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The Top 5 Paris Parks For Kids (and Parents, Too)


Paris parks are green, pretty full of fun things to do and present families with well-needed breaks from site seeing. Far more than in the U.S., these parks will present opportunities for your kids to separate you from your money. Be prepared to stumble upon carousels everywhere and to pay for public playgrounds. On the upside, the bathrooms are fairly well kept, there are always places for parents to sit and read, and it’s likely you’ll find good espresso, sandwiches or pastries, and even chilled wine and beer nearby.

Paris’ Central Park

Paris Parks: the carousel at the Tuilleries Garden Given its central location you are likely to find yourself near the Tuileries Gardens quite a bit. This was Tiny Traveler’s favorite park because of the Trampoline Garden. Kids can bounce their hearts out for a generous five minutes for €2. The permanent carousel is €2.50. There is a good-sized and nicely done free playground, where your child is likely to run into other English-speaking kids (TT did). In the summer months there is a temporary carnival that we somehow managed to avoid.

Classic Paris

The Jardin Luxembourg is worth going out of your way for if you are spending time in St. Germaine, Montparnasse and even The Latin Quartier. There is an amazing, huge playground where tourists and local kids all mix together. TT swung on the zip line a dozen times or more. There are playhouses, things to climb on and a toddler area. You have to pay €2.50 for adults and €1.50 for kids, but I noticed that local parents sat on benches just outside of the fenced-in play area and just paid to send their kids in (not toddlers of course).

This Paris park also has a beautiful old-fashioned carousel where the horses swing instead of going up and down. Small kids will love it; older kids can sit on an outside horse and try to catch gold rings with a stick. Kids can also ride real horses, rent sailboats to launch in the large central fountain and try a Guignol puppet show in a nice-looking theater. We didn’t manage to catch a puppet show and didn’t have time to try the sailboats.

A Cool Urban Experiment

Paris Parks: the chariots at Park de la villetteThe Park de la Villette was a favorite because it exemplifies very clever urban development. It was also a lot of fun and had a lot of things for free, something you can’t take for granted in Paris parks! The undulating Wind and Dunes playground looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss. The dragon playground, with a giant dragon slide at its center, was closed for renovation and we looked at it longingly. It was too nice a day for the Science Museum so we wandered paths, bridges and lawns, coming upon outdoor classes and concerts (both official and impromptu). At the inevitable amusement park (the only thing besides snacks that wasn’t free), TT chose an old-fashioned bicycle-chariot ride. I’d never seen anything like it but all the kids
clamored to do it (€2).

The park sits at the far end of a canal where they build a Paris Plage (beach) in the warm months. It’s fun to walk along to see all the people and assorted activities. Plus, we found the only free carousel in all of Paris (score!),

A Pricey Afternoon Out

Paris Parks: a playground at the jardin acclimitationGuidebooks rave about the Jardin Acclimitation and I’m not sure why, it was our least favorite among the Paris parks listed here.  We assumed it was a regular park with some added features. Turns out it’s a small fun park where you can spend quite a bit of money in an afternoon.

We can’t say it was totally worth it. It’s €3 per person to get in. Admission includes two pretty good playgrounds (head for the much bigger one at the back of the park, which has more to do and good water features). It also includes a quite good Guignol puppet show and a very, very small zoo.

It’s impossible to get out without going on at least a few of the rides. Ticket for these are €3 euros each, but the better rides require two tickets and if a child is too small to ride on her own, you need a ticket, too. Tweens will like the rope courses and roller coasters. TT loved a ride where kids are zipped into large plastic balls and roll around in pool. Little kids will go for the boat ride, train and steeplechase. Teens will be completely bored.

A Nice Local Park

Paris Parks: Guignol theater at square st. lambertIf you rent an apartment in the residential 15th Arrondissement or go shopping on the Rue Du Commerce, check out Square St. Lambert, which was our local park. It has a fountain, manicured flowerbeds and lawns, separate play areas for bigger and smaller kids and a small but good Guignol theater that is open daily in the summer (€1). It was a great local find.

So, What the Heck is Guignol?

Guignol is Punch-and-Judy-style hand-puppet shows. In every episode, the good king or baron assigns a task to the hero Guignol. Then the evil duke sends his servant to foil Guignol. But with the help of the kids in the audience­–who shout directions and warnings to the puppets– Guignol outsmarts the bad guys and saves the day. Before it’s all over several characters get bonked with sticks, which TT found hilarious. It’s low-tech Parisian kid culture and you should try it at least once, even if you have no French.

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10 Comments

  1. May 1, 2015 at 1:27 am

    This is a wonderful list for visiting families. We spent some time at Jardin du Luxembourg since we stayed nearby and loved it. We’d love to explore the other parks here especially Park de la Villette on our next visit.

    • May 1, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      My husband and I liked Park de la Villette the best. That must have been nice to stay near Luxembourg, it was an interesting area.

  2. April 15, 2015 at 1:47 am

    Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc de la Villlette were some of our favorite stops in Paris. They are so different, yet both kept the kids entertained for hours.

    • April 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      we liked Parc de la Villette because it was so different. but my daughter could have lived in the Tuileries.

  3. April 13, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Some day I would love to travel to Paris. I didn’t know you had to pay for playgrounds… Good to know! Thank you for sharing at Inspire Me Wednesday. Featuring you in this week’s issue.

    • April 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks for replying! Some playgrounds were free, but paying for them did seem odd to us.

  4. April 13, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Watching puppet shows at the theater Guignol seems so much fun, I would love to experience it with my nieces and nephews.

    • April 14, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      I’m sure they would love it!

  5. April 12, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I don’t know how it is in Oz. Americans are used to things like playgrounds and public pools being free (perhaps not carousels), so it really is a surprise and a nuisance if you are not forewarned.

  6. April 12, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Our girls were teens when we went to Paris so we didn’t go to any of these parks. Great tip about having to bring money. I never like those kinds of surprises.