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France: Paris, Family Vacation Green Spots in the City. The “City of Love” is also the city of green. Parisians love their parks and gardens and it shows. Everyone enjoys shade trees, lively fountains, and awesome gardens along with playgrounds, carrousel rides, puppet shows, and ice cream.Jardin de Tuleries in Paris by David LeFranc
If you are planning a family vacation in Paris make time for a park outing or two. In addition to game spaces, playgrounds and pony rides, I love the carrousels, and my favorite thing to share - puppet shows. Paris is enjoyable with children any time of year but the added activity during the summer months includes small fun fairs, mimes, jugglers, and buskers.
Ile St Louis – Go for the ice cream. There are two islands in the River Seine one,  Ile de la Cite, made famous by Disney’s cartoon featuring the hunchback of Notre Dame and the other St Louis often overlooked. Ile St Louis is small, walkable, and more importantly the home of the Berthillon ice cream, perhaps the best in France. (Ile St Louis 75001, Paris and Glacier Berthillon 29-31 rue Saint Louis en l'ile 75004, Paris. 01 43 54 31 61 or

Jardin Des Tuleries & Jardin de Carrousel – In the backyard of the Lourve. This central-most park stretches from the Louvre to the Place de Concorde, and bordered by the Seine. It is offers fountains, and sculpture, cafes and meeting places, formal gardens and garden benches. During July and August a family fun fair populates the park. (Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris. 01 40 20 90 43)Bois de Boulogne by Amelie Dupont
Jardin du Luxembourg – Go for the guignols. Here you will find laughter in the air as a result of the antics of Les Marionettes du Théâtre du Luxembourg and classic guignols - marionette shows. Young children and those young of heart are thrilled by the antics of Henri Cartier-Bresson and François Truffaut ( The park also has a merry-go-round, swings, and pony rides plus the bandstand hosts free concerts on summer afternoons. (6e Arrondissement, 75006 Paris.  01 40 46 08 88)

Jardin des Plantes – The main botanical garden in France. Located along the Left Bank of the River Seine this awesome green space frames the Natural History Museum. There's also a small zoo which once housed the royal menagerie and now contains some small animals in simulated natural habitats. Bonus points: The labyrinth makes exploring the gardens especially fun for kids because at the center of the labyrinth a magical gazebo – some imagination required. Here’s the deal: Admission to the gardens is free, but there is an admission fee for the museum.  (Place Valhubert, 5th arrondissement 5 Rue Linné, 75005 Paris. 01 47 07 06 20
Parc du Champ de Mars – Play in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  Running southeast from the Eiffel Tower, the grassy Field of Mars (named after the Roman god of war) was originally used as a parade ground for the cadets of the 18th-century. Today it is alive with young families making use of the playgrounds which offer climbing webs, sandboxes, and swings plus a toddler-only section. There's also has a delightful puppet theater, basketball courts, large swaths of green to play soccer or Frisbee, and a little wooded areas for kids to explore. Bonus points:  Look for the old-fashioned hand-cranked carousel. Wait for it! Check out the Mur Pour La Paix a glass peace wall that was built in 2000 with the word for peace in 32 languages. It is at the far end of the Champs de Mars. (2 Allée Adrienne Lecouvreur  75007 Paris. 01 42 76 40 40)La Geode at Parc de Villette in Paris by Jaques Leber
Parc de la Villette – Science, music, and gardens. This 136-acre park has futuristic gardens, a science museum, music complex, a spherical theater, Omnimax cinema – La Geode, whimsical playgrounds and acres of green space. During summer months there’s also a free outdoor cinema. Bonus points: In the winter months, check out Espace Chapiteaux, performing superb acrobatics under a circus tent. (211 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris.  01 40 03 75 75 or

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – Best green space ever. The Rococo style of gardening creates the park’s image. Set on a hilltop the 61-acre park is populated with artificial waterfalls, grottoes, picturesque bridges, a lake with swans, acres of grass, and delightful gardens. It is perhaps the most culturally vibrant park in the city offering many publicly funded concerts, puppet shows and other events for residents as well as tourists. (Entrances on Rue Botzaris Rue Martin, Buttes-Chaumont)

Make it happen. If you need help planning activities for your family while in Paris I suggest working with Elizabeth Southgate an exceptional guide who specializes in making Paris enjoyable for children of all ages – parents too. Her website tells the story -

Content by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Editor FTF. Images courtesy Jaques Leber for Park de Villette, Amelie Dupont for Bois de Boulogne and David LeFranc for Jardin des Tulleries Boats. Copyright 2013. 

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