance of much.
We walked around Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the morning, with my kids climbing on trees and rocks, and then visited the Paris catacombs in the afternoon.
Several people tried to warn us off from the catacombs after being freaked out themselves but our kids wanted to try it so we went in with expectations that they might panic and want to bail, but it was totally a non-issue. Both kids (8 & 10) enjoyed it and were glad we went! It was definitely eerie but the scale of it seemed to almost make it feel unreal. We did the audio tour guide but it was a little too long and dry to keep my kids attention, so I listened and shared relevant bits as they explored. If you’re visiting during a not as busy time like us and want to gamble, they have cheaper ‘last minute’ tickets that sell 1 day at a time, opening at midnight of that day, I was able to stay up and get 4 no problem at midnight.
The Catacombs show up briefly in the Disney movie Hunchback of Notre Dame and two book options are the nonfiction Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet which is illustrated and has a whole chapter about the Paris underground including the catacombs & the Metro or Harley James and the Puzzle in Paris which is a middle grade chapter book with the protagonists using the catacombs during their adventures.
We headed over early and explored the Jardin du Tuileries area, shopped and ate lunch at the Carrousel du Louvre (an underground shopping mall), and then took our first trip into the Louvre with a scavenger hunt/tour from Paris Muse.
The Jardin du Tuileries area was a little underwhelming in winter; the little cafe stands were open but lots of construction going on, the carousel was closed, obviously nothing was blooming. The kids enjoyed the playground and we walked around looking at some of the art and birds before heading into the museum. The Carrousel du Louvre was nothing I’d seek out personally, a mix of cheapie tourist souvenirs and expensive shops. The food court was convenient for multiple options but definitely pricey.
I have a whole post about tips for visiting the Louvre with kids, but will note again here that the Paris Muse tour is something I regret. It was very expensive and our guide kept prefacing or making comments about how “she’d make the museum fun”- well my kids already like museums and it just had a semi-negative tone. She was nice and definitely shared information with us that we enjoyed, but the actual scavenger hunt felt pretty rushed, like she was guiding them to the clues. We didn’t have any time to stop and ask about things along the way, or even ask much about the places we stopped. I read LOTS and lots of rave reviews so I think maybe my kids are the outliers – they asked to stay after the tour and then go back another day again.
We took our ticketed Eiffel Tower tour up to the second floor and then rode the nearby carousel. Next we walked down to the Trocadero area, stopping at a playground with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Last, we then walked to the Arc d’Triomphe and ate crepes, hunting space invaders on the nearby streets as we roamed around.
My kids were most excited for the Eiffel Tower tour and I think this was maybe the biggest letdown? We booked tickets in advance although lines weren’t bad in January, and you could only do the elevator up further out in advance; they open walk-up stair tickets 2 weeks out from the days and sometimes have day-of tickets. The elevator made them pretty nervous, it was tiny and jam packed with people, the steep angle was stressful them smooshed up against the window.
The views looking out were pretty nice and we got some macaroons at the second floor (the very top is closed in January for renovations but I wouldn’t have wanted to go up there anyway!) We then walked down all the stairs and went over to the nearby carousel. Now, in retrospect, I think there may have been some things on the first floor that we missed but the signage was confusing and they were a little anxious going down the stairs from such a high height as well so we plowed through. I can’t say I wished we’d skipped going up it because my kids really wanted to but I think none of us enjoyed it as much as viewing the tower from further away. Also a reminder that they twinkle the lights on the tower at night, for five minutes, on the hour from dark until midnight! We got to see it from our Airbnb but there are several spots around town for optimal viewing.
Walking to the Arc d’Triomphe was pretty straightforward but roughly 1.75 miles and we were definitely chilly by the time we got there; I tried to warm us up with a stop in at the aquarium mid-way but all the tickets were booked and we pressed on. I was thankful for the crepe sellers around the monument and we enjoyed walking all the way around – you can play frogger through traffic to actually get to it or go the proper way underneath the road. It costs money to climb up the monument, which we skipped, but it was still beautiful to look at.
Normally during most trips I like to mix in a children’s museum, theme park, etc. – something hands-on, energy burning, 100% for the kids. I would’ve loved to go to Parc Asterix or the Jardin d’Acclimation for a more Parisian experience but they were both closed in January so we headed to Disneyland Paris aboard the RER-A train (about 1 hour ride). We’ve been to Walt Disney World in Florida twice and I knew not to expect that size or scope but still felt a little letdown.
The food, as I read, was terrible. The whole vibe was not magical, lots of smoking in the park which I hate. It was a good way to break up the museums; some positives were the WEB Aventure ride being unique to Paris and super fun, being able to go to both parks in 1 day easily (caveat, we paid for their version of a fast pass), we enjoyed the dragon under the castle and the drone night show!
This day I intentionally left a little wiggle-y since we stayed at Disneyland so late! We went to the Musee de Arts et Metiers and then to the Pompidou Centre. We also made sure to stop into a local grocery store and a local convenience store to pick up French junk food.
The Musee de Arts et Metiers is a museum dedicated to technology and invention, it’s a little bit off the beaten path but was close to our Airbnb so we thought we’d check it out. A few highlights were the original Foucault pendulum, some hands-on things to crank and touch for the kids, and some beautiful exhibits showing the progression of technology, like bikes over the years, sewing machines over the years, old astronomical instruments. I’m not sure I’d seek it out per se unless you have a kid really into inventions, but it was small and beautiful.
The Pompidou Centre is a bit of a landmark and houses a modern art museum, but even just walking outside is a neat experience. Lots of street vendors, we got more crepes and some churros, and allegedly there are neat sculptures, fountains, and performers in summer. There was supposed to be a hands-on kid art room but it was under construction/changing topics when we visiting, which was a huge letdown. We popped up to a few of the modern art floors and peeked around a few famous works but my kids were worn out at this point. I’d definitely like to go back in the future when the kids areas are open.
My kids are allergic to artificial dye so Europe is always a treat since it isn’t common there. Just a fun, easy thing to do when we travel! Junk food!
For our last day, we went back to the Louvre for explorations on our own, then rode the Batobus to Notre Dame Cathedral and walked back to the Musee D’Orsay.
I didn’t expect my kids to enjoy The Louvre as much as they did – but I also didn’t realize just how many artifacts there were! Both my kids really love Greek mythology so they really enjoyed all the Greek and Roman sculptures connected to gods and goddesses that they knew.
Another big part of our day was The Studio! I hadn’t read a single thing about this space in travel groups or blog posts, it’s pretty new and I don’t think many people know about it. It’s a super fun hands-on kids space – lots more pictures and information about it in this separate post about The Louvre for kids. This was the perfect way to end our day.
The Batobus is a water taxi that takes you down the River Seine to all the major sites. It was a fun way to see a different side of the city and skip traffic, it was covered and not too cold even in January. I’m not sure it was worth it to see Notre Dame when we went, it was very covered up, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a mode of transport!
The Musee d’Orsay is often suggested as an alternative to The Louvre because it’s smaller – but obviously we did both! There were some really famous works here, lots of Impressionist work, and loads of neat sculptures. The building is an old train station and really beautiful even if you don’t have time to look through in its entirety. We were glad to have gone and wished we had more time here!
My list of things to do on a future, warmer, trip is long but I’m glad we went in winter too! Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.