Centre Pompidou: Europe's largest modern art museum is very kid-friendly!
Paris is well-known as a world class city of art and culture. Some of the most famous museums are located here, making it an art-lover's paradise. Priceless paintings, sculptures, and artifacts can be found in large and small museums located on what seems like every corner of the city. But if you're thinking that all these museums are essentially off-limits to families with young children, think again! Most museums are particularly welcoming to children, offering reduced entrance fees or even free entry. Most also offer special children's programs that are both educational and entertaining, and geared to the interests of different age groups. Oh yeah, and with the exception of special workshops, kids under 18 are FREE.
The Centre Georges-Pompidou is no exception. This museum is particularly well-suited to families, with activities to entertain all age groups, from toddlers to teens. It is located in a pedestrian area of the city near the Marais district, with a large square out front and a fountain with fun, whimsical sculptures off to one side of the building. In the warmer months, children are delighted with the fountain, and the pedestrian area around the museum makes it relatively safe for kids to run around (with supervision, of course.)
Modern architecture that kids love
The building itself is fun to look at and captures the imagination of children and adults alike. My five year old couldn't wait to get inside, just based on how fun it looked from the outside! Built in a contemporary style, it is unique in that it has much of what is typically inside a building on the outside, like the escalators and much of the piping. Bright and colourful, it's a fantastic contrast to the older buildings around it.
Head to the top for a panoramic view of Paris
Kids love riding the escalators on the outside of the museum all the way to the top, where the center offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Paris. We visited on a rainy day, but the view is stunning no matter what the weather. All the major monuments are visible from the rooftop terrace, including the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, the Invalides, and more. If you're only interested in the view and not the museum exhibits, a ticket to the top is 3 Euros at the time of writing. In nice weather, the rooftop restaurant also offers service outside on the terrace overlooking the city.
Exhibits and children's activities
The Centre Pompidou is Europe's largest modern art museum, and offers rotating exhibits, films and special events, and workshops for kids and teens. Some activities must be booked in advance, but others work on a drop-in basis, with first come-first served service. Note: Although regular museum access is free for children, there is a fee associated with special workshops and ateliers. The website has more information. There are activities specifically geared toward children aged two through the teen years. What the museum offers for children (all info from the website):
Galerie des Enfants: This is an exhibit space geared to children, exposing them to the work of different artists in an age appropriate manner. Ages 2 and up.
Atelier des Enfants: A space that offers workshops for children aged 3-5 (with parent or guardian) and 6-10 (unaccompanied). Professional artists, storytellers, actors, and writers run the workshops, introducing children to the arts in a hands-on manner. Many of these workshops require advance booking.
Impromptus: Paris' museums are free to the public the first Sunday of every month, and the Centre Pompidou opens the Atelier des Enfants to children and families free of charge, with free-play and themed activities available. This is what we took our kids to this month, and they had a great time checking out the exhibits and participating in the activities.
Studio 13/16: This is a space specifically for teens aged 13-16 years. It incorporates the world of modern art in a way that engages teens and the issues that are important to them. Street artists, musicians, filmmakers and other artists lead workshops and introduce teens to various exhibits in the museum. They also have evening activities available in a safe environment.
For adults (and kids too!) there are some 70 000 works on display from some of the world's most famous contemporary artists. Not just paintings, there are multimedia displays, sculptures, installations, and other objets d'art. We spent over two hours there, and we only visited the children's area and the rooftop terrace.
Gluten Free in and around the museum
There are two places to purchase food inside the museum, including the rooftop restaurant and a cafe to the right of the main entrance. There are no specially marked gluten free items in either location, although some food options are naturally gluten free. The rooftop restaurant, Restaurant Georges, is rather fancy and expensive, better suited to a romantic evening out than a quick lunch with the kids.
We opted to bring our own snacks and enjoyed them in the main entry hall. I've found that most museum restaurants and cafes are quite expensive, and unless I'm planning on having a meal with my husband, the extra price is wasted on my kids who don't care if their hot chocolate is made from the finest chocolate in the world.
There are many eateries in the immediate vicinity of the Centre Pompidou, with varying price points depending on the proximity to and the view of the museum itself. We often opt for a smoothie or a hot chocolate to tie the kids over, but for heartier fare, the Creperie Beaubourg (not to be confused with the Cafe Beaubourg) offers galettes de sarrasin, or buckwheat crepes, which are naturally gluten free. They also offer crepes, which are made with regular flour, so be aware of the difference when ordering. Be sure to speak with the server and ensure that the batter isn't mixed with any regular flour, and request that your galette be made in a clean pan. They also have a variety of other menu items, but be sure and check with the server before ordering.
Centre Pompidou, Place Georges Pompidou, 75004, Paris
- Metro: Lines 1, 4, 7, 11, and 14. RER: A,B,D, Bus: 29,38,47,75
- Open every day except Tuesday from 11am-10pm.
- Price: Full price 13 Euros, Children under 18 Free. Prices for workshops (including children's workshops), shows, and special exhibits/events vary. See website for details.
*All information was correct at the time of writing, but things change! Please consult the museum website for up-to-date information, and leave a comment below if you find any of the info on this page incorrect or out of date. Thanks!