Paris with kids: A (somewhat) secret garden

What is better than April in Paris? I’ll tell you: April in Paris with kids. Although our most recent trip there was eight months ago, it’s taken me a while to get around to writing about it. And since April is a month that gets us all thinking of the City of Light, throughout the month of April I’ll be sharing stories, tips, and even some ideal itineraries for families interested in visiting Paris or just daydreaming about it.

Paris is not an overwhelming city – in fact, I’d argue that it is very human and easy to negotiate. But when you’ve been playing tourist in Paris with kids for days, sometimes what you need is a quiet spot where you can read your Tintin book in peace and sip a cool beverage.

Sometimes all a kid in Paris wants to do is read his book in peace

Please click on photos to see full-size versions

Perhaps a spot with a lovely fountain.

The fountain in the Jardin du Palais-Royal is a lovely place to wile away a summer afternoon

And some fabulous dahlias.

The dahlias in the Jardin du Palais-Royal were in full bloom in July

A place to stroll in the cool shade of some perfectly manicured trees.

These trees are so perfectly manicured that they look like they've been trimmed with scissors

Would you believe me if I told you that this spot not only exists, it is a five-minute walk from the permanent hustle that surrounds the Louvre? The Jardin du Palais-Royal is tucked back away from the street and lined with arcades full of the most chic and expensive of shops that I probably wouldn’t dare enter even without my children in tow. But there are also a few garden-side cafes full of equally chic patrons and fonctionnaires on break from the Ministry of Culture housed nearby.

I loved the striped awning, which the waitress raises and lowers as the sun moves across the square

It’s the perfect place to relax, right in the middle of Paris.

Once you’ve refreshed yourself, pay a visit to Daniel Buren’s striped columns in the front part of the square where the garden is housed near the Comédie Française. You may want to sit here for a bit and reflect on your day.

The columns in the Jardin du Palais Royal are both art and a playground

Or maybe you’ll discover you have enough energy for a game of tag after all.

There were many schoolchildren playing in front of the Comedie Francaise the day we visited

A place to run free in Paris! The Comedie Francaise was being renovated, hence the modern wooden facade

Like this post? You might also want to check out Paris in its proper order if you’re interested in a chronological list of posts from my family’s July 2008 trip to Paris, or visit my Paris page, which lists all of my stories and tips about my favorite city.

And whether you’re reading this post using my RSS feed or are a first-time visitor, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to the Mother of all Trips via email, as the demise of Google Reader and Feedburner mean that in a couple of months my feed url is either going to change or go away completely. Signing up for email updates means you’ll never miss a post (and next week I’ll be sharing stories of some famous Parisian museums plus my top Paris restaurant recommendations with and without kids).


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  1. says

    Nice post. Just a correction about the striped columns in Palais Royal garden. They are by Daniel Buren, not Didier Ludot that is a shop nearby.

  2. says

    How nice to travel with kids! I’m headed to Paris in a week (from Prague) and although I welcome the warm spring, I left home last week with winterish clothes because of this crazy weather! Your post makes me realize I have to go out now and shop for a few spring outfits (make that ONE) and then save the shopping for there. Nice blog is a beautiful record of your family’s experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Daya Monay says

    I enjoy reading your blog. I subscribe via RSS. Feedly said that the change from Google Reader will be seamless for those who use it prior to the closing of Google Reader. Just wanted to share so that anyone who is interested can take advantage of that free service. Please correct me if I got it wrong though. I am not a tech person. I just like my blogs and wanted to share.

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