The Independent Parent: We are going to Paris this summer with our children. Can you recommend any family-friendly restaurants?

Q At the end of our gîte holiday this year we will be visiting Paris, from 31 July to 3 August, with our children aged eight and four. Can you recommend any child-friendly restaurants for us?

Q At the end of our gîte holiday this year we will be visiting Paris, from 31 July to 3 August, with our children aged eight and four. Can you recommend any child-friendly restaurants for us?

J McNicol, via e-mail

A After a day's sightseeing, you will undoubtedly need a good refuelling stop. Thankfully, there are plenty of child-friendly restaurants in Paris that will happily prepare smaller portions for children, but don't expect to be welcomed with open arms wherever you go. Of course, there is the usual plentiful supply of fast-food restaurants, such as the ubiquitous McDonalds, Hard Rock Café and Hippopotamus (a chain of family-oriented restaurants), but I'm presuming that you would prefer something a little more "Parisian" in flavour.

One thing you do need to bear in mind, however, is that most Parisians head off for their holidays from mid-July until mid-August, so you will find the city a little less bustling than expected. This will have a knock-on effect on restaurants, so it's worth double-checking that all are open when you plan to visit.

I have picked out some more traditional eateries that provide entertainment and special menus for children. Well located for the Champs Elysées is L'Appart (00 33 1 5375 4200; www.lappart.com), a cosy restaurant situated in an appartement or flat, at 9 rue du Colisée. The menu is predominantly Mediterranean, but on Sundays it offers a brunch menu featuring eggs, sausages, salmon, brioches, croissants and fresh fruit. While you sit back and enjoy brunch, the children can be whisked off to their own corner of the restaurant to bake cakes under expert supervision. The restaurant is open 12.30-3pm for Sunday brunch, which costs €30 (£20) for adults and €23 (£15) for children, including cake-baking and a cake to take home.

Nearby you'll also find Spicy (00 33 1 5659 6259; www.spicyrestaurant.com) at 8 Avenue Franklin D Roosevelt, where the resident clown, Cookie, provides entertainment for children (and adults too, I suspect) every Sunday. The décor is unfussy, as is the menu. It offers traditional, Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as penne pasta with tomato and chilli sauce as well as roast chicken with mashed potato, Caesar salad and sautéed duck fillet with stewed apples and wild cranberry sauce. There is also a brunch menu on Sundays from 12.30 to 4pm, featuring scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, small poultry dishes, pancakes, bread and fruits. This costs €28 (£18.70) for adults and €13 (£8.70) for children.

For an afternoon treat, try La Charlotte en l'Ile (00 33 1 4354 2583), a quaint and charming tearoom at 24 rue Saint-Louis-en-Ile, well located for a visit to Notre Dame. If nothing else, then go there for the hot chocolate, made with pure melted chocolate, which is sure to be a hit with your children. The room is decorated with fairy-lights and masks, and opens specially during school holidays on Wednesdays for a children's puppet show. Otherwise it is open Thursdays to Sundays 2-8pm. For more sweet treats, don't miss the ice cream on sale down the street at Glacier Berthillon (00 33 1 4354 3161), 31 rue Saint-Louis. Believed by many to be the best in Paris, if not France, you'll inevitably have to join the queue snaking down the street, but take my word for it - the ice cream will be worth the wait.

Of course, a visit to France wouldn't be complete without tucking into a crêpe. Most good crêperies are located in the Latin Quarter, and one of the most popular is the Crêperie des Arts (00 33 1 4326 1568) at 27 rue St André des Arts, near the Notre Dame. They have a good selection of savoury and sweet crêpes and a set-price lunch menu of €8.40 (£5.60).

Finally, you might want to visit, the family-friendly Club Med World (00 33 1 4468 7081; www.clubmedworld.com), which is located within walking distance of the Parc de Bercy and the Seine, in the 12th arrondissement, at 39 Cour Saint-Emilion. It offers an array of family-friendly activities and there are also three restaurants, which between them offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of these, the Oliveraie, serves a Mediterranean buffet at lunchtime, costing between €5 (£3.60) and €14.50 (£10.30), with a children's menu costing €9 (£6.40). The Oliveraie also offers brunch on Sundays for €30 (£21.40) per adult and €17 (£12) for children aged six-12, which includes activities such as circus training. For children under six a colouring book is also provided during the meal. If you would like something a little more adventurous, the other two restaurants are a sushi and a tapas bar.

Finally, if you are in Paris in August and you all haven't had enough of the beach, make sure you check out the Paris Plage. This annual event is a man-made stretch of beach linking the Quai Henri IV and the Quai des Tuileries. Entry is free and there are parasols, books and lots of free activities to join in to prolong your summer holidays. Dates have not yet been finalised , but keep and eye on the website www.paris.fr for further information.

A good resource for information on Paris is Pariscope, a weekly guide to shopping, events, tourist attractions, eating and drinking in the capital, which can be bought at branches of FNAC, news-stands and also WH Smith at Waterloo Station, London, for 80p.

You could also contact The French Tourist Office on 0906 8 244 123 (calls cost 60p per minute) and see www.franceguide.com.

Q I am flying into either Florence or Pisa airport in early September with my two children aged three and four. I need to rent a car for four days, but my youngest child needs a car seat. Do any car hire firms offer this service, as I would rather not have to carry one with me?

H Ross, via e-mail

A Hiring a child's car seat with your holiday car in Europe is fairly straightforward. Most companies now offer the service and charge a flat rate regardless of the number of days you hire the car for. Prices tend to hover around €35 (£25) per seat, but can differ depending on the age of the child and the size of the seat.

The cost of the hire is usually payable locally on arrival. For instance, Holiday Autos (0870 400 0010; www.holidayautos.co.uk), offers four-day rental on an air-conditioned compact car such as a Citroen Xsara or a Fiat Brava, from both Florence's Vespucci Airport and Pisa's Galileo Galilei Airport, for £190. The rental of the child's seat will cost an additional €42 (£30) on top of the car hire rate, and is payable on arrival.

Similarly, Hertz (08708 448844; www.hertz.com) charges €35 (£25) for a child's seat. Four days' car hire in either city would cost around €217 (£145) in a Ford Focus or similar, for a total price of around £170.

One of the cheapest options I could find was that offered by Sixt (01246 506776; www.e-sixt.co.uk). Four days' hire, again in either city, of an air-conditioned five-door Ford Focus (or similar) will cost from £130, with an additional £27 for the car seat. However, the cheapest price I found was that offered by Thrifty (01494 751600; www.thrifty.co.uk), costing £112 for four days' rental of a Fiat Punto or similar, with an additional charge of €35 (£25) for the child's seat, which again is payable locally on arrival.

Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or email crusoe@independent.co.uk

Comments