Sally Gascoigne shares 7 top tips for making Paris fun for even the most disinterested of teenagers
Paris can be problematic for families with teenagers. You’ll want to immerse yourself in the city’s stunning architecture and artistic masterpieces but, let’s face it, there’s only so much art history a jaded teenager can take.
Fear not: with a little creative thinking, you can put a new spin on the City of Lights that will tick all your boxes and make for a memorable trip for the teens in your family too.
Liven up a tour of the Louvre for you and your family with a Treasure Hunt of the Louvre’s most famous (and hidden) gems.
Huntzz is available for free on iTunes and contains downloadable treasure hunts for the world’s most famous museums and monuments, including the Louvre. The app is then usable offline as you roam the Louvre’s halls. The hunt takes you to the main sights, but may introduce you to some new treasures too. Alternatively, ThatLou is a Paris-based company offering group treasure hunts in the Louvre, starting from €20 per person for up to five people.
Even if your teen is left cold by the Mona Lisa, they'll love the colourful, controversial and irreverent graffiti that adorns the streets of Paris – perfect fodder for their Instagram.
Although heaving with tourists, Montmartre is a fantastic spot to start your search. Immediately behind you as you come out of the metro Abbesses is the famous 'Love Wall', where the word Love is written in over 100 languages. Climb up to Sacré Coeur through the gardens to see various street performers in front and around the iconic church, then dive back into the streets of Montmartre where you'll find the work of some of the up and coming graffiti artists, like Fred le Chevalier.
Every teenager has a morbid fascination with skeletons, so why not indulge it with a visit to the Catacombs, where it feels like Halloween every day of the year.
Set in the 14th arrondissement, it’s a vast warren of skulls, bones and remains, moved here in the 13th century to fill abandoned tunnels with remains from overflowing cemeteries. Get there very early to avoid a two-hour queue.
Iconic though it is, a trip up the Eiffel Tower means a minimum of an hour’s wait to climb up in a very claustrophobic throng, only to look for Paris’s most iconic monument on the skyline and remember you’re on top of it. Instead, take your teens for a stroll along the famous Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, where they can enjoy an incredible panoramic view and take the perfect selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
During the summer months, Paris Plage takes over the stretch of river between Hôtel de Ville and Châtelet, with plenty of deck chairs available to soak up a bit of sun and wave to the boats along the river. Paris’s parks offer another fantastic opportunity to see locals enjoying their city. Parc Montouris is particularly impressive, and full of runners, yoga groups and ponies in the warmer months.
Forget EuroDisney. Chances are your teens are way past Mickey and his mates anyway. Try a day trip to Parc Astérix instead. Dedicated to France’s best-loved Gaul, it is smaller and more manageable than its Disney rival, but with blockbuster rides your teens will love.
Good gelato is guaranteed to raise any teen (and adult’s) mood. From Notre Dame, take a stroll through the flower market of Rue Elizabeth II – home to a pet market on weekends – and cross over to Ile Saint Louis, Ile de la Cité’s oft overlooked neighbour. Here you will find Paris’ favourite ice cream parlour, Berthillon, where you can either sit inside for a delicious crêpe or take a cone for a walk. We recommend the raspberry rose sorbet and the salted caramel, best enjoyed sitting on the tip of Ile Saint Louis, watching the river traffic float by.
NB: All 'Monuments et Musées Nationaux' (National Museums and Monuments) are free for under all 18s, and under 26s from the EU. You can find a useful list of free museums and dates when museums offer discounted entry here.
Sally Gascoigne works for a study abroad company, organising cultural activities for American university students across Europe. She is passionate about international education and loves discovering the hidden secrets of Europe's most beautiful cities. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter via @gascoigneontour, as well as her blog.
Main image: Teenage girl taking selfie in Paris (Shutterstock)