A Non-Drinker in Paris- Any thoughts?

Nov 4th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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A Non-Drinker in Paris- Any thoughts?

This will be my first time back in Paris after giving up drinking two years ago. In reading all the restaurant reviews with their many references to wine lists, etc., it occurred to me that I should probably have my response ready when a waiter comes to ask me for my wine order. My French is pretty good, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate to say "Je ne bois pas l'alcool," or if there's some other way to convey this that would be better. Will I get any strange looks? Does anyone really care if I am a Tea Totaller or not? Has anyone been in this position, i.e. returned to a wine mecca like Paris as a non-drinker? On another note, has anyone ever attended an AA meeting while vacationing in Paris? Given the personal nature of my question, if you'd prefer to e-mail me directly, I've included my e-mail address. Thanks.
Dasher is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 10:29 AM
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There's a poster here who goes to Paris frequently and does not drink.
cigalechanta is online now  
Nov 4th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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You don't need to announce you're a tee-totaller; anyone could have any sort of reason for deciding not to drink alcohol on any given occasion, not least that they just don't happen to want to. If you just ask for water with your meal, any worthwhile restaurant would regard the reason why as none of the waiter's business.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 10:34 AM
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I don't think this is an issue - there are Parisians and other tourists who don't drink alcohol, either. The restaurants and cafés shouldn't care, as they make more money on soft drinks anyway. Just say no thank you.

P.S. "Tea Totaller" is one of the best written malapropisms (if there is such a thing) I think I've ever read
StCirq is online now  
Nov 4th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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I put myself in your place as best I could and frankly I would just order a bottle of sparkling water and go on to order your meal followed by coffee. Your likely not going to see that individual server again so I would not be concerned with what he may think.

I appologize for only having an old phone book, but I did find something: Alcooliques Anonymes Intergroupe de Paris in the 5th Arr. I suggest that you try going online to see if they have a web site for more info.

Enjoy the great French food! Tom

winesipper is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 10:55 AM
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Well, I didn't go to Paris, but my boyfriend and I went to Spain which is also known for drinking wine at lunch and dinner.

My boyfriend cannot drink - he has been a recovering alcoholic for years now - and I was really concerned about all the seeming alcohol drinking while in Europe in general. I even posted a question about it on this forum a few months back. And, as everyone who responded assured me, it was absolutely no big deal. We just ordered other things: water, iced teas, and soft drinks. No weird looks or stares or anything. In fact, we probably saved a few euro. A couple of times the waiter would bring a wine list and we would simply say, "Gracias, no." He simply picked it up and took it away.

Don't worry about it. Just order something that you can drink and enjoy. The waiter won't care.
Chele60 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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They do have AA meetings in Paris, I know I've seen lists of them. I assume your organization can give you info on that. Well, here is their website

As for the wine order, you should do whatever you do in any restaurant or country, it's no different. Just don't order wine, and if the waiter asks you if you want to see the wine list or if you want any wine, you say, no thank you. I don't know why you think you have to give an explanation to a waiter.
Christina is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Thanks, all. Sounds like dining in Paris sans alcool will be just as it is here, not a big deal. It's just that the last time I was in Paris, I was a married drinker and now I'm returning as a single non-drinker - it will be quite a different traveling experience.

And St. Cirq, pardon the malapropism. I should have referred to myself as a Coffee Totaller anyway.
Dasher is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 11:23 AM
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"coca s'il vous plait"


"coca light s'il vous plait"


D l'eau naturale s'il vous plait"

All will do and will not get you any bad looks whatsoever no matter how fancy the restaurant.
xyz123 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 11:29 AM
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Hi Dasher--I mean in this in the kindest possible way--no one cares what you drink, so just put it out of your mind and have a great time!!!

On your other question re:AA, I wonder if--as an additional resource to whatever people on this board might share--there might be an AA chat room where some would share their international experiences w/you??
socialworker is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 12:07 PM
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For very good medical reasons, alcohol is off my diet. The wine question is totally a non issue. You are fretting over nothing. If you don't want any, don't order it.

I never yet had a Parisian waiter push wine or anything else.

You make it sound like you think someone will hold your nose, sit on your feet, and pour alcohol in you. No going to happen in the least.

I have eaten in Paris many times. The waiter or waitress brings what you order.

No one walks up to you and says, "Hi, my name is Pierre. I will be your waiter tonight. Let me tell you about our specials." And then starts taking drink orders before you get a menu.
bob_brown is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 12:21 PM
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Dasher, I made a life-long friend by contacting a member in a foreign country I was going to visit before I went there.

You might want to try that if you think you'll feel uncomfortable going to a meeting in a different setting. Have a wonderful time!
Carrybean is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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Simply order a bottle of still or fizzy water. That will take the place in the meal (timing) of wine.
suze is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 12:59 PM
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If you don't order any at all, it won't be a problem. However, I had a plat du jour at La Coupole that came with wine, and I took what I would consider to be a few polite sips every now and then (mostly drank the water) but the waiter got very annoyed that I wasn't drinking my wine with my steak, as it would ruin the meal or something. Very odd, but I only encountered it this one time.
twk is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 01:09 PM
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No need to take the wine even if it's on the menu, just say you prefer un carafe d'eau (tap water) or Badoit (sparkling water). Certainly no need to have the waiter bring the wine and have you stare at it or feel you have to take polite sips. If he brings it, you can ask him to take it back.

I have never ordered wine or any other kind of alcoholic drink, and I have never had anyone ask why. Well, those guys in college, but that's another story.

The only time I had to take a polite sip was during my wedding ceremony.
Nikki is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 01:20 PM
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it's not an issue if you don't make it an issue...
PrincessOfPenguins is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 01:53 PM
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StCirq, I'm not getting the joke on the term Tea Totaler, what am I missing?
elaine is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 01:56 PM
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never mind, my clouded brain (head cold) just realized that it's a clever variant spelling
elaine is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 02:15 PM
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One thing I would not bother doing is trying to explain why to every waiter along the way. Just order what you want & should the instance of being asked about wine come up, politely decline.
suze is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 02:35 PM
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You can always order a soft drink--lemonade at noon is nice in warm weather, and you will find it at many cafés.
Underhill is offline  

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