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Food Etiquette


Breakfast is typically from 7 to 9 AM. A traditional French Breakfast is a cup of coffee along with a croissant.

Lunch is typically from 12 to 2 PM. Traditionally lunch was the largest meal of the day and was quite elaborate yet today a typical lunch is often sandwiches or salads. In the country, meals will not be served in restaurants after these times.

Dinner is typically does not begin before 20:30 (8:30 PM) wit 20h being the earliest. In general, dinner outside the home usually will consist of a first course, a main course, a cheese course, a salad and possibly dessert. Coffee is always after the dessert course and chocolates. Wine is carefully selected and always served.

Dining Etiquette

Except for a business meeting, arriving fifteen to thirty minutes after the expected time is acceptable and for private dinner invitations, expected. However if you will be more than 30 minutes late, it is expected that you will telephone to explain you have been detained.

Dinner usually takes from two to four hours because one meal consists of several courses served separately.

Guests should eat small portions of every course. The only two kinds of food that a guest is allowed to refuse are oysters and curry.

Table Manners

  • Table manners are Continental meaning they do not switch their knife and fork as people do in the United States. The fork remains in the left hand and the knife in the right hand and almost everything in France is eaten with a knife and fork.
  • Keep both hands above the table and elbows general off.
  • A general rule of them is not to begin eating until the hostess says ‘bon appetit’.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table, although your hands should be visible and not in your lap.
  • Napkins (serviette) should be placed in you lap as soon as you are seated, used often and left crumpled (never folded) to the side of you plate when you leave the table.
  • Pass dishes to the left and finish everything on your plate.
  • Bread is broken not cut, normally is eaten without butter, placed on the table (where a bread plate would be in North America and the UK) and unless at a formal occasion, can be used to mop up sauce or soup.
  • Do not cut salad with a knife and fork. Fold the lettuce on to your fork. Peel and slice fruit before eating it.
  • You can serve yourself water but wait for wine to be poured for you. Leave your wineglass nearly full if you do not want more.
  • If you have not finished eating, place your fork across your knife on your plate. When finished, place your utensils face down across the top of your plate.
  • Avoid blowing your nose at the table and NEVER in the napkin.