Going to Paris with a toddler is no easy feat. If you’re planning a trip with a little one in tow, I want to share my guide to Paris with a toddler. After just returning from a week-long trip in the city, I have a few tips to help your trip go smoothly and be enjoyable for the whole family.
Being French-American, I am no stranger to the culture of kids in France. It’s tricky to navigate, things like dining out and finding suitable accommodations for family travelers. Having lived in Bordeaux over this last summer with our then 6-month-old, I learned very quickly what it meant to travel with children in France.
What I loved about our time in Paris with our now toddler was that we could still enjoy things that we love about the city. We certainly didn’t get to do everything, dining was quite limited, yet we made the most of it.
I want to preface this upfront by saying — I have personally found France to be one of the more challenging countries to travel in with our baby/toddler. Things like small restaurants, lack of high chairs and changing tables, and other elements can make it feel like an uphill battle. On the other hand, the amount of museums and open spaces to enjoy makes up for it all. So I think it’s is good to have this expectation AHEAD of arriving in Paris.
For example, one day I called 15 restaurants for dinner, asking if they had high chairs politely in French — ones that were more casual-style brasseries. Not a single one had a high chair. It really helped level set our expectations going forward, pivot our plans, and then make the most of our time in one of the best cities in the world.
Paris is lovely and it can be amazing with kids. So these are my tips to help guide you to make the best of your time there with toddlers.
The Ultimate Guide to Paris With a Toddler
The Best Time to Visit Paris With a Toddler
Shoulder season will be the best time to visit Paris as a family — think of months like April, May, September, and October. The hot summer months are crowded, can have high temps, and often many businesses are closed for vacation. Another memorable time to visit Paris would be in the month of December for the holiday season. If you bring the right warm gear, it can be magical to see the city dressed up in its festive lights and enjoy the “marchés de nöel.”
Getting from Paris Airport to the City With a Toddler
This may be one of the more tricky parts to navigate, but don’t worry I have a few options for you! It really depends on what you plan to do the rest of your time there, so have a read-through. It’s good to note that you will NOT need a car in Paris.
By Train (no car seat required)
Your simplest option but longest will be to take the train from CDG Terminal 2. You follow signs for Paris by Train when you arrive at CDG, and you have the RER B line which will take you into the city center. This can be a great choice if your accommodations for instance are near one of the train station stops. The downside is dragging your luggage through the airport/train stations, finding elevators, and a toddler who may be out of patience. I would use Google Maps to calculate your journey, and this Paris by train from CDG guide is helpful to navigate the train.
By Private Transfer (no car seat with you)
This is the best option for those who want to walk out of the luggage pickup and straight into the car. This is the easiest option and you can pre-book a transfer here with a reserved infant car seat. Just remember that your stroller does count as a piece of luggage so calculate this when booking. This is the best option for those who do not have a car seat with them and want to just hop in and go.
By Taxi/Uber (you have a car seat with you)
Because we typically book a plane seat for our toddler and bring our car seat, we usually just walk right out and hop in a cab. I find this so easy and stress-free for us. We collect our luggage, get in the taxi line at CDG, and quickly install our car seat. The only time we used our car seat in Paris was to/from the airport and to/from the Gare du Nord train station when we went to Strasbourg.
Getting Around Paris With a Toddler
Walking around Paris is just the best and I found it the easiest way to enjoy the city. The sidewalks are narrow so having a smaller travel stroller was super helpful for getting around. Other times we had our Artipoppe carrier if our toddler was going to take a nap.
We did take the metro a few times to get to other neighborhoods. It is very doable with your toddler, just keep in mind you will need to carry your stroller down flights of stairs as elevators are seemingly nowhere to be found (another reason to have a compact stroller.) My one tip is to fold up your stroller and hold your child on the Metro vs leaving it open, you will receive many scowls if you do (like we did!).
If you do need to go longer distances, this is where a taxi transfer with a reserved car seat may be worth it. You could also consider something like the Doona which has a car seat in it (but then not recommended for long lengths of time for your infant to be in a stroller.)
Where to Get Supplies for Your Toddler
If you need to get things like diapers and wipes, the best place to do so is the pharmacy. Keep your eye out for a flashing green sign, they usually have a few options. The other places that you may find these supplies are stores like Monoprix or Carrefour.
If you are looking for baby food, some of my favorite stores for pouches and little pre-made meals are Bio c’Bon, Monoprix, and Naturalia.
Must-Have Gear for Toddler Travel in Paris
Compact, foldable stroller — one that folds down (all restaurants will ask you to do this) is SO helpful. We have the Cybex Libelle, but would easily have taken the Babyzen YOYO as well. I think every Parisian has the Babyzen for this reason. Rarely do you ever see a big, bulky stroller like a Nuna.
Baby carrier — we love our Artipoppe, it is so convenient for a nap on the go. For us this is the best baby carrier after testing 4 other brands.
Blackout curtain — we bring one of these everywhere as it packs small and helps darken a space. If you’re sharing a room, a slumber pod may be worth it then so that everyone doesn’t have to be in the dark.
Lightweight car seat/ car seat bag — if you do want a car seat on the plane, this is our go-to. We have also checked it before with this car seat airplane bag, and it’s convenient to have if you’re continuing on and renting a car as well.
Noise Machine — the city can be loud and the older buildings are notorious for not blocking sound.
Portable Changing Pad — changing rooms are so tough to find in the city! I’d recommend bringing a portable pad and discreetly doing it in a park if need be.
Backpack Diaper Bag — super helpful as unfortunately Paris is known for thieves. I’d recommend keeping your valuables on you and not under your stroller.
Helpful Tips to Know BEFORE You Arrive
Pre-book museum tickets prior to arrival
Long lines are no fun with a squirmish toddler. Almost all museums have the option to book skip-the-line tickets which I highly recommend doing. The lines are long, even on a Wednesday in December!
Don’t arrive in a rush at restaurants
If you’re in a rush to eat, a brasserie is not the place to show up with a hungry toddler. Budget ample time if you plan to dine out, and remember most meals can take onward 1-1.5 hours to eat. We usually bring some snacks to buy some time before the food arrives.
High chairs are nonexistent
If you plan to dine out, prepare to have your toddler on your lap. High chairs are nearly impossible to find in the city so this may mean meals to go or having to call ahead. You can consider bringing your own portable high chair. For us, I found it maybe not always the most appropriate at some restaurants in Paris.
Research parks ahead of time
There are parks nearly everywhere in Paris (yay!), just do a bit of research ahead of time. You’ll see that quickly many of the “green grass” area is off-limits but almost always there is a playground nearby.
Diaper changing on the go
Be prepared to change diapers in parks and a random assortment of areas, changing tables are hard to come by.
Where to Stay in Paris with a Toddler
The Best Neighborhood for Family Travel in Paris
Where you choose to stay in the city can be decided based on your amount of time and what you hope to see. Every neighborhood has a very different feel, whether it be the Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés. For us, the most convenient neighborhood and most central is somewhere between the 1st and the 2nd, using Palais Royal as a central marker. You can be within walking distance of the main sights like the Louvre, and Jardin des Tuileries. You’re close to several great coffee shops, restaurants, and walking areas. Then you have access to main RER stations like Chatelet Les Halles.
On this trip, we had the pleasure of staying for three nights booked in partnership with Kiwi Collection at the Nolinski Paris. Kiwi Collection is my preferred booking platform for hotels as there are many perks like complimentary upgrades upon availability, onsite credits, and complimentary breakfast. The Nolinski Paris was one of the best stays I’ve had yet in Paris — even more so for family travel. They were very prepared for us and had a crib set up, and a small bathtub in the room. They even let us take the high chair into our room one night for room service.
More on the hotel. The design is superb, it’s luxurious and refined. It feels like you’re in your own chic Parisian apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows that opened up to a small terrace. You have the most lovely views down L’Avenue de L’Opera to Palais Garnier. For me, one of the highlights was the decadent breakfast, served with a hot dish like pancakes, croissants, fresh fruit, and a hot coffee. And let’s not forget the indoor pool and hammam on the bottom floor, a total treat in Paris!
It is truly one of the best locations in the city as well — you could walk to everything from here like Place Vendôme, the Louvre, and several great restaurants. Whether you’re coming with family or not, The Nolisnki is a chic place to call home for a hotel stay in Paris.
On the first part of our stay, we had a few nights extra that we needed to book. We stayed with My Maison at their Louvre location. For those looking for an Airbnb kind-of home, this was great for our family. The room was a bit tight but had everything we needed. You could request a high chair and a baby cot which was helpful so we didn’t need to bring ours. The location was wonderful as well, just near Les Halles.
BOOK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICES (don’t book via Airbnb, prices were much higher!)
Where to Eat in Paris With a Toddler
This for us was the most challenging part of visiting Paris. Our daughter loves to eat out at restaurants and does super well in a high chair, but they were nowhere to be found. We ended up doing Uber Eats on several occasions as I gave up after calling dozens of restaurants. You can certainly bring your own portable high chair (I wish I did), but keep in mind that French culture generally expects young children to behave out at restaurants.
You may find that restaurants at hotels will almost always have high chairs to serve their clientele, so this is one hack for dining out (call ahead). There are several meals to enjoy for takeaway and a few restaurants that do have high chairs.
The Restaurant at Nolinski Paris — we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, and both were SO good. It was elevated cuisine, a very modern take on food. I adored their foie gras burgers and the filet was perfection. *high chairs here. Address: 16 Av. de l’Opéra, 75001 Paris, France
Breizh Cafe — a good spot for crepes and more casual dining. We were meant to go in one night after confirming a high chair but jet lag had other plans! Address: 14 Rue des Petits Carreaux, 75002 Paris, France
Le Saint Germain — after visiting the Musee d’Orsay we strolled through to this restaurant. We were so lucky as they so happen to have a single high chair and were very welcoming. It’s typical brasserie food, had classics like duck confit and steak frites. Address: 62 Rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, France
Laduree — many of the Laduree locations will serve dessert and coffee in their rooms and they have high chairs! This is such a treat to do with littles.
Takeaway Meals — There are several restaurants throughout the city that you can do takeaway from. I usually will pop into a boulangerie and grab a sandwich as this is easy. L’As du Fallafel (address: 34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris, France) is a classic for takeaway falafel. Doordash and Uber Eat has several restaurants on here that do delivery or pickup. I’d recommend this if you’re in a pinch, just set it to meet outside your building!
Where to Caffeinate
If you’re looking for coffee, these are a few favorites:
- Cafe Kitsuné (near Palais Royal so plenty of space for littles to roam)
- Télescope Cafe
- Le Peloton Cafe
- Boot Cafe
- Maison Fleuret
- Cafe St Regis
Looking for a full list of Paris restaurants and cafes? Join my private travel community The Lounge to get access to my saved Google Maps for Paris with my curated spots!
Things to Do in Paris With a Toddler
Visit Palais Royal Gardens
This is such a lovely spot to spend the morning, we actually went here almost every day. We grab our morning coffee at Cafe Kitsune, and our daughter would run around the gardens and the palace. It felt like a postcard. If you’re here in the afternoon, the shops open like my favorite Acne which is great if a parent wants to get some shopping in.
Hop on a boat ride
If you get great weather, one of the best ways to see Paris is by boat down the Seine. If you think it may be something your toddler may enjoy, I’d book tickets on the Bateaux-Mouches. Children under 4 are free, so it’s a great low-cost activity. They depart almost every 45 minutes so it’s something you can typically book last minute! The closest metro stops are Alma-Marceau or Pont de l’Alma.
Spend the afternoon at Jardin du Luxembourg
There is so much to see here and makes for a wonderful stop during your time in Paris. I love going for a stroll along the pond to see the ducks. During the summer months, there are boats as well to rent, so great for older kids too. In the park you’ll also find “Ludo Jardin” which is a playground for kids as well, so be sure to check this out.
Visit one of the many museums
How you navigate museums with toddlers is up to you! We did a mix of visits when she was taking a nap and other times she was in the stroller. I found she enjoyed getting to see some of the exhibits and other times was happy to take a nap. On this trip we did Musee d’Orsay and Bourse de Commerce for the Pinault Collection. She was either in the carrier or stroller for both of these.
A few other museums that may be of interest for littles and adults would of course be the Louvre (stroller for sure needed!), the Rodin Museum, and the Army Museum (Musee de l’Armee).
Stroll through Jardin des Tuileries
This is another expansive park area in Paris, it’s close to the Louvre. It would make for a great spot to bring a picnic lunch too as well. You’ll find a Ferris wheel (great for views over the city) and there is what they call a “Aire de jeux pour enfants des Tuileries” which is basically an enclosed playground here.
Explore the Marais or Île Saint-Louis
I think one of the more low-stress ways to enjoy Paris with a toddler is to pick a neighborhood and go for a stroll. Grab a coffee and pastry to go, and enjoy. The Marais has so much to enjoy, there are shops (so a parent can take a break), there’s Place Des Vosges (a good spot for open-ended time), and more.
Our daughter was a tad young but something I look forward to doing on the next trip is the puppet theatre. Marionettes du Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower offers daily shows. You’ll need cash to pay for the ticket, around 5 euros a person. If you’re looking for more puppet shows, check out this list.
Other ideas for toddler-specific activities:
- Visit Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
- Spend the day in Versailles
- See L’Atelier des Lumières
- Go to Disneyland Paris
- Visit Parc Zoologique de Paris