50 things for kids to do in Paris • Restaurants and cafés
Picky eaters can’t help but love the timeless steak frites at Relais d’Entrecote where the only option is, well, steak and chips covered in the restaurant’s secret green herb sauce. The waitresses even come around with a second helping once the first round is tucked away. Get there early to avoid a lengthy queue, but relax knowing there will be no menu to translate. Quick service and no-fuss food means a hassle-free meal for mom and dad, unless your tween decides to go vegetarian after a trip to the local butcher.
With so many pastries to choose from, how do we even begin? Consider booking a private tour with an English-speaking guide to satisfy any sweet teeth while putting the kids in someone else’s hands. Various companies offer group and private tours geared towards pastries, chocolate, and ice cream that are easily tailored to children. Guides will take you to several shops where you’ll learn about various croissants, eclairs, and macarons among other sweets – and of course you’ll taste a few. The shops alone will keep the little ones captivated with their eye-popping pastries. If you want to organise your own tour of pastries, download the Paris Pastry app to find the best shops in your area.
Frozen yogurt at Baci Bisou is not only healthy but also fun since the little ones can create their own concoctions with a variety of fruit, Nutella sauce, nuts, and Haribo gummies. Choose from either plain yogurt or the flavor of the day and then go crazy with the candies and toppings. While shopping around the Canal St-Martin neighbourhood, it’s a kid-friendly stop in the rain or shine, with a few tables and seats to rest weary feet. There are also colourful Italian candies and other confectionery available to take home. The bubbly owner, from Turin, will manage to put a smile on anyone’s face with his homemade fro-yo.
All year long, Angelina’s hot chocolate is a crowd pleaser for kids of all ages, located along the Jardin des Tuileries. Call it touristy, but there’s a solid reason for that – plus it’s a great pick-me-up after an afternoon at the Louvre. The iconic tearoom is an old-world setting for some serious hot beverages. And what kid will complain when the pot of thick, sweet chocolate drink comes served with a generous helping of fluffy whipped Chantilly cream? There may be a line, so if you do have to wait a bit, you might as well tack on a pastry or two to satiate any hunger.
Stop in at Sugarplum Cake Shop for some refreshing lemonade and pastry from this American-style cake shop. After spending a day at the Luxembourg Gardens riding the carousel and climbing around on the playground, a bit of sugar will do a body good. The Hello Dolly bars, chock full of nuts and chocolate, go down a bit easier with a glass of chilled lemonade infused with vanilla bean. The charming North American owners prepare all of their fresh baked goods daily, including carrot cake, cupcakes, and cookies, among other more familiar pastries. It’s a great choice for snack time.
With so many ice cream choices, how do you decide which frozen treat to purchase? Staples include Italian-style gelato from Amorino or traditional ice cream from Berthillon, so why not just try both and have a taste-off? Amorino has boutiques all over town and prepares their cones in the shape of flowers, to the delight of any sun-baked child. Berthillon is traditionally consumed from boutiques selling on the Ile-St-Louis and while the portions are smaller, each small boule of ice cream is packed with flavor. Be sure to check out our list of other ice cream spots in the city for other shops to cool off on a hot day.
Mazet de Montargis sells traditional French praslines – caramelised almonds that are just the perfect amount of sweet. The whimsical, old-world shop is full of pretty packaging and a glass case full of macarons, chocolates and other confections. Kids will love that they can sample the wares around the store, including chocolate-covered hazelnuts, salted-butter caramel praslines, and some of their chocolate candies. Mum and Dad will appreciate that they can be sure the kiddies will like their purchases before taking them home. If you want to stop for a bit, the friendly staff will let you sit down at their bar in the back and enjoy a small pot of chocolate fondue and cookies – it’s an easy sell to any youngling.
Pink Flamingo is one of the least traditional pizza places in Paris, but their quirky pies (think eight cheeses or aubergine and hummus) never fail. It may seem a bit over the top or gourmet for kids, but Jamie and Marie, the Franco-American owners, have three of their own, so they know a thing or two about catering to younger palates. On warmer evenings at their flagship location, they’ll give little Johnny or Sue a balloon and the delivery boy will find you along the Canal whilst picnicking the night away. If you’re in an apartment, they’ll deliver your pies by bicycle if you’re in the delivery zone. How’s that for service?
Restaurants are not always kid-friendly, and waiters are not always ready to take special orders. Sometimes it’s just easier to take things into your own hands. Picnics are a whimsical way to feed the family when/if the weather cooperates. Head to one of Paris’s many open air markets in the morning and let the young ones pick their own fruits and veggies for a picnic spread. The Bastille or the Aligre markets are great choices for strawberries, cheeses, charcuteries, and other picnic essentials. Throw in some bread and a few macarons and you’re set for an afternoon lounging around your favorite park, like the nearby Place des Vosges, or along the banks of the Seine – or even back at the hotel if storm clouds gather.
Restaurant Chartier is a rough and tumble old-world brasserie that serves up basic French fare at even more basic prices. This is the place to let the kids go crazy and try snails or foie gras without breaking the bank if they don’t like it in the end. They’ll be captivated by the 100-year old décor and the way the waiter scribbles your order on the paper table cloth. Get there early as a line usually forms for dinner, though lunch is a bit easier. Don’t prepare to be wowed by the food or service, but kick back knowing that any uneaten food won’t be setting you back too much.