Toolkit: At the Restaurant
At The Restaurant
France is all about food. The country has immense pride in its gastronomic culture, especially since French cuisine and its rituals have actually been classified as a UNESCO “world intangible heritage”. So if in France, why not explore some restaurants? Our toolkit will make you a pro at ordering plats*
If you’re vegetarian, then eating traditional French cuisine may prove a bit difficult as many dishes are meat-based. However, there are vegetarian options on offer a lot of the time. You may enjoy a warm “crottin de chèvre” salad or find a “cassoulet printanière”. Naturally the food varies by region, and there are many restaurants serving regional specialties around. So explore France through its culinary traditions too!
France is not lacking in any way in world cuisine either, so you’ll find plenty of Italian or Asian restaurants around. Often you’ll see Asian or Lebanese “traiteurs”. These joints are more informal than restaurants and the term “traiteur” essentially means a “purveyor” of that type of cuisine. The French have also caught onto the idea of brunch, and this hybrid meal may be more expensive in France than what you’re used to, but they certainly do it big! “Le brunch” is usually only served on weekends and comes with a selection of breakfast foods, beverages and condiments.
However for eating on normal weekdays, restaurants usually operate with a set menu sort of principle. You can order either a starter and a main or a main and a desert or indeed all three for a set price. Naturally you aren’t obligated to go with this sort of deal, but it’s often the best value for money (especially for lunch!). If you head outside, you’ll see lots of people enjoying their lunch on a terrasse and maybe even doing some classic people-watching.
When it comes to service, there is a stereotype of the French offering bad customer service. This is both true and untrue. Truth is, it really depends on the area in France and the place that you visit. You could receive wonderful service or…you may not. Trick is to not take it personally if your serveur or serveuse** is a bit cold. A 10% service tax is actually included in France with your bill, but if you’re feeling extra generous, then no harm in giving an extra tip! Fun fact: The French word for “tip” is “pourboire” which translates to “for drink”. Interestingly the German translation of the word, “Trinkgeld”, also involves drinking, but the English is rather teetotal.
Hopefully you now feel ready to get out and get eating in France. And if you feel like getting a drink before, why not check out our other toolkit about bars in France?
*plat is French for “dish”.
**serveur/serveuse is French for “waiter/waitress”.
Click HERE for more handy language toolkits to help you with life in France.