Ballon de Paris
Parc André Citroën, 15th Arrondissement
Head to the modern Parc André Citroën and you'll find a moored hot air balloon, which can lift 30 adults (or 60 kids) up above the skyline, offering tremendous views of Paris. This is a prime picnic spot in the summer when the kids can play in the fountains and the modern serial gardens (each is aligned with a different color) are in full bloom. Horticulturists shouldn't miss the two greenhouse pavilions, which are lined with exotic plants.
Cinéma en Plein Air à La Villette
Parc de la Villette, 211 Ave. Jean Jaurès, 19th Arrondissement
Each evening at dusk from Wednesday through the weekend, the Parc de la Villette presents an outdoor screening of a now-classic film. This summer’s selection includes Fargo, Corpse Bride, and The Seven Year Itch (all in English). It’s a popular activity, so pack a picnic and stake out a patch of grass early.
51 Rue de Bercy, 12th
Built on the collection of co-founder Henri Langlois—who, with the help of friends, managed to smuggle most of his compendium of films out of France before the German Occupation—the Cinématheque Francaise houses one of the largest movie archives in the world. Though it's had a peripatetic existence, it's now housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building. There are exhibitions along with daily screenings of classics (and a restaurant on the ground floor).
Docks en Seine
34 Quai d’Austerlitz, 13th
Home to Paris's fashion institute, this rehabbed 1907 warehouse on the Seine—marked by an undulating lime green glass roof—also plays host to exhibition spaces and a handful of boutiques (many of which sell student work). The real draw, though, is the new bar/club/rooftop restaurant called Wanderlust on the quay level. It occupies an outdoor terrace where you can catch an open-air screening or just sit in the sun. And lest we forget, new club Nüba lives on the roof.
Bois de Boulogne, 16th Arrondissement
Located on the northern edge of the Bois de Boulogne, this kids amusement park features a small farm (it was founded as a zoo), the Exploradôme museum (science), plus a full menu of other attractions, like a mini golf course, trampolines, and a house of mirrors.
Jardin des Tuileries
Place de la Concorde, 1st
Erected by Catherine de Medici in 1564 as part of the Tuileries Palace, this public garden has a textured past (it was the hunting grounds of Louix XIII). Now, it's an excellent place to take a long-ish walk, alongside sculptures from Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, and even Roy Lichtenstein. It's also home to the Jeu de Paume and its collection of contemporary art, along with the Musée de l’Orangerie, which famously houses Monet's Water Lillies.
Jardin Du Luxembourg
15 Rue de Vaugirard, 6th
Sure, this is home to some serious business (the French Senate occupies the adjacent Luxembourg Palace and the formal gardens are some of the city's prettiest), but this giant park really shines when it comes to occupying little kids. Children can expend copious amounts of energy here, whether it's by sailing model boats in the fountains, watching shows at the puppet theatre, riding donkeys on the vintage carousel, or working the jungle gym at the large enclosed playground.
La Cité des Sciences
30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, 19th
A planetarium, an aquarium, a submarine, an IMAX theatre? Check and check. The museum covers everything from microbiology to outer space, and kids ages 3-12 and 12-15 each get their own ‘Cité’ where learning is interactive. Plan to spend the whole day here, as it's huge (and fascinating), but avoid the weekends which get annoyingly crowded.
La Maison des Contes et des Histoires
7 Rue Pecquay, 4th
Tucked away in the Marais, this little art gallery is dedicated to illustrations (both antique and contemporary) along with storytelling for babies and kids up to 13. The exhibitions change every three months, and they pepper the offerings with workshops and outings.
La Pagode (Closed)
57 Bis Rue de Babylone, 7th
Designed by architect Alexandre Marcel in 1896, La Pagode was a gift from François-Emile Morin, the then-director of Le Bon Marché to his wife (she left him for his business partner shortly thereafter). Originally commissioned as a ballroom, its opulent (and stunning) interior—and flanking bamboo gardens—were transformed into a cinema in the '30s. When it was slated for demolition in the '70s, director Louis Malle stepped in: Now, you can see art house films here in what has to be one of the more original cinemas in the world.
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