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Conciergerie: the king's castle in Paris (parts of it from the 1300 AD)

Conciergerie: the king’s castle in Paris (parts of it from the 1300 AD)

Kids love visiting castles and cathedrals – especially if you tell them about the monument the night before. But they’re not going to do it all day long. One or two of these monuments is enough in a day – then go to the playground or the zoo. If you want to start at the beginning, check out the Roman baths at the Musee de Cluny – maybe the oldest building in Paris! Then take the kids for a short walk to the Arenes de Lutece, where the gladiators fought in Roman times, and let them play there with the other children.

The next day, you can take them to see St. Germain des Pres – a Romanesque church. There’s a small playground right alongside the church, with a nice water fountain (but no bathroom, sadly). After lunch, take them for a walk across the river to see Notre Dame Cathedral. You can’t not go, but sadly it’s no fun in the summer – too crowded. If you can, go in the winter. Again, there’s a playground around the back (facing the front doors, go along the church on the right side) with a sandbox and water.

Castle of Vincennes

Castle of Vincennes

Also on the Ile de la Cite, but best left for the next day, are the Conciergerie and the Sainte Chapelle. The line looks long but moves pretty fast. You can’t tell from the outside, but the Sainte Chapelle is beautiful (don’t miss going upstairs when you get in!!) and the Conciergerie has all that prison and execution stuff that kids love. There’s no playground, so take them up the Boulevard St. Michel to the Luxembourg Gardens. Way at the back of the gardens, to the left, there’s a lovely playground with a rope climbing tower and a zipline your kids should not miss. To feel more French, stop in the middle of the gardens and sail rented boats in the pond.

For the fourth day, take the subway to the Vincennes stop and let them see a real medieval castle with drawbridge and portcullis and everything. There’s a huge park next door, and also Paris’ main zoo. If you still have more days, they’ll never forget visiting Chartres Cathedral (park for picnics is around the back of the cathedral), but you have to take the regular train to get there, not the subway.

Or, if you’re tired of churches and castles by now, the subway will take you and the kids to EuroDisney :)

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