The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Paris with Teenagers
Looking for the top things to do in Paris with teenagers?
Paris is known to many as the City of Love and that’s why so many couples flock to this city. But did you know it’s also a great destination to visit with teens? When my son was 14 years old, I visited the City of Lights with him.
After visiting France’s capital city three times without kids, I was surprised to discover another side of the city.
Involve your teens in the planning, don’t skip the basics and start exploring Paris with teenagers!
Why you should explore Paris with teenagers
The city of Paris has plenty to offer visitors of all ages, including teens. What teenager hasn’t heard of the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Arc de Triomphe? They will surely get excited about seeing this world-famous sights. And what about a visit to Disneyland Paris? They won’t pass up on a chance to enter this magical small world, after all!
The food in Paris is also pretty great! The sweet and delicious macarons and crêpes will make your kids mouths water. The promise of a fresh baguette or croissant will get them out of bed in the morning. And you must get your hands on a croque monsieur, the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich.
Exploring Paris with teenagers is a breeze with all these highlights and amazing food up for grabs.
When to visit Paris with teenagers
There’s no bad time to visit Paris. If you want to go during the quietest time visit the capital of France in January, February or March. These are colder months, but if you bundle up and warm up with a hot cup of coco you’ll be fine. Check out our guide for experiencing winter in Paris.
If you’d like to stroll through the many parks in France, April and May are best. You’ll see the flowers blossom and the weather will be quite pleasant. It’s also the time when the crowds slowly but surely find their way to Paris.
Related read: A Guide to Visiting Paris in the Spring
September and October are the best months for a weekend or midweek in Paris with teens. The crowds have left the city, unless you’re there during Fashion Week, and the weather is still very pleasant.
Visiting Paris during the summer months means you must brave the higher prices, the heat and the crowds. It’s not the most ideal period to visit the city. If you’re choosing to visit in June, July or August make sure you prebook accommodation and buy tickets to museums and other sights online weeks in advance.
How to get around in Paris
Paris has a great metro system. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get around the city. You can buy multiple day passes, which is cheaper than buying single tickets. This travel pass is called the Paris Visite Card and can be used in the metro, train and bus. It also gives you discounts to tourist attractions, so make sure that you buy this card as soon as you arrive in Paris.
The cost of the pass depends on the duration. Teens (ages 11 and up) will pay the same price as adults. You can get a 5,3,2 or 1 day card. To give you an idea of the price, a 5 day card will cost you around 40 euros and a 1 day card around 15 euros. There are 2 zones you can choose from. If you stay in and around the city centre, pick zone 1-3. If you also want to visit the suburbs, Disneyland Paris or Château de Versailles you should pick zone 1-5.
Related read: A Guide to Using the Metro in Paris
According to the 2019 Copenhagenize index, Paris is one of the top 10 bike-friendly city. Exploring Paris with teenagers is best done on a bike. You can cover more grounds than when you’re on foot. And it gives you more freedom than taking public transport. You can book a tour of Paris by bike with a guide or be even more flexible and get a day pass for the Vélib’ Métropole. Buy a pass online and find one of the many Vélib’ stations to pick your (electric) bike.
Exploring Paris with your teens is extra fun on a Segway. They will love it. There are multiple tours (like this one) you can book starting from an hour to 2,5 hours per session. A tour guide will show you around Paris on a Segway.
Best things to explore in Paris with teenagers
There are endless things to explore in Paris with your teens. Here’s a list of the top 10 things to do in Paris with teenagers when you’re in the city of lights with them for the first time. If you want to check them all out, make sure you stay in Paris for 4 to 5 days. You’ll never forget the time you’ve spend exploring Paris with teenagers.
Related read: Paris for Beginners: Where and What to Eat, See or Do
Go up the Eiffel Tower
This is kind of a no-brainer. Everyone who’s visiting Paris looks forward to that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It’s impressive to see it from afar, but even more when your standing right next or below it.
Did you know you can also climb up the tower? Not the complete 1665 steps to the top, but the first 674 steps to the second floor. It will take you about 30 minutes to get you there, if that’s too much you can take the elevator. If you want to go to the top you have to buy the Stairway and Lift ticket. We only went up to the second floor and the view is amazing! You get a clear view of places like the Grand Palais, the Louvre, parts of the Seine river and the Notre Dame. You can buy your tickets on site or online.
Tip: Avoid the queues and visit the tower just before sunset.
Take a stroll through Montmartre
One of the best Parisian districts is undoubtedly Montmartre. You feel like you’ve gone decades back in time while walking through its cobblestone alleys, eat quiche from a quaint little patisserie and shop at vintage stores. You can almost picture Vincent van Gogh strolling through the streets here.
The most obvious site to visit is the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. The inside is beautiful. And if you go to the top of the dome you’ll be rewarded with the best view of Paris (my teen’s verdict). The outside of the structure is made of white stone, which gives it a gorgeous silky cream look. Stand in front of it, admire the inside or walk up the small (and very high!) staircase to the dome, it all together makes for an exploration your family won’t forget. Exploring Paris’ Montmartre with teenagers should definitely be on your shortlist.
Tip: Take the funicular either up or down. There aren’t many cable trains for teens to enjoy in the world, so this is their chance. Only do it one way though, because it’s also worth it to take the hike up or down the steps and alleys.
Related read: A Guide to the Arrondissements of Paris
Strut down the Champs-Élysées
The most famous and probably most prestigious avenue in the world is the Champs-Élysées, aka the most beautiful avenue in the world. You can find every brand imaginable here. Your teens will love all the designer brands and exclusive car brands that have shops here. Start your walk at the Place de la Concorde and end it at the Arc de Triomphe. There’s so much to see and do here, mostly people and shop watching.
If you’re ready for a bite, don’t stay on the Champs-Élysees, but turn a corner and slightly walk away from the avenue and pick a restaurant there. You’ll thank me later, because it will save you a lot of money.
Tip: Buy a box of macarons at Ladurée. It’s the most famous macaron brand in the world, selling delicious macarons in gift boxes. You can also buy other pastries here.
Check out Mona Lisa’s smile at The Louvre
Hopefully your teens are into art, because you can’t leave Paris without a visit to The Louvre museum. It’s the biggest art museum in the world with about 380.000 pieces to enjoy. It’s housed in the Louvre Palace, so be sure to check out the amazing architecture as well. Make sure you have at least 3 hours to spend in the museum/palace. Buy your ticket ahead of time online, because it’s always busy, whether you pick to go around opening time, closing time or in between.
Get yourself a map of the museum before your visit and decide together what pieces you want to see. Then map out your route. Kids usually have a short attention span, so if you plan out the route of your family its must-sees you make the most of your time there and everyone will be pleased.
Our top 5: Botticelli’s Venus with Three Graces, the Venus de Milo, the Great Sphinx of Tanis, the crown of Louis XV and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Of course you shouldn’t skip the Mona Lisa, but do know that it gets really crowded her and that can take away from the experience.
Tip: Don’t use the main entrance, aka the glass pyramid. There are two other entrances you can consider. Enter through Le Carrousel du Louvre or Porte des Lions. These entrances are usually not as busy. Buy your fast-track tickets online before you go here.
Catacombs de Paris
If you have teenagers, the catacombs should be part of your Paris bucket list. They probably watched Disney’s The Hunchback of the Notre Dame when they where younger and will want to see where Quasimodo lead the baddies to the gypsies hiding in the catacombs. Another reason is that a visit to this underground burial site is creepy and fun. In the world’s largest grave you can find the bones of more than 6 million people. Uncover the myths and tales of the catacombs with your teens. It will be fun, unless they’re not into scary stuff. You should definitely skip a visit to the catacombs if that’s the case.
The scary part also makes that you can’t enter the catacombs with kids younger than 10. So if your family consists of teens and smaller kids, make sure you can split up for a few hours. If you ask me, you shouldn’t bring kids younger than 13 underground. The darkness and skulls make for a haunting visit and your kids should be ready for that emotionally.
Tip: It’s damp down here, especially when it’s a rainy or foggy day. Don’t wear open toe shoes or flip flops while exploring Paris’ catacombs with teenagers.
Related ticket: Catacombs skip-the-line ticket and audio guide
Sunbathing in summer on Paris Plage
This is a thing you can only do if you’re in Paris during summertime. In July and August of 2002, Paris Plage took place for the first time on the right bank of the Seine. Sun umbrellas and deckchairs where set on nicely trimmed lawns. Everyone could enjoy this space to chill out in the sun, swim and water sport. This event turned into a yearly thing. It’s now even located on both sides of the river. It’s a fun place to chill for a few hours, after all the sightseeing your family has done.
Tip: Check out the website of the Paris Convention and Visitors bureau to see which events take place while you’re there. This way you can plan your visit around an activity your family is interested in the most.
Spring into action at Disneyland Paris
After exploring Paris with teenagers to the fullest, head on out to Disneyland Paris. It’s about a half an hour drive from the city. Disneyland Paris is known to be aimed more towards younger children, but that is changing. Your teens might not be interested in the meet and greets anymore, but there are enough shows and attractions to keep them happy for a full day.
The real draw for teens has to be the recently opened Marvel Avengers Campus. With two new Marvel themed attractions, a hero training center and a stunt show teens of all ages will want to see and do it all! I have to admit that we haven’t checked it out yet, but our friends with teens (14yo and 16yo) did and LOVED it! The reviews are also great. So be sure to save enough time to explore this new part of Disneyland Paris.
Tip: Go to Disneyland on the last day of your Paris trip and check into a hotel just outside Disneyland in Val d’Europe (the cheaper option) or on site (the expensive option). Check out Disney’s Hotel New York® – The Art of Marvel (just a 10-minute walk from Disney Village and Marne-la-Vallée Chessy RER Train Station) or DISNEYLAND-CHESSY for a cosy apartment (it sleeps 7 and is just 1.7km from Disney Village).
This way you can enter the park at opening time and you can head out to the most popular attractions first, when the lines aren’t that long yet.
Search for availability and book your entrance tickets below:
Cruising the Seine
Last, but certainly not least is a Seine river cruise. In 1,5 hours you’ll see Paris from a different perspective. You can also book longer tours, but I’ve been on one that took 3 hours and even for me it was just a tad too long. During the shorter tour you’ll see all the highlights, get the main facts and it will definitely be fun and interesting for the entire family.
You don’t have to book ahead, there are lots of companies to choose from and they leave regularly. Pre-booking is advised when you’re in Paris during high season or if you’re set on a dinner or sunset cruise. Here’s one of the most popular Seine cruises to pre-book.
Tip: Let this be the first thing you do on your first trip to Paris with your family. This way you get a good sense of the city and where everything is and you can plan out your itinerary after your cruise.
I hope that exploring Paris with teenagers is on the top of your bucket list as of now. For more family travel tips and road trip itineraries, check out Sas Crossing Countries, a family travel blog.