Paris is a great place to bring the family. Normally reserved Parisians go gaga over babies and small children; older children find dusty history coming alive. The trick is to pack in as much of Paris as you can without leaving all of you cranky. Start by booking into a hotel on the Left Bank, particularly around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, because so many attractions are within walking distance or easily reached by public transportation. Many hotels in the neighborhood like the Hotel Left Bank Saint Germain have rooms that can accommodate famllies and offer babysitting or child services.
Start your kids' day with a hot chocolate and a croissant or pain au chocolat in a nearby café unless a petit déjeuner is included with your room. It's likely to be cheaper and certainly more fun. If OJ is important, order an orange pressé, pricey but oh-la-la delicious and nutritious.
Take the RER suburban train one stop from St. Michel to Gare d'Austerlitz (train station) and spend the morning in the Jardin des Plantes, France's botanical garden. Pick and choose activities according to your children's age, interests and endurance: garden promenades, playground, a small zoo, an 18th century maze, a merry-go-round, the Art Deco winter garden and the National Natural History Museum with galleries in evolution, mineralogy, paleontology and entomology. The evolution gallery on the ground floor has a great collection of animal skeletons. Le Baleine, a restaurant inside the park across from the zoo, has a children's menu.
Take the Metro back to St. Michel. Little ones may be in need of a nap; older children fascinated with knights will enjoy the Cluny Museum (National Museum of the Middle Ages).
Spend the afternoon at Luxembourg Garden where your children can float a boat, ride a pony or a carousel with brass ring, attend a traditional puppet show or amuse themselves in a playground (parc à jeux), which has separate activites for 7 and under and 7 and older. Most activities involve a fee. The park has food services and plenty of chairs for parents watching their children wear themselves out.
End their day (but not yours) at a neighborhood café. Just because they're kids doesn't mean they won't relish French food. Try a croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese), omelette or steak frites (fries) with a simple green salad and mousse au chocolate. Orangina or sweet cider are traditional drinks with French kids