The best day trips from Paris to take with kids
Paris is a fantastic city to visit with kids. If you’re visiting the French capital, then do try to squeeze in a day trip from Paris to experience more of France, as it’s a wonderful country (I lived there for a year, a long time ago!). I asked other travel bloggers to tell me about their favourite day trips from Paris that you should take with your kids, and they came up with quite a diverse selection!
Of course, there are some of France’s best theme parks on the list (no prizes for guessing which ones feature!) but there are some quieter, more off beat places to visit on your day trip.
Read on to see which are the best day trips from the French capital to take with your family!
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Amy from Family Edventures
Amiens is a wonderful city to visit with kids. It is small enough to feel safe and familiar quickly but big enough that there is loads to see and do. Little Venice of the North as it’s referred to is only 1hour 45 minutes north of the capital, making it an easy day trip from Paris. It is the capital of the Somme department in the Hauts-de-France region.
This place is magical with tiny canals running along the streets and little bridges leading to the front-doors of houses. If you stroll around town you’ll see a number of art installations like Les parapluies d’Amiens (The Umbrellas of Amiens).
Along the water’s edge at Saint. Leu you’ll find a number of bars and restaurants. Just around the corner is Saint Pierre Park which is beautifully laid out for walking and cycling. There’s are two lovely playgrounds and during the Summer there are other organised activities.
A 15 minute walk from the Cathedral and you step into another world…monkeys, parrots, zebras and sea lions live in the beautifully maintained Parc Zoologique. This small zoo is free for under 3’s and around €6 per adult (€4 for kids).
At night this place comes alive as colourful lights reflect in the many waterways. The Cathedral puts on a light show every night at around 10pm which is truly spectacular to watch.
Jodi from Family Travel Magazine
For something completely different to the bustling city of lights, spend a day at Disneyland Paris. This theme park, which features two separate parks, is located about 30-45 minutes away from the centre of Paris, in the small town of Marne-la-Vallee. There’s a train station right in the centre of the resort, and shuttle buses from Paris are also offered, so it’s an easy day trip from Paris.
In addition to the two theme parks, there’s also an entertainment/shopping/restaurant area called Disney Village (similar to Disney Springs in Florida) as well as hotels and three 9-hole golf courses. There are several different single day ticket options, including some that include visits to both parks.
The two parks are adjacent to each other, and it’s easy to go from one to the other. Walt Disney Studios Park, which is most similar to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, offers rides and attractions that pay tribute to the world of movies and television. Here, you’ll find Toy Story Playspace, inspired by the world of Pixar’s Toy Story movies. There’s also the Tower of Terror and Ratatouille: The Adventure, along with other attractions.
Next door to Walt Disney Studios Park is Disneyland Park, which is similar to Disneyland in California or the Magic Kingdom in Florida. There, you’ll find Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so much more.
If you visit for just a day, I’d recommend arriving early and doing research on which attractions are must-dos. Then, be sure to do those first. You can easily walk between the parks.
Claire from Backpacking Bella
Two hours by train from Paris, close to the historic city of Poitiers, lies Futuroscope, one of Europe’s best amusement parks, according to TripAdvisor. It’s certainly one of the most impressive and unique theme parks I’ve ever visited.
Opened in 1987, Futuroscope blends the latest technology with cinematic, multimedia entertainment that kids will love. Attractions include a state-of-the-art ‘flying’ movie theatre, which takes passengers on a round-the-world adventure, complete with wind and rain special effects. Teenagers will love Dances with Robots, where they sit in the ‘hand’ of a giant robot arm, which spins them around at top speed in time to pumping dance tunes. Futuroscope’s Ice Age and Arthur 4D experiences are highly entertaining for children of all ages, while toddlers will enjoy the park’s dedicated Children’s World. Thoughtful perspectives are offered via immersive IMAX documentaries, live performances and an interactive exhibition about the latest technology that will soon be transforming our daily lives.
Even just walking around the park is an otherworldly experience, as gigantic metal and glass architecture and quirky sculptures blend with choreographed water fountains and sweeping footbridges.
As well as being fun for children and adults alike, Futuroscope is affordable. There’s a special price for kids up to 16 years old and free admission for under-fives. All tickets include a spectacular evening show by Cirque du Soleil to amaze visitors, and the park’s attractions light up as darkness falls. Worth staying late for.
Melissa from The Family Voyage
We recently took our kids on an epic three-week road trip around France, and one of our favorite stops near Paris was at Monet’s garden in Giverny. It’s a lovely stop whether you’re driving through or want to get away from the city life in Paris.
There are several wonderful ways for children to experience Giverny. Our daughter couldn’t get enough time in the extensive, diverse gardens and loved photographing her favorite flowers. Our son, on the other hand, felt inspired by the iconic green bridges and the water lilies in the pond – just like Monet – and spent an hour painting with his travel watercolor set. For kids who are more historically oriented, you can even visit the house where Monet lived to get a sense for both his aesthetic preferences and the bygone era in which he lived.
The best part of visiting the Claude Monet Foundation? It’s not even an hour from Paris by train! If you start at Gare Saint-Lazare, you’ll be strolling the grounds in no time. The gardens can be busy on certains and times, as it’s popular among both locals and foreigners.
For a fun, family friendly tour of Giverny, take a look at this day trip from Paris which guides you around Giverny on bikes.
Mont St Michel
Priyanko from Constant Traveller
A Gothic abbey set so far at the edge that incoming tides can turn it into a fortress at any given moment, Mont St Michel is one of those places that are not only beautiful in itself but also has the gift of a location that is unparalleled anywhere else.
Visiting Mont St Michel from Paris is a long, exhausting affair but one that will leave you exhilarated for years to come. You start off through a narrow road lined with souvenirs and food that is best left for the return journey. It’d be wise to close your children’s eyes at this point.
Then you start ascending the abbey. This is a great way to teach children homogeneity. You start off by seeing some stables and houses that people actually live in right below the abbey. As you start climbing, you’ll see gardens and then a few great halls. The abbey was used as a storage unit as well as a prison and there are remnants of both as you go along. Finally, right at the top, is where the abbey-monastery is.
To me, it was absolutely fascinating to learn about so many different uses and the entire history of the abbey that I am sure children will find interesting too. Walk down main street and treat yourself to some well-deserved pizzas and local French dishes. If you’re in the mood, you can feed the seagulls with your children as well to round off an excellent day out from Paris.
You can take a day tour from Paris to Mont St Michel; click here for more details.
Did you know that Mont St Michel has a twin in Cornwall? Click here to read about St Michael’s Mount.
Elisa from World in Paris
Nantes is a fantastic city to explore with kids. It is located south-west of Paris, in the French region of Brittany. Although we recommend spending a couple of days in Nantes to get the most out the city, it can also be done on a day trip from Paris, as long as you travel by TGV (2 hours journey, one way).
Nantes is Jules Verne’s birthplace and visiting the museum dedicated to his adventures (great for kids and adults) is a good starting point. Also, there is the former castle of the Dukes of Brittany, with its turrets and dungeons to explore. The entrance of the castle is through a drawbridge but the exit is through a slide! Just be sure that your kids are tall enough for the slide…
Apart from Jules Verne and some historical sites, the main attraction in Nantes are Les machines de l’Ile (the machines of the Isle of Nantes), a group of quirky machines located in the city’s former shipyards. Amongst these machines, there is a giant elephant who likes to wander around with some visitors on his back while spraying kids with his trunk, or the beautiful carousel of the Sea World populated by fantastic sea creatures. This giant carousel was voted the world’s most original attraction in 2014.
Don’t leave Nantes without trying its yummy crêpes because after all, crêpes were invented in Brittany! Also, there are some typical cakes. Our favourite one is “le gateau nantais”. The original recipe is with rum but there are other recipes without alcohol.
A Nantes City Pass will allow you entry to many of Nantes’ museums and attractions. Click here for more information.
Katy from Untold Morsels
Normandy in the north of France is the place to experience beautiful castles, cobbled streets and half timbered towns. There are countless villages and towns set among rolling green hills to explore and local treats to eat. The region is famous for delicious cheeses, pastries, crepes and apple tarts.
The capital Rouen is a beautiful city that you can dedicate a day to exploring. Cobbled streets and higgledy piggledy half timbered buildings surround the magnificent gothic cathedral. This area is mainly car free so perfect for exploring with little ones – stopping at a café or two along the way of course.
If your family likes history they will enjoy Rouen’s museum dedicated to the life of French heroine Joan of Arc. It is an interactive museum that tells the story of her life and untimely death.
The high speed train to Rouen takes just over an hour from Gare St Lazare, making it one of the easiest day trips from Paris on this list. Alternatively you could hire a car for the day if you want to village hop your way through Normandy.
Jorge & Cláudia from Travel Drafts
The city of Reims in the northeast of Paris is a great place to do a day trip from Paris as it is only 129 km away. Besides its historical importance, Reims has one of France’s most beautiful cathedrals, the Notre-Dame of Reims.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Reims was the site of the coronation of the French Kings; more specifically 30 kings were crowned here. One of the most iconic was the coronation of Charles VII, that Joan of Arc assisted, symbolizing the turning point of the hundred years’ war with England. The Cathedral is UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the Palace of Tau and the Abbey of Saint Remi.
You may be thinking this isn’t the most child-friendly place to go, but an important part of traveling is learning. And what better way to learn, than visiting the impressive Cathedral of Reims? I remember that it was the highlight of a road trip that I did with my parents when I was 8 years old. The Cathedral has plenty of interesting features, you can challenge them to count all the statues, or find the most interesting one. Or even take photos of the stunning stained glass windows, and later on try to draw or colour a picture of a glass window of the Cathedral.
If the kids are still up to it you can also visit the Palace of Tau, the palace of the Archbishop of Reims, or simply go and play in the Parc de Champagne.
You can take a guided tour of Reims Cathedral. Click here for more information and to book.
Rim from Curious and Geeks
Situated only 40 km away from the French capital, Thoiry Zoo makes a perfect day trip from Paris for a family with young kids. Recently the park has undergone some upgrades and your adventurous kids will love some of the new features.
You can now fly above the lions with the new 500m long zip-lining activity where you will be 20 meters above these majestic animals. Or hop on the safari shuttle and enjoy a 90 minute ride to get up-close with lions, bears, antelopes and hippos while enjoying the anecdotes told by the zoo keeper. And if your kids are still looking for more thrilling experiences, the zoo has also a Safari Air Park, with 1500 square meters of bouncing nets across the trees, 9 meters above the ground!
Besides these new features, there is a nice maze inside the zoo, a lot of resting areas and tunnels from where you can admire the animals on their lunch break.
And in case you want to include a bit of culture to your visit or if you are a nature lover, make sure you stop by the castle and its gardens that have been classified as “jardin remarquable”.
Chelsea from Pack More Into Life
Versailles is a wonderful day trip from Paris with quick access using public transportation. Take the RER C train for 30-40 minutes to the Gare de Versailles Château station. From there, it is a short 12 minute walk to the gates to Versailles. I recommend buying your ticket ahead of time online. I also suggest showing up as early as you can, the line for security gets longer as the day goes on. In Spring, especially during Spring Break, the line can be over an hour just to pass through security. You can also avoid this by purchasing a “passport” with timed entry on their website. Kids under 18 are free for the palace and free under 6 during the Musical Fountains (which I highly recommend seeing).
You’ll start with a tour of the Versailles palace. Note that no strollers are allowed, so you’ll have to check these and either use a carrier or carry young children. You can pick them back up to explore the gardens. The palace is beautiful and you can go at your own pace. Download the Versailles app to check out their audio guide and interactive features. The palace isn’t really a highlight for the kids, but I wouldn’t miss it. Make sure the littles are well fed and rested. We like to play “I spy” to keep things interesting and my husband and I trade off, so at least one of us gets to enjoy the surroundings and linger a bit longer. If you are in a hurry, beeline to the first floor since that is where all the glitz and glamour is.
The gardens is where the magic happens. I highly suggest visiting when the Musical Fountains are playing (April – end of October) on Tuesdays, Fridays, weekends and national holidays. The gardens are vast and a delight for children. Listen to the music as the fountains play, enjoy a game of hide and seek, grab some ice cream and just linger for a bit, the options are endless. If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, head towards Marie Antoinette’s estate where you will find a charming country farm complete with animals. There is even a little lake where you can rent boats.
I’d recommend packing plenty of snacks or a picnic from the local town to enjoy in the park. Versailles is so large that you can easily spend an entire day exploring.
Click here for a 90 minute, skip the line, guided tour of Versailles with free time to explore afterwards.
Did we include your favourite destination? What did we miss out? Let us know in the comments!