Shopping around the Canal Saint Martin is a fun, trendy way for kids to feel like they are doing something typically 'Parisian'. Famed Antoine et Lili right on the canal’s bank features three boutiques for home furnishings, women’s clothes and children’s goods, each quirkier than the last. Along Rue Beaurepaire there is Ideco for fun gifts, toys, and things everyone wants but doesn’t need. Along Rue Bichat, on the east side of the canal, Pop Market also sells a selection of oddball, cutesy products for the young and young at heart. Wandering the streets is the best way to discover something new, as long as you grab a pastry at Du Pain et des Idées on Rue Yves Toudic just a block away.
On the Ile de la Cité each Sunday, the flower market comes alive with all sorts of squawking and chirping birds. Kids will get a kick out of the parrots, chickens, and canaries that line the market, right next to metro Cité. Prepare to answer questions like, 'Why would anyone in Paris need a chicken?' over a nice lunch of coq au vin. Vendors sell other animals like ferrets and mice, but children are especially attracted to the dwarf bunnies that are available for some intense petting. It’s a great way to spend some time after braving the queues at Notre Dame, just be sure to bring some hand sanitizer for afterwards.
Disneyland Paris is every bit as fun as its American counterparts, with the added element of European exoticism (yes, Mickey speaks French fluently). It’s a short train ride outside of the city, but it’s worth the trek for a guaranteed day of smiles – if even just a little pouting during the queues. The two parks can both be tackled in a day, and fans of the legendary characters can do meet and greets all over, with everyone from Goofy to Captain Hook. In the autumn, Disneyland becomes even more magical, as it hosts celebrations for both Hallowe'en and Christmas, turning the park into each holiday’s respective wonderlands. Themed parades and shows in the streets provide entertainment while running off to the next ride. Consider the Fast-Pass system to avoid enormous waits with the kiddies.
Shopping around Rue du Bac is the perfect solution for fashion-conscious kids. Children’s couture reaches new levels at Bonton at the intersection with Rue de Grenelle. Further down on nearby rue Sèvres, Le Petit Bateau is a less expensive, yet still stylish place for babies and toddlers. Rose et Théo at number 80 Rue du Bac is also a great place to peek in before heading to the Bon Marché department store where the whole family can heat up the credit card. Also don’t miss trendy Pylones for quirky and design-savvy accessories and home décor. Petit Pan at no. 95 can round out the experience with child-friendly textiles and furnishings for the little one’s bedroom.
Puppet shows in Luxembourg or Buttes Chaumont, called the guignols, are great ways to entertain younger children aged 2 to 8 years old. Sure, they’re in French, but they’ll be able to recognize some of the familiar stories and fairy tales like those involving three gullible pigs and one seriously mean wolf. The old world puppets are certainly a change of pace from iPads and videogames, and both parents and youngsters will appreciate the throwback to simpler times. The theatres are open year round but shows don’t happen daily. Check the well-maintained websites for Luxembourg and Buttes Chaumont ahead of time for prices and schedules. Afterwards, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the other kid-friendly activities that these parks have to offer.
Head to the top of Galeries Lafayette for some great aerial views of Paris. The shop itself doesn’t do much in the way of entertaining kids (though the perfume section does sport a rather fancy glass cupola). But ride the escalators all the way to the top (for free!) and check out the observation deck atop the famed department store. It may not be the most time-consuming way to distract the little ones, but it’s a great bribe to allow mom and dad do a bit of shopping. There are kids clothes and food items available as well, so feel free to splash out on a little Parisian couture for the gamins.
Get a diabalo menthe in a café for a kid-friendly beverage. You want wine or coffee, but how does one hydrate children in France? On warm days, the diabalo menthe cures all problems, both satiating and silencing children at the café. The alien-green drink comes out with a rare Parisian commodity – ice. The chilled cocktail is part mint syrup, part limonade, all delicious. The freaky colour and unexpected minty taste is a cultural experience in itself and inexpensive to boot. Some cafés serve them with other syrups like raspberry or peach, in case the minty devil is a bit too devilish for certain kids.
We talk and talk about boat rides on the Seine, but what about the city’s other aquatic thoroughfare? The canal barges are a great way to cruise Paris and to climb and descend the old locks of Paris. Children will gawk at the way the boat climbs the canal as the old doors open and water rushes in and out of each lock. It also goes underground at one point, just to change things up a bit. Depending on which way you travel the canal, you will either start or end in the Parc de la Villette, one of our top recommendations for keeping kids busy. The two and a half hour trek is commented in several languages and all boats have covered portions for rainy days. Book online to save a few euros.
The line for the towers of Notre Dame seems never to end. But the almost-equally impressive climb to the top of the Sacré Coeur is a kid-friendly way to explore religion and architecture while ensuring a good night’s sleep. Some 300 stairs await you after purchasing a ticket, and the virtual lack of a line means a no-fuss ascent to one of the most beautiful views of the city. From atop the dome, Paris is at your feet, and children who make it to the top without conking out will feel triumphant knowing that they are just nearly as high as the Eiffel Tower, for a fraction of the price and wait time.
For those looking to get some hands-on experience in one of the world’s foremost culinary capitals, why not take a cooking class? For more advanced chefs, aged 13 and over, La Cuisine Paris offers two to four hour cooking classes for croissants, pastries, or even an entire meal. You can even take a market class where you’ll shop for your ingredients at a local outdoor food market before heading back to the school to prepare a meal. Group classes can be found online, but private classes are easily available for families with younger children on request. The informative and entertaining classes in English, directed by real chefs, are a great way to explore the culinary traditions that have put France on the map. Come hungry and don’t plan a meal anytime soon after.
Museums and culture
The Museum of Natural History has several galleries devoted to all sorts of animals both past and present. Be sure to check out the paleontology building for some dinosaur action, including dozens of skeletons and replicas of the mighty tyrants. The Gallery of Evolution, featuring a formerly-royal collection of stuffed animals from across the world, is a big hit with children. The animals from Africa – elephants, giraffes, and other familiar faces – seem to parade across the ground floor. Four levels of animal displays include giant whales hanging overhead, and creatures from all corners of the world. Head to the Children’s Gallery for a special treasure hunt exhibition for those aged 6-12 – parents can come, too!
The Magic Museum says it all, aimed primarily at future Harry Potters and other enthusiasts. Including a magic demonstration during the visit, with various artifacts from the world of illusion, it’ll be enough to entertain or at least bewilder the young ones. The museum is tucked away in the Marais in a vaulted cellar, and it also features a collection of over 100 automates, moving mechanical figurines from years past that will still captivate even the most iPad-savvy child. There’s even a magic store and a magic school if you want to organise a birthday party or other event with a group of children fancying themselves as wizards and sorcerers.
The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature brings together the prizes from various noblemen’s quests to Africa and beyond, and is one of many kid-friendly visits in the historic Marais district. Rooms feature all sorts of rifles, crossbows, and other devices used while hunting. Some interactive displays (not including such weapons) will keep the kids occupied, but the visit inside this old mansion and the taxidermy displays will be enough to capture their attention. A rearing polar bear in one room is just one of the many victims that will humour and frighten toddlers and tykes.
The Grévin wax museum predates Madame Tussaud’s, but the idea is the same. Located next to the covered passages, the museum is a goofy but worthwhile way to get a dose of French culture without putting the kids to sleep in front of another painting by some obscure artist. Wax models of everyone from Napoléon to Céline Dion will give you and your children the chance to play 'who’s who', and there's a weekend workshop that takes children through French history via their many wax mannequins. Don’t miss the opportunity to get a picture with one of your son or daughter’s new favourite French celebrity – or at least with Barack Obama.
The Catacombes, Paris’s underground cemetery, is a perennial favourite among children who appreciate the very much unexpected visit through the city’s old mineshafts-turned-mass grave. The visit features the bones of millions of citizens who were very artfully laid to rest here by King Louis XVI (before having his own head chopped off). Kids seem to forego any notion of claustrophobia while wandering the cavernous, chilling, but utterly captivating passages. Do be sure to arrive early in the morning if you want to be one of the first in line, or else tempt your chance after lunch. A wait is nearly unavoidable, but it will be worth it.
The Palais de la Découverte is where good students will enjoy exploring chemistry, astronomy, physics and other natural phenomena. Kids who beat those kids up will probably think it’s pretty cool as well. There are all sorts of demonstrations and shocking experiments testing electricity while a planetarium gives everyone the chance to look up at the stars and dream a little bit. There is no shortage of special exposés and workshops, so be sure to check the website. Sure it’s all in French, but most of the visuals will speak for themselves.
Going to the Louvre is a must, but kids get tired – and of course, bored. Try a treasure trail with THATLou, a scavenger hunt organised by expat Daisy Plume. Teams of 2-4 people follow clues to various works of art where they take a photo in front of it, and all scores are tallied afterwards at a café with the organiser. The hunts are themed, be it love, food, animals, or kings (among others). For those afraid to tackle the Louvre with the youngsters, this is the perfect alternative to a guided tour – a little competition while exploring priceless works of art may be just what you need to create a memorable museum experience. Note that the price of the hunt does not include entry into the Louvre.
The chocolate museum – need we say more? Choco-Story traces the history of every child’s passion with over 1,000 artifacts from across the world. The first part explores the Mayan and Aztec origins of the sweet before passing to its introduction to Europe and the royal courts and the industrialization of chocolate through the 19th century. The third part delves into chocolate today, including a demonstration of how chocolate is made, a mere hurdle before getting to every kid’s favorite part – the gift shop. The visit can include a hot chocolate at the end for an extra fee, but at least the inevitable visit to a chocolatier afterwards will be better informed.
The Cité des Sciences is a geek’s adventure land, and the place for kids to learn a thing or two without realising it. Permanent exhibitions include displays on transportation, genetics, light, sound and energy. Even if the kids don’t care for the information offered, the building itself is a whimsical, sem-futuristic experience. Don’t miss the 1950s submarine, l’Argonaute, which is open for visits. You can also kick back with a film in the Géode, the giant chrome sphere outside of the center. The engaging films touch on oceanography, arctic life, and prehistoric sea creatures among other topics – and some are in 3D. The Cité des Enfants section proposes special activities for kids aged 2 to 7.
We’re not really into freaking out your kids, but the Fragonard museum is a truly fascinating visit for the less sensitive children out there. A doctor in the 18th century basically turned animal and human bodies inside out for educational purposes – and they are still on display. There’s a man riding a horse, both flayed open, as well as various animals with their insides proudly on display among skeletons and other oddities. Think of it as the French version of the Bodies exhibit, except a bit older. The museum, part of the veterinary school, is just outside the city, easily accessible using the metro. Truly curious children will be mesmerised. Others may vomit. You’ve been warned.
Puppet shows and pony rides are just the beginning at the Luxembourg gardens. The famous carousel, the city’s oldest, was designed by the same architect behind the Opéra Garnier. Older children can try to catch brass rings with a wooden stick as the horses go around, and competitive types may need two or three rides before being satisfied. The nearby playground is the standout here, with plenty of things to climb and jump on, though there is a small cost to enter. The entire playground is fenced in, so mother hens need not worry about their little chicks running off too far.
A five-minute train journey from Versailles, in Elancourt, five hectares have been transformed into a miniature France, complete with 116 hyper-realistic models in a 1/30th scale replica. Follow a numbered route through the ramparts of Carcassonne, a small Savoyard village, the Chambord castle, right up until the port of Saint-Tropez.
Head to the Parc de la Villette playground for slides and various jungle gym-esque activities that will tire out even the most sugar-rushed child. In the north of the city on the bank of the canal, the park is full of attractions that will entertain adventurous children. The Jardin des Dunes et des Vents is an activity centre with kid-sized hamster wheels and zip lines for older kids. Games and carnival rides nearby will fill any extra time, with ample supplies of cotton candy to sustain even the most arduous playtime. Rest up on the lawns along the canal afterwards.
The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is basically one giant playground, with little streams to play in and a gazebo atop the hill to suit even the youngest princess. Children will love to discover the alcove with a raging waterfall or catch the view from the suspension bridge over the water. The hilly park makes for some treacherous hikes upwards, but that just means there’s fantastic tumbling down the grassy knolls. Down around the central pond, donkey rides and carnival games are a great way to round out the experience. Pack a picnic and stake out a spot on one of the many lawns either around the water or up on a hill overlooking the rest of the park while the kids practice their cartwheels.
The Jardin d’Acclimatation in Boulogne is the it place for French and foreign kids. Pony rides, puppet shows, an enchanted river ride? What more could any toddler or tyke want from this city? On the weekends, ride a camel or try the acrobatic obstacle course. Maybe visit the aviary with over 200 birds or the farm with livestock from Normandy. Or head to the Jardin Plage, an ideal option for the summer, allowing kids to cool off a bit with various water-themed activities. There are so many workshops, nature-based attractions, physical activities, and rides that you’ll wonder why anyone ever said that Paris is difficult for children. Make sure to thank Emperor Napoleon III for this one, kids.
The playground at Jardin des Tuileries is a big hit for kids around five and above. The mostly metal structures and rope tunnels seem like a hazard, but what kid doesn’t like a challenge? Various spinning, bouncing, and swinging apparatus will keep them occupied while parents enjoy the beauty of the gardens designed for royal parents (who had teams of servants to watch their children for them). There’s also a carousel if they want to take a few spins. During the summer, a carnival fills the garden, meaning extra smiles as children can dare the rides and games, including a Ferris wheel with a fantastic aerial view of the city.
Head east to the Bois de Vincennes for some nautical adventures aboard your very own rowboat. The enormous park hosts all sorts of child-friendly activities and festivals, including a medieval castle, a late spring carnival, and a soon-to-be-reopened zoo. It’s a breath of fresh air just a few metro stops away from central Paris on the line 1. There are also boats on the enormous lake, open for a spin when the weather’s nice. Parisian families congregate here on sunny weekends for a breath of fresh air after a week cooped up in the city – one hour of rowing starts at around €10, and hopefully dad won’t have to do all of the work.
Take a hike along these old elevated train tracks, now called the Promenade Plantée. It’s the original urban renewal project that inspired New York City’s Highline. It’s quirky and unexpected, and kids will hopefully have a ball strolling above the streets. It heads up and down a bit, going through tunnels and wooded areas before ending up near the Bois de Vincennes. There are no games or obstacle courses, just good old fashioned strolling across a landscape that’s different enough to distract the little ones for an hour or two. And since you’re still in the city, you’ll never be far from a bakery or water source when hunger and thirst hit.
Who doesn’t love the zoo? The Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes in the Latin Quarter has big cats, red pandas, and a primate house to go ape over. While not the biggest zoo in Paris, it’s the easiest to get to and is extremely child-friendly. They offer special visits and encounters as well, which are posted on their website. For a fun fact to make the kids squirm, note that this was the zoo that Parisians raided in 1870 during the Prussian siege when sources of fresh protein were scarce. Explain how to prepare kangaroo ceviche while exploring the quaint but entertaining array of beasts.
There are plenty of buildings to scale, but why not ride the hot air balloon at Parc André Citroën for a unique aerial view of Paris? Tickets are on par with the other towers, (€12 for adults, €6 for kids) but there won’t be nearly as many people as at the infamous Eiffel Tower. Call ahead if you can though, to make sure that weather conditions won’t prevent an ascent on the day you chose to visit. It’s in a pretty park, in a pretty neighborhood, but there’s not a whole lot else out there. The revamped balloon today acts as a billboard for the city’s air quality, with flashing lights changing colours based on pollution, so there’s an educational aspect to force upon your offspring as well, if you choose.
For rainy days
When it’s rainy out, why not tackle water with water? The Aquarium de Paris offers a restrained but entertaining array of fishes and other marine life, just across from the Eiffel Tower in the Palais Chaillot. All of our favourites are there, including clown fish, puffers, sharks and sting rays. While there are no dolphin or sea lion shows here (it’s not Sea World), there are plenty of small workshops and demonstrations each day. Films and other activities geared towards les enfants flesh out the experience if the rain won’t ease up, and there are even shows featuring pirates – check the day’s schedule before heading out.
The Bateaux Mouches boat rides across the Seine are usually covered, so it’s a way to stay 'outside' in the rain and still see Paris. Besides, what kid doesn’t like a boat? Depending on the company, rides around the river usually run for about an hour and offer panoramas of the city’s major sites. Different services leave from the Eiffel Tower, the Pont Neuf, Notre Dame, and Pont de l’Alma, so you can price compare online beforehand. Certain companies have a live commentary in French and English, while others feature audio guides. The 'Enchanted Cruise' is a special bonus for kids if you book it ahead of time, featuring costumed actors presenting their stories through song.
Paris's many covered passages offer shelter from the rain, but the Passage des Princes (5 Boulevard des Italiens and 97 Rue Richelieu, 2nd arrondissement) is the place for some serious toy shopping to please the younger set. The gallery is split up into different sections of toys, from dolls and stuffed animals to electronic games. You could spend a good chunk of time in here testing out the hardware while the rain pitter patters outside. It’s also the chance to bribe the kids with a new toy, even if it is just a French-speaking Furby (they do exist). Note that there is an underground arcade just next to the toy stores, in case the rain won’t’ let up and you’re in a pinch.
Wonder where all that rain goes when it falls upon the Parisian streets? A trip to the underground égouts, or sewers, is a great way to discover the answer while staying relatively dry (no splash zones down here!). Children will again embrace the novelty of entering into one of the city’s weirdest attractions. Still, it’s a visit that’s been going on since 1896 in one way or another, never ceasing to fascinate the curious traveler. Various displays and mannequins will help explain how this subterranean world functions. Go early, before all of Paris’s homes and restaurants are functioning at 100%, to avoid the worst of the odours.
Go to a kid-friendly café for some downtime while the rain falls. Moms and dads need to enjoy Paris, too. At places like Les 400 Coups or Le Poussette Café, special children’s corners are set up so that playtime for the bambinos can overlap with coffee time for the parents. Games, colouring, and kid-friendly food are available while the adults wait out the rain with something warm to drink. These places have thought of everything to make their cafés entirely baby-proof, from high chairs to plastic cups – no broken glass to be found. Kid-friendly brunches on the weekends are also worth looking into at Le Petit Café du Monde Entier, which means you don’t have to forgo eating out because your tykes are picky eaters.
When the rain is falling, the cinema comes calling. With more movie theatres per capita than most anywhere else in the world, Paris offers an easy solution to a rainy day. Note that movies in VF will be dubbed in French, while movies in VO will be in their original language. The bigger theatres with the most English-speaking choices can be found at Châtelet, on the Champs-Elysées, by the Opéra or at Bercy, among others. There’s usually a family-friendly movie or two playing at each theatre, so check out the cinema closest to you and forget about the drizzle.
It might sound kind of unadventurous, but riding a bus on a rainy day is a great way to soak up some of the sights while not drenching your shoes. Kids can listen along to the audio guides on the tourist buses, like Car Rouges or Open Tour, which offer various options for exploring the city while someone else navigates. Or, if you want to get really crazy, try your luck on one of the city buses and pretend to be a local. You can either just get on the first stop you meet when the downpour begins, or plan on catching one of the more scenic lines like the 72, 80, 86, or the famed 69 bus that packs in the monuments, taking care of some of that ever-important sightseeing.
The children’s gallery at the Centre Pompidou is a great way to engage those six and above with contemporary art. For kids who have ticked the Mona Lisa off their list, the workshops and exhibitions at the Pompidou are a fresh, hands-on way to learn about art. Check on their website to find out what’s coming up on the day of your visit. The rest of the Pompidou is itself a playground for children who will get a kick out of riding the escalator to the top for a panoramic view of the city from the hamster cage-like tubes that transport you to the top. In front of the centre there are always buskers, magic shows, or other spectacles to watch when the weather cooperates.
It’s going to rain but you want to do something fun and tasty all at the same time? Head to Sugar Daze cupcake boutique just south of Montmartre for a cupcake decorating workshop. New Yorker Cat Beurnier makes some of the best American-style confectionery in Paris and has equally beautiful decorations to adorn them. The two hour class can be scheduled privately if you have a group, or you can check out her site to see when the next event is happening (though try your luck at the last minute if the weather forecast is gloomy). And of course you then get to eat your own creations, and take them with you in case you need a pick-me-up later on when the rain continues to fall.
Is it quintessentially French? No. But do you know how to say 'spare' in French? Chances are your kids don’t either, so why not spend a rainy afternoon or evening at the lanes and witness how the French go bowling and learn a thing or two. The game may be entirely familiar, but like going to Disneyland Paris, everything is off just a touch, which is part of the fun. There are several lanes around town, including on Rue Mouffetard, by the Champs-Elysées, and a 'mini' bowling lane off Rue Oberkampf that could be especially enjoyable for younger athletes. If nothing else, it’s a great way to learn what shoe size you are in Europe.
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.