Dining in Paris with 4-year-old

Old Jan 8th, 2002, 04:44 AM
  #1  
Ruth
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Dining in Paris with 4-year-old

I get the impression that some Paris restaurants don't welcome young children (however well-behaved) in the evenings. Is that true? Would we do better at local bistro-style restaurants?

Does anyone have any recommendations for restaurants that serve good French food and would be happy for us to bring our 4 year old son? We will be staying near the Jardin du Luxembourg on the 5th/6th border.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 05:07 AM
  #2  
elaine
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Hi Ruth
There are lots of casual bistros in the 5th and 6th as that is student country.
Some will not open for dinner until
7 or 7:30 however, so you will need perhaps to search out places that serve all day, or that start serving dinner earlier, unless you son is a night owl.
You can find steak frites almost anywhere, as well as plain chicken or pasta if you ask for it. "Hamburgers" may be on the menu but may not be what your son is expecting--some are more highly seasoned than he may be used to.
I have not been to this place, but I've read good things about Comptoir des Sports, 3 rue Hautefeuille in the 6th,near the Odeon metro stop. One restaurant guide I have mentions
"meat and potatoes fare, low prices, and a convivial atmosphere" and it is categorized as child-friendly. There's also the Hippopotamus chain, with one location in the 5th on at 9 rue Lagrange. The H places don't have memorable food, atmosphere, or service, but they are oriented toward kids and families. I think you could do much better on food in a neighborhood bistro. Your hotel may also have some suggestions.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 05:19 AM
  #3  
Michael
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Hello.
Eating with children around Paris shouldn't be too stressful. It is totally possible to have an authentic French restaurant experience with kids at any of the cafes/bistros here in Paris. Informality, relatively speedy service, and the child friendly croque monsieurs, salads, bagette sandwiches and chocolate mousse can make any bistro a easy find when dining with kids.
The French seem to like creperies for family outings. The Creperie des Arts, 47 rue st-andre-des-arts has a fun menu and it's located in the same arrondissement you are staying. You can find many other creperies all over the city.

There are many locations of the French steakhouse chain called Hippopotamus- I think that they offer a menu for children. I always see balloons from there in kid's hands. There is also the Hard Rock cafe, they too have a child's menu (chicken nuggets, burgers including drinks. OK, so neither have exactly a Parisian ambiance.

There is a really fun -- very Parisian bistro named Chartier, 7 rue du Fbg-Montmartre. This is a busy old historic belle-epoque restaurant from the 1890's. The waiters wear tablecloth aprons and the food is very inexpensive. It's all a-la-carte. It's not a place where the food will be the highlight, but the Parisian atmosphere can't be beat.(nor the price.

For a nicer meal you could try La Coupole in Montparnasse,(also near the neighborhood you are in) the quintessential Art deco brasserie. The pillars there were painted by famous artist at the beginning of the 20th century (Picasso included). They did this in exchange for their meals. The staff is very friendly and have been known to accommodate a child's choice in food. I have been to Brasserie Bofinger (located off of Place Bastille) with a family group ranging in ages from 2 to 82. The staff there were also every nice and accomidating.

I have seen children out that were of all ages, and at various level of restaurant. Don't be put off.
Have fun!
Sincerely,
Michael
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 06:31 AM
  #4  
Leone
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Here's a terrifc little place that loves kids - I ate here two weeks ago, and there were kids, and they were treated very well: Le Golfe De Naples, which is reputed to have some of the best pizza in Paris. But the other dishes are wonderful as well. Located just a block off St. Germain near metro station Mabillon, at 5, rue de Montfaucon (at rue Clement). 01.43.26.98.11. Cheerful and efficient, and fun, plus english spoken. The pastas are very nice as well, and great salads. Daily lunch and dinner. Ciao, L
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 06:51 AM
  #5  
Lori
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We've been to Paris dozens of times and quite honestly have seen few (if any) children in restaurants in the evening. We have family in Paris(with a 5 year old and 3 year old)and it's not a normal thing to take the kids out to "good" places to eat much at that age we've noticed.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 07:13 AM
  #6  
Jean
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No restaurant is going to "be happy to have a 4 y/o", you will find some places that would tolerate you better than others.
For the restaurant is a pain to have a kid for several reasons: First, people are going out and spending lots of money to enjoy a good meal in nice atmosphere, away from their own children and not to be bothered, no matter how well behaved the kids might be. I have kids too and I know that they get tired and easily bored. Second, the restaurants are not making any money on a 4years old, most of the time the parents do not order food for them, they eat of the parents plate. Third, parents have the tendency to complain about people smoking and I tell you this from my experience, I own a restaurant for many years and I know how things goes. In Paris dinning out in a nice restaurant is an experience not just a meal.
My advice is to find a baby sitter or a fast food restaurant type. Bone appetite!
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 07:25 AM
  #7  
L
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Lori and Jean certainly express a certain, rather forbidding view, but it is by no means the only one. See Elaine's comments ... and the place I suggested is very close to where you'll be staying. Do not think of Paris as a fearsome anti-child city. Ture, it's not Italy, where the family is all, but there are many places in the city of Paris where kids of all ages will feel at home. By the way, take a look at an Access Guide for Paris - a special section devoted to children. Also, look at Zagats for Paris - I just bet there will be some useful ideas in that publication. Ciao, L
 
Old Jan 8th, 2002, 12:30 PM
  #8  
Marty
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France in general and Paris especial is very politically incorrect, people do what they want and no apologies....take it or leave it....sounds harsh but that's life
 
Old Jan 9th, 2002, 09:08 AM
  #9  
Ruth
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Thank you all very much for your help and advice. We won't be intimidated, and while we won't be booking a table in a Michelin-starred restaurant (this trip!!) it is also good to know that we won't have to resign ourselves to fast food places. I couldn't bear to have to do that in Paris!

Jean: As a lifelong non-smoker I actually quite like the smell of cigarette smoke occasionally and would not dream of complaining of it on my own or my child's behalf. If he was sensitive to it of course we'd have to choose where we traveled accordingly. So far he has enjoyed the cafe society of Brussels and Warsaw - I think Paris will be good for us all.
 
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 09:58 AM
  #10  
charles
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Why would you inflict a young kid on any of us who want peace and experience on our vacations. Leave the little brat at home, sell it, or get a baby sitter and bring back a doggie bag. Better yet, bring the dog.
 
Old Jan 10th, 2002, 10:26 AM
  #11  
Christina
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wowee, and I thought I was a curmudgeon! Well, all I can say is you are better off in cafes and brasseries than regular restaurants probably, depends on your child, but most 4-yr olds aren't happy in regular restaurants nor would it be suitable, even ones without stars. I am making a distinction between restaurant and bistro or brasserie or cafe. The question is, when do you expect to eat? That's why cafes and brasseries (which are open more hours) are best as they will be open almost always and restaurants won't, they open late. The Zagat restaurant guide has a section on places to take kids, but I'm not sure it's very original or goes much beyond the typical Hippopotamus, Am chain restaurant (ie, hard Rock, etc), Chicago Pizza whatever places. I know one great family neighborhood bistro (which is where you will see kids more often)in a residential area, but the problem is you are near the tourist area for a large part, so you won't find that so much around there. I also know where some French families take kids to cafeterias, but not near where you are. I do know one place good for you right near where you will be -- it's called Crepes a Gogo and is at 12 rue Soufflot, it's on the north corner of a cross street not far from the Pantheon. Despite the awful name, it is a good, spacious cafe with a variety of good choices (salads, omelets, simple cafe food, etc) and I have seen babies in strollers in there, and families, but during the day time. That place is called a creperie or salon de thé, and that is also something perhaps you should look for as they are more likely to be appropriate for you.
 
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 02:13 AM
  #12  
Ruth
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This is to thank all those who gave us such good advice - esp Elaine, Michael, Leone etc.

We're just back from our long weekend in Paris - it was wonderful! And we didn't have to eat "fast food" at all.
We were made very welcome at Le Coupole in Montparnasse, also at Angelina's and several cafes. The waiter at Le Depart de St Michel entertained our son with magic - how's that for friendly service?! We also enjoyed a fondue in a tiny restaurant near St Severin - now that IS child-friendly dining!!

Probably our least good decision was Le Vieux Bistro near Notre Dame - but that was mainly because of a poor choice of dishes on our part (saucisson en brioche was not "sausage in a bun" as we had promised our son!). Happiness was restored by a trip to Bertillon's for ice-cream!

It looks like we spent the whole 3 days eating... no, we saw the sights as well!
 
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 03:26 AM
  #13  
Marty
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Ruth,thanks for your report, I lost lot of sleep wondering what the hell did you do with your 4 year brat of yours...what makes you believe that any of us care what you eat and where?
 
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 05:18 AM
  #14  
loa
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Marty
aren't you running late? Kindergarten is about to start.
 
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 05:26 AM
  #15  
J
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Martin: I CARE very much as we're also going to Paris with our 8 years old. I'm glad we don't have to limit ourselves to fast-food because what's the use of going to Paris??
 
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 07:06 AM
  #16  
I.P. Freely
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Great info Ruth, I guess you proved some of us wrong.... we are all very happy for you. So, food is all you remember from Paris?
 
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 07:32 AM
  #17  
Joanne
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Just had to respond to Charles' post above, although I previously posted this experience shortly after it happened. We have traveled extensively with our young and now older children, and when we took them to Paris the first time, we told them over and over again that they must behave in the restaurants. They did, of course. In one restaurant, there was an older French woman, dressed to the nines, hat, furs and all, and a little dog. She held the dog in her lap, and the dog jumped down and nipped at the heels of the waiters as they walked by, then jumped back up on her lap and ate off her plate.

My youngest boy, who was 7 at the time, looked at me with a pure look of disgust and said, "And you were worried about US behaving?"
 
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 11:03 AM
  #18  
Paula
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Hi Ruth:

I was going to give you some advice and then realized you had already returned so I'll ask you for some. I'm going in June with a 6 year old so any other advice about fun places to see would be appreciated. P.S.-don't pay any attention to the rude postings. I can't understand why people take the trouble to post a reply if they are going to say something awful.
 
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 02:19 PM
  #19  
Ruth
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Hi Paula - We really enjoyed Paris with our 4 year old son, but we had such a short time there that we only managed to see a few things - really the typical tourist things. I'd never been to the top of the Eiffel Tower before, and that was a great success. We also climbed the Arc de Triomph, and visited the Cluny Museum. This was because I wanted to see the tapestries again - the 4 year old wasn't all that impressed "I don't like old things" but actually he was quite taken with some of the armour etc. He certainly enjoyed the playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg (one has to pay a small fee to get into this) - and I think there are similar playgrounds in most of the large parks.

If we'd had a bit more time, we would certainly have gone to the Cite des Enfants at La Villette - a sort of hands-on science museum I think, and also the Evolution Gallery in the Natural History Museum in the Jardin des Plantes. And the marionette show in the Jardin du Luxembourg. In the summer you'll be able to travel on the Batobus along the Seine, and I read that there's a good cruise along the canal from the Orsay Quay to La Villete.

My brother has taken his family several times to Park Asterix, not far from Paris, which is based on the "Asterix the Gaul" cartoon character. On a smaller scale than Eurodisney, but plenty to do for a day or more, and some suitably exciting rides.

You can see I am already planning our next visit....
 
Old Jan 25th, 2002, 02:29 PM
  #20  
Ruth
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Another thought for Paula - I searched this site for "Paris kids" and came up with lots of suggestions - searching the web for similar topics was also useful.
 

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