Sometimes when you’ve had enough of the museums and refined culture of Paris, it’s nice to let loose for the day at an amusement park. There are several options in and around Paris to fit your mood.
The Big Parks Outside Paris
Disneyland Paris & Disney Studios
Marne-la-Vallée (east of Paris on the A4, exit 14)
Tel 01 60 30 60 30
Disneyland Paris (formerly known as EuroDisney) received bad press when it opened in 1992, but today the park receives more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined (and more than half of them are French). If you’re already familiar with the original Disneyland in California, this park will feel a bit smaller (no ‘ToonTown, no Matterhorn , no New Orleans Square). The rides have been moved around a bit into Main Street and four “Lands” with a focus on the modern Disney characters (like Aladdin and Pocahontas). On the plus side, Discoveryland (Tomorrowland’s French counterpart) has a slick, copper and turquoise “Jules Verne” themed décor with a vamped-up Space Mountain that even goes upside-down.
To avoid long lines, grab a free FastPass ticket which lets you jump to the front of the line at designated times. Next door, Disney Studios bears a striking resemblance to a Southern California shopping mall (it’s meant to look like a Hollywood studio). Disney Studios has a few “behind-the-scenes” attractions, one super-fast rollercoaster, an elaborate stunt show and Disney characters doing improvised “scenes” with audience participation. The biggest draw is Toy Town and Ratatouille’s little French village. You’ll want a full day at this park, so if you plan on visiting both get a two-day ticket.
The predominant use of French in the parks is more obvious at Disney Studios, but they do their best to translate everything with very artful use of Franglais. The parks are part of the Disneyland Paris Resort, with multiple theme-hotels, a golf course and the Disney Village entertainment complex with shops, restaurants, shows and cinema (open free to the public).
Generally Disneyland Paris is open daily 10am-8pm (opening 9am on weekends and staying open until 11pm on summer weekends), however each day can change, and Disney Studios has shorter hours, so check the calendar online. One-day tickets for either Disneyland or Disney Studios are €56-€87 (€51-€80 for kids 3-11, free for kids under 3). Look for regular sales for two-day passes and adults tickets at kids prices. You can get there by RER A from Châtelet-Les Halles or Gare de Lyon to Marne-la-Vallée-Chessy (approximately €16 round-trip, €8 for kids 4-10).
Looking for more advice? How to Survive Disneyland Paris
(north of Paris on the A1, between Roissy-CDG Airport and Senlis)
Tel 03 44 62 34 34
This popular amusement park is similar to its Disney competitor in style, the major differences being the theme (based on the French comic strip, Astérix & Obelisk) and the rides (Parc Astérix has a seven-loop rollercoaster and a giant wooden rollercoaster). There are different areas of the park dedicated to Ancient Greece, Old Paris, and Gallic Village Life, and shows throughout the day including live dolphins, falconry demonstrations, and Three Musketeers swordfights.
Restaurants in the park serve wild boar (sanglier), Astérix’s favourite food. There is certainly a commercial side, with Astérix’s winged helmet replacing the mouse ears, but it’s definitely not as omni-present as Disney. In the artisan’s village you can watch real stone and wood carvers, and stained-glass and pottery-makers. Aside from the map, there’s nothing in English, so be prepared to learn a bit of French. Try and go weekdays outside French holidays (avoid August if possible). There’s a three-star family hotel next door owned by the park: Hôtel des Trois Hiboux.
Open April-early October, 10am-10pm weekends in high season, 10am-6pm on weekdays and weekends in low season. Tickets €43-€51 for visitors 12 and up, €40-€43 for kids 3-11, and free for children under 3. (Discounts for two-day passes, hotel-park passes, or “Forfait Parc Astérix” which includes entry and train/bus ride to the park). There is a bus every half-hour from Roissy-CDG Airport (Gare Routière, quai A3). From Paris , take the RER B3 to Roissy-CDG1 and transfer to the bus.
Family Fun within Paris
Carrefour des Sablons, Bois de Boulogne, 16th
This charming, historic amusement park nestled in the bucolic Bois de Boulogne on the west end of Paris completely renovated in 2018. It combines a petting zoo, “light” amusement park rides aimed towards families, restaurants, and playgrounds in a natural setting. There’s old-fashioned guignol puppet theater as well as virtual reality outdoor adventures, children’s workshops, and even a water jet play area where kids can cool off in the summer.
There are a number of restaurants, cafés and snack bars throughout the park, and a designated area for those who’ve packed a picnic. The Jardin d’Acclimatation is perfect for families with small children looking for an alternative to Disney-style amusement parks. Note that there is almost no info in English, so you’ll feel “like a local” for sure!
If arriving by Métro, you either get off at Sablons and walk about 150meters or at Porte Maillot station and wait for the “petit train” to the park entrance. The €5 entry fee covers the playgrounds, zoo, puppet theatre, and infants’ garden. The rides, targeted for children up to about 12 years old, require individual tickets like at a fair (about €3 per ride, less if you buy a booklet of tickets), and include small roller coasters, boat rides, trampolines, merry-go-round, zipline, bumper cars, and remote-control boats on the lake. The Wild Immersion garden and 360° theater is €10. There are all-inclusive entrance and ride/attraction tickets €16-€35.
4-6 rue Louis Armand, 15th
Tel 01 40 60 10 00
This indoor water park on the edge of Paris maintains summer-temperatures year-round, with water slides, wave pools and tropical décor under a gigantic glass atrium ceiling. Arrive early in the morning to avoid lines. Wednesday afternoons and weekends are the most crowded. The water park is attached to a commercial center with foodcourt, arcade, newsstand, cinema, and a sports shop where you can buy a bathing suit if you need one. Watch out for the extras: lockers €1, parasol €5, beach lounger €5. There’s a bit of a walk from the metro, but bus 38 (via Gare de l’Est and St-Germain-des-Prés) arrives right outside the entrance.
Open Monday-Thursday 9am-11pm , Friday-Saturday 9am- midnight , Sunday 8am -11pm. Entry €29-€33, €15-€19 for kids 3-12 (no kids under 3 are allowed in the water park; Speedo-type bathing suit required for the guys).