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.

February Featured Restaurant: Angelina

Located under the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, in the heart of Paris, is Angelina. A restaurant decorated in Belle Epoque style, named for the daughter in law of the founder Antoine Rumpelmayer, and a celebrated eatery in Paris. 

This restaurant is just a stone’s throw from the Louvre, and is the absolute perfect place to stop in for a sweet gourmet treat. They are absolutely famous for their decadent ‘African’ hot chocolate – a velvety, sweet, and thick hot chocolate that you almost want to eat it with a spoon. They are also well known for their Mont Blanc – a dessert made out of meringue, whipped cream, and sweet chestnuts.

The restaurant was originally opened in 1903 and have served many a Parisian aristocrat, including Proust, Coco Chanel, and Francais. The te room style restaurant doesn’t just offer sweets, however that is their specialty. You can also grab some lunch while you’re there – a silky omelette, satisfying club sandwich, or a bite of quiche lorraine. All food is fabulous, but the price can be a bit hefty.

On the way out of the restaurant, you’ll pass through its bakery – serving up some of the most scrumptious desserts in all of Paris (and some of the most beautiful!). This is the perfect place to grab some treats for later, and a hot chocolate to wash down lunch.

Here’s what some reviewers are saying about Angelina (courtesy of www.TripAdvisor.Com):

“We had tried cakes and coffee at the Angelina in the Louvre, all tasted fantastic!! But didn’t have hot chocolate that day, so we rushed to Angelina 15 minutes before closing time on the night before we left Paris, just to have the amazing hot chocolate..and it was so worth it! They let us in with no problem even though they were about to close, but only warned us that we must order as soon as we sit, and we did, so much richness in this hot chocolate dream come true! We bought a bottle to take home and enjoyed it almost a month later…Amazing how they bottled the exact same taste!”

“I read about this place and it’s hot chocolate before going to Paris, so we made a stop here after discovering that Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Even though they only served the brunch until 14:00 and we got there 13:50, we got to order it. And oh my god what a pleasant meal! And so much! The hot chocolate was just too good! I have never ever had anything like it! The juice was fresh, my omlett very good! The pasteris was good! It was just too much. By the time we got to the salamon we were full. But we had try to drink up the chocolate and taste the macrones. I would come back here any day. Especially it it’s a bit cold or rainy outside. It’s not the cheapest brunch, but you’re in Paris! Just go for it!”

“I had my birthday brunch here and it was an absolute treat. The hot chocolate is to die for! A charming stylish restaurant with a real Parisian feel. A must for all tourists who want to experience old fashioned service with lovely food. Not cheap but a treat.”

“Yes, it’s touristy. Ok, it’s also pricey if you’re on a budget. 
But the hot chocolate (Chocolat L’Africain) is truly to die for; melted-chocolate thick, it is served with a glass of water, just in case you choke or experience a sweetness overdose. By the way, even in Winter, I think it’s impossible to drink it all, so you can always order one and share it.
I also ordered a Mont Blanc, so I was at risk for an overdose. 
The waiter was surprisingly attentive (considering the large amount of customers) and as said before, it is not cheap (I spent around 20 euros), but the decor and great desserts make it worthy of a few extra euros.”

The restaurant is open for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner. You can also order takeout or grab a late night dessert. For more information, visit the site’s website at: