The French artisan market is a great outing for the family, with stalls, music, food and roving entertainment. Every year there are some familiar faces like La Parisienne Pates and new businesses to discover, which keeps things interesting for annual visitors like us.
This year’s was the best set up for kids that I’ve experienced so far, so here are my highlights for families.
Young and old alike love crepes and there were several crepe stalls to try. There were generally waits of up to 15 minutes for your crepe so I suggest ordering, wandering around neighbouring stalls, then coming back. Or divert kids’ attention by enjoying a macaron, petits choux or cruffin.
We were really excited to discover the petits choux by South Yarra patisserie A La Folie. Macarons are almost a bit passe now but not everyone is doing eclairs and custard-filled petits choux. These small, light delicacies were each filled with a different flavoured crème patissière and because we couldn’t choose we bought one in each flavour (eight). They were beautifully packaged in a slipbox and disappeared in under 2 minutes! My favourite being the subtly flavoured pistachio.
Agathe Patisserie is a blog favourite, a bakery business run by a French mother of three. She’s famous for her caneles and croissants but I think her outstanding menu item is the cruffin ($6).
Mon Dieu! The cruffin is a croissant-muffin hybrid with a custard centre and we tried one pumped full of Nutella and another with crème patissière and a salted caramel topping. It’s the flaky, multi-layered pastry and crispy outer shell that makes this an amazing treat a standout. Don’t miss it if you like French pastries.
The Children’s Garden was near the bottom of the area this time, a perfect secluded space away from the bustle and noise of the main precincts. The only thing to watch was the pond which fascinated Baby 2.0 but meant that he had to keep a close eye on him.
In the Children’s Garden Petit Atelier are running free craft classes but they are generally for older kids as it seemed to involve sewing and threading. Throughout the day there is also French story time and face painting.
Under 5s can colour in Le Tour Eiffel (which kept Lady AB amused for 20 minutes) or make shapes with lavender scented playdough.
In the Children’s Garden was a stall for Le Club Enfants, a preschooler French, dance and art/craft class in Camberwell and Canterbury. As well as promoting their classes for 3-5 year olds they were selling cute little wooden Janod cars ($3 each or 2 for $5), tricolore headbands ($5) and hairclips ($3) and even a tricolore tutu which I loved but couldn’t think of a reason to buy!
There’s also a large playground in Como Park right outside the gate if you want to really tire the kids out.
Note that we went to Paris to Provence on Saturday around midday. This was probably peak period and thus quite challenging with young kids, as it was crowded in areas, there wasn’t much seating and thoroughfares often involved stairs or grassy hills, making pram moving a bit cumbersome. Given the number of people we didn’t get to see as much as we’d like to (especially the Carousel, I was really looking forward to it!). If you’re going tomorrow Sunday I recommend turning up first thing at 10am. I’m making a mental note to try and go on the Friday instead next year.
Note also that parking is problematic around the area and your best bets are the residential streets east of Williams Road (or public transport). Given that one of the entrances is on Williams Road I think they need the French equivalent of a Lollipop Lady to help people cross traffic, as the traffic lights are quite far away.
Paris to Provence, Como Houe & Garden, Cnr Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra
Friday 21 November 12pm to 8pm, Saturday 22 November 10am to 6pm, Sunday 23 November 10am to 4pm
Adults $17 pre booked online & $22 at the gate (ages 17 and up)
Children $5 pre booked online or at the gate (ages 6 to 16). Ages 5 and under are free.