Marais and Bastille
Centre Pompidou - The Centre Pompidou houses the National Museum of Modern Art, Children's Gallery, movie theaters, cafes. The building alone is worth a visit for kids, all metal and bright colors inside and out. Ride the exterior tube-like escalators to the top floor - there's a panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.
Kids will get a kick out of the early 20th century modern art - Miro, Matisse, Mondrian, Magritte (for teens) in the museum. On ground level is the Children's Gallery (Galerie des enfants) with changing exhibits, just for kids.
In the plaza in front of the Centre Pompidou there's always something going on – mimes, magicians, marching bands and other street performers.
Anne Frank Garden (Jardin Anne-Frank) – Tucked off the main street next to the Pompidou Centre on Impasse Berthaud is this charming garden and playground, filled with French families. Climbing structures, benches (bring your lunch), public restrooms.
Museum of Dolls (Musee de la Poupee) - Paris is practically synonymous with fashion, and this is a way for kids to see French fashion from the the 19th century to the present. The doll museum has a collection of porcelain dolls, displayed in settings from different time periods.
Musee des Arts et Metiers - For budding mechanical engineers (like our boy), this museum of technology and invention is a jackpot. It's a big noisy space, with lots of see, and filled with school groups.
Galleries have giant electric motors and generators, a recreation of Lavosier's chemistry laboratory, Pascal's calculators, wooden models of machines, old cameras, telephones, gramophones, Foucault's pendulum, steam engine, antique cars, mechanical toys (automata), replica of Bleriot's plane (flight from France to England in 1909). Exhibits are labeled in French and English, museum is located on rue Reaumur.
Out front is a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and inside an exhibit with the first model made by the French sculptor Bartholdi.
Canal St. Martin - In the 19th century, canals were dug to improve transportation of goods around the city. Canal St. Martin is still in operation, leisure boats passing through the locks on their way to Parc de la Villette. The best place to visit the canal is Quai de Valmy, at rue Lucien Sampaix (Metro Jaques Bonsergent), next to the Jardin Villemin.
Lined with wide sidewalks, shade trees and footbridges over the canal, the canal is a cool place to explore. Kids will be fascinated by the locks opening and closing as boats pass through.
has large grassy areas (perfect for flying kites or kicking around a soccer ball), a very nice playground with a huge ship climbing structure, and the park is filled with French families on summer days.
Walk the Promenade Plantee - Viaduc des Arts - (Bastille) - When the Eiffel Tower was closed (on strike), we took this walk instead. This is a raised aqueduct that once brought water to the city, but now it is a beautifully planted promenade above the streets in the Bastille area.
Hop the Metro to Bastille or Gare du Lyon. The Promenade Plantee (Coulee Vert) starts at avenue Daumesnil, where you you'll find stairs going up. Along the promenade are benches in the shade, bring a picnic.
The promenade goes 4.5 km (about two and a half miles), ending at the Jardin de Reuilly - Paul-Perin, which has a fun playground for little kids.
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery - If you're traveling with teens, a trip to Pere-Lachaise is a must, not because it's the cemetery for tons of famous French painters, musicians, writers, statesmen, but Jim Morrison, the musician who checked out in 1971 is buried here also.
It's easy to find Jim Morrison's spot, just follow the bunches of people headed that way. But close by, don't miss the tomb of Heloise and Abelard, a beautiful Gothic style sarcophagus with both figures chastely laid out next to to each other.
In itself, this cemetery is boggling, just because it's so densely packed with tombs and statues in all shapes and sizes, and filled with crypts where family members, "Famille Deville," "Famille Robilliard," "Famille Poupinelle," are buried together - it's very homey.