Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lunch. Lakeside

It's time to show off again I'm afraid. This is the heartbreaking time of year, when people we hadn't even heard of last year, but who are now friends for life, get posted to another assignment in another country. Aside from packing up all their belongings, finding somewhere to live and registering their kids in new schools, they have their Paris bucket lists to get through and what's a good friend to do other than accompany them on trips to see and do all the things they planned on doing while they lived here, but were too busy with the laundry and supervising maths homework to get around to?

Le Chalet des Iles
Checked off the list yesterday was Le Chalet des Iles, a restaurant in the middle of a lake in the Bois de Boulogne.

A ferry takes you out to the restaurant. It's easy - you just show up at the water's edge and the ferryman sails you over to your table.

This was quite a spur of the moment outing for me and my friend. Mostly we wanted to see what it was like to take a ferry to lunch, we hadn't thought that much about what the restaurant would be like when we got there. It turned out to be quite the white table cloth affair - a sign I usually take to mean best avoided when out with Florence, but the waiters weren't phased and as soon as we were seated brought us out a colouring page and crayons for the little girls. Nothing special you might think but it was a first for us in Paris. The menu included a menu enfant which you don't see in that many nice restaurants either. We ordered one for both girls and when it arrived we wished we had ordered one for ourselves. Check out that mini (saignant!) burger and the tomato and mozzarella brochettes. Starter and main course on one plate which kept both girls content while we enjoyed our excellent plats du jour.

There were also sun hats to borrow. Definitely a first for me, although I have seen blankets on the backs of chairs in some Paris cafés. Luckily for us after a week of dismal weather, yesterday was finally a day for hats not blankets.

The nice weather brought out the ducks and their babies too at which point our leisurely lunch was somewhat disrupted as we tag teamed eating dessert whilst watching that the girls didn't fall in the lake feeding their baguette to the ducks!

Ducks & G

I often hear or read that it's impossible to eat out with kids in Paris, but this doesn't have to be the case. This restaurant was especially welcoming to the children, but we haven't particularly sought out kid friendly restaurants since moving to France and we have had lots of enjoyable meals out with the family. Our trick is to arrive early, just as the restaurants are opening for lunch or dinner that way you get served much faster, but you also need to allow time for a leisurely meal if you want it to be a nice one. If you don't have time for a three course lunch grab a sandwich from the boulangerie and take it to a park bench! We check out the atmosphere in the restaurant before we sit down, if it's all white table cloths and fur coats we move on, there's another one at the corner. We've never been put off by the lack of a children's menu, Florence is always happy with a plate of frites and the girls have learnt to love rare steak in France and now choose that wherever they go. There usually aren't highchairs, but we took a portable one that clips to the table while Florence needed one and no one ever objected to us using it. Inspired by this post a long time ago, we taught Florence to drink out of a glass as soon as she started weaning and it had been such a helpful skill for her in France where cups with lids are never brought to the table. Most of the time she drinks her water out of a wine glass and she now insists on drinking Orangina straight out of the bottle. That's right, we're perfect parents, we give our two year old fries and Orangina so we can get a nice meal!

Not every time we eat out with the girls is a raging success, but part of the reason we enjoy life here is that we have been prepared to give it a try. If we had given too much thought to going out to Le Chalet des Iles we might not have gone, but it turned out to be the perfect afternoon out. Good food, friendly service, pretty scenery and perfect company!


  1. Love this post. I've found England to be super accommodating to children - to the point of having bookshelves full of toys, games and coloring books in the pubs! That kind of atmosphere makes eating out a low stress and fun experience for us all. I enjoyed hearing your experience with dining out in France and agree with your tips - especially arriving early, keeping the meal short and introducing kids to a variety of foods/cutlery (rather than just kids menus/sippy cups). That said, I also totally agree with putting a plate of fries in front of my child to have a conversation with my hubs! haha! Lovely photos and great post. :)

  2. Loved this. Darling little girls. Appetizing child menu. Ducks. A lake. And the Chalet des Iles, of course. I miss Paris. Read the Telegraph article you linked to and laughed at some of the readers' comments. That woman is nuts! :-) Bonne fin de semaine. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  3. What a lovely day and so beautifully photographed. I'll have to put this on my Paris bucket list.

  4. What a lovely outing with children and friends! It looks as if the weather was perfect and the girls are precious. That article you linked is nutty and I found myself getting angry at the mom who had some unrealistic expectations of the Parisians.

    You are giving your girls a wonderful ex-pat experience - bravo! (Don't worry about the frites and Orangina)


  5. I can't believe I posted the same place today on my blog! We didn't dine there but it's nice to know it's kid friendly. As far as the burger, saignant is NOT pour moi. Have your girls become use to this yet?

    I hope you've gone to the cute amusement park there. We spent a whole day one summer and the kids loved it.

  6. Wonderful post and wonderful pictures!
    Adorable girls!!
    merci carolg


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