Back in the day, parents typically didn’t take their children to Europe until they were old enough to appreciate the grandeur and history of the continent. Fast forward to today, and hotels, attractions and tourism entities bend over backwards to attract young families with deals and customized, fun activities for kids and adults alike.
Paris-Toujours, a bespoke travel agency in France, takes the concept one step further with expert guides who will take families on a kid-friendly tour of the City of Lights, starting from the moment they touch down of French soil.
Why the sudden interest in kids? For one thing, Paris attracts a staggering 36.5 million international visitors a year and, of those, 2 million come from the United States, according to the Paris Tourism Office. And, as anyone who tracked the travel patterns of American travelers in the last decade, parents with kids are increasingly reluctant to leave home without them.
But while City of Lights offers a whole menu of iconic attractions — including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Montmartre — Paris can be a little tricky for families to navigate, especially for first-timers.
Laurence Vuillemin, who launched Paris-Toujours, is dedicated to helping families prepare for their trip, choose kid-friendly places to visit, find accommodations and get around the city comfortably while keeping children — even those easily bored — occupied.
“My Parisian family heritage and my passion for this extraordinary city led me to create Paris-Toujours,” Vuillemin said. “My goal is to share some of the real Paris and its unique atmosphere with visitors.”
Paris-Toujours takes into account the children’s ages and the family’s interests when creating full, customized itineraries, which can include excursions for private families or small groups.
- A treasure hunt with clues to solve to explore a museum (like the Louvre) or an area of Paris
- A “behind the scenes” tour of the Eiffel Tower, transporting the family in the Tower’s elevator machinery system to the roof of the famous restaurant Le Jules Verne
- Private visits of grand chaûteaux close to Paris
- Fun museum visits focused on science (animal life, medicine, astronomy and more)
- A private cruise on the Seine with a captain and lunch or afternoon tea service
- Outdoor games in typically Parisian settings
- Subtitled family theatrical shows
- Exclusive activities focused on fashion, such as a visit to a jewelry designer’s workshop or an evening with costumes and make-up for mother-daughter bonding
- Guided bike tours to explore the countryside around Paris or the Loire Valley, only about an hour from Paris
- A patisserie lesson for the whole family on how to make authentic French pastries, followed by a chance to taste your creations
Here is an example of a private day tour.
From 10 a.m. to midday, kids embark on a treasure hunt in the Louvre. A driver picks up the family from their accommodation to take them to the Louvre. A treasure hunt follows, adapted depending on the children’s ages, and can also include the parents. The treasure hunt helps families uncover the secrets of this world-renowned museum. At the end of the visit, the family makes their way to the quay where a private boat is waiting for a picnic on the Seine.
The tour continues 12.30–2.30 p.m. with a picnic on the Seine on a private boat. Traveling along the famous river allows the family to see some of the monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre, in a relaxing, leisurely way. The cruise lasts two hours, and a full Parisian picnic is provided on board, including a traditional baguette and French cheese.
At the end of the trip, a driver is on hand to collect the family to drive them back to their accommodations.
Paris-Toujours’ itineraries include central hotels with such family-friendly features as adjoining guestrooms or apartments and authentic catering options from local bistros and gastronomic restaurants, according to Vuillemin.
The agency also organizes all transportation to Paris and environs, including trains, cars and even trans-Atlantic air, as well as the services of local, professional guides who can help families with everything from gastronomic tours to bike rides and cultural visits.
The agency, along with its carefully chosen guide partners, provides priority tickets for quick access to museums and exhibitions, and Paris-Toujours chooses the method of transport for getting around the city that best suits its clients, from the Metro to a chauffeur-driven car or a rental car.