Europe is one of the true meccas of art history and France is no exception. The only problem is most parents think art museums aren’t made for kids. There are a few notable institutions that are trying to change that perception by offering kid classes and great tours that can keep even the youngest entertained. Although more than five museums are doing wonderful things with families, these are a few of our favorite art museums in France with kids.
There is nothing more impressive than exploring the Centre Pompidou-Metz with kids. The minute your children see this new building in the city of Metz in eastern France their jaws might just drop. The wood structure with a translucent "skin" covering it is quite the sight to behold and has been widely admired in the architectural community since it opened. The exhibits change often, as new collections are brought in and different artists are highlighted. Family classes and teen workshops help bring the exhibits to life in a hands-on way for kids who crave to learn more and dive a little deeper into the art world.
The Louvre with kids is one of those adventures that many parents just aren’t sure they want to take on, but feel compelled to do since it is, well, the Louvre. This French museum holds one of the most impressive art collections in the world. The problem is, the Louvre is huge. It would take days, months, even years, to see the collection in its entirety. If you don’t have that kind of time, and you just want to see the highlights, it is better to take a tour with your kids than try to navigate the museum on your own. Tour companies, like Fat Tire Paris, hire English speaking guides who partner with a museum guide to cut through the long lines and see the top ten pieces in the collection. These guides keep the group together, but also keep it moving so you can see as much as possible in one morning. You are then free to explore on your own if there is a piece or two that you want to add on before the kids melt down for lunch.
The Musée d’Orsay with kids works for three main reasons. The first is that the museum is built in an old train station. That alone will get your more reluctant younger children in the door. Parents will love that this museum is much smaller and much more manageable than the Louvre. One parent can park themselves with a sleeping baby or tired kids, while the other wanders around the collection. Last but not least, in the back of the Musée d’Orsay, you will find a series of Paris streets built into the floor. This is the perfect spot for kids with too much energy. They can walk along the streets and avenues around the Paris Opera house, while their parents check out the scale model of the opera house interior. It’s a win for the whole family, and you can do the entire museum (very quickly) in a morning.
Palace of Versailles
Yes, this is a former royal residence, but monarchs across the globe have been collecting art from great masters for centuries and have had their portraits painted by only the best artists of their time. Cruise through the chateau before you let your kids run around the grounds. The balance of inside exploration and outdoor fun will keep your kids happy. The train ride out to Versailles is perfect for train-loving toddlers, and older kids will be able to appreciate the sumptuous beauty that Marie Antoinette got to lounge in. If you want something truly unique, book a Versailles Bike Tour with Fat Tire Paris. You will get to shop in the local market, cruise around the grounds (they have bike seats, tandems and trailers for little ones), and enjoy a picnic by the water.
Musée Historique Lorrain (Nancy, Alsace-Lorraine)
This former palace of the Duke of Lorraine is a haven for families in the area who want to expose their children to the art world, but need a little help. The collection covers local art from prehistoric times to the present. Activity books are available for children to help them understand the new exhibits. Museum tour guides are also able to bring groups of children through the museum in a playful way that engages their senses. Young artist workshops are also available, which introduces children to the museum and guest artists with exhibitions at the museum.
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