Family Trip to Paris - The Plan So Far
We're taking a family trip to Paris, arriving 12/22. It will be me, my husband and our 8 year old son. It's really a 15th anniversary trip, but life being what it is, we're bringing the child. Right now I'm working on dinners and the plan is a combination of family dinners out, babysitter for our son/dinner for the 2 of us and a few nights of take out from good prepared food stores. We're staying in the Place des Vosges. Here's what I've got so far:
Arrive Tuesday. Everyone will be tired and we have no idea how jet lagged our son will be, so we'll find good prepared foods and eat in the apartment. I haven't really researched those yet, but if there's something you love in the area, I'd love to know.
Wed: L'Oulette Restaurant for the 2 of us.
Thurs, 12/24: 58 Tour Eiffel? My son loves the idea, they are open and the menu works. But how's the food? And how will the food be on 12/24 or 12/25? Will they offer a "special" menu as restuarants around here (NYC metro area) do on NYE, where special = much more expensive, much more limited and generally not as good because the A team has the holiday off or just can't be bothered? Or can we count on a good meal?
Fri, 12/25: prepared foods in the apartment
Or we can switch the 12/24 and 12/25 plans if it's advisable.
Sat: Special anniversary dinner, just the 2 of us. Probably 2 stars. TBD.
Sun: Chez Janou with our son
Mon: Bistrot L'Oulette with our son
Tues: dinner with our son, preferably in the Marais or pretty close by (it just works better if we're not too far from home by time dinner is done). I'd like something a little different from both Chez Janou and Bistrot L'Oulette, good food, but still something on the more casual and not bizarrely expensive side. A brasserie would be fun and have things on the menu my son would eat, but unless I'm missing something, the general sense seems to be that they've all been bought by Flo and become intensely mediocre.
I know it's not the most special Paris dining trip ever planned, but it's our 3rd trip to Paris and I'm sure it won't be our last. Hopefully, the pleasure of introducing our son to Europe will outweigh the lack of fabulous dining opportunities, she says optimistically.
We are in the Marais currently, for two weeks only, with our 6 yr old and 3 yr old. We were in Amsterdam for six months, and so have been surprised by one thing about Paris foodwise: the relative dearth of quality, prepared, take-out. I noticed that you have two nights penciled in for this, and wonder if you have any specific recommendations in the Marais (or anywhere in Paris). Thanks.
A few thoughts: first, I think most visitors tend to get cheese, charcuterie, breads and cakes when they talk about "take out" and of course there are lots and lots of great places to find these, and they don't need cooking.
Second, there are quite a few high end shops that do prepared foods, the famous ones are Fauchon, Hediard and Lenotre, but IMO the best bet is "La Grande Epicerie" at Le Bon Marche department store. This is a large food hall with incredible variety so you can mix and match lots of different food. There are also some good independents that also do pre-prepped food, look for a Charcuterie shop and they will have pre-prepped vegetables, food en-croute etc (although some of this is more like up-scale party food).
Finally, do what the French do. Buy your take away from "Picard" (http://www.picard.fr/) the frozen food chain. They don't look much from the street but the quality of their food is good and well priced. Trust me lots and lots of working Parisians live off Picard ready meals. There is one in the Marais: 48 rue Francs Bourgeois 3eme.
For meals with children, the Enfants Rouges market in the Marais is a fun place. Informal, lots of different types of cuisine, animé.
In general, you have to choose your "traiteurs" (prepared foods shops or French-style delicatessens) as well as you choose your restaurants. Whether they are good or not, the traiteurs always have a good "look". Esp in a neighborhood full of tourists like the Marais.
Which reminds me: You are right about Flo buying and standardizing everything. A lot of traiteurs is already all style-over-content. Flo is traiteur fare dressed up as restaurant.
Again try the traiteurs on Rue de Bretagne. In general it is a good market with a high standard.
An eatery on rue de Bretagne may interest your whole family - Chez Omar, for couscous. Children will like the fast service, animated atmosphere and the novelty. Go early for dinner - between 7pm and 7:40, as the restaurant does not take reservation and fills up around 8.
A casual and good - although not French traditional - lunch place in the Marais is delicatessen Finkelsztajn on 27 rue des rosiers opposite L'As des Falafels.
There are some casual cafés inside the Village St Paul. I have not tried them, but they look like the kind of place where children would like too. The young and restless can wander in the intriguing series of courtyards, safe from traffic.
Many seafood restaurants would do platters to go but I suppose your 8 year old son might not want raw oyersters and other exotic shellfish for dinner.
I don't eat chiken but those rotisserie chicken stands with roasted potetoes on the bottom smell good. Perhaps, that with some veggies and dessert would make a child-friendly dinner? Or, does your son have a favorite dish that would be fun to hunt in Paris?
Last year, we decided to stay in and did simple picnic types of food at home for Christmas (champagne, caviar, smoked salmon, etc) but then we ran out of food quite early. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the day hungry and miserable.
BTW, I believe Chez Janou is open on both Dec 24th and 25th so you could switch the days around if you wanted to eat out for Christmas.