Visiting Paris with your children during the New Year period is a great idea. There is just something magical about this time of the year, and there are many activities and hands-on workshops that will keep you and your children highly entertained and engaged.
But let’s make one thing clear before going into the details of how to spend the best New Year’s Eve in Paris with kids. If you are here to see a great fireworks show about the Eiffel Tower, well… it’s not the right time! Surprisingly enough, Paris does not organize any major fireworks show for New Year’s Eve. You’ll have to come back on July 14th to see that. But rest assured, there are many other great ways to make the most of your New Year’s Eve with your children in Paris.
Although we have focused on New Year’s Eve (December 31st), all these exciting activities and ideas can be done on the days running up to New Year’s Eve. At that time, Paris is truly in festive spirit, with Christmas souvenirs still warm in our hearts and minds.
We have picked a range of magic shows, restaurants, museums, skating rinks and much more to enjoy a memorable time bidding farewell to the past year and welcoming the new one with open arms! Here is how to spend the best New Year’s Eve in Paris with kids.
***NOTE: all of the names of the places in BOLD are direct links to their websites, except for the merry-go-rounds and the ice skating rinks
New Year’s Eve daytime activities with kids
December 31st is a regular day, and all the major museums will be open. However, here is a list of recommended family-friendly where you can bring your children to on that day.
Musée Grévin – Wax Museum: A perfect way to discover the history, culture and personalities of France through a very entertaining and surprisingly beautiful wax museum. 10 Boulevard Montmartre, 75009 Paris, Metro Grands Boulevards, open from 9:30AM to 7PM.
Museum d’Histoire Naturelle – Natural History Museum: This museum is located around the Jardin des Plantes, in the eastern side of Paris. The museum is divided into several departments, each with a separate admission fee: The Great Evolution Gallery (Grande Galerie de l’Evolution), the Paleontology Gallery (Galerie de Paléonthologie), the Botanical Museum, the Mineralogy Museum and the tropical greenhouses. The most interesting departments for children are the Great Gallery of Evolution and the Paleontology Gallery with all the dinosaur skeletons. 36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Paris, 75005, metro Gare d’Austerlitz, open from 10AM to 6PM everyday except Tuesday (closed).
Musée en Herbe: This museum is dedicated to children. Its purpose is to introduce modern art to the young. Here, contemporary artists are highlighted and explained in ways that children will understand and admire. Creative workshops and a library to entertain even the youngest children are also on the list of things to do. 21 rue Hérold, 75001 Paris, metro Etienne Marcel, open from 10AM to 7PM everyday. (closed on January 1st)
Centre Georges Pompidou – Modern Art Museum: This museum holds the biggest collection of modern art in France, with works by Picasso, Matisse, Dali and other very notorious modern artists. A visit is well worth it with children, even if it’s only for the modern building and the child playground. Place Georges Pompidou, Paris, 75004, Metro Hôtel de Ville, open from 11AM to 10PM everyday except Tuesday (closed).
Family Twist’s Treasure Hunt at the Louvre activity and Highlights of the Musée d’Orsay tour are available. You can also check out our list of the best kid-friendly museums in Paris HERE
2. Zoos & aquariums
There are 3 zoos and 2 aquariums in Paris that are worth visiting. They will be open on December 31st.
Zoo de Paris: Also known as the Zoo de Vincennes, as it is located in the Bois de Vincennes park, this is the biggest and most prestigious zoo of Paris. Recently renovated, you and your children will be able to discover a wide variety of different animals. In winter though, some of these species will be indoors to protect them from the cold… Metro Porte Dorée (line 8) / open from 10.00am to 5.00pm every day except Tuesdays / price: €22 for adults, €16.50 for children under 25 and €14 for children under 11.
La Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes: this small zoo located in the heart of the Jardin des Plantes (among the other departments of the Natural History Museum) is the second oldest zoo in the world (it opened in 1794!). There are around 1800 animals there, of which one third are endangered species. 57 Rue Cuvier, 75005 Paris, Metro Gare d’Austerlitz, Open from 9AM to 5PM, price: €13.
Jardin d’Acclimatation: Although this is more of an amusement park (see chapter below on playgrounds), there is a small zoo in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, which will please the younger children. Bois de Boulogne, Metro Les Sablons (line 1), Opening 10AM to 6:00PM, Price: €2.90 per person, but this does not include rides in the amusement park.
Aquarium de Paris: the biggest aquarium of Paris is located under the Trocadéro, the building facing the Eiffel Tower on the right bank. It is your chance to see a state-of-the-art aquarium with thousands of different types of fish and other sea creatures… 5 Avenue Albert de Mun, 75016 Paris, Metro Trocadéro (lines 6 & 9), price: €20 for adults, €16 for children of 17 and under, €13 for children under 11.
Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Dorée: This aquarium was built in 1931 for the “Colonial Exhibition”, an event comparable to the Universal Expo in the beginning of the 20th Century. With over 5,000 animals from 300 different species, the Aquarium is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve in Paris with kids. 293 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, Metro Porte Dorée (Line 8), Open from 10AM to 4:30PM on December 31st, €5 euros for adults, €3.50 for children (4 to25) and free for kids under 4.
Since December 31st is a regular day, all the major monuments will also be open. However, the closing time may be advanced (around 4:30PM) exceptionally.
Here are some of the monuments that you will be able to enjoy with your children when in Paris on New Year’s Eve.
The Eiffel Tower: A tower that needs no introduction as it is truly the landmark of the capital of France. The Eiffel Tower is open from 9AM to midnight everyday (except on December 31, when it closes at 9 PM). Book our Going Up the Eiffel Tower activity HERE
La Tour Montparnasse: The Tour Montparnasse, although not the most beautiful tower of Paris, is certainly the place where you will have the best view on the Eiffel Tower. Head out there just before sunset to have the best experience.
Sacré Coeur Basilica: Perched on top of Montmartre hill, in the north of Paris, this basilica is totally different from other churches of Paris, from it’s architecture to the overall ambiance. If you want to have a nice bird’s eye view of Paris without having to wait in line for hours, climb up to the dome! But be aware that the climb can be tiring as there are many stairs! Book our The Charms of Old Montmatre tour HERE
4. Playgrounds and merry-go-rounds
One of the best places you can take your children to is the Jardin d’Acclimatation. Located in the Bois de Boulogne, one of Paris’ biggest parks on the far west side, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is a large playground, a fun fair and a small zoo. All that in one! And to make it more attractive for the parents, there’s the Fondation Louis Vuitton right next to it, so you can share your time between the modern art museum (and what is for us the most beautiful modern building in Paris) and kid’s heaven!
Another area you can bring your children to is the Aquaboulevard. Forget about the cold days of winter and Paris as you will find yourself in a tropical scene here.
Aquaboulevard is the largest water park in Paris and offers a lot of fun activities for children such as a wave pool, water slides and even a surf simulator.
As for the merry-go-rounds, here are the ones that stand out because of their location or simply because of the decoration and the “ambiance”.
Tour Eiffel: If you want a merry-go-round that is even closer to the Eiffel Tower, head out to the tip of the bridge. Needless to say that the view from here is priceless. Here though, your children will be riding a train. (Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris)
Luxembourg: A merry go round with wooden horses awaits your children in the heart of the famous Luxembourg Gardens. You will also find a huge playground and a puppet theater.
Sacré Coeur: At the bottom of the hill, the fairy-tale themed merry-go-round. At the top of the hill, the beautiful white Sacré Coeur Basilica. If you have seen the movie “Amélie from Montmartre”, you’ll know exactly what we are talking about! (Place Saint Pierre)
Hôtel de Ville: Facing the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) is yet another beautiful merry-go-round. And while they enjoy their ride, you’ll enjoy the view on the beautiful Renaissance building.
5. Ice skating rinks for New Year’s Eve
Ice skating is a great way to keep your children entertained. And Paris has a lot of outdoor pop-up ice skating rinks that a perfect family experience. We can recommend 4 exceptional places, as these ice skating rinks have the privilege to offer a great view on some iconic Parisian monuments.
Hôtel de Ville: The ice skating rink is located on the city hall’s esplanade. It is the largest of the the pop-up ice skating rinks in Paris. The beautiful Renaissance facade and the view of Notre Dame Cathedral’s tower in a distance make this place even more magical. Open from December 1st to end of February, from 10AM to 10PM. Entrance is free, and skate rental is €6,00 per person (bring ID for deposit).
Champs-Elysées: Located at the “bottom” of the Champs-Elysées Avenue, next to the beautiful Place de la Concorde, this ice skating rink is a very popular, especially among visitors. Open from late November to early January, from 10:30AM to midnight. You’ll have to spend €10,00 for adults and €8,00 for children, including the rental fees.
Eiffel Tower: Have you ever wanted to skate in the sky? If so, then head out to the Eiffel Tower, as this ice skating rink is definitely the most original. It’s a small one, but the view from the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower is simply amazing. Open from early December to mid February, from 10:30 AM to 10:30 PM. Access is free, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to go up the Eiffel Tower!
Trocadéro: The Trocadéro is the monument located opposite the Eiffel Tower, on the other side of the Seine River. Needless to say that from this ice skating rink, you will have the best view on the Iron Lady. Open from mid December to early January, from 11AM to 8PM everyday. The entrance is free, and skate rental is €6.00 per person.
As for indoor ice skating rinks, there is one that needs to be mentioned as it is truly magical: Le Grand Palais des Glaces is the biggest indoor ice skating rink in France, which is installed every two years inside the Grand Palais (2016, 2018, 2020…). And if you think the beautiful glass roof is a sight to see, wait until you see the ice skating rink turn into a real nightclub after 10PM every night. Open from mid December to early January, until 2AM everyday.
6. Ferris Wheel – La Grande Roue de Paris
Every year, during the winter months, the Paris Ferris Wheel (La Grande Roue de Paris) makes both parents and children happy for many reasons. Of course, it’s a Ferris Wheel, so the kid automatically like the ride. But knowing that it is located on the Place de la Concorde, at the very bottom of the Champs-Elysées Avenue) makes it even more attractive. For the locals, it has even become some sort of a landmark in Paris. From above (60m / 200ft), you will have a unique bird’s eye view of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Arc de Triomphe.
New Year’s Eve night time activities with kids
As much as Christmas is all about spending time with the family, the tradition for New Year’s Eve in France is to spend it with friends. On the night of December 31st, for the “Saint Sylvestre” as the French call it, friends gather at home, in a restaurant or for a cultural activity that they will all enjoy. If you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve like the locals, here are some suggestions that will delight both you and your children.
1. Restaurant suggestions for a memorable dinner
On this exceptional night, the finest restaurants in Paris offer special menus to finish the year on a high note. You can go with all your family or choose to spend a romantic dinner with your beloved, letting Family Twist organize you a private and certified English-speaking babysitter for your children.
58 Tour Eiffel is a restaurant located on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. For New Year’s Eve, the chef welcomes you with his gourmet menu of sophisticated cuisine and champagne. You will adore the magical and sparkling atmosphere of one of the most beautiful views in Paris.
***NOTE: 58 Tour Eiffel is closed for renovation until Spring 2020, so you can ring in the New Year there starting with 2021!
Or maybe you would prefer a special New Year’s Eve dinner sailing down the Seine? Les Bateaux Parisiens offer you a wonderful dinner cruise with a delicious gourmet menu and a live orchestra, all the while seeing some of the most iconic sites in Paris through the big windows: Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and all the lit-up bridges.
What about a “Menu in Seven Acts” at the Opéra Garnier? The famous opera offers a magical dinner in a venue that combines daring modern adjustments to beautiful 19th century architecture. This authentic and contemporary cuisine with local gourmet French products and original creations will make you relish every last moment of the finishing year, with music right up until midnight of course. For a full experience, you can also see the last performance of the year before the New Year’s Eve dinner.
For more suggestions on where to go with your children on New Year’s Eve, contact us and let us know what your preferences would be!
2. Theater and shows
We mentioned the Opera performance in the chapter above, but that is not the only performance taking place on December 31st. A lot of locals actually spend the first part of their New Year’s Eve in theaters, operas or comedy shows.
Of course, the vast majority of these performances are in French, but here are some child-friendly shows where not knowing the language won’t stop you and your children from having a good time:
Les Follies Gruss is one of the most famous circus in Paris. They have many shows that you can choose from, and you can get up close and personal at some of them! This will definitely be a fun night out with your family.
Le Chapeau Magique (The Magic Hat) is a magic show in Paris. The magician will speak in French, but you won’t need to understand everything in order to enjoy all the magic tricks. The show starts at 5PM on December 31st 2016. Perfect for kids from 3 to 13 years old. There are other magic shows at L’Antre Magique for children (from tiny toddlers to demanding teenagers).
Although this is not a night show, the horse show of the Republican Guard is something that should not be missed if your children like horses. The show starts at 11AM every Saturday, and since December 31st is on a Saturday in 2016, it’s one of the best shows to attend to with your children this year on New Year’s Eve.
For older children (teenagers), going to a real theatrical play is very interesting. The plays are in French, but thanks to the help of Theatre in Paris and their subtitle technology, these wonderful plays are not accessible to all English speakers. It’s the best way to dive into Paris’ cultural treasures, and understanding it all!
3. Places to go
If you don’t want to have a fancy dinner somewhere, nor have the patience to sit through a whole french performance translated in English, don’t worry! There are still many things you can do on New Year’s Eve in Paris with kids. If you don’t mind braving the cold weather, here are 4 areas where you will find a lively ambiance.
Champs Elysées: Recently, the Mayor of Paris has organized a sound and light show on the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the Champs-Elysées avenue. As mentioned previously, it’s not a fireworks show, but it’s still really worth watching, although you won’t be the only one there. We recommend you check to know if this sound and light show will be on this year or not.
Eiffel Tower: again, if you are expecting fireworks to be lit from the Eiffel Tower, you will be disappointed! But a lot of tourists and locals gather next to the Eiffel Tower and enjoy a bottle of champagne that they brought to celebrate the new year. Feel free to join the fun!
Montmartre & the Sacré Coeur: The view from the top of Montmartre Hill, right in front of the Sacré Coeur Basilica, is simply breathtaking. Here too, many locals and tourists gather to celebrate the new year with a bottle of champagne in hand.
Do you have something in mind that you want us to work on? Or do you need more recommendations or reservations? Contact us and we will turn your New Year’s Eve in Paris with your children into a memorable experience.