2 lunches and 1 dinner in Paris on August 3rd and 4th
this is my first posting so please forgive any slip ups. My wife and I are going to be in Paris with our 7 month old boy for a couple of days in early August. We have 2 lunches and a dinner that I'd like to use to full advantage. I have no idea where to go for lunch. We were thinking of Chez L'Ami Louis for dinner.
All the places would need to be sufficiently child-friendly that we could enjoy our meal without feeling like we are ruining those of others. Doesn't seem like that is an issue considering previous posts about the French and kids, but just in case.
Thanks a lot for any help,
We're back. The trip was great. 2 days in Paris and then a week near Bergerac (about 2 hours east of Bordeaux).
Where to begin? First of all, thank you to all of you for the recommendations.
We arrived in Paris on Thursday and made it out for a late, light lunch. We tried to go to L'As du Falafel, but they were closed so we settled on Chez Marianne. Mixed mediterranean salad platter which was nothing special, except the falafel was nice, light and fresh. (Although we walked by L'As the next day and got a sample and it was definitely better.) Dinner that night was with cousins who all live in the 16th/St Cloud so we met a Quai Ouest--serviceable, good for kids (our group had 3 of them), and seating that is covered, but open to the breeze and right on the river. A good kid friendly solution.
The next day was much better for food. We walked over to Le Comptoir au Carrefour de L'Odeon and had a very nice lunch. My wife chose better with a joue de boeuf (sp?) and I had a souris of lamb. Both stewed/braised, very tender, mix of north African spices and dried fruit. Perfect bottle of Morgon to go with it.
That evening we at at Les Philosophes. The highlight was the tarte tatin de tomates. Nice mix of tomato, rosemary, a little thyme all on top of the tarte crust. Nice way to start the meal. We each had different steaks for the main course which were fine but nothing particularly memorable. I would go back just for the tomato tarte though. In fact we sent a friend there the following week, didn't mention the tarte in particular and it was the first thing he talked about when we saw him later.
Our time in Bergerac involved a lot of cooking at home as we had a lot of kids with us. We found a great butcher, good local wine, and just enjoyed the freshness of the food. It would be nice if it were as easy to find ingredients like that back here.
As for travelling with the kid: he was a prince. We managed to get the bassinet seats coming and going, and he slept about 4 hours each way. A few cocked eyebrows when people saw us coming, but no problems.
Thanks to all and sorry for taking so long to post.
p.s. We walked past La Duree but the line was just far too long. Next time.
I agree that L'Amis Louis is probably not the best with a child. It's extremely small and narrow--cramped actually. I'm guessing they don't have AC which could make it stifling in August. If you must go, I'd suggest lunch rather than dinner though it's probably a mute point--unlikely that you could get reservations there this late anyway. Advice about Ambassade d'Auvergne is good. For sure try the aligote, also the cabbage soup with blue cheese. Any outdoor would probably be good with your son. I'd suggest Square Trousseau, a restaurant on the Square Trousseau with some outdoor tables. It's just up the street from the quirky Baron Rouge wine bar near the Marche Aligre, all of which would be worth a stop for you. Not far from there is the Promenade Plantee, an urban park built above an abandoned rail road track which would make a fun walk with your child in a stroller. You could walk one way on top in the park and reverse to street level where it becomes the Viaduc des Arts with some interesting window shopping. Enjoy.
I'm just back from a week in Paris, without my daughter. We saw many babies in strollers accompanying their (French) parents at lunch and dinner. A very fancy Michelin-starred dinner might not be the best idea, but you shouldn't rule out every restaurant experience--the French families we saw certainly didn't!
The key, I think, is to find a place with good food and a decent-sized terrace, and to eat outside. It's a very pleasant experience, and in some ways preferable to a closed-in dining room, especially if the insane 92F+ heat continues into your stay in the city. We found that relatively few restaurants have a/c, and even when they do, it is used more sparingly than is typical for the US (this may be a function of energy shortages now occurring in France). If your child gets fussy, one of you can evacuate him, and it's easier to navigate a stroller, since many places seat people closely together.
Eating on the earlier side (meaning 7-9 pm, or even earlier if you go to a cafe with nonstop service)is smart to avoid crowds and meltdowns.
One place we ate at that many people brought kids to was Le Maupertu, a Provencal-ish place on Bd. de la Tour-Maubourg, right behind the Eglise du Dome, where Napoleon is buried. This was not an unproblematic meal (I'll post separately on the restaurants we ate at this trip), but the vegetable preparations, fish and desserts are nice, the terrace is pretty, and there's plenty of space.
Other ideas: Picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg is a great idea--there are little squirting fountains for kids to splash in. The heavenly, heavenly pattisier Dalloyau is right off the nearby Pl. de Rostand--the macaroons and ice creams are to die for, and will make anyone of any age swoon!
In the Marais, try the bistrot/winebar Les Philosophes for lunch or a casual dinner, or for lunch, get takeout felafel sandwiches from L'As du Fellafel, which lives up to its hype, on the rue des Rosiers, and bring it to the Place des Vosges.
For lunch you could try a picnic one day, for a very Parisian experience. Pick up your vitels on Rue Buci in the 6th and your bottle of wine from Le Dernier Goutte,close by. Then go to the Jardin du Luxembourg and sit and eat in really gorgeous surroundings. Feed your baby the sublime french cookie, a maracron from Laduree or Pierre Herme, and eat a few yourself--I bet you can't just eat one.
Lunch outside at a cafe is fun and easier for when you have a baby, so you can get up and stroll if necessary. If you go early or late you might snag an outside table at Le Comptoir at the Carrefours de l'Odeon, but there are many terrific places. Le Comptoir is owned and run by a renowned chef who also owns the lovely hotel that houses this bistrot. It is always fun to eat at Les Deux Magots--order a tartine (open face sandwich on the world famous pain de Poilane and watch tout de paris go by.
Dinner is a little more difficult. I don't know if Louis would be a good idea. Check if smoking is still going on. Also, it is very expensive, so people might be a little less tolerant of a baby.
I think L'Ambassade d'Avergne at 22, rue du Grenier St. Lazare in the 3rd, tel: 01 42 72 31 22 might be a better choice--I have actually seen families there. If you go be sure to order Aligot--you can thank me later.
With the baby you will probably be eating early so the restaurants will not be crowded. People do not really start arriving in numbers until nine pm.
Another suggestion for dinner is Au Petit Tonneau in the 7th. The chef is a wonderful warm woman named Ginette Boyer, who cooks lovely food. I paricularly love her mushroom dish and as I have said in many posts she makes the best tarte tatin I have ever eaten. She makes a lovely turbot with a sublime beurre blanc. Chez Catherine in the 8th arr. offers a more upscale meal and appears family friendly since the chef is a young woman (don't know if she has kids).
Go and enjoy yourself and let us know how you manage and what you eat.