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.

 

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 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.

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.

Our Picks for the Best Parks in Paris

Luxemburg Gardens

These beautifully laid out gardens were established originally by an Italian monarch Marie de Medicis in the 17th century. Currently this park is one of Paris’ most popular places to stroll, relax, and play. Children can catch puppet shows that are often featured in the gardens, and families can go boating on the ponds within the park. The park features a Renaissance type layout, statues of past queens, and iron chairs for relaxing in the sun.

Tuileries Garden

These gardens are one of Paris’ oldest and most lavish, dating back to the 16th century when it was commissioned by Maria de Medici. The gardens are featured on the walk from the Louvre to the Champs-Elysees – making what is called the “triumphant line”. Sculptures made by Rodin and Maillol can be found here, as well as plenty of spots to play, sun, and gaze at the plentiful flowers.

Bois de Boulogne

The site the park rests on used to be royal hunting grounds and house a monastery, but today is a great length of green beauty that rests along Paris’ western outskirts. Parisians love this park for its quiet beauty. It features waterfalls, lakes, bluffs, beautiful oak trees, and cherry trees. Cyclists love to come here for its beautiful paths, and there’s even a children’s garden. However, visiting the park after dark is not recommended as it can be unsafe.

Parc Andre Citroen

Unlike the other parks, this park is a modern style one. It used to be an industrial site, which is why its name makes sense as it was named after a French automobile manufacturer Andre Citroen. The contemporary styles featured in the park are a blend of French, Japanese, and English styles. Visitors can enjoy the herbal botanical garden, a children’s garden, and a contemporary garden that fuses light, water, metal, and greenery.

Tour Paris by Helicopter

Ixair

This is definitely a more expensive activity, but so worth it. You may be able to get spectacular views from the tops of tall buildings, or the Eiffel Tower, but absolutely nothing beats the view you’ll get from a helicopter.

IXAIR Helicopteres gives amazing helicopter tours of the city. They start at the Heliport de Paris, sweep over the capital, Versailles, and over the grand countryside. They have several different packages, all ranging in price and time frame, but one of the neater things they offer is the 45 minute ‘Grand Paris Tour’ that touches down at the Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace, which is where space rockets, including the Concorde are housed.

The Abbaye de Chaalis tour is another neat package that flies you over Versailles palace, to the Abbaye Royale de Chaalis, and through the Ermenonville forest that has beautiful flora and fauna and ancient abbey ruins.

You can contact IXAIR to inquire on fees and reservations available by phone or by email. We’ve listed the contact information below:

Phone: 33 1 30 08 80 80

Email: contact@ixair.com

There are also several other companies offering this service, with IXAIR being the most well known. We’ve listed some links below:

FrenchAdeventures.Com : http://www.frenchadventures.com/heliparis.html

Heli-Challenge: http://www.eurostar.com/UK/uk/leisure/frequent_travellers/spend_points_by_category/experiences/paris_experiences/paris_helicoptere.jsp

 

Enjoying the Outdoors in Paris

It’s almost springtime in Paris – the birds are singing, love is (of course) in the air, the outdoor markets are bustling, and the sidewalk bistros are home to day-long people watchers/newspaper readers/coffee sippers. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting this enchanted city during the spring time, there’s plenty of things to do in the fresh French air. Here’s some of our favorites:

Le Vergers de Champlain

Of course you can always stop by one of the local markets to pick up some fresh produce, but why do that when you can pick your own? The Vergers de Champlain is only 23 km south of Paris, and is always rotating about 40 different fruits and vegetables between seasons. Come here and pick your own fresh apples, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers and much more!

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Sometimes parks are just parks, but this isn’t one of those times. The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is often missed, but this 19th arrondissement park shouldn’t be missed. It’s on the site of a former gypsum and limestone quarry, full of winding paths, waterfalls, temples, and cliffs, and is a little piece of heaven right in the middle of the busy city. Perfect place for a midday stroll.

Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise

Talk a walk with the dead in the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise celebrity cemetery. You can even view the famous (and unfortunately graffitid) grave of the late Jim Morrison. Despite the grave subject, it’s truly a beautiful cemetery.

Place des Vosges

La place des Vosges, dans le IVe arrondissement de Paris.

Here lies the city’s first planned square, built in 1612 by Louis XII, it’s symmetrically laid out, including carriageways. Its style is also a bit different than what you are used to seeing in Paris, red brick and stone and steeply pitched slate roofs.

La Coulee verte

A long time ago, steam engines used to blow through here, but no more as of 1969. Now the area is full of glass shops, translucent apartments, tree lined cycling paths, and beautiful gardens. You can even catch some fantastic artwork decorating the outside of the police station, cirque 1930’s. Pack a picnic to eat in the Jardin de Reuilly and take a stroll through this unique part of Paris.

French Cheeses

The cheeses of France are just about as well known as the wines of France. There are currently almost 1,000 types of different cheeses, many of which are covered under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union that decreed certain established cheeses are “protected designation of origin (PDO), and other, less stringent, designations of geographical origin for traditional specialities, such as the French appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system, the Italian denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system, and the Spanish Denominación de origen system.” (Wikipedia)

The cheeses are classified under four different categories:

  • Fermier – This is a farmhouse cheese that is produced on the same farm where the milk is produced.
  • Artisanal – A cheese produced in small batches using either their own farm milk or milk purchased elsewhere.
  • Cooperative – An area that has joined together to produce cheese from milk from a local dairy.
  • Industriel: Factory made cheese from local or regional milk.

Some of the most popular French cheeses are:

Camembert

Description: Soft, creamy, ripe surface

Brie de Meaux

Description: Delicate, creamy, soft

Roquefort

Description: Blue cheese made from sheeps milk

Boursin

Description: Soft, creamy, wide variety of flavors, similar to cream cheese

Reblochon

Description: Soft, strong taste

Munster

Description: Very strong in taste, soft

Pont l’Évêque

Description: Soft, creamy, smooth, pungent

Époisses

Description: Reddish orange in color, pungent

Chèvre

Description: Goat cheese

Tomme de Savoie

Description: Mild and semi-firm