If you are looking for something to do to entertain kids in Paris, the Cité des Enfants will likely come up high on your list. It is located in the north of Paris, in the Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement.
It is actually a section of the larger Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie which is one of the biggest science museums and planetariums in the world. There is a separate entrance ticket for both which were opened in 1986 by former French president Giscard d’Estaing.
The Cité des Enfants is broken down into two sections based on age: 2-7 years old and 5-12 years old. A newer section for 0-2 year olds called Cité des bébés has also recently opened.
For 0-2 year olds
The Lab de la Cité des bébés is a large open space with soft colorful mats on the floor for babies to roll around and explore. The goal is to encourage the cognitive and motor development of babies. There is also a story time for the littlest visitors.
For 2-7 year olds
The 2-7 year old section is broken down into 5 thematic spaces:
- I discover myself – exploring the body, emotions, sensations, etc.
- I know how to do – objects and machines
- I identify myself – labyrinth and motricity activities
- I experiment – scientific exploration of air, water, shadows, etc.
- All together – construction, circus, working together with others, etc.
Everything is malleable and children are encouraged to touch and experiment as they play.
For 5-12 year olds
The section for older 5-12 year olds is also broken down into 5 parts:
- The Body – Exploring the senses, mirrors, etc.
- Communicate – signs, symbols, words, drawings, etc.
- TV Studio – tv sets with cameras for kids to try
- Garden – a small butterfly farm, garden animals, etc.
- Water games – fountain games involving gravity, water pressure, etc.
- Factory – building and construction
Occasionally, there is also a story-time where a thematic story about the environment is told by an actor leading the kids through a question-and-answer.
How long does it take to visit?
Visitors should count around 1/2 a day to visit. At certain times of the year such as French school holidays, tickets have to be reserved in advance. Note, it does get quite busy.
It is open from Tuesday to Sunday and the Cité des enfants runs through sessions of 1hr 30 minutes. Timed-entry is in effect as everyone enters at the same time and then exits at the same time, so you are advised not to be late.
There is also an excellent gift shop in the entrance of Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie with a wide variety of STEM toys and books about the sciences. Give yourself at least 1/2 hour to explore the gift shop as there are a lot of toys that you may not find elsewhere.
How to get there?
The Cité des Enfants is located at 30 avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris. The closest metro station is at Porte de la Villette which is about a 4-minute walk away.
It is also next to the Boulevard Péripherique, so you can also drive to it easily. There are several large underground paid parkings under Parc de la Villette.
If you enjoyed that article, you may want to read more about things to do in Paris. A bientôt!