Sunday was another beautiful day and we decided to end it by going out for a nice dinner in Bayeux. There was a restaurant that we passed by earlier in the week that we knew we would have to try out called Lion d’Or. After having a wonderful 3-course dinner, I looked around and realized that there were no children. Yes, it was a bit fancy but it was the only restaurant at this hotel.
Then it occurred to me that I could not recall the last time we have eaten out and saw children in the restaurant. Either the kids are very well behaved or their parents leave them at home.
This lead to a funny discussion with my French husband in the car on the way home that went a little something like this:
– Me: Isn’t it strange that we never see kids at restaurants.
– Hubbie: No, they are usually left at home with a babysitter.
– Me: Well when I am breastfeeding, that will not be so simple since I do not want her to use a bottle for at least a few months.
– Hubbie: Then I guess it will be a while before we eat out again. What were you thinking, you could breastfeed her at the restaurant?
– Me: Yes, I would go to the bathroom and do it or discreetly at the table if we are sitting away in a corner. It is not unusual in the US.
– Hubbie: Well I will not be going to the restaurant with you.
– Me: Then I guess I will be dining out with our daughter alone because I do not want to wait months to eat some great food.
– Hubbie: Why didn’t I marry a French woman? (we both laughed at that one… I am a bit stubborn)
This attitude about bringing infants to a restaurant bothered me a little, since I do not want only to go to cafés or brasseries when she is too young for me to pump milk to a bottle. Even if we have my mother-in-law babysit while we are away, it would be very difficult to drop her off and then return within 2 or 3 hours. We spent 3 hours at the restaurant and 30 minutes of driving each way. It is nearly impossible to eat out and be in a rush. The servers in France take their time and let you appreciate the meal instead of rushing you out the door to fill more tables.
I researched further and I found that, in general, it is not considered appropriate to bring children to restaurants at all – not even when they are over 6 months old. People tend to think that at this time, the child should be at home in bed. You are more likely to see children at restaurants in touristy places, since, well, tourists will be the ones to bring their children and not locals. Maybe I can get away with it if I speak in English instead of French at the restaurants! I may seem like a silly tourist, but at least I will be eating excellent food!
Most of the advice I have found is that if you do bring your child to a restaurant, you will not get crazy stares, you will just be more likely to be the only one with a child there. You should not expect special accommodations for your child, such as a highchair or children’s menu. Smaller restaurants may have booster chairs available and will be more likely to make something off the menu for children, such as pasta with ham slices.
Of course, I am not talking about 4-star restaurants. Even in the US, I think it is uncommon to bring children to those fancy places. In France, we do not have restaurants like the Olive Garden or Red Lobster where it is common to bring the entire family. In fact, it is rare to see any large chain restaurants (no, I do not consider McDonalds or Kentucky Friend Chicken as restaurants!). Most restaurants are unique in their food and decorations, making it a pleasant experience to try a different one each time you are out. It is rare that me and my husband go to the same one twice, even if we loved the menu.
I will be hoping that our little girl is an angel that can be nursed quietly and discreetly! I LOVE food and I hope that I do not have a long wait to try out another new restaurant.