Unique and unusual things to do as a family
What with museum visits, walks in parks, cultural outings and sport-related activities, there is no lack of things to do with the kids in Paris. But for some really special times together, don’t hesitate to go off the beaten track.
Why not travel the city’s streets a different way? Holding up to six people, tuk tuks let you explore at a different pace, by day or by night. Agencies such as Tuktuk in Paris put together well-thought-out, varied itineraries taking in iconic monuments, secret spots, the banks of the Seine and the city’s prestigious avenues. Children and adults travel in comfort while satisfying their curiosity about Paris.
There’s nothing quite like drifting along the river in a boat to really give you the feel of being on holiday in Paris. Boat tour agencies organize cruises along the Seine and the Paris canals, but you can also be the skipper of your own boat on the Bassin de la Villette thanks to the boat rental service Marin d’Eau Douce. Spend an hour, two hours or more sailing with family and/or friends. If you’ve always wanted to be a sailor, this is your chance.
Travel the city’s streets the old-fashioned way, with Retro Tour’s sidecar tours. These one-of-a-kind journeys take you to unusual places in Paris, and you’ll be told their history and secrets. A sidecar motorcycle can carry two passengers – it’s a great way to do something really fun and offbeat together. You’ll fall for the vintage appeal of these quaint vehicles and enjoy unique sensations during the ride.
Surprise your children with a flight above the Parc André-Citroën, where the Paris Generali hot-air balloon is tethered. The balloon, which is used to measure air pollution in Paris, also takes people on flights to a height of 150 metres above the ground. You’ll be able to spend 10 minutes admiring sights such as the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre, seeing the streets in perspective (and maybe trying to spot the one you live on or are staying on). This is a spectacular way for you and your family to see Paris.
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Who says children don’t like museums? Major museums such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Rodin offer special children’s tours, and new and entertaining venues have opened to provide them with interesting cultural outings. There’s the Musée de l’Illusion, the Atelier des Lumières, the Cité des Sciences, the Musée des Arts Forains, the Musée en Herbe, the Musée du Chocolat and the Musée Grevin – plenty of different places where they can satisfy their curiosity about a variety of subjects.
Escape games are a good way to have fun with a group of people, encourage team spirit and create happy memories. Treasure hunts in the streets of Paris with My Urban Experience, hair-raising adventures in one of the 12 escape rooms at LAB or at Team Break Paris, an nightmarish experience at the Dark Dreams, an entertaining activity at the Grand Rex, virtual reality (VR) escape games at La Villette, Batman Escape and also at the Illucity leisure park and specially organized, extraordinary escape games in some of the city’s greatest monuments – you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to choosing the game that best suits your tastes and the different ages of people in your group.
Stimulate your senses and go beyond boundaries with virtual reality. With Flyview, you can explore hidden Paris, go behind the scenes at Notre Dame Cathedral before and after the fire, fly over the city and go off to admire the pyramids in Egypt without moving. And that’s not all – you can travel through space and time in the Virtual Room, journey through the city’s history in the Notre Dame crypt, enjoy a virtual reality arcade game at Mindout, or relive the construction of the Eiffel Tower thanks to Viality Tour. There are also virtual reality (VR) experiences at Illucity (from 8 years old) located in the La Défense district: escape games, laser games and arcade.Your children will find it fascinating to explore all these alternative realities.
Another unusual experience to try is a treetop adventure centre only a short distance from Paris, in the towns of Bruyères le Chatel at Parc Aventure Floreval, one of the largest leisure parks in the Paris region offering activities for all tastes: zip line, escape game, pony rides, mini golf... There are other adventure centres in the towns of Chaville, Saint-Germain-en-Laye or Rueil Malmaison. This entertaining activity is a good way to get out into nature, get moving and have fun with the family. The course includes rope bridges, zip lines, creepers and rock faces. Children are safely attached and take instantly to the game, often proving to be more agile and daring than their parents. And since you’re out in the countryside, why not have a picnic afterwards?
The Fontainebleau forest is a lovely place to get away from the bustle of the city. While you’re there, you can try out a special experience that no one will forget in a hurry – a sled dog tour. The activity lasts an hour and a half, and even one-year-olds can join in. You’ll be introduced to the dogs and told about their lives and their habits, then get on a sled holding four people and be pulled through the forest. This is definitely an unusual outing, whatever the season.
Le Libre Promeneur’s immersive tours, Tootbus kid-friendly tours, fun treasure hunts from Paris Ma Belle, Les Découvreurs and Qui Veut Pister, a children’s tour of the Grand Rex, a tour with storytelling at the Louis Vuitton Foundation: more and more places are offering entertaining, unusual, themed or kid-friendly tours during which children can learn while having fun. These tours are a good way for the entire family to see Paris from a child’s perspective.