Café Gourmand

There is a new fashion in restaurants in Paris that I cannot get enough of: it’s called a café gourmand. We all know that having a dessert after a big steak could be viewed as slightly indulgent, so to get around any guilt that a huge slice of cake might entail, the Parisians have come up with the idea of a “café gourmand” (literally a greedy coffee).

A café gourmand normally consists of an ordinary “café express” plus 2 or 3 tiny little pots of different sweets — often a macaroon, a little crème brulée and maybe something with chocolate in it. Perfect to share with friends or with a “gourmand” little one. Ask your waiter what the café gourmand of the day is — in a lot of cafés the little pots of goodness change on a daily basis, alternatively you can just let yourself be surprised.

Le Bonbon au Palais

I am one of those rare people who doesn’t like sweets and chocolate (unlike Courtney, who has a chocolate box full of fabulous looking chocolates which comes out after every dinner).  It has never occurred to me to wander down the sweet aisle in a supermarket… but my daughters are very, very different from me!

Nowadays when I am in a supermarket I am actively circumventing the bonbon aisle, because if I don’t I will be stuck there for hours explaining that I really don’t think it is a great idea to buy a cartload of sweets every time we shop. But, there is a place that I do like to take them to every once in a while. It is a little sweet shop called “Le Bonbon au Palais” in the 5th arrondissement. The owner has travelled the whole of France to find the best bonbons from every region. The collection is pretty impressive.

The goodies are displayed in big glass vases and the shop is decorated like a 1950′s school room. It is so French, so old-school and so pretty that I get carried away every time we go and buy loads more than I planned! (more…)

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Le Petit Bazar

In an arrondissement far, far away from my usual stomping ground, I stumbled upon a great little place: Le Petit Bazar.

It’s a shop, a tea room, a space for ateliers and courses — a concept dreamed up by two friends… These girls decided to change careers and dedicate themselves to something both were passionate about: an organic, healthy lifestyle and all things kid related. Together they started le Petit Bazar about 18 months ago and it has been a great success story so far. Most of the clothes on sale are organic and/or fair trade and also very lovely. There is a great selection of toys on offer and also some vintage kids furniture. To top it all off, you can sit down for a cup of tea and let your little one roam the premises.

It is such a fab  idea to unite a kids concept shop with a tea room and a space from which you can run ateliers. I do hope they open some more Petit Bazars all over Paris! (more…)

Les 400 Coups

400coups_5There has been a revolution in the Parisien café scene! Les 400 Coups, a family café, has recently opened its doors! When I heard about this phenomenon I just had to pack up my kids, jump on the metro and experience this place in person. Here in Paris, cafés with play areas are virtually nonexistent — my kids have gotten used to sitting at a table and amusing themselves with a silver spoon and a sugar packet; though after a while they do get a wee bit bored. So off we went to Les 400 Coups and it was fantastic. The food might not be haute cuisine but the coffee was great and the moment we got to the café, the kids started playing in the play area and I did not hear from them for a good hour. And for you moms who cannot be separated from your laptop there is even wifi. (more…)

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Chez Bogato, a patisserie just for kids

gateau-fort-300x226You would think that in a city like Paris the patisserie market would be saturated. But there was one thing missing — a patisserie specializing in kid’s cakes! Now we have Chez Bogato, a fabulous kids bakery that makes the best birthday cakes ever! Castles, crowns, tigers and shoes…there is nothing they cannot make into a cake.

If your little one is such a cooking enthusiast that only a cake he has made himself will do, you can throw the birthday party at the Bogato atelier where the kids get to decorate their own cakes. Another option is to have the team come to you with all the equipment needed and throw a party in the comfort of your own home. (more…)

Eating out in France

cafe-lindustrieMichela and I are often asked about family-friendly restaurants in our respective cities. Try as we might, we are hard pressed to come up with good suggestions. There is a huge North/South divide in Europe regarding the obvious signs of child friendliness in restaurants.

In Northern Europe you will more often than not be offered a highchair when you enter a restaurant with your kids. Often you find changing tables in the bathrooms and kids menus, and many places even have special toys they bring out. In Southern Europe it is rare to find this kind of service, BUT this does not mean that children are not welcome. In fact, they are almost always welcome, but are expected to fit around the adults. (more…)

Marché des Enfants Rouge

1Courtney and her family were over in Paris visiting from London and we wandered around the North Marais, doing a bit of shopping, people watching and coffee drinking. It really reminded me about how much I love this little area. I want to write a thousand and one posts on all the lovely little places you can find around here…

I cannot believe I have not written a post about the Marché des Enfants Rouge yet. It is one of the oldest markets of Paris, founded in 1647 and has been converted into a fabulous market/food hall.

Food from all over the world is available… from Morocco, the Caribbean and Japan and it all gets consumed on big communal tables outside the food stalls. There is also a great organic fruit and vegetable stall and a beautiful flower stall. (more…)

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Le Loir dans la Théière

loir.jpgI had a coffee with the lovely Kirby from Petite Alma this morning in one of my favourite cafés and I suddenly realised that I have never written a post about it! It is called Le Loir dans la Théière on 3 rue des Rosiers in the Marais (Tel : 01 42 72 90 61).

We go there with friends and family for the fabulous brunch on the weekends (get there early, or risk waiting in a huge queue), we also go for lunch and we especially go there to have a big piece of cake in the afternoons. The lemon pie has a meringue crust that is at least 10 centimetres high! I have had friends refuse to leave town before having a slice of this pie! I am also very partial to their Tarte Tatin — it’s really incredible.

The thing I like almost as much as the food is the atmosphere and decor; it hasn’t changed a bit in all the years the café has been around. You will find mismatched, big leather armchairs and old tables. Laptops are not allowed, and even when there is a huge queue snaking out of the café onto the road, every customer is allowed to take as much time as he needs.

There is no special kid-friendly equipment but the staff are really nice and try to accommodate you as much as possible, though it is best to avoid turning up with a big pushchair during the peak hours.

- Emilie

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Du Pain et Des Idées

pain1.jpgI stumbled across the Michelin’s top ten bakeries in Paris report recently and was almost disappointed to see my favourite bakery in Paris listed as the first of the top ten. I thought it was my little secret that no one knew about! Though Du Pain et Des Idées is a tiny, unassuming bakery, the bread and patisseries are out of this world. I found it purely by chance: I was working in a studio on the same street and was looking for the local bakery to take home a baguette one evening… and I was in for a surprise. The baguette had a wonderfully crisp, but not hard, crust and the inside was so delicate!

Christophe Vasseur, the owner of Du Pain et Des Idées started off as a fashion house sales executive when he had a change of heart at the age of 30 (as you do) and decided to become one of the top bakers in the capital. He has more than succeeded. Voted best baker of Paris by Gault and Millau (a famous food magazine) last year, this year he was voted one of the 10 ten bakers in Paris by the Michelin guide.

If you are ever in the area I personally recommend the baguette, the orange blossom brioche called a ‘mouna’, or the apple turnover with a whole baked half-apple in it.

I can only repeat — out of this world!

- Emilie

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Le Pain Quotidien

pain.jpgLe Pain Quotidien now has branches in 15 different countries and long may it continue expanding.

We are loyal customers at our nearest branch in the Marais. There are several reasons for our frequent visits: the food is healthy, fresh and simple and my whole family, young and old, loves going there. They serve great grilled sandwiches and salads, which are a little bit different from the usual bistro fair.

But the great food is not my main reason for recommending the Pain Quotidien. It is one of the rare places you can find a changing table in the toilets… and high chairs! I know that for most countries this is so normal it is not worth mentioning, but in Paris this a phenomenon!

So to paraphrase: it’s a cafe that serves great food and is child friendly. It doesn’t have much going against it, does it?

- Emilie

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Rue Vavin

vavin.jpgJust south of the Luxembourg Gardens you can find the Rue Vavin, a mom’s dream of a shopping street. Along the rue Vavin and its side street, the rue Brea, you will find some of the best Parisian children’s shops. From the affordable — a great DPAM baby shop– to the more expensive — Jacadi and Catimini both have a branch on this street– there is everything you could wish to get for your kid. Paris’ first children’s hairdresser Simon is based in the rue Vavin (16 rue Vavin. Tél. : 01 53 10 08 12). There are also toy shops, chain shops, shoe shops and other cute, little individual boutiques.

I personally recommend dragging the family for a quick shopping mission around the rue and then heading off to the playground in the Luxembourg Gardens — a great day out for the whole family.

- Emilie

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Pink Flamingo

pink.jpgMy favourite pizza place in Paris goes by the original name of Pink Flamingo. The first outpost was out by the Canal St Martin, but a new venue has just opened, in the middle of the Marais. Why do I like it so much? The pizzas are great — the Pink Flamingo crew has decided not to recreate Italian classics badly, but to successfully take pizza to a new level. Our two favourites are the ‘Basquiat’ which is covered in blue cheese and figs and the ‘Aphrodite’, a houmous and aubergine pizza. (At the moment there is even a Hawaian inspired ‘Obama’ pizza…) Not only are the pizzas great but there is something else that makes the “Pink Flamingo” our family’s favourite: Their Pink-Nik service! You order the pizzas in the restaurant. You are then given a helium-filled pink balloon and tell them in which park in the area you are going to be. Fifteen minutes later a pizza delivery guy will come and find you. The area has lots of little parks with playgrounds so your kids can have lots of fun while you kick back and relax. Granted, it is a bit cold for this at the moment, but spring is just around the corner…. The restaurants are really cute too, in a retro-kitsch kind of way! – Emilie

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Cupcakes conquer Paris

cupcake.jpgIn France we are so proud of our pâtisseries that I never thought this day would arrive…. the first cupcake bakery in Paris has opened its doors! Luckily for me it is right beside my daughter’s favourite playground on Rue de La Forge Royale in the 11th arrondissement.

Cupcakes and Co. is the brain child of two sisters Maddie and Rebecca, a trained patisserie chef. They spent years baking cupcakes for their family and friends and decided to turn their hobby into a business.

And the time was right. Cupcakes and Co opened in September and they have been overwhelmed by the response. Last week they were able to showcase their cupcakes at Colette, and in January they will be at Gallerie Lafayette, and the list goes on and on. It seems that the whole of Paris has been secretly yearning for cupcakes….

What I love about this place is that they stock classic cupcakes like carrot, chocolate and vanilla, but they also continuously come up with new ideas like a moelleux au chocolat cupcake or a violette flavoured cupcake. You never know what flavour you are going to find when you go to the shop, but you know you will never be disappointed….
Last but not least, the cupcakes are made out of organic ingredients, without any additives or colorants. There you go: the perfect excuse to indulge yourself…

- Emilie

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Ladurée Macarons

laduree2.jpgI really could not decide what to recommend as my Parisian try and buy’. It was such a tough choice but in the end I reckon the macarons from Ladurée win!

They are a must try, not only because they are so delicious; but also because they are delicate, beautiful, retro and soo Parisian. You can get imitation macarons in patisseries all over Paris but none of them compare to their Ladurée competitor.

The delicate pastries are made out of 2 crispy macarons sandwiched together with a ganache filling. In other words they are made out of a concoction of eggs, sugar and almonds and a couple of secret ingredients which are only known to the Ladurée pastry chef. The flavours range from the simple vanilla, chocolate and pistachio ones to the unusual Lily of the Valley and Java Pepper flavours. Every season Ladurée invents a new flavour. If you are in Paris in the next couple of months I strongly suggest you try this season’s creation: Mango Jasmin!

There are several Ladurée locations in which these little treats are sold. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…

- Emilie

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L’Apriori tea room

gallery.jpgIn Paris there are very few obvious kid-friendly restaurants. However, when you start scratching the surface a little bit, there a lots of little places tucked away that are first and foremost friendly; and so, by default, good for kids.
One of such places is the L’Apriori lunch and tea room in the Galerie Vivienne — a beautiful, glass covered Gallery off rue Vivienne in the 1st arrondissement (thanks to Marie from LFG for introducing me to this gem). It is super close to the Musee en Herbe, and is a little oasis of calm in the middle of frenetic Paris.
It is run by a lovely American lady and the food is amazing. Scones, crumbles and tarts are all presented in a old-world style. Another wonderful thing, and very unusual for here in Paris, is that they offer half potions of all their divine cakes, crumbles and scones… perfect for small and yet hungry stomachs! I have also heard that the brunch is divine, though I myself have not tried it. (more…)

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