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Feb 20, 2012 07:04 PM

Paris Dining on a Family Budget...with Adventurous Teens

We'll be in Paris for 5 days in March. My partner and I have already done most of the top spots on past trips, and with a 13 and 16 year old in tow this time; we're operating with a far more disciplined budget than normal. Fortunately they are both budding foodies (yup, we're proud parents!) so we're eager to give them a broad range of experiences, as this is really their first trip to a true culinary destination,

Generally I'd like to try to stay under 30 to 35 Euros per person for dinners, ex wine. We’re looking to give the girls a range of experiences from classic bistros to more innovative or experimental places. Quality is very important, atmosphere will significantly enhance their experience and fame/name is totally irrelevant.

We’re staying at a hotel near the L’Arc de Triomphe, so one or two places within walking distance (we’re all reasonably fit) would be helpful. Plus, given this is the girl’s first trip to Paris, we’ll be looking for lunches near the main sites (Louvre, Notre Dame, Tour Eiffel, etc).

Thanks in advance. Your ideas and suggestions will help launch two nascent chowhounders on their first gastro tourism adventure.

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  1. == 5th arr, near Notre-Dame, Ile St Louse & Latin Quarter ==

    1. Le Pre-Verre 13,50 euro lunch menu. Includes appetizer (entree), main course (plat), and glass of wine and coffee...ok, those last two won't be terribly appealing to your teens, but the parents can take the extras!

    The chef has travelled extensively in Asia, so Asian accents regularly appear in his take on classic french dishes, such as celeri remoulade with sesame oil. The desserts are very original too, such strawberries with parsley sorbet.

    The place is justifiably popular, so try to reserve ahead.

    2. L'Atlas moroccan restaurant. It's high end for a cous cous restaurant, but still very affordable (esp at lunch) and it's been very tastefully decorated in the Moroccan style.

    3. L'Itineraires 5, rue de Pontoise. During the week, they have a 2/3-course lunch menu (the menu du jour) for 29/35 euros. A good example of modern French cuisine, beautifully executed. Full disclosure: I have never eaten here at lunch, only dinner, but have always been blown away.

    Since the food here is considerably more of a fine-dining experience than at the other two places, I suggest coming here is you're not in a rush.

    == 7th arr, Near the Eiffel Tower ==

    I used to work near here, and it's tough finding affordable eateries. However, on rue St Domique are the two affordable restaurants by Christian Constant: Le Cafe Constant, and Les Cocottes. In the Cafe Constant you are in a tiny space eating traditional French dishes wonderfully executed. At les Cocottes, you eat in a more modern space and each course is served in a small cocotte, which is a tiny casserole dish.

    You can't reserve at either of these restos, I think, so best to go early or go in off-hours.

    == Near the Louvre, 1st arr. ==

    A short walk from the Louvre is Le Petit Machon, on rue St Honoré. It serves Lyonnaise cusine and they have an evening formule of 18 euros.

    == in the Marais, 3rd arrondissement ==

    Breizh Cafe - Breton creperie with a Japanese influence (Breton husband, Japanese wife). I find they have more original fillings for their galettes and crepes than the usual crepe stand, and they have a huge selection of cider.

    The creperie is smack-dab in the middle of a former garment district, now a haven for indie designers, so your girls can have lots of fun window shopping nearby.

    Reserve ahead!

    Bon voyage, and bon apetit!

    18 Replies
    1. re: limegimlet08

      That is great input limegimlet. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank-you. Given our hotel is near L'Arc de Triomphe, does Caius or Caius Zinc belong on the list? I have read a few good things about them, and nothing bad, as I've looked around the forum a bit.

      I also have seen a lot of positive comments about Fish. It probably isn't as Parisian an experience, but it seems to get quite a bit of buzz as an interesting place to eat.

      1. re: WillinTO

        Hi WillinTO

        I'm afraid I've never dined at Caius or Caius Zinc before - I don't know much about the Arc de Triomphe area in general.

        I've only been to Fish once, but I do pass by it regularly as I live not too far away. It's very popular with expats. The cuisine was good, but nothing memorable - except that it felt a bit 'like home' for me (right down to indifferent service by staff who I assumed were students) so perhaps not the best place to go if hankering for a Parisian experience.

        A short metro ride away from L'Arc de Triomphe, next to Place de la Concorde, is a tiny little restaurant called Lesure on rue du Mont Thabor. It has lots of hearty attitude and equally hearty food (southwest cuisine) This isn't Parisian either, but it sure is French.

        And now, at the risk of losing my right to ever post anything ever again to ChowHound's France board, I am going to suggest a fun, touristy and totally anti-foodie place: La Refuge des Fondues, in the 18th near the Abbesses metro stop. They serve only two dishes: cheese fondue, or meat fondue. You drink your wine from baby bottles. Everyone sits crammed at 2 long communal tables. You're allowed to write on the walls. It's the type of place where you inevitably end up chatting with the laughing diners next to you, who most certainly will be tourists as well. You get the idea.

        I suggest these last two as they show another side to the Parisian dining scene, and prove that not all restaurant experiences in Paris (or anywhere, for that matter) must be sublime gastronomic affairs to be enjoyable or memorable!

        1. re: limegimlet08

          O no !
          I lived for 10 years on the same street as Le Refuges de Fondes and went there only once. Actually was dragged there, kicking and screaming, by out-of-town friends. I must admit it is very popular, with lots of diners every night who seem to find it fun too. I thought the whole experience was downright humiliating.
          Good restaurants very nearby are: Le Miroir, Café Burq.

          1. re: Parigi

            Same experience for me. We should form a humiliation therapy group.

            1. re: Parnassien

              You don't mean this therapy group makes us LIKE humiliation, right?

              1. re: Parigi

                if humiliation means drinking wine from a biberon, never!!

                but it could have been worse... at least we weren't offered "tétines" between courses

                  1. re: Parigi

                    I went to the "Zéro de conduite" once. A small bar where you drink your cocktails from a baby bottle... I too felt humiliated, can I join your group ?

                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                      OK everyone, stop piling on limegimlet who prophetically predicted that reaction to her/his La Refuge post. It does indeed sound like a memorable spot the kids would enjoy...I will however need to give some thought to whether or not the adults want that experience in our culinary memory banks.

                      What about other fun options that might be a little more in keeping with tradtional culture? One of my most favorite memories of our first trip to Paris (sans kids) was a lunch at La Cave de l'Os à Moëlle. In retrospect, it was as memorable an experience as our visits to Pierre Gagnaire and the then newly open Le Comptoir du Relais. The people and conversations we had at the communal table that afternoon remain fond memories to this day, even if the actual food is a little hard to recall.

                      1. re: WillinTO

                        <What about other fun options that might be a little more in keeping with tradtional culture?> Okay, don't eat here, but the hot chocolate and people watching (while sitting in the window) of Fouquet's on the Champs Elysee is quite an event. The hot chocolate is good, not great, but the experience is one I'm sure your girls would enjoy.

                        As for the food, it's WAAAY overpriced and terrible. No other way to describe it. Don't eat there (again).

                        1. re: WillinTO

                          You are right to keep us focused. We got carried away in our humiliated state.
                          The problem is the Champs Elysées area, which is neither budget nor fun.

                          Two fun places for a group of different ages:

                          - Place des Enfants Rouges, for lunch. The market not only has vegetable and fruit stalls but also has eatery stalls, from rotisserie stalls to Italian to French to Moroccan cuisines. The couscous there is quite good. Afterwards, kids - and adults - would probably not object to a very good artisan ice cream at Mary.

                          - Dans Les Landes, with very good soutwestern-Basque type tapas. This means you can order a whole bunch of small dishes to try. Everything is good there and suits a group of varying appetites. My fave dishes there: Panisse with chorizo, marinated quail, duck heart, cipirones (fried baby squid, absolutely Boqueria standard).

                          They are not near Champs Elysées. For good food and fun, you have to go far from your hotel.

                          Lastly, congratulations on your producing two budding epicurians. Bravo.

                          1. re: Parigi


                            Thanks for those. They sound perfect. Indeed Dans Les Landes appears to hit the mark on two accounts. My wife and I were in San Sebastian and environs this past fall, and brought back tales and photos of pintxos that had my budding gourmands salivating - but there is nothing resembling good tapas in Toronto, so tapas style dining is still merely an idea for them. It appears we are about to change that.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              The marché des enfants rouge is indeed a good 'only in Paris' experience. We ate at the creole restaurant and enjoyed the crab farci and crab beignets, but the other restaurants looked enormously popular. I've heard good things about the French choice, L'Estaminet, but we didn't go there. The fromagerie there has some very good selections.

                              Walking distance from there is Jacques Genin's very beautiful pastry shop and tea salon. I went in with high expectations that were surpassed.

                              1. re: Steve

                                cannot imagine you all would not enjoy Jacques Genin's passion fruit caramels and millefeuille (among other goodies).

                              2. re: Parigi

                                Agree that Dans Les Landes would be perfect.

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  I plan to go to Place des Enfants Rouge with our grandson in May ~ perfect way for him to have something familiar and for grandma and poppa to have something a little more exotic at the same time.

                                  Do you think Dans les Landes would be appropriate with an 8 year old, albeit a very well behaved one? It's been on my list for a while but we haven't made it yet. We can always wait until next time if we have to, because there will always be a next time, lol


                                  1. re: parisjo

                                    Many dishes in Dans Les Landes tend to be full-flavored, some a bit spicy. I don't know if a very young child takes to it. I am much less worried about his behaving himself than about his capacity to like strong flavors.
                                    Worth a try. If things don't work out, perhaps you can all have a picnic in the Arène de Lutèce.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      Jo, at least the day we were there. there were SO many choices on the menu that I can't imagine that you couldn't find something that he would like...the beauty of some place like that is that you can choose many things at once, and even if he doesn't like everything, I'm sure there would be something that he would like. I was there for lunch so I don't know about dinner, but I think I would have taken my kids there at 8 and felt ok...I know that he is a chowhound in training...:)

            2. Domaine de Lintilac for proper cassoulet and confit de canard at startlingly low prices. Hard to find correct versions in the US.