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Paris between Christmas and New Years with 3 children

Our family of 5 is staying in an apt. in Le Marais district of Paris from Dec. 27th - Jan. 3rd. As the dollar weakens, we're looking for more ways to trim costs, especially when it comes to eating out. We'll eat in some, but want to experience as much of the "cafe culture" as possible. Any suggestions for kid-friendly, reasonably priced cafes? Our kids are 5, 9 and 11; we are able to speak French. Thanks for any advice!! Jennifer

Posted by
267 posts

To save money and still eat like a Parisian:

  1. Don't eat out every night. Most Parisians can't afford to dine at a café every day. Buy some groceries and eat in a park.

  2. Eat in cafés that aren't geared towards tourists. English menus = probably overpriced food. This may mean walking a little bit more to leave the touristy sections, but it's well worth it. Try Denfert-Rochereau or another neighborhood not so close to the city center.

If the café is full by 7pm, it's for tourists. At the earliest, French people start dinner at 8pm.

  1. Ask some Parisians for tips.

  2. Don't eat out on Île de la Cité.

Posted by
251 posts

Is this your first time to Paris? What kind of "cafe culture" are you expecting? Remember that in France cafes are bars that sell coffee. They are also full of smoke (though the ban officially goes in to affect jan1). An early morning trip to a French cafe usually has a few grisseled workers and the "Belgian Coffee drinker" (ie. Brandy or beer).

Eat out a few times if you want to experience the culture. Most bistrots are kid friendly as long as they eat off of the normal menu. Despite the earlier response, with kids I would go earlier in the evening.

Shop, my favorite thing about Paris/France is grocery shopping. It is a whole another way to see the country. You have an apartment that will proabably at least have a hot plates or something. Get some soup, some charcuterie, and crusty bread.

Remember the Louvre is free New Years Morning. Yes the line is long but it moves fast and when you won't have to spend a lot if the kids get bored.

Posted by
11507 posts

Ugh, don't go to the Louvre on a free day,, the lines are NOT worth it , especially with kids.
Your children are all FREE anyways, so you are only saving the two adult admissions( which should total about 18 euros for both). I have accidently gone on a "free" Sunday, and trust me, it just is not worth the crowds and the lines.

Tip that will disgust some , but tough, with kids McDonalds is an option for breakfast. Finding the types of breakfasts kids like is hard at cafes, yes, I like coffee and bread/crossiants for breakfast , but my 14 yr old son wanted eggs. My hotel was happy to sell us hard boiled eggs for 5 euros,, LOL, so off we went to McDonalds to get Egg McMuffins and hot chocolate for less then 3 euros.

I agree eating in is a great option, but most apartment kitchens are small, and making light meals is fine, or better yet buying many of the prepared foods and just warming them up, but part of holiday fun is no cooking and dishes for mom all the time!!

Posted by
11507 posts

Cafes are a great option. And as suggested find little out of the way hole in the wall type places.

Another great option is crepe stands, the ham and chees ones are filling, and the Nutella and jam ones are great treats. Warning, you kids may not like the fact that the cheese will not be cheddar as they are used to, but very tasty.Most kids will eat a ham crepe happily though.

I do think that going into grocery stores and picking up premade salads and sandwiches is a good option if weather is decent enough to sit outside and picnic.
Have fun.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for the suggestions. For all intensive purposes, it could be considered my first time in Paris (I was there 24 yrs. ago as a teenager on a high school tour...). As far as cafe culture, I just meant we'd like to go to some, well, cafes I guess -- to experience some of the food and atmosphere of Paris. We'll mostly rely on take out, sandwiches and groceries which I'm sure will all be wonderful as well. And thank you for the bravery to suggest McD's; I'm sure it'll save us in a pinch!

Posted by
506 posts


Your best bet for the children situation will be to go to any Boulangerie near your area. They will often have sandwiches that would all in all be kid friendly. Between 4.50 to 8 Euros

Another suggestion are crepe stands. Many will sell ham and cheese crepes as well for about 4 Euros.

Any Hippopotamus restaurant (they are everywhere) will have a children's menu and can be quite resonable.

Last resports are McDonalds (I hate saying that but then with the kids)

Do note that Parisians do NOT take their children out in the evenings typically. Friday evening is McDos and then perhaps to a local restaurant on Sunday for Lunch.

Many restaurants are now offering areas of "Non-fumar". If that is a concern.

Cafes can be great for the kids - typical food Croque Monsieur is a ham and cheese like sandwich and is usually served with frites or salad. Hot Dogs are available commonly too.

Monoprix - Franprix - ED are the main grocery - to supplement (drinks - fruit)