Zoos, fountains, gardens, galleries and museums... the French capital is brimful of family fun, and you are never far from hot chocolate comfort and delicious pâtisserie
Mandarin Oriental, Paris's children's slipper's and bathrobe
'Paris is always a good idea,' or so said Audrey Hepburn in the film Sabrina. And it isn't just for lovers, as the old adage goes; it's fabulously family-friendly, too. But, unlike those younger, headier days when late night parties in underground, smoky bars were the norm when visiting the City of Light, it's just as fabulous with little travellers, too. Mandarin Oriental, Paris - located as it is on Rue Saint-Honoré, just a moment from the Louvre - is, of course, a wonderful option for families.
The Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, part of the Natural History Museum in the grounds of Jardin des Plantes
At check in, children receive a gift and the room is prepped with all the amenities they could possibly need, from mini robes to bathroom essentials (a big hit particularly with little girls). For guaranteed breathing space, plump for one of the interconnecting suites: you have plenty of privacy and the children have their own room. Breakfast can be enjoyed at Camelia, a contemporary restaurant space serving up gloriously traditional French cuisine with a twist from culinary director Thierry Marx, who is also responsible for the hotel's gastronomic two Michelin-starred grown-up sibling Sur Mesure Par Thierry Marx. Described as 'avant-garde gourmet', it's well worth booking a babysitter for. Think oyster risotto with chanterelle mushrooms followed by pigeon and finished off with frozen sake and Corsican crystallised fruit. The restaurant has an excellent reputation among Parisians, too, so book well in advance.
A traditional ride in the Jardin d'Acclimatation
Outside of these gilded, gorgeous four hotel walls, however, Paris has a huge amount to offer families. Synonymous with world-famous art and some of the finest galleries, these needn't be missed with children. The Centre Pompidou, Paris's modern art museum, comes highly rated and offers special workshops for young visitors, while the Louvre's collection of mummies in the Egyptology section is a particular pull. In the square behind the Centre Pompidou is the Stravinsky Fountain with bright bold sculptures. Adults can marvel at the designs based on composer Igor Stravinsky's works; toddlers love the quirky shapes and surrounding water features.
Ice-cream sundaes at Angelina
If your little ones need a swathe of green space to run around in there are endless options. Paris's largest park is the Bois de Vincennes where you'll find boating lakes, a baseball field and even a small farm. The Jardin de Luxembourg also features charming children's delights such as puppet shows and ice-cream stands, pony rides and sandpits. The Jardin des Plantes on the left bank of the Seine in the fifth arrondissement is a wonderful botanical garden, its Ménagerie a treasure for toddlers. Aside from the monkey house, the small zoo houses flamingos, kangaroos and red pandas. Another gem for all ages is the Jardin d'Acclimatation with its carousels, crêpe, farm animals, puppet theatre and playground. Even getting there is an adventure: take the Petit Train (complete with buggy trailer) from Porte Maillot Mitro into the garden itself. And, with the famed Seine intersecting this glorious city, it would be a shame to miss a river cruise (weather permitting). If you can bear it, the hop-on hop-off buses are an easy way to get around, without wearing out the kids.
The French observe the sacred L'heure du Goûter (snack time), when it's perfectly acceptable for both the young and young at heart to indulge in a mid-afternoon treat. Should you need a recommendation for tea and cakes (the sort one could find only in a city such as Paris), it's hard to write about the French capital without mentioning the Angelina tearoom on the Rue de Rivoli. The establishment is defined by the finest cakes and pastries (try the hot chocolate, their ultra rich Chocolat Chaud l'Ancienne). Back at Mandarin Oriental, Paris, the Cake Shop's creamy puff pastry confection Le Saint-Honori is also not to be missed. So indulge with abandon - and work off those calories in The Spa's lap pool.