Food & Drink

Tips on Eating in Paris

By on March 1, 2014

Paris Marais RestaurantI traveled to Paris once with people who were baffled and confused every time we sat down for a meal. This made the rest of us uneasy and eating out in Paris became a tedious tiresome chore instead of a world class culinary experience. With a little effort, eating in Paris can be a fun and pleasurable experience. It’s just a matter of getting over the cultural barrier. Here are some tips on etiquette that will help you enjoy eating & drinking in Paris while on your way to becoming a temporary local.

An Etiquette Guide to Eating in Paris:

  • Greet your waiter. Say “Bonjour” “Bonsoir” or something. Otherwise you will immediately start off on the wrong foot. Not greeting your waiter is considered rude.
  • Even if you don’t speak French, try your best at “Do you speak English?” “Please” “Thank you”. It will go a long way and open up communication between you and your waiter.
  • If you order water, your waiter will ask if you prefer flat or sparkling. Don’t be baffled or confused by this. Just simply pick one. If you don’t want bottled water, it’s okay to order tap water.
  • Don’t order French Onion soup in warm weather. Also, don’t share dishes like French Onion soup. They are usually meant for just one person and is interpreted as cheap and rude by the restaurant staff.
  • Judging French food in a French restaurant in Paris, is not the best idea. For example, don’t be that person who is grossed out by the steak tartare or escargot next to you. You’ll just come off as an ignorant foreigner with no taste.
  • Don’t ask to change the menu or recipe. This confuses the waiter and insults the chef. Avoid making overly demanding requests from your waiter.
  • Remember the table is yours so enjoy your meal. They will not bring the check until you ask for it. This is part of French hospitality. Bringing the check before you ask for it would be like suddenly asking a guest to leave. Meals are long affairs in Paris so no need to rush.
  • Pay attention to the volume level around you. Avoid being loud foreigners while others around you speak in hushed tones.
  • If you are paying with a credit card without a chip (chip and pin card), kindly ask your waiter if they can swipe your card with the magnetic strip.
  • Parisians eat dinner late. The locals will fill a place around 8 or 9 pm.
  • If it’s a popular spot or you have your heart set on a location, book a table ahead.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter what he recommends.

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Angel Castellanos
Pasadena, CA

I'm a US based travel expert and spend my time teaching people how to travel well, smart and often. I'm passionate about travel and helping people save time & money. This blog, or travel lounge, is a collection of my practical travel advice and experiences from traveling 8-10 weeks internationally each year. I believe that travel has never been easier and that everyone can achieve their travel dreams. Happy Travels!

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