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Dec 11, 2012 07:33 AM

Paris with 4 kids on a budget.

Hello! Our family of five is traveling to Europe this summer and I am trying to plan some of our meals. I refuse to eat fast food in America so there is no way I'm eating KFC in Europe. My children are not picky and want to try local cuisine. We are just limited in our options due to budget constraints. 45 days is a lot of meals. We are looking for good affordable places to eat that a local family would go to for lunch or dinner. My kids are very picky when it comes to gelato so
I don't want to waste money on cheap non in house made gelato. There is nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar place and having to waste money on horrible food because you feel like you have no options. We will have an apartment to cook some meals in also. We love cheap local counter food.

We love macroons. And our wondering how much they cost in Paris. My kids also want to try escargot but I have no idea how to do this on a budget.

We will be in Paris for 8 nights staying in the 5th arr.

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  1. I'm encouraged, newstarr, that you refuse to take your kids into a KFC or its like. My first meal in Paris was at the Burger King on the Champs Elysee when I was 17 and I've never forgiven my parents for dragging me in there.

    We did 15 days with our two kids in Paris and London this past summer. I have one word of advice for you - picnics. Some of our best meals were eaten outside, whether in the Champs de Mars, on the banks of the Seine, or outside the Louvre. Bread from your local boulangerie, some cheese (ours was from Laurent Dubois - highly recommended) and something to drink. Fruit from your local grocery, and you're good to go. I kept a small insulated bag in my backpack for things that needed to be kept cold. Even a crepe from a stand can be a treat and a treasured memory, as it is for my youngest when we had some "quality" time viewing the unicorn tapestries at the Musee Cluny.

    If you are interested in eating out, I would recommend eating your large meal of the day as a late lunch/very early dinner. Then snack in the evening either in the apartment or at a cafe (or a gelato shop, as we frequently did). Amorino in the 5th was a favorite. If your kids are picky about gelato, do a search on this board. There have been lively discussions about gelato in Paris that might help you whittle down your choices.

    One life saver was the trail mix I brought. I put together three large Ziplocs of the stuff and carried a bag with us everywhere we went. If someone was hungry, they had something quick and easy to snack on and it would get us to the next stop on the itinerary without a sugar crash or a tantrum. That includes the adults. ;-)

    Our least expensive Paris meal was for galettes at Little Breizh Cafe in the 6th. Delicious galettes, very welcoming to the kids. We thought about trying Pink Flamingo for pizza along the Canal St. Martin but didn't make it up that far. Steak frites at Les Pipos with its bottomless bowl of frites was also a big hit and didn't break the bank.

    The budget surprise of the trip was Dans Les Landes. It's all small plates so you can eat as much or as little as the family wants. And you all share the plates, so if someone wants to try something like duck hearts, that isn't all they get. Dinner for four with dessert, wine, and aperitifs (for the adults) was under 100 E. I wouldn't call it cheap, exactly, but it was a great value and another easy meal that we still talk about.

    Macarons were from Maison Larnicol on the Blvd St. Germain and were an impulse buy. They were expensive and although they were better than what we can get here in the States, I'm sure there are better to be found. Just be warned that they do not travel well. Better to find a place nearby and eat them ALL right away.

    Enjoy planning your trip!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bivalve88

      Thank you so much! This is exactly what I'm looking for. I hate day old macaroons and who can control themselves and eat just one? So no worries about trying to travel with them :)

      Did you bring the trail mix from home or make it there?

      1. re: newstarr

        I made it at home and brought it in my checked luggage. Pretty heavy stuff, but well worth it.

      2. re: Bivalve88

        Another suggestion for those picnics: pick up a small gel cool-pack (can be found in super/hyper-markets). Keep it in your apartment's freezer & throw it in that insulated bag before you head out for the day.

      3. The prices are surprisingly low at at Domaine de Lintillac, and the quality of the cassoulet (especially) and the confit de conard and pommes de terre salardiases quite high. Other than that, be very careful.... so easy to spend a lot on bad food in Paris.

        I'm also fond of Ambassade d'Auvergne for good QPR, but still it ain't a cheap place by most American standards.

        Other good suggestions will be to hit a place for Breton galettes and also go out for coscous. Many restos will have a menu, and if you can get your crew to stick to that, that can keep things somewhat reasonable, but you can't be too picky or stray because the prices will quickly skyrocket.

        And visiting Jacques Genin for pastries, although expensive, is simply something you can't replicate elsewhere, so I think worth the splurge.

        1. For escargots, try the frozen food store Picard. They offer various sizes in the shell. If the kids like them then you and they can try ordering them at a restaurant. But this way is inexpensive and they aren't bad. Just by some excellent baguette to go with. Enjoy!

          1. I think I can help with the gelato rec. We were in Paris last March and, on the advice of David Lebovitz, sought out Pozzetto for espresso and gelato. (39 Rue de Roi de Sicile, 4th M-St. Paul)
            Both were as good as I've had in the best places in Rome, and I've been there a bit and tried quite a few...
            A little on the expensive side, but worth it and they give you very nice sized portions. It was absolutely the best coffee I had the entire time in Paris too, expensive or not, I ordered two. We are going back Paris this coming March and it's on the top of the list of places to go again.