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Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Family Friendly 12th Arondissement

The 12th Arrondissement offers families plenty to see, do and eat

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Length: 2.5 miles / 4.0 km
 
Overview: Next time you head to Paris, think about staying outside of the main tourist district. The 12th Arrondissement is a charming neighborhood with plenty to do and see--and it's family friendly to boot. Take the Metro on a 10-minute ride to see most famous city sites and then come back to the 12th to enjoy good food, a fun atmosphere and a lot of local sites and pleasures.

While you're here, check out the aquarium in the Palais de la Porte Doree, the Bois de Vincennes, the Chateau de Vincennes and the Parc Floral. You can walk your heart out or take the local buses to get around.


Tips: Comfortable walking shoes are a must. You'll often travel a lot farther than you think you will in the parks. Come summer, bug repellent is also helpful.

Strollers are helpful, but you may want to leave them behind if you are only going out for a meal. Many of the local cafes are fantastic but too small for you to bring your stroller inside.

Public toilets in Paris are always hit and miss. Don't expect to see a toilet seat and it's always best to bring some of your own tissue just in case.

Points of Interest

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Hotel de la Porte Doree

Despite not being a tourist zone, the 12th Arrondissement has a lot of great family-friendly hotels. Don't let the star ratings fool you online. A two-star hotel here is pretty luxurious. One of my favorites is the Hotel de la Porte Doree, a fantastic property with large rooms and a kid-friendly attitude. It's the perfect place to stay to get a good feel for the neighborhood.
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273 Avenue Daumesnil
+33 (0)1 43 07 56 97
E-mail: hotel-porte-doree@wanadoo.fr
Other Resources
Hotel De La Porte Doree
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Porte Doree Metro Station

Catch the Metro here to all major Paris attractions. You also can take the train to a few lesser-known destinations like Bercy Village, an up-and-coming neighborhood full of great shops, old wine cellars, great restaurants and a huge cinema complex that shows films in their original language.
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Bus Stop (Bus #46)

If you don't feel like taking the long (yet gorgeous) walk toward the Chateau de Vincennes and Parc Floral, you can catch the #46 bus here. The last two stops are the chateau and the Parc Floral.
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Chez Veronique

Looking for a great lunch spot? Check out Verre O Cafe (aka Chez Veronique). Only open for lunch, it's a favorite for locals. The menu changes daily. You can find it scrawled on the blackboard that also happens to be the toilet door.
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Address: 270 ave Daumesnil
Phone: 06 27 37 83 37
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Palais de la Porte Doree

You can always check out the Museum of Immigration housed here in the Palais (built in 1931 for the Paris Colonial Exposition) but the draw for kids is the aquarium housed in its basement. On rainy days, this is the perfect spot to check out alligators, turtles, tropical fish and some very groovy jellyfish.
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Address: 293 Avenue Daumesnil
Phone: 01 53 59 58 60
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Hours: Closed Monday, Tuesday through Friday 10:00 am - 5:15pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am - 7:00pm
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Admission: Adult €6.50, Family €8, School €2 (during exposure), Adult €4.50, Family €6, School €1.50
Other Resources
Aquarium Porte Doree
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Boulangerie

Want to get some fresh baked bread or pastries? Or maybe a few to-go sandwiches for a picnic in the park? This is the place to do it. But be careful--the bread is so good at Boulangerie that lines form on the weekends.
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Address: 278 Avenue Daumesnil
Phone: 01 43 47 21 66
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Hours: Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open 7am - 8pm
Other Resources
Boulangerie
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Bois des Vincennes

Originally Napoleon's personal hunting ground, the Bois de Vincennes is now a large public park--think three times the size of New York's Central Park. Though the grounds are huge, it's worth exploring. You can have a picnic during the day, play on one of the many playgrounds or take out a boat on one of the four lakes.
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Playground

If you need your quickest playground fix (perhaps after an hour indoors at the Palais Porte de la Doree's aquarium), just walk across the street to the Bois de Vincennes and head to this area. There are two small play areas and plenty of benches for you to sit and read while the kids get their play on.
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Parc Zoologique de Paris

Also known as the Vincennes Zoo, this zoological park houses more than 1,400 animals.
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Address: 53 Avenue Saint-Maurice
Phone: 01 40 79 56 01
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Hours: Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm
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Admission: Free
Other Resources
Parc Zoo
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Chateau de Vincennes

This hunting lodge of Louis VII (the first building on this site dates back to the 1100s) grew over the centuries into a royal fortress. Though only a few of the original structures remain, it's definitely worth a look-see. Take your little chevaliers (knights) to see how the French royals lived in a setting a little less ostentatious than Versailles.
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Address: Avenue de Paris, 94300 Vincennes
Phone: 33 / (0)1.48.08.31.20
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Hours: September - April 10am - 5pm, May - August 10 am - 6pm
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Admission: €7.50, free under 18
Other Resources
Chateau de Vincennes
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Parc Floral

Parc Floral is an exhibition ground--and technically part of the Bois de Vincennes. But it has its own charm. Take your time and check out various floral displays and expos throughout the park.
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Parc Floral Cafe

A spot where you can grab a bite if you didn't bring your own picnic.

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Address: Esplanade du château de Vincennes Route de la Pyramide, 75012 PARIS
Phone: 01 49 57 15 15
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Restrooms

They are few and far between in this park (though European parents don't blink if you let your kids take a whiz in the bushes).
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Giant Slide

The Parc Floral has a fantastic play area; it's a favorite for locals. This slide mountain has several slides and heights that give the kid set a great view.
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Playground

The Parc Floral's play area has two large play structures as well as climbing ropes, a zip line (not always available) and a ball pit.
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Parc Floral Theatre

The park's concerts and events are held here. Check the website for the schedule.

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Address: located in Parc Floral de Paris - Bois de Vincennes (at the entrance to the playground for children)
Phone: 01 43 71 31 10
Other Resources
Parc Floral Theatre
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Bus Stop (Bus #46)

To return to the Porte de la Doree (hotel or Metro stop), wait here for the bus. It comes about every 15 minutes.
Pictures in this guide taken by: travelsavvykayt

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