Eating Out with Kids

This is the time of the year when our friends call us for tips on travel, especially on eating out with kids. Basically how to continue to have some semblance of the good life they used to have B.C. (before children). Especially for the foodies. It is possible. It’s not true that children are second class in Paris compared to the poodles sharing the seat with the ladies who lunch. Though you will often see that in our neighborhood!

Few things we have learned along the way:

1. Go to the neighborhoods that are more welcoming for children, like the 6th arrondisement, or the Marais, or the 16th, neighborhoods with large parks like Jardin du Luxumbourg, Jardin des Tuileries, Place des Vosges, or Parc du Champs de Mars. That’s where families with kids tend to live and that’s where there are more eating accommodations for kids.

2. Find outdoor cafés or places with extended outdoor seating where kids can have more space and making noise is not such a bother for other patrons. We used to request this because we just love eating alfresco and it was a nice respite from the smoke. No worries there since with the green mayor Bertrand Delanoë of Paris, many restaurants have no smoking sections and smoking is practically frowned upon!

3. Get sandwichs from the numerous neighborhood bakeries, and have a picnic in the park, especially for lunch. It’s one of the absolute best pleasures of Paris, especially during the lovely spring, summer and early autumn days.

4. There are now many markets or hybrid market/takeout restaurants in Paris neighborhoods where you can order food in a line but sit down to have a nice meal. Really. The French really do have a completely different paradigm of fast food eating that is more civilized to what Americans have come to known as fast food.

5. Look for large bistros and brasseries where the larger space and noise factor allows you to relax, without worrying about perfect manners and hushing the kids. Also, the menu tends to be simpler which the kids will appreciate.

6. For the more higher end restaurants, look to have lunches there, instead of dinners, which will enable you to experience the cuisine and the atmosphere without the pressure. Look to see if they have Sunday brunches or Sunday dinners where French en famille is a more familiar scene.

7. Creperies and pizzerias are more family friendly, and find restaurants that are specifically geared for children. Yes, I first resisted when my husband recommended few of these around the neighborhood. Believe it or not, the food is very good and very authentic, and it’s where the locals go.

8. Go to the early seatings. Yes, you don’t want to be like other tourists but really, you want to experience a nice restaurant without the stress, go early. It’s also when there will be other local families eating as well and the restaurants will be more accommodating

7. If you really want to experience the five star dining or the latest in haute cuisine, unless you’re taking your 8 yr old daughter who is precocious enough not only to tolerate the long meal but actually enjoy it, find babysitters and take yourself out for a really nice, night out. Don’t try to drag your kids AND yourself through it. No one will enjoy the experience.

Some of our favorite places for gourmets AND kids around our neighborhood:

Amorino. Hands down the best gelato in Paris, if not in the world, considering how much gelato we have consumed traveling around the world. Many always rave about Berthillon Ice Cream, and that’s fine too, but we prefer Amorino. On a warm day, the line often snakes around the block, but it’s worth it. 4, rue Vavin (6me) and 4, rue Buci (6me), and several other locations around Paris.

La Cigale Récamier. Tops down our favorite place for our family dinner, or any dinners. On a privileged location on a shady pedestrian passage with an amazing terrace, steps away from the famed Willy Ronis photo of Sévres-Babylone. Also, soufflés galore. 4, rue Récamier, 75007 Paris, 01 45 48 86 58 Métro: Sèvres – Babylone.

La Crêperie des Canettes. This is the most authentic creperie from Bretagne with galettes made with buckwheat flour. It’s tight space but children and families abound. 10, Rue des Canettes, 75006 Paris, 01 43 26 27 65.

Les Éditeurs. This is a place to be seen as you watch all of the media and publishing luminaries have lunch in the literary quartier. They have a great terrace where you can sit and watch all that is going on in the carrefour l’odéon. The salads are great and the menu really healthy and simple, perfect for lunch with the kids. My daughter especially loves this place. It is so correct. 4, carrefour de l’Odéon – 75006 Paris 01 43 26 67 76 Métro : Odéon

Le Comptoir. Yves Camdeborde, formerly of La Régalade, and his wife preside over this sophisticated bistro with Art Deco details and a terrace that spills out onto the busy Carrefour de l’Odéon. This restaurant is on everyone’s recommended list, from Gourmet to Bon Appétit, to Zagat to Gayot. The cuisine is quite sophisticated but there are plenty on the menu for kids and the terrace is perfect. Must reserve, unless  you can get there for early lunch or early dinner when it’s the only time you can get seating for four or more. Also, the breakfast here are legendary, only reserved for privileged hotel guests. Hôtel du Relais Saint-Germain, 9, Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006 Paris, 01 44 27 07 97 Metro: Odéon.

Alcazar. Great for Sunday brunch, and this is our place for the day after we arrive in Paris.  You know, when you want to feel like you’re in Paris but still want something familiar and comfortable.  It’s great space. The food is nice and dependable, and it’s a swanky place to go with children and they do not have an attitude. Ask for a banquette near the corner. 62, rue Mazarine 75006

Les Deux Magots. This legendary hangout for the sophisticated residents of St-Germain-des-Prés becomes a tourist favorite in summer. Les Deux Magots was once a gathering place of the intellectual elite, such as Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Giraudoux. Inside are the two large statues of magots (Confucian wise men) that give the cafe its name. The crystal chandeliers are too brightly lit, but the regulars are used to the glare. After all, some of them even read their daily papers here. You can order salads, pastries, ice cream, or one of the daily specials; the fresh fish is usually good. 6, place St. Germain des Prés, 75006, 01 45 48 55 25. Métro: St. Germain des Prés.

Mamie Gâteaux. A fun neighborhood salon de thé with cakes and little sandwiches, a little touch of North African flavours. We think “Mamie” is a man, but this little place, and its sprinkled antiques, has a lot of charm. , 66 rue du Cherche-Midi 75006 01 42 22 32 15 Métro: Saint Placide.

Del Papa. This place used to be called Mezza Luna, as it was for probably 20 years. The name and décor are new, but the owners and staff are the same. Del Papa is a very dependable Italian restaurant with brick-oven thin pizzas and fresh pastas. This is the place you go when you need a break from French food. Recommended are the copious arugula parmesan salad, the insalata ricola, the artichoke salad, as well as wonderful homemade pastas. Friendly service. 33 rue de Buci.

Poilane. This is the world famous bakery where the pain l’ancienne was reinvented. They have great sandwiches to take out as well as a tiny, snug place to eat. Go there early or late for lunch with the kids. 8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 01 45 48 42 59.

Bonpoint. Super-chic kid’s boutique Bonpoint has opened up its headquarters in a beautiful hotel particulier in St. Germain. Over 1000 square meters chocked full of simple, oh-so-French children’s clothing and shoes, along with a garden and in-house restaurant. Each room is exquisitely decorated, from the fantasy-flower ceiling in one room to the playful log cabin inside another. The Bonpoint resto is great with simple breakfast and lunch food, in a way only the French can pull it off. 6, rue de Tournon.

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