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Dining in Paris with kids

Wife and I will be in Paris in June with our 7-year-old twins.

Curious what the French attitudes/customs are about children being, or eating, in cafes, bistros, or nicer haute-cuisine-ish type restaurants in Paris. Our kids are well behaved and have a pretty broad palate.

Do restaurants do "kid specific" food "off menu", or are kids expected to eat off the regular menu? Does the restaurant do smaller portions at a lower price point, etc? Not trying to do any Michelin places but, are there restaurants considered "too nice" for kids? We are also considering high tea at an upscale place - e.g. Meurice - is that doable?

Needless to say, I haven't seen many kids' menus on websites, and though my kids are well behaved I don't think they'll sit silently and eat (e.g.) braised beef cheek for 2 hours without an ipad haha.

Posted by
1996 posts

Kids are generally welcome at cafés and corporate style restaurants such as Hippopotamus or the Relais de l´Entrecôte.

Restaurants typically do not open before 19h30, which is probably too late for most children to start dinner Few restaurants have menus for children. If you find somewhere that does have a child's menu, that would be a place where you would feel comfortable with your family.

I would actually call Restaurant Le Dalí, where high tea is served at le Meurice, and ask about brining children. Calling would remove all doubt.

Posted by
27713 posts

Flunch is open all day and loves kids. They even have a kids play area.

Posted by
82 posts

Hi,

Children are welcomed in restaurants in France.
Many of the restaurants offer a children's menu. "Menu Enfant" in french (which is not always very good)
or may offer to choose something from the menu for your child to eat.

If you know which area you are going to eat, during the day and before dinner time you can take a look at the menus that are displayed outside and make a preselection.

The problem will be mainly to find the restaurant where you would like to eat and which could also offer something good for your child.

Posted by
3814 posts

Crêperies (casual restaurants serving French/Breton "crêpes", i.e.savory or sweet thin pancakes) are always a hit with children. Make sure to give one or two a try!
Service is typically quick too, so no 2-hour meals there.
But then, service is generally relatively quick in Paris vs. rest of country - the vast majority of places will be able to serve a starter, main and dessert within 1.5 hours.

Posted by
6612 posts

You really don't dine in restaurants with small kids; there are tons of cafes, brasseries etc which offer continuous service and thus earlier dining. Some have kids menus; most don't. With a toddler we would order a starter and then add things from our plate (she loved pate so that worked well).

I don't know how Meurice manages after noon tea but it is not a French thing. when I did an afternoon tea in England with a 12 year old, we were allowed to split the tea (tower of sandwiches, cakes, and scones) and I just ordered her her own drink extra. I would think that two children could split a tea but you might want to check.

And since you have two -- splitting a course would seem like something that would work and be tolerated for kids.

I will have a 12 year old in Paris in April and we will mostly cook in but I plan to take her to Bouillon Chartier Montparnasse for the fancy room and cheap menu since she will eat about 3 bites.

Posted by
1017 posts

Following Tocard’s comment, “ask about brining children, ” I had never thought about preparing kids that way. I will be sure to ask on my next trip.

Posted by
2580 posts

brining makes them more tender and juicy, you should try it.

As for sitting with an ipad, that is what parents do with kids everywhere these days, we saw it in a few restaurants in France. I would think a cafe or brasserie that offers all day dining would be best, esp. if you choose to sit outside to minimize disruptions.

Posted by
8396 posts

Learning to eat a wide variety of foods is part of education in France. When my now forty-three year old was in the government-run neighborhood French daycare, the full-time cook prepared different vegetables, meats, sauces, cheeses (even blue and camembert) for the little 18 month-olds to eat. It was considered a necessity to educate their palate.

Now, the same son is bringing his ultra-picky daughter to visit us. We’ll see how she does in a new environment with the local Languedoc specialties: tieille, brandade, etc.

When we go out, we’ll split our plates with her. We won’t look for a child’s menu but we will be sure there is something she would eat. From time-to-time I’ve seen well-behaved, non-picky children at small restaurants, and at Parisian brasseries for a Sunday afternoon family celebration or outing with papa, and once at a Michelin 2-star in Burgundy for a Sunday family meal. That was a stiff, reserved multi-generation family and a stiff, reserved meal.

Posted by
1996 posts

It is much more common in Paris to see someone with a dog in a restaurant than with a young child.

Posted by
6612 posts

LOL. Tocard is right although this is even more true in England where dogs are expected and kids are treated pretty badly in public places.

I love the illusion that because an 18 mos old will happily eat camembert and whatever that that same child will by the teen years have a broad palate. We are taking a 12 year old who happily ate pate and snails in Paris at 20 mos and has been going with us for sushi for years and was always the most adventurous of eaters -- and now suddenly not so much. The OP has twins though, so that makes it easy to order something interesting that they can share. Duck confit is not slightly exotic. Cassoulet isn't either. There are tons of starters and mains that most young kids might enjoy.

Posted by
97 posts

A few years ago when I was in Paris with my 7 year-old daughter I observed very few young children at restaurants of any type during dinner. We were there for two weeks in August. Usually we ate lunch at restaurants (sometimes my daughter was the only child then too) and ate dinner in the apartment we were renting, including frozen stuff from Picards when my husband and I did not want to “cook.” I’m sure people take young kids to restaurants in Paris, it just did not seem to be very common from what I observed. We are heading back to France this summer and plan to eat dinner out more now that our daughter is 13 years old.

Posted by
2580 posts

That reminds me, a few times instead of dining out we just went into the nearest Monoprix or Carrefour and bought takeaway food to eat in the room. Salads and sandwiches, with beer or wine. They had a very tempting selection of reasonably priced foods, more like a Japanese convenience store than a 7-11. And great bread and coffee, of course. We also noticed there was a Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood offering takeout food.

Posted by
6612 posts

There is always the old standby of roast chicken to take out. And there are tons of shops in Paris that specialize in take out food, so if one has an apartment, it is really easy to do take out for dinner rather than hauling young kids to a restaurant.

If you want them to have an upscale restaurant experience, the lunch menus at such places are sometimes about 60% as costly for a very similar meal. The idea that Paris restaurants 'welcome children' seems unlikely as I have literally. never seen a child in a single restaurant we have eaten in in Paris and we have spent months there total over the years. (speaking of 'restaurants' those things that open at 7 or 7:30 and have multi course meals) We haven't seen many in the cafes and brasseries we have eaten in either -- but occasional do see a tourist child there. We don't eat at Hippopotomus or Flunch. I have also only seen child seats in one Paris brasserie/cafe which was a lovely little place in Montparnasse where I did see a couple of French kids eating with their parents including a toddler.

Posted by
1286 posts

Janettravels...You just made me realize I have never seen a child dining in Paris. Someone mentioned the late eating time and that may have something to do with it. I am going to say I have seen it in Nice, but maybe they were on vacation, it was June and the sun was still shining at 8PM. Also the meals tend to last a long time and I am not sure most kids can sit through that unless they have an Ipad or something like that to keep them entertained. Not sure what you have planned to do in the day, but tired worn out kids may not be too happy to go to yet another place at night to eat. I have twins myself and I think I would do a larger 3PMish meal at a cafe then a lighter dinner picked up from a market or as someone mentioned, a rotisserie chicken dinner. The one we went to by our last apartment had so many sides to choose from that were included in the price.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for the very helpful comments.

One recurring idea seems to be a distinction between "dining" at "restaurants" (formal, set menu, 2-3hours +, 19:30 or later start), versus, cafes/brasseries/bistros that are generally more casual and open continuously. Seems like children are essentially never brought to the former but generally welcome at the latter, especially at more touristy areas. It makes sense - because we wouldn't bring our kids to a set-menu, Michelin-adjacent late-start restaurant in the U.S. either, but at home it's easy to get away with going to nicer "normal" restaurants and having them eat off the regular menu, especially early, and service tends to be fast.

Seems like there are quite a few cafes/brasseries/bistros in Paris that are a "notch above" but also open continuously - Les Editeurs, Cafe Latin, Auberge Bressane, Le Mabillon, for example, based on reviews. My "reach" place is L'Huitrerie Regis [drools], my kids love shellfish of all kinds.

The thoughts about faster or carryout/takeaway options such as roast chicken, baguette sandwiches, falafel in Marais, creperies, big late lunch and lighter dinner, etc are well taken and will definitely figure in our plans.

Posted by
8396 posts

Kerouac2's link is excellent and exactly what my children experienced in French schools and daycare. Generally, French kids aren't picky.
Children do go to restaurants, but it's for a noon meal. Remember that the main meal is eaten at noon or 1:00 pm on Sundays, holidays, and any other day it's possible. In our extended French family, the main meal is always at noon, and it still is for many working people. The evening meal is often a quiche, or soup, or charcuterie with a bit of green salad, cheese or yogurt and a piece of fruit.
Brasseries may be open all day, but that doesn't mean the kitchen is open. Meals are 12-2 or 2:30 and 7 or 7:30-?. After that meal service is finished but drink service continues. In Spain you can feed your child at 3, but in France, it's before 2 pm.

Posted by
292 posts

Long ago, I went with my then-small kids to a Club Med in Mexico. They spent their time in the kids' club while we got adult time. For most meals, they got plates with shreds of ham, green peas, the occasional piece of bread and apple juice. At that time, I didn't know if that was the French kids' meal or it was just convenient for the resort. They came out of it alive and happy but probably would have enjoyed the adult buffet even at that age.