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Christmas in Paris: Family Fun in the City of Light


Ahh, Christmas in Paris. The twinkling lights, fabulous holiday shopping, vin chaud and cozy nights by the fire. Isn’t it romantic? Sure, unless you have kids, in which case, copious lists for Santa, too many unscheduled hours and sugar overload can lead to a merry meltdown, turning even the cheeriest maman into the Grinch. That’s why I’m filling our family calendar with lots of happy holiday diversions. Here’s what we’ll be up to this most wonderful time of the year.


Festive holiday windows. Parisians are accustomed to lust-worthy window shopping; faire du lèche-vitrine (literally “window licking”) is a time-honored activity here. Continue Reading »

Posted in Parisian Living | 2 Comments »

Les Enfants Terribles? Kid-Friendly Dining in Paris

Mark and Allegra Karoski-Biava

Fresh off the plane and bleary-eyed with two kids in tow, we set out for our first family meal in Paris. Surely in this city of more than 8,000 restaurants, finding a suitable spot would be simple enough, non?

After passing snug bistros and lively brasseries, we spotted a red neon sign that seemed to scream, “Kids Welcome Here!” We made a beeline for Hippopotamus, the kid-friendly chain with outposts all over the city. Without dwelling on the gastronomic disappointment (and pricey menu) of that evening, we learned some early lessons about eating out with kids in Paris. Number one? Don’t eat at Hippopotamus.

Ready for a fancy French meal (Juliet)

In the months since, we’ve tried many restaurants with our children (ages four and six). Here are some tips and sure-fire hits when you venture out to eat en famille.

Not where but when: Successful family dining is about knowing when to go. Many wonderful restaurants will welcome kids if you go at off-peak times. Sunday déjeuner is a big one for family meals in Paris. Friday and Saturday nights? Not so much. For mid-week lunches, go earlier or later than the business crowd and you’ll likely be met with a smile. Bustling brasseries and service continu restos will suit you better than dinner at 9:00 at the cozy corner bistro.

Picnic-ing and playing on the Champs de Mars (Markus Bollingmo)

Know your kids. Know the French: French children are trained to sit quietly and eat like little adults. French parents are strict and never more so than around the table. Crying, screaming and crawling under the table are not tolerated and will prompt vocal disapproval and the not-so-subtle “oh la la.” Adjust your restaurant choices accordingly to avoid a miserable meal for all. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Parisian Living | 10 Comments »