dining with kids in Paris?

Old Dec 4th, 1999, 04:24 PM
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dining with kids in Paris?

Hello Paris travellers,
I wondered if 'dining' with kids(8mo/5yr) is possible at all in Paris. I wouldn't dream of going to a proper establishment with my children, but I also don't want to limit our meals to Big Macs either. A Basysitter is not an option we have. I would like to hear about your Paris dining/eating experiences at especially baby/kid-friendly places (that serve French food). Thanks to all.
Old Dec 4th, 1999, 04:54 PM
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Break your American habits and have your principal meal in the middle of the day - - your kids will be too tired to enjoy a meal after 8 p.m. when Paris really gets serious about "fine dining".

You can decide for yourself whether it seems too much like a "proper establishment", but I think your kids would be fine at the main dining room at the Musee d'Orsay. Assuming your 8-month old is okay in an a snuggly or backpack carrier, you can treat yourself to 30-60 minutes in this, the best art museum in the world - - and begin the education of your 5-year old as well. Then you can all sit down in a MOST elegant place (former grand ballroom, back when the second floor above the old train station was a luxurious hotel - - prior to its conversion to a museum). Your lunch will cost half what dinner might in a "proper establishment" in the evening. It will be delicious with service that is "just right" - attentive, never stuffy or rude, briskly rushing around in their crisp, clean black-and-white attire.

If you trek up to Sacre Coeur on Butte Montmartre with them (and I'm not saying you should, just for this restaurant!), you might also do well at La Butte en Vigne, casual enough, very "real" French food and nice management.

Then you can have supper back in your room on a budget - - it's up to you whether or not you let your kids have their McDo "a emprunter" while you have baguette sandwiches, croque monsieurs or whatever.

It's an excellent decision you're making to start them out seeing the world at this young age, but I advise maintaining some of their usual habits - - supper at "normal" hours, bath time at eight, buy coloring books of the places you've seen together to get ready for bed, and bring Europe down to their level.

Best wishes,

Old Dec 4th, 1999, 06:46 PM
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You just asked questions about the concert at St. Chappelle didn't you
I was one of those who suggested that it was not a wise idea to do so with small children. As for dining, well ... my husband is French & we've been to Paris frequently, and his niece has small kids (2 and 4) and they rarely take the kids out to eat except to McDonald's (honest). It's been our observation that the French do not take their kids out to dinner with the frequency that Americans do - on our last trip over we virtually saw no children anyplace we went to at night. I assume you do not want to eat exclusively at McDonald's (neither do we, but I will tell you they are great for a non-smoking break...remember, while most places have "non-smoking sections" they are tiny and smoke drifts over most of the time. McDonald's also has decent restrooms which is a necessity with little kids! You might try the cafes and other dining areas in the major department stores (Galleries Lafayette, Au Printemps, etc.) They cater to shoppers and shoppers will often have kids in tow (altho again, not in the quantities we see in the U.S. stores).
Your hotel may/may not serve breakfast. If it does opt for the buffet and hang on to a couple of pieces of fruit for the 5 yr old later on in the day. You may find child-friendly cafe's here and there for lunch, I can't off-hand think of one because we don't have kids and to be honest are happy that most places cater more to adults in Paris (this does not mean we hate kids, we just prefer not to have them underfoot when we dine out). I also honestly can't remember seeing any child seats/high chairs either, except in departments store restuarants (not to say they may not have them tucked off someplace, but they were not obvious to us). Personally if I had small kids and for some reason had to take them to Paris I would not want them in most restuarants because of the smoking. I pick our places very carefully because of that.
Rex is right in that in order to avoid cranky kids that spoil your trip stick to an early dinner schedule and early bed. Most people in Paris eat later than we do in the U.S., having a large meal in your case at lunch time would be wiser. In a pinch you can always buy sandwiches/salads/drinks (Marks & Spencer has a great variety and there are stores all over the place that sell pasties, bread, sandwiches, etc. and bring them back to your room for a "picnic". We've done this on occasion too! If you get away from the "tourist" sections of town, where the "real" people live you might find some child friendly places. We were strolling around in the Passy area on our last visit and noticed a number of women out with small kids in stollers etc. Presumably they eat out on occasion. There are pizza places all around too, our niece said her kids like that, maybe your 5 yr. old will too! Incidentally, there is a nice playground on the Champs de Mars where our niece takes her kids - you might want to stop by and let your 5 yr old play a bit and "unwind". You might even find some parents to talk to and ask about places to eat!! There is also a nice carrousel (not sure how to spell that!) near the Eiffel Tower, that too may be fun. Sorry I can't help more, but good luck with the planning and please continue to post questions, there are lots of people on this Forum who have all sorts of answers!
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 05:49 AM
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I was talking to my husband about your situation this a.m. since he has family in France and he said he could not remember many occasions (if at all) that the small children accompanied us out to eat when we were there visiting family,including this year, except for ice cream in the park or goodies at a suburban mall. Now, this may just be his family and I am sure others may be different but this is what usually happened now that I think about it too. If we went out (with his cousins) they had their "au pair" at home with the little kids or an "older" sister stayed home to babysit. When we ate in their homes the little kids were fed about 6 p.m. in the kitchen and then the nanny or the older sister (or grandmother) got the little ones settled into a bath and into their pajamas - they'd come out and play a few minutes with us after that, kiss everyone goodnight and then they went to bed while the adults had dinner, etc. On our trip this past spring our niece (who was once the "older sister" I'm referring to above) now has 2 little ones. They were fed about 6:30 and "watched" by another family member who was about 16. They also went off to bed about 8 p.m.
It is fairly common (amongst professionals anyway we've noticed) to have a nanny for the kids and our niece does since she & her husband are both medical doctors, and the nanny frequently will go with them on family trips, etc. to babysit the kids. Incidentally, the nannies we encountered over the years were primarily girls about 18/19 who were part time students and worked as nannies for room & board, the ones I remember were from the "country-side in France". Now I realize everyone does not have this option and since you said you would not be able to get a babysitter either you probably will not be able to do many things on this trip that you could do without the kids. To me (my opinion only) Paris is an "adult city" (sure kids live there, I'm not dumb) but from a tourist point of view it is an adult city and your 8 mo. old will not know where he/she is and the 5 yr. old (unless he/she is an unusual child) will get cranky after long days of sightseeing. Since you seem to be willing to experience this, I'm glad you recognize that you will run into some problems (i.e. kids & concerts!!) I'm actually pleased you recognize you might have some problems, from some postings on this forum about kids I have really wondered if the parents were living in dreamland or what. When you and your wife go back alone I am sure you will be able to experience many things you will forgo on this trip.
Incidentally, our niece said her kids love Disneyland .. again, this is not something I'd go off to Paris to see, but if your 5 yr old can't handle too many museums, etc. you might think about a day trip out there. It's fairly expensive, but a kid-friendly day may be worth it (your everyone's sake!) and it's accessible by train. Sory if I sound "down" on kids on trips to Europe, but I just think yours may be a bit too young to get anything out of this trip. Give some thought to the long plane trip too, remember most kids will get cranky and possibly even miserable (unless they are unique). I know I'd not enjoy sitting next to a crying baby or a totally bored 5 yr old who can't sit still (not saying yours would do that, but I've seen it happen). Again, I'm sure us regular visitors to Paris appreciate you are giving some thought to this situation.
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 08:16 AM
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Thanks Lori for your helpful advice. Parents know their kids best and we've taken them to UK, Italy, and India, so we know what to expect while travelling with kids. Primarily we wanted see few things that will also interest our son, such as the Eiffel tower, 'Mona Lisa', and Notre Dam. The biggest worry however is the weather in Europe and it may cause us to cancel our trip. We can always return when weather is kinder. James
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 09:26 AM
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Hi James,
I'm sure your son would enjoy the Eiffel Tower, it's fun for all ages. If he likes elevator rides you might consider Montparnasse Tower as well .. 59 floors, express elevators! Great view as well. I was wondering when you were going, I guess it's going to be winter time ... I'd be concerned about the weather too, of course you can hit a mild spell, but I would not count on that. If you are bundled up well it might be OK tho, you will just have to spend alot of time indoors unfortunately. Since you have traveled with kid(s) before you can gage how much they can tolerate weatherwise, if it is cold and windy/rainy it's not much fun even for adults. If you postpone the trip try for May .. it's a nice month, flowers are out, weather is mild, the parks are wonderful and the huge crowd have not hit yet. Keep us all posted!
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 09:53 AM
Bob Brown
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Question: Do French restaurants even provide high chairs or booster seats for small children? (I am using restaurant here in the generic sense to include bistro and brasserie type of establishments.)
I don't recall seeing any children in restaurants, except McDonalds.
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 10:03 AM
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Try to sit outside in cafes to avoid the smoke. We live here and have a one year old. The smoke is the number one problem. If you are coming this winter, look for cafes with heat lamps outside. Lunch vs dinner is also a very good idea. Avoid McDonalds! With patience and planning, you can do better!
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 02:06 PM
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There's a chain of cafeteria style restaurants with good food at reasonable prices (the name escapes me) all over Paris. One advantage is that there are photos on the sign, which is terrific if you don't understand a French menu. Another is that your family can order whatever you want, then share amongst you. Be on the lookout, especially in the neighborhood where you are staying, for those fabulous small shops with pre-prepared foods packaged to go. There are places (such as rue St-Dominique in the 7th) lined with specialty food shops with wonderful entrees, roast chicken and potatoes, etc. that you can enjoy in your room (be sure to ask for utensils when they pack your order). We also noticed that many grocery stores had a section with prepared foods. When in Paris, I do not recall seeing any children in restaurants or cafes, although we did see children and babies everywhere else. Another alternative would be to stay in an apartment, where you could prepare your own meals. "Dining" in Paris seems a far more formal endeavor than here in the states, and it's quite expensive as well.
Old Dec 5th, 1999, 02:56 PM
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When we were in Paris, we saw families eating in the lovely dining room at Printemps (the one with the stained glass dome that was hidden during WWII.) Also, I remember seeing several families at Chez Jenny, near Place de Republic. If you keep to an "early" dinner hour, say 6PM, I don't think you would have any problems.
Old Dec 6th, 1999, 09:38 AM
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Unless your kids will still be awake and in good humor at 8:00 (if they are, I want some of your gene pool), you are limited to a certain number/types of eating extablishments (all good).
Cafes and brasseries serve food (sandwich-type) all day so that you can get food at 5:00 (when the kids are still coherent). Try, also, ethnic restaurants like Chinese (apparently, Asians eat earlier and WITH children; non-Asians take advantage of that) or Italian (pizza-type places are less formal, and pizza or spaghetti divvies up between parental units and the kids better than 1/2 a poulet). Department stores, as mentioned, have different kinds of restaurants throughout (cafeteria-style, lunch counter, etc.). The Galeries Lafayette has a rooftop (enclosed) cafeteria, which is great for getting little bits of this or that to share. The Rodin Museum has an outdoor cafe; the pyramid at the Louvre has a small cafe area (lots of runnin' around room for the 5 year old to stretch his/her legs); in Versailles, there are a couple of restaurants on the street by the train station (crepe place, Italian place) that are informal.
There's always the Hard Rock....
Old Dec 6th, 1999, 09:54 AM
Scott McDonald
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Make sure you go to Chartiere....very informal and very "Paris". Find it in almost any Paris quide book....it's an institution in Paris...since 1860 or thereabouts.

Old Feb 13th, 2005, 10:21 PM
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I have the same question and saw that this post is 6 years old. Are all these eating places still around?
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 05:16 AM
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Eating with kids in Paris is NOT a problem. Parisians have kids, too. Not only are there kid-friendly chains like Flunch and Hippopotamus and the Brioche d'Or and such, it's not at all unthinkable to take your kids to a typical bistro or brasserie. We did it for years and were always warmly welcomed.

And then, as people mentioned, there are all the pizza and pasta places, Asian take-outs and eat-ins, department store restaurants and cafeterias, etc.

It is true that Parisians eat dinner later than most Americans, so eating your main meal at lunchtime is a good idea.
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