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Paris and Provence with a 2 year old

  • jon Sep 19, 2013 11:42 AM
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Hey all -

First time posting on the France board, but long-time poster on the NYC boards.

We're coming to France from Brooklyn on 10/14 and staying in the 6th in Paris from 10/14 - 10/18, then heading down to Provence (probably staying in Menerbes) until the 22nd.

I've been going through old posts on here and in other places, but I'm looking for some lunch/dinner/snack recommendations for both places. We will have our 2 year old daughter with us, but (if I do say so myself) she is fairly well-behaved in restaurants.

Typically, we eat out very early these days (around 5:30 or 6) back home, but I assume that is too early in France. We're also not opposed to plowing through a meal and leaving early if she acts up. No use bothering our dining neighbors and making it stressful on ourselves as well. But, we take her just about anywhere, from little taco dives to fancy restaurants (if you know Brooklyn/Manhattan, we've taken her to Maialino, Babbo, Colonie, Pok Pok, etc., usually without incident). Or, grabbing some delicious provisions from markets and eating in a park or our hotel room.

That's a long way of saying, any recommendations in either place? So long as the food is tasty and the restaurant is ok with a kid in the dining room, we'll go just about anywhere, except for I suppose the uber-fancy restaurants.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. With such an experienced and well-behaved child, and your willingness to adapt to her time constraints, eating out should not be a problem. Except for the early dinner hour that she requires. Earliest tables are usually around 7pm, and that is very early by Paris standards.

    Best bet might be non-stop service rooms such as new Lazare where you could choose brasserie plates and probably the plat de jour.

    You might fare better in the country where often people dine earlier when dusk comes early in the fall.

    1. Mangeur has challenged me to go farther up the developmental scale but so far I've not gotten my act together. However, that said:
      For almost 50 years we’ve eaten out with our children and grand-children in Paris whether they have been 3 months, 3 years, 5 years, 9 years, etc, etc, old. While we have accommodated to their age-specific interests (coloring books, stickers, jump-ropes, mobile devices, etc.) we’ve never suffered from bad food because of them. That said, we’ve also not gone to starred places, instead choosing more informal sites, often with some terrace or sidewalk space(s). So here are some suggestions:

      Spring. I know the answer here because I described a situation to Chef Daniel Rose where a young couple and baby were asked to squeeze into a telephone booth sized table at another restaurant and I asked him what he’d do at Spring – Answer: “We’d find a way.”

      Felicity Lemon (lots of poussettes the times I’ve been as well as a roomy alley out front.)

      Jeanne B. Ditto for the strollers, plus it is or at least was when it opened, a neighborhood Montmartrois joint, not a destination place.

      Pirouette is spacious and has all that space outside as well which in summer is ideal for letting loose.

      Clandestino sends out waves of friendliness and bonhomie to young couples.

      Terroir Parisien couldn’t be more down to earth = terroir, it’s called that for a reason.

      Le 6 Paul Bert is another place that exudes openness.

      L’Auberge Flora ditto

      Florial is so goofy and hipstery and Bobo-y it just sings “Come in”

      What’s the common thread here? I think it’s that the places themselves give off the air of informality. I mean “air” not that they are. For instance, Spring’s food, napery, service etc., are very adult, but you get a sense you’re not being judged on which way you cut your meat.

      As Nangeur says, 5-6 is early but places like Floreal are going fullbore fulltime.

      I've not been to Lazare as she has but I will be there next week.

      7 Replies
      1. re: John Talbott

        J, I was just considering dinner houses. If jon wants to main meal at noon, your list is gold.

        (I haven't been to Lazare. Was just parroting the usual non-stop service venue advice for those who need early dining, plus perhaps a little buzz for the parents.)

        1. re: John Talbott

          This is fantastic, thank you so much.

          Mangeur- you make an excellent point: since our child may not make it to dinner, we we were thinking that maybe itd be best to make lunch the main meal, and pick up dinner type stuff (cheeses, meats, breads, etc) at markets and eat those in the room.

          Thoughts on great places to pick up those, perhaps ideally near where our hotel will be (6th arrondissement).

          Appreciate the great feedback.

          1. re: jon

            "we were thinking that maybe itd be best to make lunch the main meal, and pick up dinner type stuff (cheeses, meats, breads, etc) at markets and eat those in the room." That is what we've always done with wee ones and indeed geezers as well.

            1. re: jon

              There's a very large and nice Monoprix in the 6th (on the Rue de Rennes near Blvd. St. Germain ) - it's kind of like a Parisian Super Target- which would be a great place to pick up snacks, yogurt, and the other accoutrements that make life with a toddler a bit easier. (They also have very cute kids clothes for a reasonable price)

              Another great stop is La Grande Epicerie at Au Bon Marche, also in the 6th. Bread, cheese, charcuterie, patisserie - anything and everything.

              I've found Paris to be very kid friendly - I've been with my daughter when she was 10 months and again when she was 3. Definitely second the bus suggestion.

              1. re: Savour

                thanks! we will definitely need a place to get snacks, yogurt, milk, diapers, etc., and that is a very helpful suggestion. any idea if they would ship directly to our hotel? is that even done in paris? we did it when we flew out to san francisco and found it to be extremely helpful because we didn't need to pack diapers/food/etc.

                1. re: jon

                  Monoprix does offer delivery, but I don't know the purchase threshold. You might be able to combine a substantial apartment provision order with the visit's diaper requirements. But that is strictly conjecture.

                  http://www.monoprix.fr/trouver-mon-ma...

                  1. re: mangeur

                    " I don't know the purchase threshold"
                    It is 50 E unless you are mobility-challenged and at least my Monoprix is extremely efficient and its delivery guys extremely grateful for a 1-2 E tip.

          2. Another voice to confirm that Paris is a very kid-friendly place. As long as one of the parents is ready to interrupt the meal and immediately remove the kid for a temporary cool-down if she starts to act up, no problems. High-chairs are not a standard fixture so mom or dad's lap or a stroller are the only options for infants and toddlers. You wont see all that many families with kids in St Germain des Prés/ 6th so you may feel a wee bit uncomfortable in restaurants there, especially at weekends, when the hordes of tourists and suburbanites are the most intrusive.

            For getting around, the métro is a hassle if you have a kid... too many stairs and long walks in some of the labyrinthal interchange stations. Bus is much better as is taxi (the cheapest in Western Europe)... both not only get you to where you want to go without too much hassle but also let you see and feel Paris on the way. For deciding where to eat, I'd trace out the nearest bus routes from your place and choose eateries that are an easy walk from those routes. Would be glad to add some specific places if you indicate your nearest intersection so I can suss out your buses and stops.

            It is possible to have perfectly decent meals in the 6th (or nearby) in the late afternoon/ early evening... i.e. Au Petit Suisse on the rue de Vaugirard @ rue de Médicis and Le Rostand on the place Edmond Rostand/ rue de Médicis @ boulevard St Michel... both are continuous-hours cafés-brasseries... both overlook the Jardin de Luxembourg aka Le Luco (which is great place to tire out the kid). For hunting/ browsing for meals/ snacks back in your room, the rue de Seine/ rue de Buci is St Germain de Prés' most famous market street (Tue-Sun), the 20 or so food stalls (including an excellent cheese guy and a very good rotisserie for roast chicken for takeaway) in the covered Marché St Germain on the rue Clément/ rue Lobineau/ rue Lobineau near Mabillon métro, and the open-air Marché Raspail (Tue + Fri + Sun mornings) on the boulevard Raspail between the rues Cherche-Midi and Rennes.

            1. I can't think of any place around Ménerbes that would serve dinner before 7pm, but I do think that concentrating your big meals on lunch would waste too much valuable daylight (I'll make an exception for one place) - especially since driving from one village to another ends up taking far more time than you would think. I'm unclear whether you intend to spend 4 nights there starting on the 19th, or leave Ménerbes on the 22nd, but if the former is correct, here's what I'd suggest: SAT the 19th: dinner at Babouchka in Coustellet, where you can have a great tagine (lamb & prune is my favorite) after starting with their pastilla (must be ordered in advance). Portions are big, so beware when ordering. SUN the 20th: go back to Coustellet early for the market and pick up a few things for a light dinner (stop in to Maison Gouin & check out their take-out dishes) - so you can have a memorable Provençal lunch at le Castelas in Sivèrgues. (Cash only.) You probably need to arrive around 12:00 so be sure to allow for sufficient traveling time. (I've only been for dinner so I'm not sure when they start serving.) MON the 21st: l'Arôme in Bonnieux starts serving at 7pm. TUE the 22nd: Auberge des Carrières in les Taillades starts serving at 7:30pm. The above order is based on the varied closing days of each restaurant. For the record, other CHers will probably suggest you go to la Bartavelle in Goult (closed TUE/WED), but in order to book you must phone between 9am & noon local time, which is not very convenient for New Yorkers to do. In any case, hopefully your daughter will be able to handle the late-ish dinners.

              2 Replies
              1. re: boredough

                thanks! question though: i see a lot of mixed to bad reviews for le castelas in sivergues. is it really worth it? and is it just cheese, cured meats and salad?

                1. re: jon

                  Yes, one of those bad reviews might have been from me, because last year le Castelas seemed to lose interest in the whole operation. However this year they appear to be back on track - we were there on Aug 18 for the 2nd time this summer, and had a great meal (accompanied by goats), along with some unusual (for le Castelas) musical entertainment by 3 local guitarists.
                  Here's a favorable recent review:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/911227
                  (If sderham is reading this, please comment on your recent meal there as well.)
                  As for the food, if you go for Sunday lunch (as opposed to lunch any other day of the week), they should be serving roast pig along with the usual appetizers (including cured ham), roasted potatoes, various goat cheeses, dessert & wine. If you're lucky enough to have good weather, you'll be able to have lunch outside - late October's cold-ish weather would most likely mean dinner inside. It's not gourmet, but it'll be quite a change from your other meals in France, and hopefully a memorable one.

              2. just an update that we are staying on the rue saint benoit off of the boulevard saint germain, if that is helpful in making recommendations closer to our hotel (which may be necessary with a toddler).

                thanks again everyone.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jon

                  My first thought is Relais de Entrecote, just down the block. Informal, lively/boistrous/noisy, easy menu for l'enfant.

                  Soup on a cold day at Le Petit Jacob, the block north of you. Charcuterie plates, etc. Actually a wine bar, but informal and the babe should be fine there. (I'd skip Au 35 on Jacob since you can do better.)

                  Walk a couple of blocks east to the Buci area where you'll find a market street plus several streets full of cafes, bakeries, chicken roaster, Asian traiteur. Grom ice cream on rue de Seine (it's never too cold for ice cream.)

                  Continue east onto St. Andre for more storefront snack options. Everything from crepes to fallafel.

                  Back on St. Benoit, walk to St Germain and just past Armani on rue de Rennes you'll find a huge Monoprix with grocery in the basement. Good source also for forgotten baby things. In fact, Monoprix is one of my favorite spots to pick up baby clothes. They knock off the expensive boutique fashions and sell them at a price you don't mind paying for something that will be outgrown in a couple of months. Also great for picking up paper products and forgotten kitchen necessities.

                2. Heartily second Le Castelas in Sivergues, where we had a great meal and a lovely time last Sunday. The setting is enchanting, the food farm-to-table fresh, and the atmosphere that kids - and adults - love.
                  Other good ferme-auberges in the area, offering good farm-fresh food:

                  Heartily second Le Castelas in Sivergues, where we had a great meal and a lovely time last Sunday. The setting is enchanting, the food farm-to-table fresh, and the atmosphere that kids - and adults - love.
                  Other good ferme-auberges in the area, offering good farm-fresh food and kid-crazy service:
                  - auberge de Tenon, in Violès
                  - Le Mas de Figues, St Rémy
                  - Le Mas de Green Vives, Chateauneuf de Gadagne

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Parigi

                    thanks. it looks like we are actually going to be staying at le prieure in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. anyone have any recent experience there, both as a restaurant and as a hotel? and, any advice for the surrounding areas?

                    thanks again!

                    1. re: jon

                      We had an enjoyable dinner in August at le Bistrot du Moulin in Villeneuve-les-Avignon http://le-bistrot-du-moulin.com. (Have not dined or stayed at le Prieuré.) In June we had a very good meal at Hiély-Lucullus in Avignon http://www.hiely-lucullus.com but were a bit dismayed by the unexplainable almost empty dining room on a Saturday night. If you're willing to travel a bit (40 mins?) I'd recommend le Mas du Capoun in Mollégès http://www.masducapoun.com

                      1. re: jon

                        "- Le Mas de Green Vives, Chateauneuf de Gadagne"
                        as recommended above.
                        Many of the recommendations are near your area. Instead of making us rewrite our recommendations, why don't you help us help you, and look up the addresses and distances from you, using Google Map ?

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Yes, second that second good recommendation.
                          Great place for kids and adults.

                    2. one last question: let's say i was able to convince my wife to leave our child with a babysitter for one of our nights in paris (this will probably be an impossible task, but i'm going to attempt it). is there a high-end restaurant in paris that is an absolute can't miss (assuming money is only slightly an object - let's say less than $600 for the two of us, with wine)? l'astrance? le pre catalan? taillevent?

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: jon

                        No such luck - there are lots of restaurants so not a singular choice. It really depends what you want, their are traditionalists through to those pushing boundaries. There are grand room and their are slick industrial spaces. There are temples to gastronomy and there are Bobo and hipster haunts.......all unmissable, but what is your personal unmissable?

                        1. re: PhilD

                          completely understandable. based on my experience, i'm thinking something closer to eleven madison park or per se or the modern (in new york) rather than something like akellare or arzak (spain), but perhaps not so fancy that i'll need a jacket and tie. let's say, somewhere that pushes boundaries but not so much that i can't recognize the food or will leave hungry because each course is the size of a thimble.

                          1. re: jon

                            Interesting - I don't think there's anything here like "eleven madison park or......the modern."
                            What rings a bell is Spring for 11 Madison and Les Tablettes for the Modern. As for Per Se try the French Laundry. Sorry i couldn't resist it.

                            1. re: jon

                              I think it's safe to say you won't get the innovation and fireworks of Spain at the top end in Paris. I am not that familiar with the top end in NYC but one suggestion could be "Goust" it's semi high end but modern and not at all stuffy. The food is very good, with modern influences (the chef is Spanish) - his strawberry and tomato gazpacho was absolutely wonderful and a great twist on an old classic.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                Just chiming in from Paris to say that so far we had a terrific meal at restaurant itineraires (we had made a reservation at spring but had to cancel it because we had to move the dates of our trip around), where our daughter was the star of lunch - unprompted, the hostess brought her a delicious bowl of mashed potatoes with vanilla foam, which she devoured - and she managed to sit through our 2 hour lunch without as much as a peep. We also had some great snacks from poilane and lauderee, and had a quick but good dinner at cafe trama on cherche midi (across from our hotel - yes when we moved our trip we also moved hotels so we are staying on cherche midi close to montparnesse).

                                Any suggestions in the immediate area for some very good bistro-type food? Have not had a steak frites yet, and the fantastic beef tartare with beets at itinerare has really piqued my interest in eating as much tartare as I can. We see that chez dumonet is down the street, but I understand it's expensive and just average. Thoughts?

                                Thanks!

                                1. re: jon

                                  Daniel Rose was lamenting that people cancel at the last minute in his limited-seatng place. Was he talking about you ? :(

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    I cancelled a week out and only because I had my chemo schedule moved around, which made us move our trip around, but thanks for the help.

                                    1. re: jon

                                      Talking about help, I cannot find what "immediate area" refers to. -- All my fault. Could you help us help you ? :)

                                      1. re: Parigi

                                        I guess at this point what would be helpful is to get a great recommendation for a place for lunch and a place for dinner near the rue Christine in the Latin quarter, which is where we will be staying when we head back to Paris early Wednesday for our last night and day in Paris before we leave.

                                        Does it make sense to take the metro/a cab to lazare Wednesday night, or walk to cigale (we wanted to go to dinner, but when I walked in and spoke with the gracious host, he said he was so sorry but they were fully committed for the evening, oh well!)? Or are there places worth seeking out closer to our hotel?

                                        Again, thanks all for the wonderful recommendations.

                                        1. re: jon

                                          You couldn't get a seat at Cigale, inside or outside, but it's so big.
                                          As for Lazare, I and my reporting friends report fully booked for quite some time & bar packed.

                                          1. re: jon

                                            As for near the rue Christine, Ze Kichen Galerie, Semilla and Les Climats are all walkable.

                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                              Thanks. Maybe the issue with cigale was that it was a Saturday night?

                                              1. re: jon

                                                Ah ha.

                          2. Hope you're enjoying yourselves in both Paris and Provence & especially hoping for full reports from everywhere you went and everything you've done since my wife and I have decided to spend a month in Provence mid-May to mid-June and have never been (with 3-4 days in Paris on either end of the trip, of course). After all, us "Outer Boroughs" Brooklynites need to help each other out, right? Right???

                            1. Back in New York and thought it would be helpful to shares my notes on our trip, so here goes:

                              - flew in to Paris on 10/10 and took a cab to our hotel (la belle juliette on rue cherche midi - would not suggest staying there, but the area was great). Room wasn't ready so we walked around, ducked into aun chien quien fumar on montparnesse for a coffee and croissant, recharged and really just started wandering.

                              - slept through lunch, but stopped into polaine on cherche midi for a bag of delicious cookies and an apple tart that had an exquisite crunchy shell and tasty apples inside. Dinner was some rice with curry tuna and some olives and bread and wine from a take away shop near our hotel.

                              - next day we walked over to the Luxembourg Gardens and ducked out of the rain and into the restaurant du Luxembourg on rue d'asses. Great duck confit shepherds pie for me and fantastic grilled salmon with leeks for my wife. My daughter enjoyed here pommes purée and haricot vert. Had not been recommended but it was delicious. For dinner, we ate at cafe trama across from our hotel. Solid global type food - bufala mozzeralla with tomatoes, couscous, etc.

                              - next day was a quick special almond croissant and cafés from lauduree on rue Bonaparte and then a very special lunch at restaurant itineraire in the Latin quarter. Highly recommended. Every dish was incredible but the tartare with beet juice and oyster leaves was the standout. It didn't hurt that the service was perfect and they made our daughter her own plate of mashed potatoes with vanilla foam. These were crazy good. Dinner was at a place called bakkus across the street from our hotel. A nice wine bar with very good food. Really enjoyed my slab of beef tartare and my wife's lamb shoulder which was essentially confit lamb. Super.

                              - next day off to menerbes in provence. There, we ate each dinner at the place we stayed, la bastide de Marie. The highlights: risotto with black truffles and veal dtock, beef Wellington, lobster Mille fuille, homemade foie gras torchon, green lentils with foie gras and escargot, and other tasty treats (these were eaten over the course of 3 dinners, amongst others). The food at the bastide was excellent if a bit heavy. Still, each dinner was incredible.

                              - also, ate a light lunch of an omelette with fries and a real incredible tarte tatin at la mas de herbes Blanche ( we looked for la mas tourteron but got lost leaving gordes) and a decent lunch of fish risotto at la grappe in rousillion.

                              - finished our trip back in Paris with a fantastic dinner at ze kitchen gallerie. This meal was awesome - we had grilled octopus, grilled calamari with mussels, an awesome cod with calamansi sauce and superb scallops. Everything was amazing and service was incredible (the host went to our hotel to grab a high chair because they didn't have one and the chef sent out a bowl of gorgeous puréed broccoli and carrots for our daughter).

                              In all, we ate very well. My only complaints being that the meals were fairly pricey - we could have done with some cheaper eats, but that was probably a function of where we ate - and I felt we were some of the youngest diners at some restaurants - for example at itineraires and zkg. Would have preferred places with diners more our age (mid 30's with kids) but that's ok.

                              Thanks for all the help everyone! Can't wait to go back!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jon

                                Very nice report - thanks.
                                Regarding "we ate at cafe trama across from our hotel:"
                                Since on another thread we're discussing places that don't get mentioned or mentioned much on CH, here's an example; The place opened this summer and I thought was quite good (6.9/10).
                                Coordinates: Le Cafe Trama, 83, rue du Cherche-Midi in the 6th, 01.45.48.33.71, closed Sundays and Mondays (Metro: Vaneau)