Paris is known as the city of love, but it’s also the city of museums- did you know there are over 180 museums in Paris and they aren’t all dedicated to art? Some of the lesser-known but fascinating museums include one dedicated to magic, a wind-up toy museum, a stuffed animal museum and for something fun, a carnival arts museum!
If you’re looking for something to do in Paris with your kids, visiting a museum is a great idea. With a little planning and preparation, you can turn a Paris museum outing into a fun day with your kids. Here are my 9 tips for visiting Paris museums with your kids.
9 Tips For Visiting Paris Museums With Kids
What are they interested in?
When choosing the best museums for kids in Paris, think about what your kids are interested in, whether it relates to a hobby or interest they have, or something they have learnt about in school. Most school-aged children learn about artists- find out whether any of these artists have works featured at a Paris museum. Older children and teenagers love the Catacombs, while many girls love the Musee de la Poupee which is full of antique and collector dolls.
Choose museums close to kid-friendly activities
The best museums for kids in Paris are those that are close to a children’s park, a zoo or even an ice-cream shop. The Louvre is next to the Jardin des Tuileries which has a playground and Amorino’s ice-cream. The Natural History Museum is located in the Jardin des Plantes, which also has a zoo. Combining a museum visit with something else that’s kid-friendly can help if your child is suddenly bored or you need to leave sooner than you hoped- plus a little bribery can help!
If you want to book a hotel close to main attractions such as the best museums for kids in Paris, then read my guide to which neighborhood to stay in Paris.
Prepare your kids
Talk about the museums you plan on visiting, to get your kids excited and curious. Have a look at the museums’ websites, and talk about what they’d like to see when they visit. Get your child to make a list of the things they’d like to see or do at the museum. If you’re visiting one of the more popular museums such as the Louvre or d’Orsay, look for children’s books about famous artists such as Van Gogh or Monet.
Best visiting days and times
Many of Paris’ museums have long queues and big crowds, something that most children don’t like! Find out the best day or times of day to visit a museum. August is a peak tourist month, so most museums will be very busy. The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay are opened late on certain evenings- we went to the d’Orsay on a Thursday evening and there wasn’t a queue (plus the admission fee was cheaper). Another day to avoid is the first Sunday of the month when entry to most museums is free of charge- these days are busy and have long queues.
Also think about your child- younger children get tired (and cranky!) during the afternoon so it’s better to visit a museum in the morning. Older children and teenagers prefer to sleep in, so visiting a museum in the late afternoon or evening would be better.
Buy a Paris Museum Pass or Paris Pass
If you plan to visit a few museums, buying a pass can save you money as it often works out cheaper to buy a pass than to buy individual tickets. Sometimes a pass lets you skip the queue. Most museums are free for children.
Keep your visit short
Plan to stay for a short time, as most children won’t want to be dragged around a museum for hours. Make a list of the things you want to see at the museum, and see these first. Then if your children are still happy, keep wandering around until they’ve had enough. If you’re going to the Louvre, head to the Mona Lisa first, and then explore the rest of the museum at your leisure.
When we visited the Musee d’Orsay, we went straight to the post-impressionist art on the top floor as this was what interested my children the most. If we had started looking at the art on the bottom floor and worked our way up, my children would have been too tired and bored to reach the “fun stuff”.
I highly recommend checking social media or a website before visiting the museum in case of any unexpected closures. There would be nothing worse than planning an exciting day out only to arrive at a closed museum! Check what days the museum is opened- most museums are closed one day each week, usually a Monday or Tuesday. The day I went to visit the Musee Rodin, it happened to be closed unexpectedly.
Visit museums dedicated to kids
Don’t just explore the traditional art museums of Paris. The best museums for kids in Paris are fun places like the Cite des Science or the Cite des Enfants, which are interactive science and technology museums created for kids of all ages.
Minimise pain points
When families have a negative museum experience, it’s usually because their children were bored, tired, hungry or needed the bathroom. Before going to a museum with your children, pack some snacks and drinks and make sure they have been to the bathroom. Find the easiest route to get to the museum, to minimise travel and walking time. When at the museum, if your children are starting to get bored, don’t wait long leave or the whining could turn into a tantrum!
Visiting a Paris museum with your kids doesn’t have to be a painful experience. A little prior planning and preparation will make the day enjoyable. Involve your kids in deciding which museums to visit, make sure you consider their needs and most of all, have fun!