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Finally taking my 5 year old daughter to Paris for a couple of days - advice?

After years of reading Madeline to her, and having me bring her back goodies from Paris, I'm finally going to have a chance to spend a couple of days there with Lulu in the fall. She's a great eater; I'd say the only thing she doesn't like is hard boiled eggs. That said, she doesn't eat huge amounts, and I don't want anywhere stuffy. She loves escargot, garlic, stinky cheeses, baguettes and croissants, has been known to steal duck confit from my plate. So basically we are looking for places that will serve great food but be low-key (they can still be nice and somewhat fancy, I just don't want silence), not have huge portions. I'm probably the bigger problem eater, as I don't eat any pork, and not much red meat. We haven't picked a neighborhood yet, but I'm guessing we'll be in either the 6th or 7th (she's big on seeing the Eiffel Tower). I don't need much - we'll be training down to Toulouse after our 2 days (and I'll post asking for advice on that closer to the date). Thanks very much in advance for any help you can offer.
PS - One place I was thinking of was Fish in the 6th. Is it still a reasonably good place? It seemed very child friendly when I went.

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  1. What a treat! I'd look at David Lebovitz' blog. He was the dessert chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley CA for a long time, but has lived in Paris for several years now. I'll email my fave ones if I can find your email address.

    You can probably find him by Googling.

    2 Replies
    1. re: oakjoan

      What a fun place to find you, Oakjoan! I'd be thrilled to hear any suggestions you think fit the bill.

      1. dress her up and go for tea and pastries to LaDuree!

        1 Reply
        1. re: galka

          We'll definitely do Laduree. We did it at Harrods in London, and she didn't seem to quite "get" it, but a year and a half will have passed. Fingers crossed. At least I know *I* will like it!

          75 Champs-Élysées, Paris, Île-de-France 75008, FR

        2. We ate at Fish about a month ago with our 2 teen daughters. I think you'll be fine with a 5 year old as it's a rather noisy place (in a good way). Food was delicious, service also good. Be sure to reserve as it's a popular spot. Have fun!

          1 Reply
          1. re: ElaineL

            Thanks for the more recent review Elaine. I really appreciate it. I ate there a few years back and thought it was great and laid back, and it struck me as the kind of place a kid would feel comfortable and be happy (especially eating early).

          2. what a fun trip :) you must so proud of your daughter to like escargot and stinky cheese! -- i know that if/when i have kids i'd hope that they'll be similarly chow-ish...

            Two days...hmmm...for a somewhat fancy place, maybe Monsieur Lapin...loved their cheese tray, and while service is somewhat formal, there is a whimsical element (though if she isn't into eating rabbit, there might be better choices)...

            i'd say as part of the picturesque Madeline fantasy-come-true, get some Bertillion ice cream on Ile St. Louis and wander 'round Notre Dame and the quai near there...

            fwiw, i didn't care for Fish so much when i went last year -- it was ok, but the vibe and food seemed not unlike what one could easily get in NYC or Seattle...

            Chez Janou could be fun...a Provencal bistro in the 3rd...

            and having lunch at Le Reminet could be wonderful too...

            Enjoy and please report back on how where you go and your daughter's impressions of the city and food...

            1. also, given that she loves cheese, it might be great fun to take her to a cheese shop w/ a wide assortment and where they'll let her sample and she can choose from the hundreds of options...i particularly like my old local cheese shop on Ile St. Louis --- it's on R. St. Louis, on the right side of the street if you are walking towards Notre Dame, close to that end of the street...the staff are really sweet there...some cheese from there, and bread from next door makes for a great picnic on the quai...

              4 Replies
              1. re: Simon

                The first time I was in Paris with my daughter she was seven years old and we had lunch at Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower. It was perfect, such a treat! As I recall, we shared a lunch, maybe ordered a second appetizer? I'd requested a table near a window when I made the reservation and the view was, of course, spectacular. We were there again a few years ago when she was 17, and had a lovely lunch accompanied by treasured memories. I look forward to the next time.

                Have a wonderful trip!

                1. re: janeh

                  Another PERFECT suggestion. I've never been up the Eiffel Tower (not big on heights, but for her, I'd do it), but have, of course, heard many times about this place. And she's big into seeing the EF, and Notre Dame. I really love this idea - thank you so much.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    You are very welcome! The restaurant is on a lower level than the observation deck and has a separate elevator, so you don't need to be as high above the ground or outside, which might make the height less of a discomfort. Savor this lovely time...

                2. re: Simon

                  The cheese shop is an especially wonderful suggestion. And I'll look into the ones in the post above. I very much appreciate your thoughts. Turns out we'll now have 3 days - woohoo! We get there early Sunday morning. Do they still have the birds on sale near Notre Dame (I hope I have this right) on Sunday mornings, does anyone know? That might be nice before a pastry.

                3. We just came back from a trip to Paris with a 6 and an 8 year old. We had a wonderful meal at Cafe Constant. The food was wonderful, but the atmostphere was casual enough to make dining with children feasible. The kids loved it (save room for the profiteroles!), we loved it, and the staff didn't seem phased at all by the children. Close to the Eiffel Tower, too! Highly recommend it.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: madgreek99

                    I second Cafe Constant; another fine brasserie is Chez Flottes, where you can get escargot and confit de canard at all hours if you chose a table in the sizable bar area. She also might like to try a side dish of Aligote, a super rich potato dish.

                    1. re: Oakglen

                      Thank you, thank you to both of you. These sound great. I appreciate the advice.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        My daughter is a fan as well. For me, the two best items on the menu are the crab salad with ratte potatoes and, as noted above, the profiteroles (with the abundant warm chocolate sauce served warm from a pitcher).

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          I love that there are so many moms showing their daughters the delights of Paris. I just mentioned to Lulu that there is a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, and asked if she'd like to go there. Her mouth gaped open, and then she nodded vigorously. And all these other suggestions. Thanks everyone.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            From previous posts I appreciate Lulu has impeccable taste, but I am surprised to learn she has such deep pockets, she must have managed her pocket money very well. Jules Verne in Eiffel Tower is very, very expensive.

                            My advice is not to worry about selecting child friendly restaurants. In my experience all Paris restaurants are friendly to well behaved children who have been socialised to behave appropriately in a restaurant. I was always pleasantly surprised to see the number of French kids enjoying eating in restaurants, and I say "enjoying" deliberately, as I think kids from many other countries suffer restaurants (and their parents expect them to suffer) so the resulting mis-behvious shouldn't be a surprise.

                            So the best advice is to choose restaurants you and Lulu will enjoy, you don't need specifically child friendly or the Parisian version of Chuck E. Cheese's.

                            1. re: PhilD

                              And I don't *want* Parisian versions of Chuck E. Cheese. The mind reels! I just also don't really want some of those 3 star places where even I feel stifled. She's been to lots of restaurants in Europe and never had a problem, so that isn't really the point so much as just making sure it is lively and that she won't feel like it isn't fun. Now that I've mentioned Jules Verne to her, of course, she's all for it.

                              In terms of the price, she just lost her first tooth, and the tooth fairy was fairly generous. Think I should make her pay her share?

                              PS - she did end up getting that bottle of Pinot Noir she wanted for her birthday, although it wasnt' an incredibly expensive one, and she only got sips here and there over dinner.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                A bottle of pinot noir for her birthday???!! You're an impossibly cool mum.
                                Anyway, I took my parents and godparents to Jules Verne for lunch. While the cheapo (E85) lunch set was merely ok, the pomp and circumstance of being whisked up the Eiffel Tower on your private lift, the kitchen tour and subsequent ability to walk around the observation deck was well worth the admission price.
                                My blog post about the Jules Verne lunch:
                                A lower key idea could be crepes or souffles. Creperie Josselin's pretty decent and I love the twee atmosphere. I haven't been to any of the souffle specialty shops, but heard good things about Recamier.

                                1. re: xigua

                                  Or an impossibly irresponsible mom! The crazy part is that it was what she *really* wanted. The only thing on her list. What do you do? And how is that possible??

                                  OK, so food expectations should be somewhat down for JV (will def. check out your post), but the bells and whistles could well make it worthwhile as a mom/daughter experience. Her father likes to joke (??) that we bring her up this way so that no man will ever be able to meet her expectations. I try not to bring up 90% of the MBAs I've met ...

                                  The crepes idea is great, she loves crepes (and it is one thing I haven't had the nerve to try making myself yet ... save for a different post). Thank you.

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              What a treat! We have a trip tentatively planned for next May/June so I will be watching this thread for ideas. Though my kids are a bit onder, 13 and 10, still always best to find kid friendly places here and there.

                              I wish I could offer suggestions, but the last time I was in Paris I was in my 20s so my imput would be very dated. I do remember having the best pizza of my life (even to this day) at a small pizzeria near the Eiffel Tower. It had a fried egg in the center, something I had never seen before and I remember being taken aback until I took my first bite. But really, how can you go wrong? With hot chocolate and pain at every doorstop, you could really live on just that, couldn't you?

                              LLM, I hope you will post again when you return. Have a wonderful trip!!!

                              1. re: dkennedy

                                Thanks dk. We won't be going until November, but I like getting ideas and tossing them around and asking everyone I know. But I'll be sure to report back. We'll also be heading for Toulouse for a few days. It will be my first time there. My husband raves about it, so I'm excited. Then again, he's a big fan of Cahors wine; me, eh ... depends.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Hey Lulu'sMom!

                                  I'll be there in November too. I've enjoyed reading through these and adding some to my list. Sounds to me like y'all will have fun.

                                  1. re: Sue in Mt P

                                    Sounds like your daughter and mine have a lot in common! Mine is 10 and a real foodie as well.
                                    We are going to Paris for her first trip in December, so I hope you write after you return and tell us what you did together so we can take notes!
                                    Have fun!

                                    1. re: mizhil

                                      Will do! Best of luck to the two of you.

                                      I've looked at the Jules Verne website, and between that and a one day stint at eurodisney (yes, we've never been to one in the US, but somehow she's talked me into going there), I had to explain to her that probably dinner at the Eiffel Tower wasn't going to happen (actually I gave her the choice - that or Disney, she said both, but I held my ground on picking one). Our hotel looks out onto the ET, so I'm hoping that will fill that need, and I'm sure we'll still eat very well, especially thanks to the tips here.

                      2. re: madgreek99

                        Finally getting around to checking out some of these places. Cafe Constant looks like a perfect spot. Will keep up the research and just want to say another thank you to all who replied.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Have a great time with your daughter. Don't forget to report back !

                      3. We're finally leaving for France on Friday, and I had one last question. Saturday night we'll go to Cafe Constant (we'll likely go fairly early, since we'll be tired after the flight, and we're hoping this will help us get seats quicker); have reservations for Fish on Sunday night, and are looking to find someplace near Chatelet Les Halles RER station (within 4-5 blocks) for Monday night. We'll be heading to Disney that day (yeah, I know) and I'd like to find someplace where we could stop on the way back and have something good. Wine bar or cafe with good food is absolutely fine. Does anything spring to mind? We'll also be making stops at Laduree and a cheese shop. I really appreciate all the help you've given us. Wine will be raised in your honors.

                        75 Champs-Élysées, Paris, Île-de-France 75008, FR

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: LulusMom

                          When we went this summer, our apartment was right by the Chatelet Les Halles station, so I do have a few recommendations. First of all, Rue Montmarte is excellent for food shopping. You can stroll and buy some fresh bread, cheese, fruit, etc and make a meal of it rather than a prepared meal at a restaurant. If you'd rather have a sit down meal, a few suggestions are: Chez Denise or Cafe Etienne Marcel. Both are good, an easy walk from the RER, and child friendly. You can also have a look at Le Loup Blanc.
                          Glad you will be going to Cafe Constant. It's great. Have fun and report back!

                          1. re: madgreek99

                            thank you so much madgreek. Wonderful ideas. I'm pretty excited about Cafe Constant myself. Promise to report back once we are home. Again, thanks so much.

                            1. re: madgreek99

                              Quick question: I don't eat red meat, and it seems as if Chez Denise, which otherwise looks perfect, doesn't offer much else. Do they pretty much always have at least one or two seafood (no pork or beef) options? Cafe Etienne Marcel looked sort of like a cafeteria from the pictures I saw. Was I getting the wrong impression? Haven't had a chance to look up Le Loup Blanc yet. Thanks again.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                First of all - I just realized that I wrote about food shopping on Rue Montmarte and I should have said Rue Montorgueil which is one street over.
                                The Chez Denise menu was definitely heavy on meat. But they did also offer some halibut and salmon options. I can't say if this is normal or not, as I only ate there once.
                                Cafe Etienne Marcel is a more casual option and more focused on people watching than eating, but it is close to the RER station, child friendly, and decent food. Good luck!

                                1. re: madgreek99

                                  Thanks so much. I really appreciate the help.

                                  1. re: madgreek99

                                    I wouldn't go to chez Denise if I don't eat red meat, because even though there are some dishes for non meat-eaters, it severely restricts your options. On Rue Montorgeuil I do like Aux Tonneaux des Halles for unfussy classic bistro fare. There was also a positive post on Au Vieux Comptoir on the forum. I personally have not been but have been meaning to because it is always packed with Parisians whenever I walk past.

                                    1. re: xigua

                                      Thanks so much for the thoughtful and helpful post. I'm starting to wonder if after a day at Disney she's going to be mood-ready for food and might play it by ear. Do you think the two places you've mentioned would accommodate walk-ins? We're always happy to sit at the bar.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Aux tonneaux des halles is the larger of the two, so it should work for walk-ins. In fact, I walked in the last time around 8 pm and had no troubles finding a seat. Enjoy your trip!

                                      2. re: xigua

                                        While added after the post was needed, just to mention my favorite things at CD are not meat, and l am the ultimate meat eater. For entrees the hot fish pate and the couteaux ( razor clams ) and the morue auvergnate for a plat. As the latter two are specials, about once a week or so, probably meatcentric but throw my 2 cents in anyway.

                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                      FWIW, here is a photo of the ardoise at Chez Denise.

                                  1. re: whs

                                    I do love going to the Ritz - was *just* discussing this with my husband. But not so sure Lulu would be as amused (she's too young to be a tea drinker, and basically only drinks water and pinot noir).

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      a little 1959 Chateau Margaux for Lulu--I'm sure the Ritz could accommodate you... ;)

                                          1. re: madgreek99

                                            Oh goodness, with Christmas, etc. I've been remiss in posting here. It was great! We went to Cafe Constant our first night. My husband and I had a great meal, we'd go again in a heartbeat. Lulu pretty much fell asleep as soon as her cheese plate was served (understandably, as we were jet-lagged *and* the cheese they'd picked for that night was dull), and then woke in time to share our desserts (one of which was the profitiroles (sp??)). Next night was just Lulu and me, and we went to Fish. I can't say I loved it as much as I have in the past. First of all, only 1-2 starters that a non-meat eater could have, and then only one main for me (the non-meat eater). Lulu really didn't like the ham with cauliflower mousse that I'd chosen for her, and it did see awfully chewy. My meal was fine but on the bland side. My wine was great. The last night there we just went to a cafe near our hotel (basically katty korner to Cafe Constant). It was perfectly serviceable. Lulu's mission seemed to be to only eat stinky cheese and escargot, and this was a place she was able to do so (later, in Toulouse, she ordered escargot as her starter and her main). We lunched at La Palette one day and she did the goat cheese toasts and escargot. I'd only ever been there to have a drink, but was surprised at the level of the food. I'd never even considered eating there before, but it was a great place, especially with a kid and able to watch the people going by. Lulu loved Paris and it was a really special time. Need to get to posting about our meals in the southwest, which were lovely and duck filled!

                                            PS - Laduree wouldn't let us in unless we were having lunch, so we went next door and bought a huge box of macaroons (sp??), and then went to Angelina. I never think their hot chocolate is as good, but we had a great time. They do a nice cheese plate, and Lulu ended up liking that more than the hot chocolate. I had a much needed glass of wine.

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Re: Fish, I suspect you ate their "between chefs", Matt had already eft to set up Albion, and the new Chef had not joined - I think he starts soon.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                Ah, that explains a lot. I'm glad you told me, otherwise I wouldnt' have bothered even thinking about it for the next time.

                                              2. re: LulusMom

                                                Thanks for the feedback. We all plan and visualize a specific visit and then let the moment take over. It's the unexpected good times that we take home. Our son often mentions little vignettes from early trips that I have trouble recalling. Lulu will treasure completely different memories from yours. It was extraordinary that you made sure that she has these.

                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                  Thank you so much, mangeur. It was a very special time, and you're right - some of the stories I hear her telling people who ask about her trip to Paris surprise me, but I'm always happy to hear them. We handed her a digital camera and got on one of the Seine cruises and let her snap away, and she absolutely loved that. And at one point, while eating some goat cheese, she looked up at us and said "(name of friend) doesn't like stinky cheese. Can you believe that?!" She seemed to want us to try to fix this problem.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    I don't know how I missed this thread. It was so much fun to read the whole thing after the fact, however.

                                                    Next trip be sure to take her to Dubois cheese shop in Place Maubert. She'd have a field day, and their cheeses are just sublime. Also you both would enjoy dinner at Maceo. You could have great fish (or veggies, even) and Lulu would love being doted on by the staff. And it is such a pretty room.

                                                    I was at Chez Dumonet with friends who were in Paris with their 10-year old, and she was charming and also charmed by the place. I'll bet Lulu would love it, too.

                                                    And while the food at Fouquet's is abysmal, their windows are FAB for people watching on the Champs Elysee, and their hot chocolate is admirable.

                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      You know, I had Maceo on my short list. My husband had what he said was a very tasty meal there but with odd service last summer, so that kind of made me cross it off. My husband's experience must have just been a bad night for the staff.

                                                      I'll be saving this thread, am hoping to get back to Paris with her soon, and the cheese shops mentioned (along with the restaurants) get me awfully excited.

                                    2. I don't have anything to contribute to your question but I just want to say you are so lucky to have a daughter who is so adventurous...My husband and I are very adventurous eaters and like to eat everything and anything but our 4 yr old daughter is complete opposite of us. She only eats hard boiled eggs, some fruits, some white bread and white rice...does not even like hamburgers and hotdogs or even chicken fingers. Lucky you!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Monica

                                        Thanks Monica. I know how much of a drag it can be when the little one doesn't want to eat what you want to eat. I hope it changes soon (I've heard that it often does for those who start off picky). Just keep trying, and good luck!

                                      2. Thanks for the info here! I'm taking my eight-year old daughter to France in April for just over two weeks. Five days will be spent in Paris, five days in Lorraine with my wife's family & five days in Normandy & Brittany.

                                        I think she's more excited about the patisseries & chocolatiers than the restaurants but she's a good eater, so I expect her mind to be blown. She's warming to the idea of stinky cheese (she loves all cheese) & is a huge charcuterie fan. Cafe Constant will be on the itinerary for sure.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: phalanxausage

                                          I am taking my brood to Paris in May/June. I have been following this thread diligently since the beginning. Can't wait to report back!

                                          1. re: phalanxausage

                                            and in Brittany you will probably have an easy sell with the crepes. Start her on the sweet ones, and then inch toward the others. Shouldn't be hard, since she likes cheese. Good luck to you, and to dkennedy. It's a pretty wonderful thing to do - great memories.

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              She's a huge crepe fan & has mentioned several times how much she's looking forward to getting them on the street. We make sweet & savory at home semi-regularly, both as a way to use up leftovers as well as something to soothe my homesick wife. The cheese shops are going to blow her mind! On the day we visit the Eiffel Tower I plan on picnicking in the park before hand. There will be five of us- myself, wife, daughter, my mom & step-dad. I'm going to give everybody 10 euros at the marche rue cler & direct each person to get three items for our picnic. Something tells me there will be a lot of cheese & saucisson in my daughter's bag.

                                              1. re: phalanxausage

                                                What a great idea (the10 euros at the marche thing). Wish I'd thought of it. You're going to have a great time.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  I would caution that 10€ doesn't buy one much in the cheese and charcuterie market. If you insist on requiring each recipient return with 3 things, best they learn how to order 3.25€ worth of any given item, although this is an unusual way to order. More familiar is to ask for a slice of a certain width or x number of grams, but this gets sketchy for young children. But the concept is super, just the way it is explained to the players needs to be refined.

                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                    Thanks for the advice. I figure a total of 15 little items in addition to some bread ought to do us for a light picnic dinner. I figured one bigger item, such as some cheese plus two pieces of different fruits will be feasible for ten euros. My daughter will be with at least one grownup, so between the two of them they'll figure something out. I'm trying to teach her more about money, so determining how much to get for a certain monetary amount will be a good lesson.