Things to do with the kids over the autumn school holidays in Paris

Ideas for outings with the kids during the autumn half-term break.

The ‘Toussaint’ (All Saints’ Day) holidays run from Saturday 17 October to Sunday 1 November this year. Although there are fewer cultural and sporting events because of the Covid-19 crisis, there are still plenty of things to do with the kids in Paris: from immersive and entertaining exhibitions to amazing treasure hunts and enchanting shows. Here’s a guide!

Soak up culture at a museum

Famille dans un musée, Paris

During the half-term break, lots of Parisian establishments offer special activities for children. There are workshops, stories and concerts at the Philharmonie de Paris, walks, sporting activities and shows at La Villette, workshops and visits at the Musée du Louvre, drawing and sculpting at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and digital experiments at the Gaité Lyrique. A great programme of events to discover and experience with or without parents (see conditions on museum websites) !

Exhibitions for children

Enfants au Palais de Tokyo à Paris © OTCP - DR

School holidays are the ideal opportunity to see exhibitions that are accessible to kids and those designed especially for them. Regular family favourites are the Cité des sciences et de l'Industrie, the Palais de la Découverte, the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle and the Musée en Herbe, but other places such as the CentQuatre, the Pompidou and the Atelier des Lumières have autumn programmes suited to kids and adolescents.

 More info on the best places for a family outing in Paris

Set off to conquer the city

Paris is one big playground!

That’s the motto of My Urban Experience, who organize treasure hunts through the streets of Paris: a great way to learn about the city’s history, unmissable treasures and splendid heritage. With themes like ‘Mystery in Montmartre’, ‘An educational Paris street art hunt’ and (on rainy days) ‘The secrets of the covered passages’, these treasure hunts packed with puzzle solving, surprises and anecdotes show you a different side to Paris.

Another fun way to learn about both little-known and key aspects of Paris’s history is by taking the Open Tour Kids sightseeing bus tour. A costumed tour guide will make sure the children – grouped by age range – have a unique experience made up of captivating stories, magic tricks, puppetry and balloon sculptures as the bus makes its way through the city.

Live like a king

Château de Fontainebleau - Etang aux carpes et pavillon de l'étang, Paris

A visit to a French château is a wonderful journey back in time, especially over the autumn ‘Toussaint’ holidays. It’s well worth venturing outside Paris to experience it for yourself.

The Château de Vaux-Le-Vicomte, for example, is putting on events like history drama workshops and guided tours with the kids wearing dress-up clothes to give them a more authentic feel of 17th-century children’s lives inside the castle.

Fontainebleau, in the Seine-et-Marne département, has already put the clocks back for winter: kids can enjoy thrilling rides on karts pulled by sled dogs in the park.

At the Château de Versailles, comics have been given pride of place in the Salle du Jeu de Paume, with an exhibition focusing on the chateau’s portrayal in comic strips. This off-beat and entertaining display is an excellent opportunity to see how one of the most beautiful buildings in the Ile-de-France region has been sketched over the years by many talented illustrators, and then set off on a tour of all the different rooms in the palace. Since there are far fewer international visitors this year because of the Covid-19 crisis, your visit will be much quieter – you will be able to tour all the magnificent galleries at your leisure.

Get outdoors in nature

Bois de Vincennes, Paris

Weather permitting, there’s nothing better than spending time outdoors to give the kids a breath of fresh air.

At the Jardin d’Acclimatation, besides all the exciting attractions and activities, French start-up Wakatoon have opened a pop-up animation studio where children can create their own cartoons.

The Thoiry safari park in the Yvelines département is once again putting on its ‘Lumières Sauvages’ (Wild Lights) lantern festival this year from 25 October onwards, with huge Chinese lanterns in the shapes of animals and people and spectacular illuminated tableaux.

Through treasure hunts, workshops and an exhibition, the Paris Zoo is offering an intriguing blend of the imaginary and the real over three successive weekends, with legendary creatures such as werewolves, mermaids and Egyptian gods to be seen alongside the wild animals from which they were inspired.

And the Fontainebleau forest is a wonderful place to get into nature with the kids. Go on a nature walk in the company of a specialist guide to learn all about the flora and fauna in one of the most beautiful forests in the Ile-de-France region.

Give yourself a fright this Halloween

Festival Halloween Disney 2020

Ghosts, pumpkins and witches are out and about during the most frighteningly fun holiday of the year. Halloween returns every year to thrill young and old alike in the most emblematic places in the capital, such as Disneyland® Paris, the Musée Grévin, Parc Astérix and the Parc Zoologique.

And for thrill-seekers over 10 years old, the place to go is the Manoir de Paris, which offers a special visit each year for the occasion. Plenty of excitement guaranteed!

 More info on Halloween in Paris