- 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.
Picky preschooler or gamin gourmand? What foods kids enjoy varies widely. After being weaned off hot dogs and mac n’ cheese, mine now love escargot and Epoisses. Many restaurants offer a Menu Enfant including a plat, boisson and dessert for under 10 euros. And even if they don’t, most will do a simple steak haché (bunless burger), pasta with marinara or omelet for your little one.
With these tips in mind, here are some of our family favorites. Bon appetit!
Le Comptoir du Relais: After our early mishap at Hippopatamus, we decided that eating out with the kids wasn’t worth it unless we could eat in real Paris restaurants. A favorite (en famille or à deux) is Le Comptoir, headed by bistro maestro Yves Camdeborde. The food is delicious, the atmosphere lively. They don’t take reservations (hence the queue out front) but take the family around 6:00pm and you’ll have no problem nabbing a table. The servers are kid-friendly and their croque-monsieur with vache qui rit is a no-brainer for the tots.
Le Comptoir du Relais – 6 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 75006. Tel: +33 (0)1 44 27 07 97
Le Relais de l’Entrecote: The formula at this Paris classic is simple: juicy steak grilled to order with their signature sauce, a salade verte and mound of crispy frites. That’s it. That’s all they serve. And when it’s this good, who needs anything else?
Le Relais de l’Entrecote – 15 Rue Marbeuf, 75008. Tel: +33 (0)1 49 52 07 17
The steak frites at Relais de L’Entrecote (Marko)
Café de Flore / Brasserie Lipp: Head to Flore for a surprisingly warm welcome for all. It’s loud and the waiters are friendly, a strong combination for happy eating with kids. They’ll do omelets, pasta or an ever-reliable croque-monsieur to please any pint-sized palate while you take in the beau monde. Feeling a bit braver? Try Brasserie Lipp across the boulevard. This art deco gem offers service continu so come early to beat the Parisian dinner crowd who flocks here for their classic Alsatian dishes like choucroute.
Café de Flore – 172 boulevard saint germain, 75006. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 55 26
Brasserie Lipp – 151 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 53 91
Pique-nique, Crepes & Berthillon: You’ll never go wrong with an outdoor picnic or warm crepes made to order. My family has picnicked all over the city from the banks of the Seine to Pere la Chaise cemetery. Grab gourmet provisions at the Grande Epicerie de Paris or simple sandwiches from any boulangerie. For dessert, no child (or parent) can resist Paris’ beloved Berthillon ice cream on the ever-charming Ile St. Louis.
Grande Epicerie de Paris – 38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007. Tel: +33 (0)1 44 39 81 00
Berthillon – 31 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, 75004. Tel: +33 (0)1 43 54 31 61
Les 400 Coups: When you’re looking for a place that truly caters to the under four-foot set, Les 400 Coups, near the park Les Buttes-Chaumont, has something for everyone. It offers a seasonal menu with veggie options plus play spaces for kids. It even has scheduled story times and special kids’ ateliers.
Les 400 Coups – 12 Bis Rue de la Villette, 75019. Tel: +33 (0)1 40 40 77 78
- More kid-friendly restaurants over on Babyccino
- What to do with kids while you’re here that everyone will enjoy
- Jenny at Dinner A Love Story shares her list of where to eat and what to do
- Hilarious stories of living in Paris with kids over at La Mom
Written by Paige Bradley Frost for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.
Les Enfants Terribles? Kid-Friendly Dining in Paris
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11 comments on “Les Enfants Terribles? Kid-Friendly Dining in Paris”
Thank you for this blog post—I have a question. We are leaving for Paris in 3 weeks. Do French restaurants typically have high chairs? We have a little clip on travel chair I am tempted to bring but wasn’t sure if it was necessary.
Some restaurants may have high chairs, but it likely isn’t the norm. If you would need one to dine out with your family, it may be a good idea to bring your own. This service also offers reasonable rentals: http://babytems.com/
Thank you very much for this little presentation of our restaurant !
Don’t hesitate to come visit us, children and their parents are always welcome !
Arrived in Paris the summer of 1997…still in the vicinity…a few miles away in the UK since…was there Christmas week 2011… Cold and grey…but magical yet.
The Surnes American Cemetry & Memorial WW II…a family friendly site…beautiful garden. A place for children to run…plus to honour the memory and sacrifice of American heros whom freed the world from tyranny.
Located on mount Valerian…metro to la Defence, switch for Suresnes.
Our post there..my husband..Mike Green was the Director..now at Cambridge AC..WW II.
Very best wishes.
What a helpful blog post for parents like me dreaming of a family vacay to Paris! Many thanks for sharing your helpful tips!
Great blog post. When I was dining in Paris this summer with my picky 9 year old, typically we dined early and also just let her share some of the adult food…that way, if she didn’t like it, it was okay. I will note this restaurants for our next trip.
What I love about dining with kids in Paris and France is how there are no children’s menus. Kids just don’t get offered the standard fare of nuggets, chips or pasta. They have to eat real food, albeit in smaller portions. In Le Cannet last summer we were informed that oxtail stew was the meal du jour for children. We would never have thought of ordering it. They amazed us by eating it without complaint.
Great tips! My husband and I were actually wondering if we should try Hippopotamus. Tha
Bonjour, l’Americaine! I recently discovered another very nice choice for families: The Hotel Lutecia near Le Bon Marche in the Left Bank. They have a great menu enfant that is offered free with the purchase of an adult meal. It’s a lovely hotel and (as you may know) would be a treat for all! Thanks for commenting.
My nephews are coming to visit me in February and I cannot wait to use some of your tips when they get here! Thanks so much.