Child-friendly Paris: a gourmet guide

By Natasha Edwards, a Travel Professional

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Forget chicken nuggets; in Paris, children’s palates are educated young. Here are eight restaurants geared towards toddlers and teenagers, a junior cookery school and two child-friendly French hotels

Children get in early on the French passion for food. Eating out is a part of daily life here, and that means taking the kids, too – so the city abounds in child-friendly restaurants and cafés. Even designer hangouts and gourmet bistros become family destinations, especially on Wednesdays, when French kids don’t have school, and at weekends when Parisians go out for lunch en famille.

WHAT TO EAT

Special children’s menus (where they exist) are often disappointingly predictable. You may do better ordering from the carte. Some places will happily bring an extra plate for children to share with parents, or cook up something simple on the spot. Crêperies and cafés with omelettes and croque monsieur are easy failsafes, but there are plenty of straightforward French classics to be found in bistros: from starters such as terrines and saucisson sec or cured ham and cantaloupe melon, via steak-frîtes or roast chicken, boeuf bourguignon and beef with carrots to favourite desserts suich as crème caramel and chocolate mousse.

FOR TODDLERS

Vintage bistro Astier believes in training the tastebuds at an early age. While parents lunch on excellent updated bistro cooking from a chef who used to be at Le Meurice, children aged five and under can experience “Mon premier filet de sole” (my first fillet of sole) and potato purée for €10 (on the menu until October 2009, when it will be replaced by a new dish) along with a specially embroidered Astier bib to take home. For older children, the chefs are happy to adapt dishes and the junior rum baba – served with cream, but without rum – is always a hit.

FOR TEENAGERS

Michelin three-star chef Guy Savoy has launched Opération Ado with a mission “to form the palate of the young by good cuisine” and encourage social interaction between parents and teenagers. Those aged 12 to 17 are offered a free meal, when accompanied by two adults, in his satellite restaurants: the modern bistro Les Bouquinistes, the elegant contemporary Chiberta and the rôtisserie-style Atelier de Maître Albert. The same deal applies for 15- to 17-year-olds at the gastronomic Restaurant Guy Savoy, on star turns such as artichoke and truffle soup, pigeon and john dory with sea urchins.

DESIGNER DINING

Young style fiends can dine at trendy Apollo, the former baggage hall of Denfert Rochereau station. It makes a real effort for children in a €13 menu proposing chicken supreme or sea bream fillet with green beans or pasta and a chocolate waffle. Local families pile in alongside artists and fashion people at Tokyo Eat inside the vast Palais de Tokyo contemporary art space, which offers big round tables, sputnik-style lights, and a simple kids’ menu alongside good modern fusion-tinged French cuisine. Nearby on the Champs-Elysées, the car-crazy can gaze down on Renault’s concept cars or Formula 1 models from the restaurant at the high-tech Atelier Renault, which has a children’s menu, weekend brunch and the possibility of stopping by for ice-cream sundaes in the afternoon.

DO IT YOURSELF

Children can learn to cook at the Atelier des Chefs’ 90-minute Graine de Chef classes for 7- to-12-year-olds on Wednesday afternoons, making anything from herby meatballs to pizza or fruit gratins. It helps if they understand some French but there’s plenty of participation as pupils chop, beat, whisk and fold while they prepare a drink, a main course to take home and a dessert to sample at the end.

CHILD-FRIENDLY HOTELS

Hôtel Meurice:
Bankers, film stars and children really do mix at Le Meurice, which of all Paris’s luxury hotels is the one that goes out of its way to welcome children. There are various possibilities of extra beds, suites and connecting rooms, the Tuileries gardens across the street, soft toy mascot, child-sized dressing gowns, afternoon tea buffet, a Paris discovery passport and even special high-chairs designed by Philippe Starck. Family package from €1,350.

Hôtel Valadon
Twelve attractively designed rooms are good sized, all with a double bed and a real third bed; or you can book the whole “famly cottage” across the courtyard, which has two interconnecting rooms. Triple from €165.

RESTAURANT CHOICE

Apollo (+33 1 45 38 76 77, http://restaurant-apollo.com), 3 place Denfert-Rochereau.
Astier (+33 1 43 57 16 35, www.restaurant-astier.com), 44 rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud.
Atelier Renault (+33 8 11 88 28 11, www.atelier.renault.com), 53 avenue des Champs-Elysées.
Guy Savoy (www.guysavoy.com): Restaurant Guy Savoy (+33 1 43 80 40 61), 18 rue Troyon; Atelier de Maître Albert (+33 1 56 81 30 01), 1 rue Maître Albert; Les Bouquinistes (+33 1 43 25 45 94), 53 quai des Grands-Augustins; Chiberta (+33 1 53 53 42 00), 3 rue Arsène-Houssaye .
Tokyo Eat (+33 1 47 20 00 29, www.palaisdetokyo.com), Palais de Tokyo, 13 avenue du Président-Wilson.

COOKERY CLASS

L’Atelier des Chefs (www.atelierdeschefs.com), 10 rue de Penthièvre.

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More information on Child-friendly Paris: a gourmet guide:

Author:
Natasha Edwards
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
4
Average: 4 (2 votes)
Total views:
2420
First uploaded:
16 June 2009
Last updated:
3 years 40 weeks 5 days 3 hours 29 min ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Family, Food and Drink
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
restaurants, children

Natasha recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Hôtel Meurice
£315
4.9
2. Hotel Valadon
£97
N/A

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Community comments (2)

Rating:
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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I would never have thought of Paris as a destination for a family holiday, but this guide certainly makes it seem a very good idea! Thank you for all the useful details.

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Rating:
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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

From a parent thinking of taking her children to Paris, this was really helpful. This guide answered all of my normal queries about food, accommodation and are they child friendly? It was useful to know that the restaurant “Astier” are happy to serve toddlers but still serve a very good bistro style meal for adults.

The hotel Meurice sounded lovely and very welcoming to children, even if was quite pricey for families. I liked the sound of the hotel Valadon that has a family cottage to hire at a more realistic price and may suit larger families.

It is nice to see a city break guide that does not compromise on the standard even if you bring the children along.

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