Head for the museums!
Top 5 museums that are free for children
Some of the museums that kids love most don’t even charge to let them in! Fans of stuffed animals will be impressed with the Grande Galerie de l'évolution at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (free for those aged under 26).Young gourmets won’t want to miss the Musée gourmand du chocolat, which is free for under-6s accompanied by an adult.
For a great family outing, go and feast your eyes on the marvellous machines and life-size inventions at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (free for under-26s). Fancy rubbing shoulders with the great and good? Check out the waxworks at Grévin Paris (free for under-6s). Budding scientists will be fascinated by the hands-on Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie where they can conduct all kinds of experiments (Explora exhibitions are free for children under 2-years-old, and tickets for the ‘exhibition’ at the Palais de la Découverte are free for children under 6-years-old). It’s worth remembering that the aquarium in the Cité is free and open to everyone all year round!
Useful tip: Are you planning a family museum visit? The good news is that some of the major museums have child-friendly guides to help make it a fun adventure. The Louvre offers a playful downloadable kids’ route map/game on its website, as does the Musée des Arts et Métiers, the Musée d’Orsay makes its free kid-friendly maps available at the ticket counters and the Musée de l'Homme offers an edutainment app. Check with other exhibition venues as many offer guides specially designed for children.
Fun for kids at museums and cultural venues
A host of cultural venues have set up fun activities and workshops for children that are completely free:
- At the 104, the Maison des Petits (House of Children) organizes workshops, events, reading sessions and games around a particular theme or artwork for children aged 0-5 years.
- The Jeu de Paume arts centrewelcomes children aged 7 to 11 for a free tour and workshop on the last Saturday of each month. Lasting 2 hours and known as Les Enfants d'Abord! (Children First), they can be booked by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 01 47 03 04 95.
- Every weekend the Fondation Louis Vuitton organises a 15-minute Micro-visit & Storytime for 4- to 8-year olds accompanied by an adult, with free entry and no booking required. Opening times may vary during French school holidays, so check in advance.
- Every Friday at 2.30pm during French school summer holidays, the Musée des Arts et Métiers holds a Discovery Quest for families with kids aged 7 to 12, taking them on a child-friendly trail around the museum’s permanent collections. No booking required and it’s free when you show your museum admission ticket. Remember under-26s enjoy free admission to the museum at all times.
- On Wednesdays and Saturdays at 3pm (during zone C school holidays), the Institut du Monde Arabe holds a Story Hour, open to children from 4 upwards. Although it’s free, you must book in advance: call 01 40 51 38 14 between 10am and 5pm.
- On the first Sunday of each month the Musée d’Orsay waives the cost of several activities that visitors usually have to pay for. Freebies for children include following fun trails to discover the museum in a sociable and entertaining way (registrations can only be accepted at the museum on the day), enjoying a free concert or show in the Spectacles en Famille programme, or unleashing their creativity in a Children’s Workshop (the first Sunday of every month; registrations can only be accepted at the museum on the day).
- New at La Villette: Now there’s Little Villette, a 1,000-m² zone dedicated to children and families with all sorts of activities and workshops, open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Admission is free and no booking is required.
Sports and Leisure
There are plenty of free leisure activities for kids all over Paris
The best places to go for some family fun in Paris are undoubtedly the city’s parks and gardens. Many of them offer children’s play areas equipped with the traditional swings, slides and sandpits, but that’s not all. You’ll find other free attractions that are well worth a visit, such as the huge slide in the Dragon Garden at the parc de La Villette, the hot air balloon in the Parc André-Citroën, the adventure playground in the Jardin Nelson-Mandela and the climbing wall in the Parc de Belleville.
- The Parc Rives de Seine also has lots of free activities for young kids: maze, snakes and ladders, slate drawing wall, hopscotch, climbing wall, via ferrata, football pitch, and more.
If your little ones still have energy to burn, why not sign them up to do some sports? The City of Paris lays on events and free classes for children. Sports Découverte is open to kids aged 7 to 17 and they can try several sports (a range of sessions are offered), while the Ateliers d'Initiation aux Sports provide organized introductory classes for 6- to 17-year olds.
Informations on http://sports.paris.fr
- Bercy Village shopping centre in the 12th arrondissement has special fun in store for kids at an event called Le Mercredi Tout est Permis one Wednesday a month (from March to June and from September to October), with fresh games and entertaining activities every month!
Free major events for kids
The summer festival Les Pestacles is held in the Parc Floral de Paris and its shows for children are free, although you need to pay for admission to the park.
Mini Rock en Seine is a free event for kiddie rockers aged 6 to 10, held annually at the end of August. The programme includes storytelling sessions, workshops, dressing up and parties while adults enjoy the concerts at the Rock en Seine festival in the Domaine de Saint Cloud.
And to end the year in style, the City of Paris allows free rides on its children’s merry-go-rounds from mid-December to the beginning of January.