Best for Keeping the Kids Quiet: Les Catacombes, a creepy underground ossuary, will have the kids transfixed. Wander through almost 2km (1 1/3 miles) of labyrinthine corridors lined with six million bones, transferred here from Parisian cemeteries over 200 years ago. In the past, it served as a quarry, where stone was extracted for building, and during World War II, the French Resistance used the tunnel system to outsmart the German soldiers.
Best for History: Originally a royal garden dedicated to medicinal plants, the Jardin des Plantes, set within a park that includes the Natural History Museum, offers a mesmerizing overview of the history of both sea and land creatures and gives an insight into the impact of man on nature by spotlighting different extinct and endangered animals. There's also the recently reopened greenhouses, which present different natural and plant environments, from tropical rainforests to deserts; there's a space dedicated to geology and mineralogy; and a Gallery of Paleontology, which presents a fascinating collection of fossils and specimens, including dinosaurs, mammoths, and even the skeleton of Louis XV's pet rhinoceros! Plus there's a charming zoo, featuring over 900 animals, everything from wallabies to pink flamingos to orangutans.
Best for Wearing the Kids Out: Europe's most visited theme park, Disneyland Paris, offers total sensory overload for the whole family in its five lands: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland. Fairy tales come alive in Sleeping Beauty's Castle, and adventurers will love Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril.
Best for a Picnic: Parc des Buttes Chaumont, a large 19th-century park built by Napoleon III, is full of exciting features that the kids will love, like cliffs, a suspension bridge leading to a romantic stone belvedere, a lake with ducks and swans, and a massive grotto with a thundering waterfall. There are pony rides, a merry-go-round, an adventure playground, and a puppet theater too.
Best Gross-Out: Rémy the rat from the animated 2007 film Ratatouille made his way up from the Paris sewers to take the reins of the restaurant made famous by his gastronomic hero, Auguste Gusteau. Take the kids on this smelly tour through Les Egouts, the city's sewers, and give them a new perspective on the city and its history.
Best Climb: Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, an impressive neo-Byzantine basilica, crowns the Montmartre hill, the highest point in the city. Give your calf muscles a workout getting to the top: Take the Metro to Anvers and walk up the hill to the gardens surrounding the church; from there, the funicular can take you up to the church, where around 500 steps await to take you to the very top of the edifice and its panoramic views of the city below.
Best Place to Run and Play: Parc de la Villette, Paris's largest park, includes 10 astounding gardens that guarantee the whole family a memorable day. Here you'll find the Garden of Childhood Fears, with its mysterious musical forest; the Garden of Acrobatics, with games involving balance and movement; the Dragon Garden; the Garden of Mirrors; and more. The park includes vast open spaces ideal for picnics and games.
Best Photo Moment: At the Musée Grevin, kids can pose for a snapshot with their favorite French hero, such as basketball star Tony Parker and singer Celine Dion. Take a tour of the history of France via 300 wax personalities, from Joan of Arc to King Louis XIV. There's also a discovery tour that takes you behind the scenes to learn how the wax dummies are made; here children can touch all the materials used, including the wax, glass eyes, and (real) hair!
Best for Thrill-Seekers: For the summer months of July and August, the Jardin des Tuileries hosts a funfair (www.feteforaine-jardindestuileries.com), a special amusement park that boasts all the classic amusements such as a shooting gallery, trampolines, and a century-old wooden carousel. The enormous Ferris wheel provides superb views over Paris.
Best for a Hike: La Promenade Plantée, a former railway line abandoned since 1969, has been transformed into a 4.5km (2.8-mile) pedestrian walkway that runs through the 12th arrondissement. It begins near Bastille at the Avenue Daumesnil and ends at the Bois de Vincennes. Have fun cutting through the city on this elevated green path, planted with all sorts of plants and trees.
Things to Do
- The Best Museums
- Frommer's Favorite Experiences
- The Best Neighborhoods for Getting Lost
- The Best Restaurants
- Best Hotel Bets
- The Best Authentic Experiences
- The Best for Kids
- The Best Historic Sites
- The Best Architectural Landmarks
- The Best Free & Cheap Experiences
- The Best Unexpected Pleasures
- The Best Outdoor Pursuits
- Best Hotels
- Things to See
- Best Restaurants
- Best Nightlife
- In Depth
- Side Trips
- Planning a Trip
- Walking Tours
- Active Pursuits
- Spectator Sports
- Suggested Itineraries
- Traveler's Guide to Art & Architecture