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Sep 19, 2013 11:42 AM

Paris and Provence with a 2 year old

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.


                  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:
                  (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.