One of the biggest concerns for families visiting Paris definitely seems to be about eating out at restaurants – and with good reason! The Paris dining scene has plenty of clichés – from pristine white tablecloths to refined multi-course meals that last for hours! While those clichés do ring true some of the time, there are plenty of laid back, family-friendly options out there … you just need to know how to choose!
Here are some of my tried and true tips for eating out with kiddos in Paris. My husband and I LOVE eating out – especially in France – and we were not willing to give up our favorite outings once kids came along. Over the years, we’ve tried it all with kids – from a Michelin star restaurant with our 6-month-old (Do NOT recommend lol. I thought he’d sleep the whole time but he had drastically different plans!), to holes in the wall serving up udon noodles or chicken tikka. And over the years we’ve found ways to facilitate an enjoyable meal out in Paris!
Here are a couple of the tips I’ve learned over the years:
· Set realistic expectations – How long do your meals usually last at home? I would not expect kids to be able to sit still for much longer than that. Choose restaurant types that are going to offer fast service! See my recommendations for what kinds of restaurants are quickest.
· Bring extra entertainment! – I ALWAYS have my magic bag of coloring supplies tucked away in my purse, and this has saved us (and other families dinning near us lol) on sooo many occasions. I make sure there are plenty of *washable colored markers, a few coloring books that only come out at restaurants, and maybe some fun stickers. Some restaurants here will bring a little coloring page, but definitely don’t count on it!
· Relax about 'healthy meals' - Pretty much all restaurants will offer a kids’ meal. Now, don’t get your hopes up for anything fancy, or particularly healthy – despite France’s reputation for fostering a love of veggies in little ones, their kids’ meals are often devoid of color:/ The most common kids’ meal is a ‘steak haché, frites,’ – a grilled hamburger patty with fries. You can always try to exchange the fries for a green veggie on the side. A ‘sirop,’ or water flavored with fruit syrup, usually ‘grenadine’ (pomegranate) is usually included with the meal too. Other common meals are chicken nuggets, fried fish, or pasta. Kids’ meals are usually between 8 and 10 euros. You can also opt for things on the standard menu like ‘croque monsieur’ – warm ham and cheese sandwiches, or omelettes. I always try to have some fresh fruit or applesauce with me to add a healthier element to the meal:)
· Be flexible about child seating options – High chairs are slowly becoming more common – ask for a ‘chaise haute’ and keep your fingers crossed. Maybe you’ll get lucky and they’ll have one of these adorable ones! Otherwise, I would just pull the stroller up to the table, and that did the trick. I’ve also seen these fabric, portable high chairs that would be easy to travel to keep in a diaper bag.
So. What kinds of restaurants are best for families with young kids?
I always recommend sticking to a couple types of restaurants – Italian restaurants with pasta and pizza are in general going to be quick and inexpensive, in addition to offering something for everyone. If you have adventurous eaters, Indian and Japanese are also safe bets for a quick and inexpensive meal. For French cuisine, we love going to ‘brasseries’ – these are the very common, and offer traditional French cuisine in a no fuss atmosphere! This is a great way for parents to get a nice meal that can even feel a bit fancy, while kiddos get something they love too.
Here are a couple of our go to restaurants while out with kids:
A ‘Bouillon’ is a type of restaurant originating in the 1850s, serving simple and traditional French cuisine to the working class at affordable prices. I LOVE these two newcomers to the bouillon scene (Chartier near Grands Boulevards was the preferred bouillon restaurant for years, and still offers a fun experience). This place has high quality French cuisine at rock bottom prices. My kids love the steak with pepper sauce and the duck confit. I always get a soup and then just nibble on their huge portions. Make sure They also have a delivery service in case you’re stuck in with sleeping kids and don’t want to cook. English menu available. Arrive early to avoid a long line. Highly recommend!
129 Rue Caulaincourt, 75018 Paris
This is a great example of a brasserie, and is located in the residential neighborhood right behind Montmartre. They have a daily set menu of 2 or 3 courses for around 16 or 20 euros. Brasseries are great for those traditional French meals like onion soup, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, as well as salads and sandwiches. They have a good kids menu too! English menu available.
32bis Rue Sainte-Anne, 75001 Paris (near the Louvre)
27 Bd des Italiens, 75002 Paris (near the Opera Garnier)
We love this quick and easy Japanese restaurant for its ravioli, noodle soups and tempura. It is bustling inside, so no worries if your kids are loud! Our kids love the tempura and fried rice here. Easy and inexpensive, and near touristy spots.
14, rue Francœur 75018 Paris
This pizza joint run by a Naples native is dang good, and they have adorable kids' pizzas shaped like rabbits. This is a homerun every time, and it has a great location right behind the Montmartre hill.
It doesn’t get better than crepes all around to keep everyone happy! 'Creperies' serve two types of crepes – ‘galettes’ are the savoury version made with hearty buckwheat flour, and ‘crepes’ are the sweet version. Kids in general love some version of the famous ‘galette complete’ with ham, egg and cheese. Adults can get more elaborate versions. I love Breizh because it offers high quality ingredients, and there are several locations throughout Paris. English menu available.