The French Table Etiquette - Restaurant Manners

The French have a special meal etiquette that is often quite obscure to foreigners. If you plan to go on holiday in France, why not read our dossier below? It was written by French people who give you their tips to be confident when you visit a French restaurant or are invited to a French house.

Breakfast in France

French meals are quite similar to those had in the rest of the western world. The breakfast is generally lighter than elsewhere, bread rolls or toasts, jam and croissants being a common sight on tables. Milky coffee or hot chocolate are also classics. Contrarily to what happens in British families for instance, the breakfast is not very important in France.

Lunch in France

Lunch was traditionally the main meal of the day in France, this is why the French still usually take more than one hour to have lunch. In big cities, lunch looks more like the ones had in the UK or in the USA, being a sandwich or fast-food meal.


Dinner in France

In France, the dinner has become the main meal of the day over the last couple of years, as the lunch is now often made of a simple sandwich or salad. It is a real convivial, family time. The typical French dinner is made up with the entrée (starter), plat de résistance (main dish), fromage (cheese, often with salad) or fruit, dessert and coffee. The plat de résistance is the main dish and consists of meat, poultry or fish.
Learn More about the French Food and Gastronomy!
The very difference with the meal manners in the USA and UK is about the bread, much consumed in France - generally used to wipe the plate after each course! However, in France, it is bad etiquette to butter your bread at a meal. If you are invited to a French house for dinner: It is crucial that you arrive on time. If you arrive more than 10 minutes later than invited, it is better to make a call to explain that you have been detained. Dress well. The French are fashion conscious and their version of "casual wear" is not as relaxed as it is in many other western countries.

Table manners

The fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right whilst eating. Do not rest your elbows on the table as this is bad etiquette. Your hands should be visible though.

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