6 Tips to Dine Like a Local in France
If you’re traveling to France and looking forward to trying out their world-famous cuisine, here are six tips to help you make the most out of your dining experience:
1- There is a Time to Eat
Restaurants in France usually have specific lunch and dinner hours. It’s important to know that they are usually closed in between those hours, so it’s best to arrive during those specific times. Most restaurants are open from noon to 2 PM and then from 7 PM to 11 PM. If you miss these hours, you can always grab some delicious French snacks from a bakery.
2- Say Bonjour and Wait to Be Seated
In France, greetings and manners are very important, especially when entering a restaurant. When you arrive, always say “Bonjour” or “Hello” in any language. Please wait to be seated and do not seat yourself, unless invited to do so by an employee. If you’re unsure, ask if there is a table available and follow the waiter to your seat.
3- The Prix Fixe Menu is the Way to Go
When looking at the menu, there should be two options: “A La Carte” where you choose individual dishes or the “Le Menu” which is usually a 2 or 3 prix fixe course meal. (It is possible that some restaurants only have A La Carte) The Prix Fixe menu is a great way to sample the best of what the restaurant has to offer at a reasonable price. You can be sure that it is what the restaurant cooks the best, and if you compare the prices to the A La Carte menu, you’ll save money. Plus, it’s a pleasant experience to enjoy a 3-course meal when dining out.
4- Order a Café Gourmand
At the end of their meal, the French like to drink coffee and eat dessert. They’ve combined the two and created the “Café Gourmand” (or “Thé Gourmand” for tea lovers). This is a platter with a coffee surrounded by 4 to 5 miniature desserts. It’s an adorable and delicious option that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. So, don’t be a tourist, and go ahead and order the Café Gourmand.
5- Try the Plat Du Jour
Many French restaurants offer a “Plat Du Jour” for lunch, which is a fresh and seasonal dish that the chef has cooked using local market ingredients. It’s always a great choice and usually cheaper than the rest of the menu options. Be sure to check out the signs outside the restaurant to see what the Plat Du Jour is for that day.
6- Tips Are Included
In France, unlike in America, waiters and waitresses receive a monthly salary, so they do not rely on tips. While tipping is not expected, it’s always appreciated if you have received great service. Make sure to bring some cash as they probably will not be able to charge it on your card. 5 to 10 % of the bill is a good amount.
By following these six tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the best that French restaurants have to offer. Bon appétit!