Paris is notoriously tough for finding kid-friendly restaurants. But Le Playtime, possibly the best restaurant in the city for eating with children, has reopened for summer.
I feel for parents coming to Paris with their kids. Sure, they can race sailboats in the Jardin de Luxembourg fountain, or chase pigeons in the Place Georges Pompidou. But when it comes mealtime, things start to get painful.
Restaurants in Paris are not known for their flexibility when it comes to special requests. Nor do they typically open early. Service isn’t terribly efficient, and eating out here is not especially reasonable. (Just four reasons why you hardly ever see Parisian kids dining out with maman et papa.)
You could spend your whole family vacation in heinous fast casual chains like Hippopotamus or Indiana—or at sidewalk cafés. But their romantic reputation is mostly undeserved; unless you like your meal pre-cooked, you wouldn’t want to feed your kids in 99% of them, not to mention yourself.
In one of the great food cities of the world, this is tragic.
But with the summer sun comes hope, and the reopening of the wonderful barge restaurant Le Playtime—complete with a small, rubber duckie-stocked pool for the little ones. Docked off the Cité de la Mode et du Design, it breaks the golden rule that Parisian eateries on boats are to be avoided like the plague.
Le Playtime has cannily enlisted chef Franck Baranger, of the popular Caillebotte and Le Pantruche restaurants, to supervise the kitchen. For kids, there are gourmet chicken nuggets. For parents, an easy menu features well-sourced charcuterie and house made terrines, simple gazpacho and salads, squid ink risotto and a chunky, comforting brandade de morue (mashed potato and dried cod).
All are served by an unusually charming staff that doesn’t blink as walkways fill up with Matchbox cars and rug rats. This is the kind of establishment you could probably find in any large American city. In Paris, it’s a unicorn. If you’re headed over with the family on a school break, put it on your list.
Alexandra Marshall is a contributing editor and the Paris correspondent at Travel & Leisure. Food, design, architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means, living in Paris, that she is very busy. You can follow her on Twitter at @alexmabroad and on Instagram at @alexandra3465.