A visit to a museum is a great way to expose your children to the arts – especially in Paris, where museums have come up with a variety of inventive ways to make a visit fun for children. They use digital technology, apps and touch screen guides to make exhibits easy to understand.
Even more appealing: entry to all the national museums is free for under-18s. Certain museums also offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month.
More info on free museums and monuments in Paris
A Paris institution, the Louvre provides an opportunity for kids to make their first foray into art appreciation. It houses a treasure trove of artworks, including artefacts from Ancient Egypt and canvases by great masters, such as the celebrated Mona Lisa. The museum also has entertaining children’s trails. La Petite Galerie, an educational section with digital equipment, gives families an interactive introduction to the arts.
Another Paris classic, the Musée d’Orsay, has a treasure hunt trail for families, and entertaining visits designed especially for children. A tablet app, The Musée d'Orsay for Families, offers themed tours of the museum. Visitors with a touch screen tablet can explore the rich diversity of the collections from different angles.
A visit to the Musée Grévin, with its waxworks of famous people, is fun for all the family. The discovery tour for children aged 7 to 12 shows how the wax figures on display are made, and includes lots of interesting historical details.
The Musée national de la Marine (Under renovation - Reopening planned in 2022) also offers a special tour-and-workshop for children from 7 to 12 years of age. Meanwhile, adults can browse the wonderful collection of scale models of historic boats.
The Musée de l’Homme is offering a 15-minute entertainment, ‘A l’improviste’, on a key theme from the museum, as well as guided tours for families and workshops centred around prehistory, human evolution, world cultures, and more!
And for foodie families, the gourmet chocolate museum Choco-Story offers educational tours for children and a treasure hunt, as well as chocolate-making workshops alongside a chocolatier.
In Giverny, near Paris, there is plenty to see at the house where the painter Claude Monet once lived. The water lily pond, the little bridge under the weeping willows and the ivy climbing the walls were among the master’s sources of inspiration. Children will enjoy exploring the gardens and learning more about the painter’s life during a visit to the Musée des Impressionnismes near the house.
Good to know: some Musée nationaux, like the Louvre, provide visitors with pushchairs, baby carriers and wheelchairs, as well as a cloakroom and a left luggage service.
More info on museums
Storytelling tours for children
Learning while having fun is child’s play in Paris, where museums organize educational workshops, interactive tours and a variety of storytelling activities to initiate children into culture. These original and entertaining programmes are specially designed for family days out.
The Musée Grévin, the Musée de la Vie romantique, the BNF, the Musée Carnavalet and the Petit Palais have special storytelling tours for children. Puzzle trails, activities and interesting stories will keep the whole family entertained.
The Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac is a crossroads of different civilizations in the heart of Paris, providing insight into many of the world’s cultures. It organizes storytelling tours for children, explaining the customs and traditions of ancient civilizations from around the world.
And, for history buffs, the Musée de l’Armée has detective games, guided tours and storytelling sessions to teach children about iconic historical figures through the collections on display. Finally, the Musée du Moyen-âge regularly hosts a ‘story hour’ and ‘discovery trail’, two entertaining, family-friendly history workshops.
Creative workshops for children
Paris museums host a variety of workshops aimed at awakening and stimulating children’s artistic inclinations. These include concerts, model-making tutorials and beginner’s art lessons. These activities for small children and pre-teens accompanied by an adult are guaranteed to keep the kids happily occupied.
Kids can dabble in contemporary art at the Palais de Tokyo’s ‘Tok Tok’ creative workshop, which explores a number of different themes. ‘L’Atelier des enfants’ at the Centre Pompidou, trails and workshops at the Fondation Louis Vuitton and the ‘Maison des Petits’ at the Centquatre are also designed to get children interested in contemporary art. Lafayette Anticipations is organizing art workshops on the themes of fashion, design, etc. at Studiolo.
The Monnaie de Paris is also offering guided tours for families as well as discovery workshops where the secrets of coin minting are revealed.
The BNF is focussing on the history of the book with workshops for children that enable them to discover and carry out engravings, illuminations, medieval writing ... Fun and educational sessions that always fascinate the young public!
For music fans, the Philharmonie de Paris offers music appreciation and music making workshops for children from 3 months to 12 years old, as well as a special family discount on tickets to weekend concerts. The Philharmonie des enfants is a place dedicated to children aged 4 to 10. On the programme: 1,000m² and 5 thematic worlds where children can learn while having fun.
Little Villette is putting on themed exhibitions in the Pavillon Paul-Delouvrier, a slew of workshops for children aged 1-12 based around cookery, circus skills, street art, dance, nature, music, pottery, etc., as well as other activities to go along and enjoy on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons: reading room, games space, Lego® table, etc.
Paris is also a cinema lovers’ paradise. The Cinémathèque française has a number of children’s workshops on vocal training, screenwriting and animation.
The Musée Archéa in Val d’Oise provides fascinating insights into archaeological techniques, and the interactive exhibitions are a great way to turn children into history enthusiasts. At the creative workshops, kids take part in a dig and research the items they find, like real archaeologists.
In the visual arts field, the Maison européenne de la Photographie in Paris and the Musée français de la Photographie in the nearby town of Bièvres organize children’s photography workshops.
Helping kids make sense of science
It’s never too early to discover the wonders of science. Paris has any number of activities to help inquiring minds learn more about the world around them. Besides their rich collections, places like the Palais de la découverte, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and the Musée des Arts et Métiers offer a range of amazing and highly instructive activities geared to children.
Nearby, the Géode has the biggest hemispherical screen in Europe. It often shows 3D documentaries and feature films suitable for children: an enjoyable outing for the whole family. La Géode closes its doors for two years from November 30, 2018, for renovation work.
The Exploradôme in Vitry-su-Seine is an interactive museum with lots of interesting science experiments: making water safe to drink, creating an optical illusion, learning to use navigation tools, and so on. There is a range of educational workshops geared to kids of different ages.
In Boulogne-Billancourt, Drôle de Science organizes all kinds of science workshops for kids aged 4-12. They’ll learn about the five senses, electricity, the world’s oceans, the workings of the human body and much more.
Finally, the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace in Paris-Le Bourget airport has a wonderful collection of aircraft and a planetarium, and organizes an educational children’s workshop called ‘Planète Pilote’.
Multimedia discovery for families
Kids these days are up to speed with digital connectivity, new technology and online games. Paris has plenty of instructive, innovative activities for digital-age children and teenagers.
Offering free entry with no prior booking required, Studio 13/16 at the Centre Pompidou is the first interactive space devoted to teenagers. The interactive artworks and the experiments in digital creativity spanning various art genres will appeal to teens and adults alike.
At the forefront of digital culture, the Gaîté Lyrique and the Centquatre regularly hold talks and exhibitions with a focus on new technology. The Cube – the centre for digital creation in Issy-Les-Moulineaux organizes interactive workshops for children up to 11 years old.