CHEESE One whiff at the door of Barthélemy (51 Rue de Grenelle; 33-1/45-48-56-75) or La Ferme St.-Hubert (21 Rue Vignon; 33-1/47-42-79-20) and your children may turn up their noses. But once they step inside either shop and see hundreds of fromages, they'll learn an important lesson—that cheese isn't always pre-sliced and wrapped in plastic. Counter their suspicions with a dollop of mild chèvre here, a spread of unpasteurized butter there.
SOUFFLÉ Zero in on the cheese, chocolate, or lemon versions at Le Soufflé (36 Rue du Mont-Thabor; 33-1/42-60-27-19).
ICE CREAM Even in winter, there can be a line outside Berthillon (31 Rue St.-Louis-en-l'Île; 33-1/43-54-31-61), Paris's best-known glacier. No artificial ingredients defile its 50 varieties, served year-round, so you can count on raspberry sorbet scooped in December to taste like summer. Still, when it comes to the king and queen of flavors—vanilla and chocolate—Dalloyau (2 Place Edmond-Rostand; 33-1/43-29-31-10; plus four other locations) makes the creamiest.
SWEETS Debauve et Gallais (30 Rue des Saints-Pères; 33-1/45-48-54-67). Silly fact: In this elegant candy store, originally a pharmacy, chocolate was once prescribed (as it was throughout France) as a cure for flatulence.
À la Mère de Famille (35 Rue du Faubourg-Montmartre; 33-1/47-70-83-69). Buying foil-wrapped chocolate francs and chocolate cigarettes is only part of the fun to be had within this 238-year-old establishment. Paris's oldest candy store has a 19th-century cashier's cage, tile floors, and enameled signs—not to mention jams, candied fruits, and assorted bonbons.
La Bonbonnière de la Trinité (4 Place d'Estienne-d'Orves; 33-1/48-74-23-38). Follow the backpack set to this sweets shop where the display is as dazzling as the final set of The Nutcracker.
PASTRIES The be-all and end-all of French pastry is the croissant, of course. Great examples are too numerous to list, but not to worry: the kids won't mind stopping at every patisserie for a taste test. While you're at it, search out these delectables: macaroons and lemon tarts from Gérard Mulot (76 Rue de Seine; 33-1/46-33-49-27); apple turnovers—especially hot from the wood-fired oven—and shortbread cookies from Boulangerie Poilâne (8 Rue du Cherche-Midi; 33-1/45-48-42-59); pain de fantaisie (bread shaped into elaborate figures and forms) at Au Bon Pain Cuit (111 Blvd. Haussmann; 33-1/42-65-06-25); and pound cake and walnut bread from Poujauran (20 Rue Jean-Nicot; 33-1/47-05-80-88).
Long for an in-house French chef?Start your kids off early with a three-hour cooking workshop (in French, but the assistant chef can translate) at the École Ritz Escoffier (Hôtel Ritz, 15 Place Vendôme; 33-1/43-16-30-50, fax 33-1/43-16-31-50; $80 per student; workshops held monthly). Students, ages 6 to 12, are issued le costume du chef —checked pants, double-breasted white jacket, long apron, and mini-toque. What's on the syllabus?Salads, hors d'oeuvres, perhaps a lemon sorbet or marble cake. They'll have a cookbook, class portrait, and diploma to remember the occasion by. But the before-and-after shots you take of your child in uniform may be the best mementos—especially if the class tried to master chocolate mousse.
Their eyes glued to microscopes, kids squeal at the squiggles of more than 6,000 organisms at the micro-zoo within the Ménagerie (57 Rue Cuvier; 33-1/40-79-37-94), Paris's otherwise out-of-date zoo, located within the Jardin des Plantes. A visit to the spectacular Grande Galerie de l'Évolution, housed in the same park's Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (57 Rue Cuvier; 33-1/40-79-30-00), shifts the focus from the minuscule to the tremendous.
The 168-year-old taxidermy shop Deyrolle (46 Rue du Bac; 33-1/42-22-30-07) is like a museum in that you can't touch the menagerie. But you can get very, very close—near enough to snap a fearsome photo that will evoke plenty of "Awesome"s back home. Most parents will have to say no to bringing home the lion; maybe the kids will settle for a bamboo-handled butterfly net.
If the stuffed animals begin to seem ominously quiet, stroll past the shops fronting the Quai de la Mégisserie at Métro Pont-Neuf across from the Île de la Cité, on the Right Bank. The sidewalks are alive with chirps, scratches, and twitters—emitted from cages of birds and little beasts for sale.
Sure, boys (and more than a few girls) are made of snakes and snails and puppy-dog tails . . . behind which smolders a little lieutenant. Here's a strategy for attacking the militaria of Paris:
ARMY CENTRAL In due proportion to his ego, the tomb of Napoleon, in the Église du Dôme at Hôtel National des Invalides (Esplanade des Invalides; 33-1/44-42-54-42), is a grand sarcophagus. It's in a circular crypt harboring six nesting coffins, topped by a gilded dome. If you want to see Napoleon's face, or at least a plaster cast of it in deathly repose, head across the courtyard to the Musée de l'Armée (Hôtel National des Invalides, 129 Rue de Grenelle; 33-1/44-42-37-70). This is the place for parents who won't allow toy weapons at home to indulge their kids. After all, the hundreds of swords, guns, and other instruments of destruction are stuck in the past.
CALL IN THE TROOPS The miniature corpsmen for sale at Au Plat d'Étain (16 Rue Guisarde; 33-1/43-54-32-06) may be on a tiny scale, but the prices are not; the best view of these little lead men may be through the window. Try gathering forces instead at Les Drapeaux de France (8 Galerie de Nemours; 33-1/40-20-00-11).
THE GOOD SOLDIER For a benign sword—one made of wood—go to Le Bonhomme de Bois (43 Blvd. Malesherbes; 33-1/40-17-03-33), where all the toys are classics.