France offers many attractions for kids. Our suggestion is to limit the bustle of Paris to two days, and then spend a day wandering the spectacular grounds and glittering interiors of Versailles, two days in Disneyland Paris, and two days on the Riviera.
Days 1 & 2: Paris
On Day 1, spend the morning at the Luxembourg Gardens, where your offspring can go wild at the huge playground, sail toy boats in the fountain, ride a pony, or just run around and have fun. Parents can take turns sneaking off to visit nearby attractions like the Panthéon, Musée Zadkine, and St-Etienne-du-Mont, or just find peace and quiet in a Latin Quarter cafe. Then walk down to St-Germain-des-Prés and visit the church before lunch. For a post-prandial visit, try 17th-century St-Sulpice church, which contains paintings by Delacroix, and then hop the no. 87 bus to the Champs de Mars and visit the Eiffel Tower. After that, everyone will probably be pooped and ready to relax with a boat ride on the Seine, which departs near the tower.
On Day 2, start the day at the Jardin des Plantes, where you can choose between the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, the Ménagerie (a small zoo), and a playground. A fun boxwood labyrinth is at the top of the hill. Lunch at the nearby Jardin des Pâtes. Once stomachs are filled, head over to Notre Dame, and if your kids are old enough (and the line is not too long), climb the 422 steps to the first level of the cathedral’s towers, where a collection of gruesome gargoyles frames a beautiful view. Now hop the metro to Abbesses station (line #12) on the Butte Montmartre to see the sunset from the esplanade in front of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. Even if your kids don’t appreciate the view, they will enjoy the ride in the funicular that you take to get there. Up on the esplanade, you’ll find plenty of room to run around, and lots of buskers for entertainment. If that doesn’t work, there is always the merry-go-round at place des Abbesses when you head back down to your hotel.
Day 3: Versailles
Tear yourself away from the glories of Paris for a day at the Château de Versailles. Take the RER Line C to the Versailles/Rive Gauche station. Hopefully, your kids will be old enough to appreciate that they are wandering around a royal palace and seeing where the king and queen slept. If not, they might enjoy running around or riding a bike through the park or rowing a boat on the Grand Canal. You can buy a picnic lunch in Paris and enjoy it on the grounds, or else purchase a sandwich at one of the stands placed in discreet corners of the garden.
Days 4 & 5: Disneyland Paris
Do it for the kids—they’ve put up with three days of grown-up stuff (or at least that’s how they’ll see it). Allow a full day to see the highlights of Disneyland Paris, plus part of another day to either absorb some secondary adventures or take in Walt Disney Studios. You can probably see the main park, with all its classic areas (Main Street, U.S.A., Frontierland, Tomorrowland, and so on) on the first day, and visit Walt Disney Studios, the second day, leaving early enough to get back to Paris. Stay overnight in one of the many onsite hotels, which range from ridiculously expensive to only slightly so (choose from oodles of attractive package deals). The RER commuter express train A takes you from Etoile in Paris to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy in 45 min.
Day 6: Nice
Fly to Nice, capital of the French Riviera. If you flew Air France transatlantic, Nice can often be attached as a low-cost extension of your round-trip fare.
In Nice, you can check into your hotel for two nights, as the city has the most affordable hotels on the coast. Set out to explore this old city. There’s always a lot of free entertainment in summer along Nice’s seafront boardwalk, the promenade des Anglais, and the people-watching on the Riviera—particularly on the beach—is likely to leave your kids wide-eyed.
In the afternoon, journey to the evocative hill town of St-Paul-de-Vence. Children delight in touring the ramparts, strolling along the pedestrian-only rue Grande, or exploring the sculpture garden at the Fondation Maeght, one of France’s greatest modern-art museums.
Return to Nice for the evening and take your kids for a stroll through the Old Town, dining as the sun dips over the Mediterranean.
Day 7: Monaco
While still based in Nice, head for the tiny principality of Monaco, which lies only 18km (11 miles) east of Nice.
Children will enjoy the changing-of-the-guard ceremony at Les Grands Appartements du Palais, where Prince Albert married South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2011. But the best part of Monaco for kids is the Musée Océanographique de Monaco, home to sharks and other exotic sea creatures.
Return to Nice that night and prepare for your flight home in the morning.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.