3 Quick Tips for Surviving and Enjoying a Meal at Sidewalk Cafe in Paris
Updated: Mar 27
When we traveled to Paris with our two young boys, Maddox and Henry, over the summer of 2018, we were very nervous to see how trip around the world with two young boys would go. Maddox was 6 and Henry was 3. Paris is known for having some of the best food in the world, so naturally, we were hoping to enjoy it. Travelers come from around the world to enjoy French specialties like steak frites (Steak with french fries), escargot, duck confit, steak tartare, oysters, french onion soup, decadent desserts, pastries, and more types of cheese than there are days of the year. With some much amazing food, it's no wonder that a visitor in Paris would want to spend a lot of time enjoying the amazing food at one of the many relaxing sidewalk cafes. Hoping for the best, we came prepared with a couple of tricks up our sleeve and let the beautiful city do the rest of the work.
1-Bring some Play-Doh.
Play-Doh, the easily moldable clay-like substance for kids was first developed as a wallpaper cleaner. I cannot imagine how the Play-Doh made primarily if water, flour, and salt was used to clean wallpaper. It seems much more at home keeping young hands occupied. While traveling, we kept two small containers of Play-Do with us in the bottom of our stroller. During every meal, the boys grabbed the Play-Doh and make their own creations while we waited for our food. By the time we left Paris, the Play-do was well worn, kind of dirty, and dried out from so much use. Our boys were very contended during the long dinners with the simple and cheap dough. We were very pleasantly surprised to see how well it kept them entertained during an age electronic tablets for entertainment. We also found that the Play-Doh kept both boys occupied despite their age gap and differing interests.
2-Observe the city
From a sidewalk cafe, it is easy to observe all of the Parisian life happening around you. We watched together as scooters zipped thru traffic, small European cars honked at traffic, sirens sounded and police and ambulances hurried past, we also saw families, school-aged children in lines, and people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world walked by. Aside from the people watching, there is lots of great architecture all around soak up and enjoy. Paris is a beautiful city and if you and your kids take a second to soak up all of the beauty around you, you will find that there is plenty to enjoy. When we travel, we like to ask our kids to look around and tell us what is different about this city from home. We look around and discuss the different language or the way the restaurants are different or the same. There is a lot of observe and compare from the sounds the ambulance makes, the history or significance of an area, the architecture and so on. Observing the details of the city around you and discussing it is a great way for your kids to learn and keep them occupied while you wait for and enjoy your meal.
3-Encourage your kids to try new foods
Our son, Maddox, is a real foodie. During our trip to Paris, he discovered a love for escargot. What is not to love, though? Escargot is always delicious cooked in shallots, garlic, butter, and herbs. He also enjoyed fresh raw oysters and his fair share of stinky French cheeses, which our pickier younger son, Henry, also tried and enjoyed. Even the simple things in Paris can be better and exciting to try. Kids will love the simple buttered baguette included with most meals. Take time to enjoy the much more flavorful French butter (we actually found one we had in France on Amazon!) and ask your kids if they think it tastes better or worse than the butter from home.
If your kids are not interested in trying a lot of new foods, France has some basic foods kids will enjoy like hamburger (served without a bun, it is just cooked ground hamburger meat) and fries. You can also find buttered noodles, and do a little bit of desert bribery if it suits your parenting style.
I hope these tips help you and your family enjoy the sidewalk cafes of Paris like a true Parisian. Au revoir!
Our first meal in Paris. Henry was too tired to enjoy his steak!
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