6 Fun Things to do in Paris for Teenagers
While traveling with toddlers and preschoolers was a challenge, opinionated tweens and teens can be just as challenging. We last visited Paris seven years ago. At that time, my kids were happy riding on carousels, running around Luxembourg Gardens and didn’t complain much that we dragged them from one attraction to another as long as they had crepes afterwards. Our revisit this past summer with almost 12 and 14 year-olds was a totally different experience.
Want to minimize the eye rolling and exasperated sighs? Try these family-friendly Paris tours and activities with your tween and teen.
What to do in Paris with Teens and Tweens
1. Bike Tours
My kids’ favorite activity was a bike tour with Fat Tire Paris. It was the first thing we did to beat jet lag and it worked. The tour was a great orientation of the city if it’s your first time. It was a fantastic way to reintroduce Paris to us.
As suburban folks, it took some time to get used to biking city streets and crossing busy intersections. It was a bit nerve wracking, but I was glad my kids were old enough to navigate the streets well. Carts are available to attach to bikes for younger kids.
We loved seeing major attractions like the Invalides complex, Louvre, Place de la Concorde and the Eiffel Tower up close without walking too much. Biking along the River Seine was also a highlight.
Our guide ensured our safety and informed us of some interesting history and life in Paris. Keep your anxiety level and your kids’ abilities and comfort level in mind when doing this tour. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there’s also a night version of this tour.
We enjoyed this activity so much we did Fat Tire Paris’ Versailles Bike Tour a few days later. It was the best way to explore this vast royal home. Shopping for our picnic items and eating at one of Versailles’ parks was a major bonus.
2. Take a Macaron Class
My teen daughter has always enjoyed baking. The delectable French macaron treats are one of our favorite desserts. Of course, a macaron making class was at the top of her Paris wish list.
There were other family classes offering this activity but it didn’t fit our schedule. We ended up with Patiserrie a la Carte. Their cooking studio/kitchen was located in the Montmarte area in the shadows of the Sacre Couer cathedral. There were only five of us in class including another teen girl.
We learned the intricate techniques of making macarons and several different ganache fillings in 2 1/2 hours. Our instructor took us through each step until the finished product. We all enjoyed eating our delicious creations after class and took a box with us. This particular class was only for kids ages 12 and over. They also offer classes for other French pastries.
3. Go Up the Eiffel Tower
We skipped going up the Eiffel Tower during our last trip due to long waits and a tight schedule. We made going to the summit a priority during this visit since my kids actually wanted to go up. Despite buying our tickets weeks in advance, we still ended up lining up for quite some time at the elevators to get to the top. It was expected during a summer visit with the tower being the world’s most popular paid tourist attraction.
But, the stunning panoramic views were definitely worth the wait. It was interesting to see Gustave Eiffel’s restored office including wax models. Seeing Paris from above offered a wonderful perspective and helped us sort out the city’s geography. It was a fun experience, and we were glad we waited to take the kids when they were older since it helped them to fully understand what they were looking at.
4. Visit Musee d’Orsay
While the Louvre and the Mona Lisa may get all the attention during museum visits in Paris, we found Musee d’Orsay also worthy of exploring. My kids didn’t want to see the Mona Lisa again or show any interest in Egyptian artifacts. Luckily, Musee d’Orsay had an impressive collection of Impressionist art including Monet, Degas, Renoir and van Gogh. These were artists and masterpieces they were familiar and have grown up with through books and art classes.
It was easier to keep my kids occupied at art museums when they were younger through scavenger hunts and interactive activities. They’re too cool for that now. I’m glad we did the Context Travel’s Musee d’Orsay for Families Tour which made our visit more educational and fun.
Our docent ensured we saw many masterpieces during our 2 1/2-hour visit. She kept my kids interested and engaged. It was an amazing experience to see these paintings up close and from a different perspective. We learned a lot about the artists, the Impressionist movement and art pieces we probably would have skipped.
Musee d’Orsay was also much more than the masterpieces lining its walls. The main building used to be the hotel and train station for the Gare d’Orsay railway built for the 1900 World Fair. We learned quite a bit about the building’s history and architecture. Their restaurants were some of the best decorated we’ve ever seen.
5. Shop Away
Okay, Parisian shopping was more for my teen daughter and me. I have an almost 15 year-old who loves window-shopping and clothes and could have spent days at the large department stores. If you’ve got a budding fashionista, visit these popular stores and shopping areas:
- Avenue des Champs Elysees is the world’s most famous boulevard. The 1.2-mile street between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe is filled with many stores and cafés. You can find almost anything here!
- The St-Germain des Prés area and into the Latin Quarter area are home to some fantastic boutiques, gourmet shops and great shopping finds. Le Bon Marché department store is a Paris staple here. Its food hall is a foodie’s paradise. Don’t miss Rue de Rennes in the area, a bustling street for shoppers with interesting stores for all budget types.
- Boulevard Hausmman by the Paris Opera Garnier was a haven of many clothing shops. But, the main attractions here were the old Parisian department stores like Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. The Galeries Lafayette’s stunning Belle Epoque architecture was worth the stop for gawking. We loved the colorful glass dome and Art Nouveau staircases. They also hold a free 30-minute fashion show every Friday at 3 pm on the main building’s (Coupole) 4th floor. Go to the rooftop decks of both stores to see some of the best views of Paris.
6. Look for Instagram/Snapchat Spots
As part of the social media generation, my kids got some ideas using the #ig_Paris hashtag to find Instagrammable hot spots. There are countless places depending on one’s interests and style. These were a few of their favorite shots and spots. Selfies are optional.
- The Eiffel Tower at various angles but especially from the gardens below or from Champ de Mars green space. Our favorite view of the Eiffel Tower has always been at the Palais de Chaillot/Trocadero area.
- The glass Louvre Pyramid is an iconic shot. My kids preferred to take jumping shots and trick shots pointing to its tip. We saw plenty of other kids their age doing these pointing shots.
- Go to the Musee d’Orsay’s top floor. The giant clocks that look out into the Seine River and the Tuileries Gardens are quite popular. Go early to take this photo without crowds.
- Buy some Laduree or Pierre Herme colorful macarons and take a photo in their beautiful containers or with any of Paris’ major attractions in the background. I preferred a combination of French desserts.
- The ornate Parisian carousels were great stops when they were younger. Now, the ride is a prop to get the ideal shot of them riding the colorful carousel with the Eiffel tower in the background.
Read more >> 10 Great Spots to View the Eiffel Tower
Tips to Plan a Great Trip to Paris for Teenagers
- Book tours and attraction tickets in advance to minimize wait times. Waiting in lines makes for cranky teens and their parents.
- Look into the Paris Museum Pass and The Paris Pass to save time and money depending on your itinerary.
- Look into several Wi-Fi options. Having an Internet connection is a must when trying to send Snapchat updates and Instagram posts or message friends and family back home.
- Involve teens in the planning process. They will be more invested in the family vacation and will actually be happy to have a say in it.You may have noticed that Disneyland Paris was left out here. The kids looked at the rides and decided it wasn’t thrilling enough. Ask them to research attractions they want to visit and apps that can be used for the trip.
We loved our stay at Hilton Paris Opera. It was a beautiful building and conveniently located to many attractions and transportation options.
You may also enjoy:
- Tips for Eating in Paris With Kids
- 12 Memorable Experiences in Paris
- Why Kids Will Love Visiting the Louvre: A Family-Friendly Guide
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Mary and her family were provided with complimentary bike tours by Fat Tire Paris and a complimentary Musee d’Orsay for Families Tour by Context Travel. All photos and opinions are her own.
Know Before You Go
- The Jardin des Plantes is the most popular garden in France, housing over 200 species of plants. The garden also has a zoo that is open daily.
- There is another Statue of Liberty on the Ile aux Cygnes (also known as Swan Lake).
- The Pere Lachaise Cemetery holds the graves of the famous Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Frederic Chopin. A stroll through this cemetery is a nice free escape from the chaos of the city.