5 Great Museums for Kids in Paris: Family-Friendly Collections

the cité des sciences is among the best museums for kids in Paris.
The Cité des Sciences at the Parc de la Villette is a great choice, especially for kids aged 5-12.

I often get e-mails from parents asking how to keep their young ones stimulated and happy in the French capital. And while it’s a city that can seem about as far from kid-friendly as you can get, there are a remarkable number of affordable, easy ways to sate young curiosity (not to mention expend some necessary energy).

I’m more than happy to help out with that challenging objective. Below are details on what I consider to be 5 of the best museums for kids in Paris. These are family-friendly spaces (and collections) that will hopefully keep children amused while also capturing the attention and interest of adults. Well, at least most of the time.

1. The Cité des Sciences (Science & Industry Museum)

The Cité des Sciences is one of the best museums for kids in Paris. France

The massive Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (Science and Industry Center) holds one of the capital’s largest permanent exhibits dedicated to scientific discovery. It’s also one of Paris’ most family-friendly museums, with displays designed for visitors as young as 4 or 5 years old.

At the Cité des Enfants section, little ones from 5 to 12 can explore six thematic areas and take part in a variety of fun games and activities. The displays are colorful, engaging and user-friendly, and most are translated into English.

The children’s displays are organized around the following themes:

  • Body
  • Communication
  • TV studio
  • Water games
  • Garden
  • Factory
Image credit: Cité des Sciences

Kids can pretend to be TV presenters or help create special cinema effects, lip-sync to music, learn about how the body functions and keeps us healthy, or put on hard hats and take part in a simulated building site.

The displays are designed to allow kids to let loose and discover on their own, while facilitating interaction and learning.

If you’re travelling with teenagers, not to worry: along with the adults, they may be drawn in by exhibits on the origins of the universe, the human brain, genes and genetics, or space travel. You can see full details on permanent and temporary exhibits at the museum here.

The Cité’s onsite planetarium, enormous geodesic dome and IMAX cinema also offer potential ways to entertain and stimulate pre-teens and teens.

(Note: La Géode and the cinema have been closed for renovations since November 2018 and are expected to reopen in late autumn 2020).

Argonaut submarine display at the Cité des Sciences, Paris. © Nicolas Breton / EPPDCSI
The “Argonaut” submarine exhibit. Image credit: Cité des Sciences/© Nicolas Breton / EPPDCSI

Finally, the whole family should enjoy exploring the Argonaut, a submarine-themed exhibit situated in a real, decommissioned underwater vessel parked at the site.

This is the opportunity for all ages to go full Jules Vernes or Jean Cocteau, imagining life as a submariner.

Explore the Parc de la Villette: Amusement Park & Fun Fair

Another upside to visiting the Science & Industry Museum? It’s nestled within the sprawling complex known as the Parc de la Villette, filled with other family-friendly activities and attractions.

Kids can enjoy rides, carnival games and snacks at the permanent funfair, and expend some energy in large onsite playgrounds. There’s even a massive, insect-shaped slide that seems rather thrilling (pictured above).

Getting There & Practical Info
The geodesic dome at the Cité des Sciences houses an IMAX 3D cinema

The Cité des Sciences is located within the grounds of the vast Parc de la Villette, in northeastern Paris.

  • Metro: It’s best served by taking metro line 7 from central Paris at Chatelet-les-Halles and getting off at the Porte de la Villette stop; follow the signs from the metro station to the museum entrance.
  • Accessibility: The Cité des Sciences is fully accessible for visitors with limited mobility and disabilities, and entrance is free upon the presentation of appropriate ID.
  • See the official website for current exhibits, opening times & tickets

Save time: You can buy entrance tickets to the Cité des Sciences in advance (via GetYourGuide).

2. The Natural History Museum & Zoo at the Jardin des Plantes

Museum of natural history, Paris, Grand Evolution Gallery is great for children and families.

This quaint natural history museum has seen a makeover in the past years, blending past curatorial practices with new ones to create a collection that’s simply captivating. Especially for kids.

The museum is best-known for its “Grande Galerie de l’Evolution” (Grand Evolutionary Gallery)-– a massive central display of some 7,000 animal models, bones and specimens– from giraffes and elephants to hippos and hyenas.

The ground floor is occupied by the larger terrestrial mammals, while upper galleries tell the further story of evolution through butterflies, insects, marine fossils and other species.

There are also rooms dedicated to Homo Sapiens, and to endangered species– offering a crucial lesson on the fragility of ecosystems to young visitors.

The “virtual reality cabinet” offers another way to experience the collections, allowing kids to use tactile mats to interact with scientific concepts in five VR stations.

Meanwhile, the children’s gallery is an interactive, colorful exhibit designed to involve and stimulate kids aged 6-12 with engaging displays, and focused around concepts of biodiversity. Games, videos, models and multimedia displays will make them forget that the objective is educational.

Zoo at the Jardin des Plantes
Ménagerie (zoo) at the Jardin des Plantes

After visiting the natural history collections, consider continuing your morning or afternoon at the onsite zoo (Ménagerie).

More refuge for endangered species than zoo, the Ménagerie is home to some 1,200 animals: 200 mammals, 300 birds, 400 reptiles and amphibians, and 300 insects, spiders and crustaceans.

While it’s one of the world’s oldest zoos (dating to 1794), its current focus on protecting (and breeding) animals threatened by extinction make it an important conservationist site.

Kids and teens are likely to enjoy encountering animals as diverse as leopards, red pandas, orang-utans and bustards.

Getting There & Practical Info
Wild species of poppies cultivated at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Paris Sharing/Creative Commons 2.0

The Jardin des Plantes, Museum of Natural History & Ménagerie/zoo are nestled in the historic Latin Quarter, on the left bank of the Seine.

3. The Musée Grevin (Wax Museum)

Musée Grevin, wax museum Paris

This 19th-century wax museum is the Parisian equivalent of Madame Tussaud’s in London. It recently underwent a major overhaul and re-opened with more interactive experiences, making it potentially more kid-friendly than ever.

Younger visitors will likely enjoy the “Children’s World” section, which features familiar superheroes and cartoon personalities brought to life in wax.

While some of these will be less recognizable to kids born outside of France, it still promises to keep the attention of visitors aged 5-11.

Meanwhile, older kids and teens will likely enjoy taking selfies with famous actors, sports stars and singers, or walking the red carpet alongside celebrity models and movie stars.

Finally, a new interactive section on big moments in French history looks potentially educational and enjoyable for the whole family.


Getting There & Practical Info
© Sylvain Cambon

The Musée Grevin is located in the neighborhood known locally as the Grands Boulevards, close to major local attractions including the Opera Garnier and the Palais Royal.

Save time: Book tickets to the Grevin Wax Museum in advance (via GetYourGuide)

4. The Louvre: Family-Friendly Tours & Experiences

Family tour at the Louvre in Paris, suitable for kids ages 8 and up

Especially on a first trip to the capital, most visitors will attempt an excursion to the Louvre Museum. I say “attempt” because it’s known to be a potentially stressful, frustrating stop.

Related: What to See & Do on a First Trip to Paris?

Having kids in tow can complicate matters quite a bit. Enormous lines, overcrowded rooms, and long hours trying to figure out how to see your bucket-list works of art can wear on young travelers’ nerves.

So how to get around this? Is it possible to bring children along and still enjoy the mammoth museum?

Fear not: there are a couple of ways to do just that. For one, the Louvre offers 90-minute weekend tours designed specifically for families. Held every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am (daily in July and August), the “My First Louvre” tour is meant to accommodate kids age eight and over.

The hour-and-a-half guided tour allows kids to appreciate fine art and sculpture throughout the main collections. Egyptian antiquities, Greek sculptures, and famous paintings from Italy and France are among the highlights. If you want to try to instil an understanding of the beauty of art and sculpture, this tour may be for you.

On the downside, the Louvre’s own tour isn’t private, so you’ll have to share the guide’s insight and attention with others.

If you’d rather enjoy a private tour of the Louvre designed for children and families, you can book a 2.5 hour guided visit here (via GetYourGuide).

The second way to potentially enjoy the Louvre with kids (even from as young as 5 or 6) is to book a fun treasure hunt centered around the collections.

Treasure hunt at the Louvre, Paris: one way to enjoy the museum with kids

Kids will chase up clues to find mysterious details in famous paintings (a bird? An ornate feathered hat? A queen ascending the throne? An angel?) or to match clues to precious objects in the display cases. It’s fun, absorbing, and incredibly educational.

How to book?: You can book a Louvre treasure hunt for families and kids here (via GetYourGuide).

5. Musée des Arts et Métiers

Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France
The Arts et Métiers is an old-world museum dedicated to the history of science, industry and tech.

This old-world science and industry museum will captivate the imaginations of kids and teens who enjoy peeking back in time– gaining insight into how far we’ve come.

Unlike the Cité des Sciences, which tends to focus on contemporary discoveries and technology, the Arts et Métiers offers a fascinating look at the inventors and pioneers who made our current era of advanced tech possible.

Founded in 1794, the old-world collection features more than 2,400 inventions, all displayed in interesting thematic displays that kids from around seven and up will likely enjoy.

Early-stage airplanes hang from the ceiling in one room, with rustic steam-engine trains beckoning just below.

Microscopes, telescopes and other scientific instruments occupy others, while printing presses and typewriters, electricity generators and telegraphs can be found in still others.

Some of my favorite rooms in the permament collection explore the recent history of the internet and telecommunications.

Old phones, stereo equipment, and “vintage” computers from the 1980s show just how quickly technology has developed since.

Adults may find it amusing to tell their kids that they once used the strange analog devices that the younger ones don’t recognize in the slightest (cassette tapes, rotary phones, boomboxes etc).

Audioguide tours are helpful in allowing kids to explore the collections, and Arts et Métiers offers three different versions of these.  

Getting There & Practical Info

The Musée des Arts et Métiers is located in Paris’ central 3rd arrondissement, in close reach of the Centre Georges Pompidou.

Side note: I recommend visiting the Pompidou’s ground-floor, free exhibition space designed for kids to extend your visit in the area. The “funny fountain” nearby, featuring animated sculptures and waterworks from Niki de Sainte-Phalle and Jean Tinguely, is often a hit with kids, too.

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Note from the editor: This post contains some affiliate links. If you book activities or tours through these it comes at no additional cost, but does help to fund more free, in-depth features like this one at Paris Unlocked. Thank you.

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