Best Restaurants Consistent with 6- and 9-year-old Children
My wife and I, along with our daughter, her fiancé, our 6-year-old granddaughter, and our 9-year-old grandson, are arriving in Paris on July 1, where we will stay until the 5th, when we head to the Poitiers area for a family wedding. We will be staying at an apartment in the 15th, near the Bir Hakeim Metro station. One of my goals is to eat as much good food as I can while in Paris. Because our grandchildren are the children of a daughter who is not going to be with us, my wife and I can't just stick the children with our daughter every night and go out to places selected just because we want to go there. (My daughter and her fiancé are going to watch the children one night so we can go out alone, however).
What I'm looking for are the nicest (meaning the best food) restaurants for both lunch and dinner that we can appropriately take the children to. The children are pretty well-behaved in restaurants, but they would be challenged by three-hour meals and extensive tasting menus. Also, we understand that it would not be appropriate to have the children, who eat relatively little by adult standards, take up scarce real estate in certain restaurants. During the day, we will be going to standard attractions, such as the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower (practically next door to us), and probably to Luxembourg Gardens for the great playground.
I have spent countless hours on this forum, as well as others, and some of the possibilities that I've come up with are:
Le Café des Musées
Les Fines Gueules
La Fontaine de Mars
Le Casse Noix
Brasserie La Lorraine
For each of these restaurants, something I read "somewhere" made me think that they were possibilities with the children or they have been recommended to me, but I was hoping for some confirmation (or disconfirmation) on that score. Maybe, also, some would be appropriate for lunch but not dinner. Because there will be six of us, I'd prefer places that take reservations. The one thing I'm sure my grandchildren would like less than a three-hour meal is a 45-minute wait to be seated or an hour-and-a-half of walking around in frustration trying to find a place that can seat us all and then settling for a place that has space because no one else wants to eat there.
On the recommendation of family members, my wife and I are considering for our "adult night out," Violon d’Ingres and Akrame. I understand that these are very different places, and we might favor Violon d'Ingres as being more "quintessential Paris." We are very open to other places as well. I would like to go to someplace like Le Cinq, but my wife could never enjoy a meal that cost so much, so that would take the fun out of it for me, as well.
Any guidance that anyone could give me would be very welcome. I'd also like to thank the forum members for the amount I've already learned from reading prior posts. People are very generous with their time and information.
I can't speak specifically to the restaurants you mentioned, except for Le Reminet, as I haven't been to the others. But we did start taking the kids with us on vacations to Paris when they were 10 and 11, so I do have some experience with that. But there's quite a difference in behavior, etc. between 6 and 10, so you'll have to keep that in mind.
Where we have taken our kids, all for dinners: Ze Kitchen Galerie, Jacques Cagna, Le Reminet, Mon Vieil Ami, Dominique Bouchet, Au Bon Accueil, Au Moulin a Vent “Chez Henri. Oh, for lunch, Willi's Wine Bar, Maceo, Rotisserie d'en Face. Never had a problem, they always enjoyed it.
Some are more formal and quiet and might be difficult for a 6-year-old (Jacques Cagna, Mon Vieil Ami, Dominique Bouchet, Au Bon Accueil, Maceo). Two factors to consider: how close the tables are (Le Reminet, tables quite close together, so maybe not so good a choice?) and how noisy the place is (noisy is better; Ze Kitchen Galerie and Chez Henri are noisy). Both of the latter, I think, would be good. Though Ze Kitchen Galerie is also kind of chi-chi. We went to CHez Henri because our son wanted to eat frogs legs - you might be interested to learn that not many Parisian restaurants serve them!
At that age, our kids usually just ordered a main course, and ate bites of our appetizers. If they were getting tired, or just tired of sitting, we skipped the dessert and coffee. If they still wanted a sweet after dinner, we'd stop and share a crepe from a stand. How will your grandkids handle the later dinner hour? Our daughter is a night owl, so never has a problem, but at 10 years old, our son would occasionally get pretty sleepy by the end of dinner. We usually eat dinner pretty late here at home, so eating later wasn't an issue for our kids, but you might check into that for your grandkids.
Good ideas for lighter meals: creperies (there are some good ones); picnic lunch with cheese from Androuet or the like. Make sure they get to eat at least one croque monsieur or madame!
Are your grandkids adventurous eaters? That helps. Restaurant staff seem to be particularly pleased when they see a well-behaved American child dive into a large piece of foie gras, or escargots, frogs legs, or pigeon. Just in case, though, we had a backup dish in mind that most restaurants would have - for our son, it was steak. For my daughter, I think it was foie gras!
Wonderful informative reply from Lexmar. Dining out with young children in Europe, yes one must consider the size of the restaurant, the noise level, and the naturally longer meal time.
Alson are the children adventurous or picky eaters? Most importantly, are they used to be taken out to restaurant-restaurants (I don't mean McDo)? Are they not alien to the use of what John Talbott calsl their "restaurant voice"?
We were in Le Réminet with friends and theire 5-year old. An unmitigated disaster. The staff was very nice. Still the experience was disastrous for the child, the restaurant and us. The short menu had nothing, nothing that the child who would eat pasta exclusively. Child was bored and tired after a long-day sightseeing. The place was quiet and romantic. All outbursts were highly disruptive and embarrassing. A running child in the narrow space among tables was dangerous and nerve-wrecking for waiters bringing plates, not to mention couples who were probably having their proposal dinner.
I don't mean tomake the child sound like the antichrist. Besides not getting her only food group, she was just exhausted and bored in the small dark room with not even a coloring book to occupy her. I took it upon myself to take her for a short walk between meals. The second she was outside, she stopped running, stopped being loud, stopped spitting.
On the list, the interior of La Fontaine de Mars, which is also romantic and quiet, may not be suitable for a tired, rambunctious child. (Well, not many places are.) Les Fines Gueuels with its wine focus and its small rooms are also more of an adult place.
But many children who are adventurous eaters and who are used to being taken out to restaurants back home do have a great time in Paris. When we ask: which restaurants are child-friendly, we should also ask: are our children restaurant-friendly?
A child needs to be able to sit for at least an hour and a half and/or an adult must be willing to get up and take the child outside at frequent or necessary intervals. Wandering among tables is not an option. Waitstaffs can't be expected to work around loose cannon in the aisles.
Not being a curmudgeon, just being practical and sensitive to staff and other diners.
Recently had a great time taking a seven and a nine year old to Chez Denise for dinner. The noise level is high, the non-stop activity is constantly entertaining, and they had no problems sitting at table for three hours. ALWAYS make sure the kids have a short pre-dinner nap, and take a couple books or other quiet amusements with you.
Thanks everyone for your comments. It was precisely to ensure that our visit didn't disturb the restaurant staff or other diners that I sought input. We commonly take the children to restaurants (real ones, although typically not terribly fancy). They are pretty well behaved and reasonably adventurous in their eating (i.e., relatively "restaurant friendly," in Parigi's words). We have worked on their "restaurant voices," and they know not to get up and roam around.
You have given me a number of good suggestions, and I appreciate that.
Another tip. When travelling with two under-tens recently, we always made it clear at the start that the kids would be ordering a first and second course, just like the rest of the table (especially at dinner). If the kids couldn't finish all the food, so much better for the adults. I think letting the staff know that two covers wouldn't be occupied by non-eaters improved the quality of the service (maybe just my imagination).