In Paris, many theatres put on special children’s shows. Ranging from classic plays to more modern productions, these shows with absorbing storylines are also suitable for very young children: a great way to keep them entertained. Classic plays are performed in many Paris theatres, and many of them are family-friendly.
The Comédie Française stages works by the great French playwrights: an opportunity to introduce kids to theatre classics.
The Théâtre du Châtelet (closed until september 2019) stages original plays on various themes, and also hosts choral singing workshops for the little ones.
The Opéra-Bastille stages ballets suitable for children. And for fans of music and dance, every year the Palais Garnier welcomes the Ballet School for their annual show, which brings the Petits Rats to the Opera House stage.
Puppet shows are a perennial favourite among children, and Paris has a good selection of places to enjoy one. The Théâtre de Guignol des Champs-Elysées is a Paris institution. But the smaller Théâtre de Marionnettes in Parc Montsouris is an equally pleasant puppet theatre where families can spend an enjoyable moment.
For a contemporary puppet show, head for Le Mouffetard, Théâtre des arts de la marionnette. This centrally located theatre, the first venue to be devoted exclusively to the art of puppetry, puts on special shows for children.
Paris also has some wonderful magic shows for children. The café-theatre Double-fond puts on more than 15 live magic shows, with plenty of amusing, original tricks and sleight of hand that the whole family will enjoy.
Paris is a fantastic place for music lovers. The city’s many fine venues for both classical and popular music often host family-friendly events: a good way to give your child an ear for music.
The Collège des Bernardins hosts ‘Les concerts du mercredi’. Held every Wednesday, these concerts tell the story of how pieces of music came to be created, and their historical context, in a way that is entertaining and appealing for children. Every week, young audiences learn about a different musical era and its most famous composers.
Maison de la Radio, the home of France’s public service broadcaster, organizes top-quality music events suitable for children, including regular concerts by musicians from the prestigious Orchestre National de France, as well as workshops at which children learn how radio programmes are made.
The Théâtre du Châtelet (closed until september 2019) organizes an hour-long music event for family audiences every Sunday. These events, called ‘Concertôt-Concertea’, are specially designed for children – fun and accessible concerts, often involving professional musicians and actors who explain how the musical instruments work.
Finally, the Philharmonie de Paris puts on participatory concerts all year round. Children are both spectators and players, taking part in the show alongside the musicians on stage and making sure each concert is a success. Some of the concerts by symphony orchestras at the Philharmonie de Paris are surprisingly family-friendly.
Finally each summer, from June to September, the Parc Floral de Paris will come alive with Pestacles, the children’s music festival. On the programme: lively shows, world music concerts, songs, workshops, and entertainment.
A trip to the circus remains one of the top things to do with kids. Paris has many popular circuses, from Cirque Bouglione to Cirque Fratellini, staging amazing shows that children will love. They feature trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns and a host of other enthralling acts to be enjoyed all year round.
The best-known circus in Paris, Cirque d'hiver Bouglione, is also the oldest one in the world. Each year, from October to March, the Cirque Bouglione troupe puts on a new show that is full of comedic, burlesque, and acrobatic numbers.
Every winter, the Cirque Pinder sets up its big top in the Pelouse de Reuilly for a few weeks. The highlight of this fabulous show: the amazing lion tamer Frédéric Edelstein and his 12 white lions. Children will be captivated.
From October to March, the Cirque Alexis Gruss takes up its quarters at Porte de Passy. Each year it presents a wonderful new show combining equestrian acts and traditional circus skills to enchant children and adults alike. At the end of the year, the poetic Cirque Arlette Gruss is stopping by Paris to bring pleasure to young and old.
The Cirque Bormann Moreno is the only year-round circus in Paris. It stages the full range of traditional circus acts in a beautiful belle époque decor. For circus with a more contemporary twist, head for the Espace Chapiteaux (big top arena) at Parc de la Villette.
A Journey through time - Cirque Bormann
Little Villette has a year-long programme of shows for younger audiences: circus arts, magic, puppet shows, film festival, jazz festival, etc.
More info on the circus in Paris
Paris cinemas don’t overlook young audiences. The MK2 cinemas, for example, regularly screen children’s movies. The Forum des Images has a “Cinékids” programme: film screenings for kids from 18 months to 7 years old, followed by a snack and a discussion about the film.
Twice a week, the Cinémathèque française shows films for children: an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
Another enjoyable afternoon outing is to the Grand Rex, the biggest cinema in Europe. The ‘Rex Studios’ interactive backstage tour is very popular with children. Armed with an audio guide, you set off on an amusing and informative journey into the world of movie making, including archive footage and special effects.
Le Nouvel Odéon cinema in the heart of Paris screens short, medium and feature-length films specially made for children as part of its Kid Odéon programme. It also regularly organizes screenings that are preceded by a storytelling session to do with the theme of the film.
Nature-loving kids will enjoy a visit to Cinéaqua at the Aquarium de Paris, which screens a host of educational, inspiring documentaries and movies about marine life for children.
The iconic arthouse cinema Studio des Ursulines went through a renovation some years ago, and has revamped its programming to include challenging viewing for children, like works by Miyazaki and children’s film festival award winners.
Another arthouse cinema, Le Lucernaire, has three screening rooms bearing the ‘recherche et découverte’ (Research and Discovery) label. They show foreign films in the original language, many of them suitable for children. It’s the ideal hangout for film buffs with a taste for excellent indie films.
In Paris, children have their very own film festivals. At Mon Premier Festival and L’Enfance de l’Art, the programme comprises multicultural films dealing with themes like the environment and consideration for others: absorbing viewing for all the family. In a similar vein, the Ciné Junior festival, the Jules Verne festival at the Grand Rex and the Tout-Petits event at the Forum des Images have great films for young cinema enthusiasts.