Lunches and Dinners With an 8 Year Old
We (husband, 8 yr old & I) arrive in Paris on Tuesday morning (YIPPEE!), staying in an apartment on the Place des Vosges. I'm hoping you'll tell me if I'm making any mistakes with my dinner list and maybe offer some lunch advice. Most of the dinners are with our son and I'm not sure where he'll be on the jet lagged/tired/cranky scale, so we're leaning generally towards restaurants near the apartment and with menus that let him get exposed to good French food while remaining accessible.
Restaurant dinners with our son: Chez Janou, Cafe des Musees, Bistro L'Oulette
Possible dinner just the two of us, going for something nice and where we're less inclined to take a child, but not super serious and high end as we already have reservations at Le Grande Cascade for one night: Restaurant L'Oulette or Violon de Ingres
We'll have a picnic in the apartment a couple of nights (our first night there and 12/24). My current plan is to take a walk up to Rue de Bretagne and go to Jouannault for cheese. I know there are lots of food stores on that street. Are there any traiteurs, charcuteries or other fromageries there or on the way up from Place des Vosges that you would particularly recommend?
Dinner on 12/25: I looked over John Talbott's list of places likely to be open Christmas day and based on previous research, the ones that jumped out are L'Ambassade d'Auvergne, Cafe Constant and Les Cocottes. I will make some calls once we get to Paris and see who is actually open on 12/25. I know that the last 2 restaurants don't take reservations. Any guess as to what the wait might be like on the early side for dinner on that day? I'm hoping that everyone would be home with their families, but there's always the possibility that there will be plenty of tourists and plenty of locals who have had enough time at home.
What do you think, given our constraints?
Lunch is a whole other problem. I've tried to do my research here and in guide books, but the recommendations seem to be for more serious meals than we're really looking for. What we really want is a cafe at or near whatever museum or site we'll be at. We're thinking more along the lines of sandwich, soup or omelet than anything more involved. Cosi or Le Pain Quotidien would the right sort of things if I didn't have one of each less than 10 minutes from home. So I'm thinking less international chain and more actual local cafe. But, of course, those can vary in quality just like anything else and we'd still like it to taste good. I realize that once we get to the heavily touristed areas this gets harder. That was a long introduction to the lunch problem. So, any thoughts on a quick, casual. low key lunch in or near any of the following: Musee d'Orsay, Louvre, Branly, Notre Dame, Cluny or the Grand Palais? How are the museum cafes? (If it helps, Cafe Marly appears to be too much. Ideally, we like to spend less on lunch. It certainly seems too chic. I don't want to have to make a reservation.)
How's the lunch food at Angelina? Or should we just stick to hot chocolate and pastries?
"Dinner on 12/25: I looked over John Talbott's list of places likely to be open Christmas day and based on previous research, the ones that jumped out are L'Ambassade d'Auvergne, Cafe Constant and Les Cocottes. I will make some calls once we get to Paris and see who is actually open on 12/25. I know that the last 2 restaurants don't take reservations. Any guess as to what the wait might be like on the early side for dinner on that day?"
Disclaimer: we do tend to eat at home Christmas Day and so those places are possibilities not definites. You are very wise to call. I have a note to myself to remind me that places (even on holidays) often respect their open/closing days of the week. As for who'll be out and about, I suspect few French families from Paris. You should be OK. If all else fails - a brasserie or some oysters and wine at home (my street's shuckers work nonstop).
Museum cafes are a mixed bag: the Louvre and Orsay are OK, Branly I hate, GP =/-.
I'm not sure if you were asking us to vet your other ideas: me, I prefer the Violin. I've already expressed myself enough on where to eat with kids, so I'll shut up.
I took my daughter to Violon when she was 8, no problem, but she eats anything.
There is a pastry chain in Paris called Paul that would seem to meet your lunch needs. They usually have a lunch formule of a sandwich + drink for about 8e to take away, more if you eat there. Paul places are everywhere, you can get exact locations from their site.
Cafe Marly is more of a proper restaurant rather than a "pit stop" cafe. For a simple meal the cafes in most museums are OK and generally a lot better than the cafes in the immediate vicinity of the attraction. My rule of thumb is to avoid anything within 500m of an attraction because it will be highly geared towards tourists.
If you just want a sandwich there are lots of bakeries, although few with eat in tables, that will give good value and good food. Lots of Parisians grab a sandwich/quiche/pastry at lunchtime, and so look for a queue of office workers and that will tell you it is OK.
In Paris I too would avoid chains, although I am told the original "Cosi" is in Paris, in rue du Seine. I don't believe it is related to the US chain but understand it inspired the concept....although someone could be pulling my leg.