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Eating out with kids in Paris

Mr. Mussel
    Paris is filled with wonderful restaurants, but not all of them are ideal for dining with kids in tow. Our kids are old enough to sit at a table quietly, but at one restaurant, before we could even take a peek inside to check it out, the maitre d' rushed out to the street and said "the restaurant is full" in French. Little did he know that we weren’t going to do anything gauche like order diet coke with our fois gras, but still, my husband and I were piqued. Before we had kids, we once worked for a French company and traveled to Paris often. We weren’t prepared for this reception with our children. It was early in the evening and the restaurant was practically empty.
Mr. Mussel
    As it turned out, we did have some great restaurant experiences with our kids. For dinner, we always stopped to read the menu posted, to see if they had a kids menu. A kids menu is a good sign that kids are welcome. Another tip is to go early, at 7:00pm.Going early reduces the hungry, irritable child phenomenon, you can be seated in neighborhood restaurants without waiting, and since the restaurants are relatively deserted at that hour, the waiters will be happy to give you their attention, practice their English on the kids, or provide them with extra desserts.
Mr. Mussel
    Look for restaurants where local families eat too. One evening we had dinner at a restaurant (Leon de Bruxelles), that not only had a kids menu, but it was filled with French families. It was a noisy, busy place with whimsical pictures of mussels painted on the walls.  Our kids felt very much at home.
    For lunch we sometimes ate at little bistros, ideal because they always had "croque monsieur" (toasted ham and cheese) sandwiches for the kids and classic French dishes to satisfy the adult palette. (I can still remember this aromatic pork dish, slow cooked in wine and herbs at a bistro near the Printemps department store …)
  Another lunch option is to go to a sandwich shop. First, observe where all the locals are heading to get their sandwiches and follow them in. Order up delicious long sandwiches on baguettes, and bottles of fizzy water or soft drinks, then take your lunch out to a nearby park. In the park, plenty of people are dining al fresco too and eating on a park bench doesn’t demand extra good table manners.
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