French Restaurant Etiquette

While you’ll find certain similarities in dining out in France to dining out in the US, beware that there are some important differences. It’s important to familiarize yourself with local etiquette and customs in areas such as dining before your trip, so as not to encounter an embarrassing situation or confusion. Here are some quick tips to help:

1. Restaurant Hours

Restaurant hours are a little different in France. Whereas many lunch and dinner restaurants in the US are open from 11am until 10pm or so, and we even have 24/7 diners, it is not so in France. Breakfast typically consists of a small meal of meat, cheese, and bread at home or a pastry at a local cafe, brunch is served from 11am to 3pm, and lunch is served from 12pm to 2pm with restaurants usually closing afterwards and not reopening for dinner until 7:30 or 8pm.

2. Coffee

Coffee is not ever served with dessert in France, it is always served at the end of the meal.

3. Ordering

You’ll find that it’s common for waiters not to take your entire order all at once. Often they will go around and take orders for appetizers, then go around again for entree orders. Drink orders are not taken until after all meal orders are placed.

4. Drinks

Don’t be surprised if your drink is only filled half way. It’s considered poor taste to fill a glass all the way. Also, drinks are not re-filled until the glass is completely empty. Topping a drink off is not a typical practice as it is in American restaurants.

5. Tipping

Tipping is not required in France, but it is appreciated. If the service was good, a tip of 1 Euro or up to 5% of the meal price can be left.

6. Special Menu Change Requests

In US restaurants it is common practice to customize your meal, asking for this or that to be left off or this or that to be added to your food. It’s not the same in France. In France it is considered an insult to ask a chef to alter the way he has or is preparing your meal. You eat things the way they are prepared.

7. Left Overs

Asking for a doggy bag will get weird looks. Taking home leftovers is considered taboo. It’s not that you can’t do it, just be prepared to get questionable stares.

8. Hands on the Table

It’s bad manners to have your hands out of sight. Keeping your hands within sight at all times, or on the table, is important etiquette in French restaurants.

9. Paying Your Ticket

In France, a quick table turnover is not a priority, so waiters will not be trying to rush you out the door, and they definitely won’t just bring your ticket over to your table without you asking first. Simply ask, and you shall receive.

Trendy Restaurants in Paris Where Celebrities Dine

There are loads of restaurants in Paris that feature gourmet out-of-this-world dining, prepared by some of the best chefs in the world. If you want to dine where the celebrities dine, though, and maybe even spot 1 or 2, here’s where you need to head:

L’Avenue

L’Avenue is the go-to hotspot for celebrities when dining in Paris. Located right next to the grand Plaza Athenee Hotel, which has some of the best designer boutiques, this eaterie often caters to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, Jay-Z, and Justin Bieber.

Restaurant Helene Darroze

10 Best Paris celebrity hotspots, celebrity lifestyle, marie claire

Helene Darroze, whom the restaurant is named after, is one of the few women in the industry to be awarded with 2 Michelin Stars, and this hadn’t gone unnoticed by Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow states “The food is terrific. And the room is quiet, calm, and elegant.”

Caviar Kaspia

Specializing in the richest and most gourmet caviars, Caviar Kaspia has hosted celebrity guests such as Mischa Barton, Dita Von Teese, Irina Lazareanu, Giambattista, among others.

Baccarat

Stunning restaurant full of beautiful people. David and Victoria Beckham dined here when David celebrated his 100th cap for his English football team, and the restaurant has even been featured on the set of the TV show “Gossip Girl”.

Cafe de Flore

10 Best Paris celebrity hotspots, celebrity lifestyle, marie claire

Where do the stars go to get their coffee in Paris? Why, Cafe de Flore of course! This little cafe in the trendy area of St.Germain in Paris is even an often favorite of Kate Moss.

 

Celebrity Hot Spot Hotels in Paris

Paris isn’t just our favorite retreat, it’s also a favorite of a long list of celebrities. But, where do these celebrities prefer to stay during their stay in the City of Love? We’ve got answers!

George V

The George V has been a home away from home for celebrities in Paris for quite a while now. Back in the 60’s the Beatles had a famous pillow fight here, Michael Jackson frequented it in the 90’s, and more recently stars like Bruce Willis, Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, and Kylie Minogue have been spotted there.

The Ritz Paris

Golden hotel rooms that look straight out of a fairy tale, an indoor pool fit for a Grecian god, and always filled with celebrities – the Ritz is the place to be. Most recently Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce have been spotted as guests, but that doesn’t conclude the celebrity list. Over the years Elton John, the Prince of Whales, Coco Chanel, Nicole Kidman, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all stayed for a night or two.

Le Meurice Paris

When stars are looking for an extra dash of splendor, they head to the Le Meurice hotel in Paris. Everything about this hotel is picture perfect, except the bill – Beyonce paid a whopping 20,000 for a 1 night stay there recently.

 

The Best Patisseries in Paris

Laurent Duchene

Address: 2 Rue Wurtz

A small patisserie that really knows how to do some fancy pastry creations – absolutely delicious! They also won the MOF title in 1997 for best pastries in the city. They have a wide variety of pastries, from tarts, to various chocolate creations, to macaroons, and even artistic sugar works. Definitely worth a stop.

 

Hugo and Victor

Address: 40 boulevard Raspail

This is a relatively new patisserie that just opened in 2010, but it’s already developed quite a reputation for having some very exquisite pastries. They have triangle shaped tarts that remind one of a sumptuous apple pie, macaroons that are to-die-for, and some absolutely gorgeous chocolate art available for purchase. Even their cookies are incredibly creative and intricately designed.

Arnaud Delmontel

Address: 57 rue Damremont

This patisserie is known to have some very vibrantly colored and decorated pastries, and some absolutely adorable cookies. The flavors found in their desserts are out of this world, but at the same time resemble a bakery-next-door type of feel. Creative elegance meets down home and hearty.

 

Gerard Mulot

Address: 76 ru de Seine

You absolutely must stop in to this patisserie for a Troubadour – a decadent chocolate and caramel mousse. They also have a wide variety of macaroon flavors: orange-canelle, nougat, and citron, among others.

5 Gifts to Buy While in Paris

With all that Paris has to offer in way of shopping and gifts, it can be hard to select what to take home with you. Airlines can be strict with regulations, lack of space and weight can present a problem when packing them in your luggage, and most of us have a limited budget for bringing things home. However, don’t miss out on snagging an item or two that you can only get while in Paris! We’ve narrowed our list of favorite items to bring home as gifts (or for yourself) to five crucial things:

Chocolate

Specifically chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin’s chocolates. We recommend getting a large variety to take home. These heavenly chocolates will have everyone back home raving, or you can keep them all to yourself.

Address: 231 rue St Honore

Jams, Jellies, Honeys, and Mustards

Parisian’s do condiments very, very well. These are always a sure bet to bring home with you for gifts and to use at home as they travel well, last a while, and will add some real flair to your cooking.

Where to Buy: Any local grocery store

Wine

Perhaps one of our favorite take-home’s from Paris. You’ll have to limit your selection, unfortunately, as airlines are strict and usually only allow 2 or 3 bottles, but these are perfect additions to your home wine collection or for a special gift for a friend. Wine from Paris is a must.

Where to Buy: Local wineries or farms right outside of Paris, boutiques, any grocery store

Salami

Some people aren’t fans of salami, but if you are you can get some great salami in any deli or supermarket in Paris. It keeps pretty well while traveling, and makes for some great sandwiches and pasta toppings. Plus, if you happen to get hungry on your travels, or stuck in an airport, it’s always good to have a gourmet snack on board. If any makes it back home, these can make for great additions to gift baskets or dinner party host gifts.

Orangina

Perhaps one of the most refreshing and tastiest beverages you’ll ever have, cheap, and rarely found in the states. Picking up some Orangina is a must.

Where to Buy: Any local grocery store

 

5 Cathedrals That Are a Must-Visit in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most beautiful and famous cathedrals in the world. The building of the cathedral was started in the 12th century, and completed in the 14th century. I quickly became the central structure in Paris. However, it did go through a period of decay until Victor Hugo immortalized it in his book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Saint-Eustache Church

This gorgeous and unique church was constructed between 1532 and 1642 right in the heart of Parisa in the Les Halles and Rue Montorgueil districts. It boasts both Renaissance elements and gothic design in a seemingly unfinished design that has an essence of charm and elegance. The organ located within the church was famously used by composers Franz Listz and Berlioz to compose various works. You can still catch a concert to this day that the church.

Eglise de la Madeleine

The church, named after Mary Magdalene, resembles none other than the famous Parthenon! It was originally set to be a government hall, a library, and a national bank, however Louis XVIII decided he’d rather it be a church. Inside the church is a remarkable statue of Joan of Arc, as well as paintings depicting the marriage of the Virgin Mary and Christ’s baptism.

Saint Etienne du Mont Church

This beauty lies right behind the Pantheon in Paris’ Latin Quarter. The church was originally constructed in the 13th century, but was rebuilt between 15th and 17th century. It houses a bell tower, beautiful stained glass, and some of Paris’ oldest organs.

Saint Coeur Basilica

Sitting right in the Montmarte quarter is the Sacre Coeur Basilica, which is actually a relatively new addition to the structures in Paris. It was built during the French Revolution of 1789 and completed in the year 1919 right after World War One. This church differs from others in Paris in that it was not built in the gothic or Renaissance style, and instead was built with a Romano-Byzantine style in mind. Inside you can find a lot of gold leaf and some gorgeous decor.

Amusement Parks Galore in Paris!

Spring has arrived in Paris, so why not spend the day outdoors at one of Paris’ amazing amusement parks? You can experience everything from roller coaster rides, to safaris, to adventure themes, and much more! Here are some of our picks for amusement parks you don’t want to miss!

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris Resort France

Of course you don’t want to miss Disneyland while in Paris! 566,560 square meters of fun! They have 48 different attractions, and while some are based on the same premise as the attractions in the US, they all have their own unique Parisian spin on them. You can learn more about the park on our article here.

Parc Asterix

This park is renowned for it’s large selection of roller coasters, including the biggest roller coaster in all of Europe! Besides the roller coasters there are tons of other activities, like catching a sea lion or dolphin show! The park is open between March and October each year.

Mer de Sable

Mer de Sable (La) Near Paris France

This is the first major theme park that was built in France, and is based on a wild west theme. Such attractions as The Colorado Train, the Wild River, or the Pirate Ship provide hours of amusement. And, when you need to rest a bit, it’s chock full of great restaurants and cafes.

Parc Zoologique de Thoiry

This park was Europe’s first wildlife park. Take a wild trip here and see animals from lions, to zebras, to elephants, and more right from the safety of your car or tour bus. Definitely a must see!

Playmobile Fun Park

Playmobil Fun Park Near Paris France

If you’re looking for inexpensive entertainment for the kids, this is the place! There are tons of places for the kids to play in different imaginative settings, such as castles, doll houses, trains, and more. It also has a wonderful restaurant within the park called Dans les Nuages.

Myths About Paris

Myth #1: Parisians are rude, snobby, and unfriendly.

Of course you’ll have rude or unfriendly encounters in Paris, as you would any other city! Parisians are generally very hospitable and kind, however they are not typically as casual as you are used to – but don’t mistake that for being snobby or rude! You get what you give, Paris included. Greet Parisians in a polite and friendly manner and you’ll see the favor returned.

Myth #2: Paris is overly expensive.

Paris is a city that has many delights to offer, both expensive and inexpensive. You can get by very cheaply in Paris, but also have a great time, by eating from street vendors, staying in smaller hotels or hostels, and limiting your shopping. The rumors of the city being expensive as a whole come from the bountiful exquisite things Paris has to offer, like high fashion, gourmet restaurants, expensive excursions. But, that’s only part of what the city has to offer!

Myth #3: Parisians are always dressed to the nines in high fashion.

Yes, you are going to encounter some high fashion in Paris, as you would in New York, Los Angeles, and most other big cities. However, as a whole Paris is a very casually dressed city: jeans, sweaters, t-shirts, etc. The only thing you probably won’t notice is Parisians wearing exercise apparel around town, like the yoga pants worn every where here.

 

Myth #4: Paris is not a safe city. 

Honestly, the biggest problem one may encounter in Paris is pick pocketing. However, guns, gangs, robberies, etc. are not as common in Europe as they are in the US and other countries – it is very, very rare to encounter any acts of violence.

Myth #5: Parisian food is weird.

Of course a good bit of it will be completely different than what you’ve experienced or are used to at home, but in what country is that not true? Paris can be the culinary experience of a lifetime if you give it a chance. In fact, many professional chefs that cook at 5 star restaurants in the US went first to Paris to gain formal training and dine on Parisian cuisine.

Duck a l'Orange Recipe

Paris in Springtime

Ahhh Springtime in Paris has finally arrived! The birds a singing, skies are blue, the flowers are blooming, and everyone has relaxed from the dreariness of winter. Paris is one of those cities that is beautiful, but even more remarkable while in full bloom during springtime. The pictures prove it.

Parks in Nice

When you’re not exploring the coast line, visiting museums, or dining on gourmet cuisine at one of Nice’s Michelin starred restaurants, you may want to relax a bit in one of its many parks. Here’s our recommendations:

La Place Massena

This park can also be called Esplanade du Paillon and is situated right in the hear of Nice. An extensive garden surrounds the square and overlooks picturesque red brick buildings. Visitors are always astounded at the sharp and beautiful contrast the Massena gardens have with its surrounding architecture, and the park furthermore makes a great relaxing pit stop while gallavanting through the city.

Le Parc Phoenix

This park is a perfect spot for nature lovers. Situated on the western end of Nice and just steps from the Mediterranean coast, this park has a very large variety of flora and fauna – some 2,500 different plants. Some of the plants are very rare and carry a unique and exotic beauty. Birds and insects also play a big role at the park, as well as giant aquariums they have available for viewing.

Le Parc du Chateau

Not only does this park feature a beautiful castle and quiet (and romantic) walking paths, but there are also plenty of play areas for young children. Some of the best views of the Mediterranean can also be seen from this park.

Parc Forestier du Mont-Boron

Heavily wooded, serene, and a perfect place to take a long stroll. Mount Boron is also located within this park, and is about 190 meters high and offers excellent views of the city. The views one can get in this park are also unique in that you can see the Southern Alps, Mediterranean Sea, and two different cities quite well from within the park.

Les Jardins Suspendus du Paillon

The name of this park literally translates to “the hanging gardens of Paillon”, referring to the Paillon river. This park is situated in the heart of Nice and always carries a nice breeze in from the Mediterranean, which is just a few steps away. The garden is based on the mythical gardens of Babylon, and is truly a sight to behold. It covers about 12,000 square meters and has pine trees, Phoenix palms, Mexican and Asian vegetation, Camellias, Azaleas, and rhododendrons. The garden tends to have a magically isolated feel as well, as it is barricaded from view with a dense wall of trees, thus making the park the perfect tranquil getaway.