Even at the best of times, Paris is often not a top pick for a family vacation.... throw in chilly weather and gray skies, and parents can be left scratching their heads on how to keep little ones entertained while still enjoying their time in the City of Lights!
Don't worry though - there is plenty to do to keep little ones occupied.
This is the perfect period to go visit some of the indoors activities that are so great, and that can sometimes get forgotten come good weather. To help us get through the rest of Winter, over the next few days I’ll be listing my top 5 ideas for having a great time with kids while also staying warm indoors!
Tip # 1 - Spend some quality time exploring the Jardin des Plantes complex!
Despite being a park, this area offers plenty of indoors activities to keep all ages learning and entertained!
Located in the charming 5th arrondissement, the Jardin des Plantes was originally laid out in 1626 as a medicinal garden for King Louis XIII, and trees dating back to the 17th century are still alive and well.
In the Jardin des Plantes garden, the French National Museum of Natural History (Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle) complex will delight nature enthusiasts especially, but is also just all around really interesting for anyone to see, and offers the perfect haven from blustery weather.
Opened in 1793, the museum is comprised of three buildings, each covering a different subject. Our favorite is the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, a four-floor building that showcases the evolution of animals since the beginning of life on earth. There are more than 7,000 stuffed animals hailing from all over the world, poised in elaborate scenes of their native habitat, that highlight the diversity of life on earth. The highlight is a parade of animals from Africa, led by enormous taxidermied elephants!
Galerie de Paléontologie
Afterwards, continue onto the Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, an impressive collection of skeletons, that is a modern day cabinet of curiosities. In the collection, you’ll see skeletons of dinosaurs, mammoths and even Louis XV’s rhinoceros !
Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes
Also not to miss is the Ménagerie – the oldest public zoo in the world, opened in 1793 when the surviving wild animals from the King’s private collection were assembled here after the French Revolution. It is small zoo, perfect for young children. This will require a mild winter day, as a good portion is outdoors. It was here that Madeline ‘poo poo-ed’ a lion here in the children’s classic by Ludwig Bemelmans - that's enough to get my kids excited to go visit!
French National Museum of Natural History (Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle)
57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris
Open 10AM – 6PM, closed Tuesdays
Gallery of Evolution – Free under 3 ; 3-25 years of age 7 euros ; Adults 10 euros
Gallery of Paleontology – Free under 3 ; 3-25 years of age 6 euros ; Adults 9 euros
Ménagerie (Zoo) – Free under 3 ; 3-25 years of age 10 euros ; Adults 13 euros