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Asking for tap water in Paris restaurants, a faux pas?

Asking for tap water in Paris restaurants, a faux pas?

Mar 25th, 2006, 04:48 AM
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Asking for tap water in Paris restaurants, a faux pas?

OK, I know I am putting myself at risk for sounding like a real cheapo by asking this question. And, I would always ask for bottled water at a good restaurant. But, I don’t drink wine and at more casual restaurants I would be perfectly happy drinking the establishment’s tap water. My partner thinks this is crazy and “we are not going to Paris for you to order tap water at a restaurant” I always leave a good tip but water is not that important to me. What are your thoughts?
InMiami is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:09 AM
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Absoultely yes. Ask for a carafe d'eau. The tap water is excellent. No one will object.
RonZ is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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Not really answering your question, but you should really try some of the carbonated waters in France. If your sole experience is with Perrier, try ordering l'eau avec petit gas (lightly carbonated water). Usually you will end up with Badoit or Pellegrino (Italian) that are quite delicious and aren't very expensive in a cafe. You will fit right in while your partner has wine.
robjame is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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If that's a faux pas, I've blissfully been doing it for years in Paris and all over France. Many Parisians do so as well. It's no big thing.
Speak French? Maybe someone can do a better job of this, but say, "K-raf dough".

Now if we could just make it that simple to do so in Italy. . .
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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I'm not sure I understand the reasoning..you would order bottled water only at a "good" restaurant? Why is that? Is it an "image" issue for you?

If you like tap water you like tap water. If you like bottled you like bottled.

What you order, other than the total price and the service received should drive the tip amount IMO. You can still leave a tip which reflects your overall satisfaction whether you drink tap water or not.

As to your partner; remind that person that you ARE going to Paris to enjoy the meals AND that includes drinking the type of water that you WANT to drink.

Restaurnats arethere to serve the needs of the customers. I suppose for some unconfident perople it is the other way around.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:21 AM
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You can ask for tap water at any restaurant, and it's free. Tap water in Paris is of excellent quality and free of any bizarre taste.

Bottled waters come in fizzy and flat varieties. The flat varieties taste much like tap water (which is not surprising, since that's often just about what they are). The fizzy waters have variable tastes. I prefer Badoit with meals because it fizzes only slightly (just enough to keep taste buds running), and it has very little taste of its own.

By the way, the tip is included in the bill in French restaurants; you don't need to leave a tip.

As for the question of what other people will think, it is hard for me to comment, since I don't go to restaurants for the purpose of making an impression upon others.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 05:24 AM
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I just got back from Paris a couple of days ago. My (French) friends and I ordered tap water everywhere we went, as we always do. It's not a faux pas - it's typical.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 25th, 2006, 06:01 AM
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Most restaurants have the carafes all waiting in a chilled area to immediately supply your request. And the request will not create "eye-rolling" even in a fine restaurant. Paris water is very drinkable even though different arrondisments might have springs with different"flavors".
Bigal is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 06:05 AM
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No, it is not a faux pas....that is just more of an issue with people who care what complete strangers think!

Waiters and waitresses will not look down on you for asking for regular water. I asked all the time and was not given a funny look or scoffed at or any such thing.

Ask for tap water and be prepared that it will be room temp and not very cold. But they do serve it in cute reusable bottles!

Also, you have to ask for butter for your bread as it does not normally come with it either.
birthdaygirlstrip is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 06:17 AM
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We just got back from a nine day trip. Most of the French that we saw in cafes seemed to order a carafe d'eau. Tourists seemed more likely to order bottled water. BTW, the tap water there is delicious! Seriously.
vegaslover73 is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 06:40 AM
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I almost always have that, also; you just have to ask for it, they don't usually automatically give it to you. I was reading the French government's website the other day for the agency that regulates a lot of restaurant and hotel charges, and was interested to see that, by law, a French restaurant has to provide you tap water for free, as well as the place setting, and I think bread (at least with a meal). In other words, the idea of a separate charge for a "couvert" as they do in some countries, is not allowed in France.

A lot of French do order bottled water, though, it's not just tourists. They order it a lot more than I would expect.
Christina is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Sure, it's OK. You might do a search here on Fodor's for other tips and opinions because this gets discussed every now and then. The concensus here is... it is just fine and the best words to order it in French.
suze is offline  
Mar 25th, 2006, 08:02 PM
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Fellow travelers, thank you for your many gracious responses.
InMiami is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 07:23 AM
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InMiami, I'm glad you asked this question because I was wondering the same thing. I am a huge H2O drinker and wondered if tap was ok. I'll be there in a few months and am trying to glean what I can from this site Thanks for the tips!
laurenzo is offline  
Mar 26th, 2006, 08:23 AM
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The only faux pas is on the part of the occasional waiter who will try to take advantage of tourist and steer you away from the carafe d'eau. It's the law in France that you have to serve a pitcher of tap water if the client asks for it.

kevin_widrow is offline  
Mar 28th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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I just returned from Paris and found all of the waiters to be extremely accomodating. If tap water is what you want, they will bring it to you. My husband actually preferred the tap water over the bottled.
Mar 28th, 2006, 11:10 AM
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last time we were in paris i was pregnant and i would order badoit but it really started to add up (or maybe it was my hubby's wine bill that added up!) so i started to get tap water. it tasted fine and was graciously provided.
plambers is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 07:08 AM
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Neopolitan implies there is difficulty getting tap water in Italy. Can anyone elaborate? After we're done with Paris, we'll go on to Italy. What do I ask for there? And will I get it?!

Also, how about Germany? What's tap water in German?
HalfIrishRover is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 08:20 AM
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We had the same experience that others had in France, tap water was graciously supplied, in fact I don't remember in 5 weeks having to ask once.

However, last summer in Germany, we were never, ever able to get tap water. (We spent 5 weeks traveling around.) It just was not offered or available. The servers told us that we had to buy it. Even at a cafeteria, I remember paying .50 Euro for a glass of tap water. It certainly adds money to your restaurant bill, when you are paying for water at every meal and in the summer, you want that drink of water. For me, nothing else will do.
annetti is offline  
May 21st, 2006, 11:08 AM
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Badoit is the best tasting bottled water ever! We usually order a bottle, or demi, even when having wine. It's not available in the high desert of Arizona....another good reason for a Paris revisit.
oakglen is offline  
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