Grumpy, whining, fed up… keeping those complaining teenagers happy and enthusiastic on holiday is always a challenge. But that doesn’t have to be the way – with teens, it’s all about factoring in what they want from their summer if a family holiday is going to work. City breaks are a great plan with this age group, where an endless choice of activities should avoid hearing the dreaded words: “Mum, Dad… I’m getting bored out of my mind here!”
Here are my five special tips for activities with teenagers in Paris
1. A different way of learning
Most of the time, history and culture are of little interest to teenagers. It feels like school and they get easily bored listening to the guide and dragging their feet at the back of the group. To avoid this happening, I would recommend you choose a private guided tour specially designed for teenagers. You will enjoy a visit that goes at your own pace, and the guide will keep your children intrigued thanks to notebooks, games and riddles to solve throughout the visit. The whole family will have a lot of fun and learn loads too!
2. The inevitable shopping trip
Paris is, of course, a world-renowned destination for fashion and shopping. It would be unthinkable to come to Paris without enjoying at least a few hours’ shopping. Of course, there is the busy and famous Champs Elysées, but in my opinion the best place for shopping with teens is definitely the Marais. They’ll love this fabulous neighbourhood with its unique, eclectic vintage and luxury stores. Once your hands are full of shopping bags, enjoy chilling out in the lovely little park in the iconic Place des Vosges.
3. Culture outside the museum walls
There are ways of learning about French culture and history that don’t involve big and famous museums. Why not learn to bake like a real Parisian, creating your own baguettes, macaroons and profiteroles with a chef in a private cooking school? Or walk in the footsteps of Marie Curie at her former school for a slightly wackier scientific experience. You can become a parfumeur for the day and blend your own perfume – perfect for the girly girls! Another great activity for your teenagers would be a two-hour session with a professional photographer to take some memorable snaps of your holiday in Paris.
4. Have fun!
Surprise your teens and book tickets for one of Paris’s summer music festivals. It is the perfect opportunity to immerse them in French culture while having loads of fun. At the end of June you can enjoy the Solidays music festival. It is an annual action and awareness event that takes place at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris. The three-day event brings together more than 150 artists and 170,000 festival-goers. If you cannot make it to Paris in June, you can come in August to check out the Rock en Seine festival – a three-day rock music festival held at Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, the Château de Saint-Cloud’s grounds, just west of Paris, in the stunning garden designed by André Le Nôtre.
5. Carefully hand-picked accommodation
Teenagers who have just been through the wringer with exams will want to chill out and sleep in late. My advice would be not to organize days that are much too busy. Choose a large hotel or apartment with a central location and a bar or swimming pool. This will let your teens enjoy some free time just lounging around and chilling out. Do not forget to check with the hotel to make sure they offer free WiFi – that could be a disaster otherwise!
Magali Déchelette is CEO at Family Twist.