The Left Bank is popular with Parisian families any time of year with interesting museums and plenty of parks and squares, and the 5th Arr can be particularly useful for wet days when indoor pursuits are called for.
Start the day with strong coffee and oven fresh pastries from one of the local cafes before heading for the magnificent GALERIES D’ANATOMIE COMPARÉE ET DE PALÉONTOLOGIE. After an hour or so of animal anatomy visit the MUSÉE NATIONAL D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE for an insight into the wonders of the natural world. Leave the museums behind and hunt out STRADA CAFE for some much needed snacks of hot chocolate, good coffee and delicious cake then take a stroll to find the marvellous LE BONBONS AU PALAIS, a charming boutique bursting with confectionary delights, to stock up on sweet treats for later. Umbrellas up, walk a little to relax over lunch at MARGHERITA with some tasty Italian bites then move on to end the afternoon at SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY browsing the eclectic array of books.
This itinerary also works brilliantly on warm, dry days. Swap raincoats for shorts and add play in the JARDIN DES PLANTES, the expansive park housing both the museums, and a picnic with supplies bought from nearby MARCHE MONGE for a perfect and fun filled day.
MUSEE NATIONAL D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE / LA GALERIE DES ENFANTS
Top class Taxidermy. Exhibits, big and small, displayed in a creative and engaging manner designed to bring the natural world to life. A grand animal parade snaking across the floor, stunning cases of butterflies, parrots and all sorts of small insects and animals – all presented to capture imagination and young enquiring minds. We love the use of graphics, lighting and clever touches to create atmospheric sections engaging visitors. Look out for the giraffe peering over the balcony at his fellow beasts below.
The museum is incredibly family friendly and 6-12 year olds should head to the bi-lingual La Galerie Des Enfants for dedicated discovery about world environments, wildlife and biodiversity via touch screens, hands on exhibits and games. Extra tickets are necessary so book online or at entering the museum and respect the time slot given as it can quickly become crowded on certain days during peak season. The shop has some interesting items for all ages so stop by before leaving.
36 RUE GEOFFROY-ST-HILAIRE 75005| www.mnhn.fr
GALERIE DES ENFANTS| www.galeriedesenfants.fr
Photos : URBANITO
LES GALERIES D’ANATOMIE COMPARÉE ET DE PALÉONTOLOGIE
Once you have exhausted the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution move on to see what lies beneath all the fur, feathers, scales and skin by stepping into the exquisite building which is home to incredible displays of skeletons from hundreds of animal species. Glass cabinets and cases display skeletons of all size, shape and form, including sizeable dinosaurs, fossils and other extinct species. It is fascinating to wander among the bones and examine the weird and wonderful contents in the glass jars, reminiscent of an anatomical laboratory. This will either thrill or horrify youngsters depending how gory or squeamish they are. A great add on to a visit to the Galerie de l’Evolution and most highly recommended. The kids, particularly mini palaeontologists or budding pathologists, should love it as it's a unique and enthralling delight.
JARDIN DES PLANTES, 2 RUE BUFFON, PLACE VALHUBERT 75005 | www.mnhn.fr
Photos : URBANITO
A vibrant corner café providing excellent refreshments to freelancers and the students from the nearby Sorbonne. Helpful friendly staff serve up delicious patisserie at snack time or hunker down for heartier delights at breakfast and lunch. Sandwiches, tarts and salads are the main players, simple yet tasty. Perfectly located a short stroll from the Natural History Museum it’s also ideal to grab a few goodies to enjoy in the charming little play park a few steps away if the weather is fine. We strongly recommend the almond tarts washed down with a warming hot chocolate, coffee or fresh juice.
A 2nd site is located at 94 Rue Du Temple 75003
24 RUE MONGE 75005| www.stradacafe.fr
LE BONBONS AU PALAIS
This wonderful Willy Wonka style sweet shop is an absolute must for sweet toothed children. The owner is focused on providing only the best products and experience, with a welcoming ambience waiting to greet you from the knowledgeable staff ready to offer guidance and expertise in English if required. Tables are laden with tempting over size glass jars stuffed full of artisan confectionery of every flavour, type and colour whilst shelves are stacked with goodies to make any child giddy and their mouth water. Beautifully designed to create a perfect balance between traditional and modern sweets and tastes, we defy you to leave without bulging bags for all the family. Packaged carefully these also make worthy going home gifts. If the sweets don't provide enough of a sugar rush check out their cute cookie store next door. We like to head here between a visit to the Natural History Museum and nearby Luxembourg Gardens for a post play energy boost. A very Parisian and very charming candy heaven.
19 RUE MONGE 75005 | www.bonbonsaupalais.fr
Photos : LE BONBON AU PALAIS
Margherita is a multi level Italian trattoria with a menu and ambiance ideal for family meals due to the spacious interior spaces, casual manner and classic Italian eats. The backdrop is rustic industrial - exposed plaster and brick walls, steel detailing and unvarnished wood flooring with retro furniture - hosting a bar and relaxed dining on the ground floor, a dining room on the first floor and a family dining room on the second floor, complete with play space. The menu includes burgers etc but we recommend you stop here for the consistently reliable pasta and pizza. Alternatively pause for an aperitif enjoyed from the cocktail list with one of the delicious platters as an accompaniment - the young ones can make use of the pinball machine and table football whilst you sit back and relax.
17 RUE DE L’ANCIENNE COMÉDIE 75006| no official website
SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY
This bookshop is a respected Parisian institution. The first English bookshop in Paris, it is immensely popular and a great resource for English language books of all kinds, including children’s. The old fashioned facade leads into a bohemian librairie, utterly charming and engrossing if a tad chaotic, but that’s all part of the appeal. Kids can snake their way to the back of the shop where they can pursue the selection in the delightful children’s section. Creative types can follow the creaky wooden floors to climb the spiral staircase up to the cosy nook to enjoy some poetry. With a rich literacy heritage the shop is a hub for writers and poets who gather for workshops and events organised by the store, adding to the store’s allure. The events include English readings for children so check out the listings online as this is a good place to take a break if raining and the family will enjoy browsing and buying books. Set the kids down to a reading and relax into one of the cosy armchairs to read a book uninterrupted.
The cafe is a welcome addition and proving popular with those looking for a quiet place to enjoy a drink and snack. The food on offer is predominately healthy, vegetarian and organic. Sitting at the outside tables in this pocket of St Germain feels authentically Parisian and is a soothing way to pass some time. If the weather is not so forgiving take a seat inside but on those warm summer afternoons, stock up on some books then park the family here to flip through them over coffee and cake or even full Brit style afternoon tea.
26 RUE DE LA BÛCHERIE 75005| www.shakespeareandcompany.com
Photos : SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY