We're new parents with a dilemma. We're looking for a city in France or Italy to call home for 6 weeks this summer. Thing is, our 1-year-old son's sleep schedule could send us home every night at the very hour most people head out to dinner.
I'm soul-searching to find out how much it would kill me to be in Lyon or Bologna and not be able to dine out in the evening. We'll cook at home and picnic too, of course, but we still want to eat out. The last time I was in France, I was childless, and oblivious to codes of conduct regarding such things. Maybe it's no big deal, after all. Are restaurants with al fresco seating the answer? Is Italy generally more laid back than France about infants in restaurants? If you had to confine your foodie adventures to daylight hours, where in France or Italy would you go?

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    This is a bit broad. And you will need to think about what is the behavior of your toddler. I've visited restaurants(many but non Michelin) in France last year with my 1 year old daughter and it was fine, so it would have to be taken on a case by case basis.
    – Karlson
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 5:11
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    Anecdotal: We have spent some weeks in Italy in winter (thus no "al fresco", if I found the correct explanation for the term) with an infant of barely more than a year of age. We went to restaurants once a day (preparing the other warm meal ourselves at the accommodation), usually for lunch due to the timing problems you mention ("the very hour most people head out to dinner" - that's around 7or 8 PM in Italy), and we did not come across a single restaurant that would not have some baby's high chairs ready for little customers. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 7:50
  • One request for clarification: "Is Italy generally more laid back about infants in restaurants?" - more than what/where? What I wrote about Italy generally seems to apply similarly to various other places (as different as Germany and China, for instance), so I wonder what your comparison is based upon. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 7:59
  • Are restaurants tolerant of children in your country? If so, there's a very high chance it's the same everywhere since, believe it or not, locals have children too :)
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 10:42
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    I don't exactly understand your question: in Italy you can enter with toddlers in any restaurant. If needed, you can breastfeed; you can leave them in a stroller or let them seat in high-chairs, which are in virtually every restaurant. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 12:22

2 Answers 2


Both Italy and France (indeed all Mediterranean countries) are very tolerant of children of all ages being up and about at times I would consider to be well past a time I would consider to be in the best interest of the child to be asleep in bed.

However, depending upon their behaviour, they may not be at all welcome in some up-market restaurants. These are not the bistro type and so al fresco is certainly one solution.

  • I mentioned two, but we ate every day. Multiple years. Do I have to list the 25 - 30 of them? Or conversely which up-market restaurant is it where children are not welcome? Can you name some?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 5:56

In France children are most welcome to all restaurants. Indeed most restaurants not only welcome children but also pets like dogs can enjoy company of their owner while no customer even makes a reluctant gesture for presence of pets especially dogs. I was also surprised to see young children playing running around laughing and shouting after midnight while their parents were talking with friends and drinking at bars.

  • What about cats :3 Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 22:08

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