Restauraunt Etiquette in Paris

Nov 4th, 2002, 05:53 AM
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Restauraunt Etiquette in Paris

2 weeks and counting!! Any do's and don'ts of restauraunt etiquette? Are reservations usually required even in the smaller bistros? A friend said to signal the waiter you are done, cross your fork and knife over your plate? Also, is gratuity typically included? Should you tip over and above the service charge? Thanks for any info?
Nov 4th, 2002, 06:19 AM
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Small bistros you don't need a reservation, only for those highly popular ones. You just let your server know that you'd like to have l'addition when you need to pay. Address the server as either "Madame" or "Monsieur" and not like how they do it in the old movies "Garcon".

We found out the hard way that what's considered "service" is always included but it's the establishment that must divide up this amount to the servers but sometimes the servers don't see much or any of it, therefore, you can leave a small tip like a couple of euro or so.

I don't know about the crossing of fork & knife over the plate to signal that you're done. All the servers knew when we were done but just asked us to be sure.

Don't make eating out in Paris difficult-just relax.
Nov 4th, 2002, 06:35 AM
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Crossing your fork & knife means you are not finished (whether or not your plate is empty). Putting them side by side on your plate means you are done.
Nov 4th, 2002, 06:55 AM
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when eating a big mac.. use the small fork and butter knife.. no no using your hands is OK. even in Peris..

Nov 4th, 2002, 03:23 PM
Gregg G
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If you want to go to certain preselected bistros, I would advise a reservation. Just visit or call the day you intend to go. Most Parisians eat around 9PM, so if you plan to eat before 8PM, the place will likely be empty, unless of couse it is popular with Americans. Most waiters in France will not touch your plates until everyone at the table is finished (so civilized-as opposed to the help that try and hustle you along in the US). Take your time in the bistros/restaurants you do visit. One of my fondest memories in Paris was a 4 hour dinner that was truely remarkable. In France eating is one of the great pleasures, and your server knows this. Leaving loose change is customary at bistros. At finer restaurants, a 10% tip is recommended.

Bonne chance,
Nov 11th, 2002, 03:43 PM
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topping for the etiquette minded.
Nov 11th, 2002, 03:59 PM
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My husband and I do tip over and above, although the tip is included. From what I've read, it's expected that if the service was good, you'll leave the small change on the table.

Nov 12th, 2002, 05:49 AM
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The following once appeared on this forum, and I've saved it into my files. It was mostly written by the
legendary elvira, with a few abridgements and annotations by me.
I'm going to post it in two parts in case it's too long.

"Okay, don't snap your fingers or holler "GARCON"...only in really bad movies is that done… Hard liquor is not a common "cocktail"; tourist restaurants will have it, but mostly the French just order a bottle of wine and drink that as their "cocktail". Some French people will order a kir (a glass of white wine slightly sweetened and colored by currant liqueur), a sherry, a Pernod (“pair-no”), a Ricard, a Lillet (pronounced “lee lay”), or some other aperitif. Note that “a Martini” will probably be interpreted to mean a glass of sweet red vermouth made by the company of the same name, unless the restaurant is savvy enough to be familiar with American cocktails.

You can ask the waiter for a recommendation and/or an explanation of the dish, and he'll be very happy to oblige. Please don't do that horrible American thing "Is it made with butter or cream?" "Can you ask the chef to leave out the butter?" etc. First of all, they WON'T and secondly, they'll assume you are an idiot. (Elaine’s note: you can find plainly roasted or grilled chicken, meats or fishes on every menu; not everything will have butter or a sauce.)

Tables are REALLY close together; the French speak very
quietly, so try to do the same. Keep your possessions very close to you; as I said, there's not a lot of room between the tables.

Coffee is another subject. Unless the restaurant is used to catering to Americans, it’s hard to get American-style coffee. When the French have coffee after dinner (and it is served after dessert) it is an “express”, very concentrated coffee served in a smallish cup. “Cafe creme” is, despite its
name, an express coffee with hot milk, but that is considered a breakfast item by the French as is cappucino. This doesn’t mean that you absolutely can’t get milky coffee after dinner, it’s just not French and it’s not guaranteed. (Elaine's note: cappucino is "café cap". All of the above are an espresso base in a larger cup with varying amounts of milk. In the afternoon, if you ask for just “un café”, nine times out of ten they won't ask any more questions and just bring you an espresso, a shot of very strong black coffee in a small cup. Sometimes they ask you if you want "un cafe noir" (a black coffee). If you say yes, you'll get an espresso. In the afternoon or evening, if you hopefully inquire if they have cafe americain, this is what you may get: a regular-size coffee cup with a shot of espresso at the bottom, plus a small pitcher filled with hot water, to dilute the inky stuff, I guess. Then there was a separate little pitcher of milk. In France, coffee is served after dessert, not with dessert, so as not to “ruin” the taste of the dessert --Elaine)…if you must have an American-style coffee: Try one of the McDonalds. “Decaf” in French is decafeine (day caf-ay-nay) or just “deca” (dayka). If you count on artificial sweetener, bring your own. Tea in Paris is a hit or miss proposition-- forget decaf tea altogether. Some fancier places will offer “tisanes”, herbal or fruit infusions of various flavors.

Nov 12th, 2002, 05:50 AM
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"Water: It’s no big deal. A big bottle is une grand bouteille (oon grand bootay)
and a smaller one is une demie bouteille (oon de-mee bootay) which means a half bottle. You
can get it carbonated (au gaz, “oh gaz” or still (sans gaz, “sahn gaz”). Perrier is considered so gaseous that it is one brand that is rarely ordered with meals. Remember that any and all restaurant bills will include tax and tip (service charge is included, the phrase is “service compris”). For very good service you can leave some extra on the little tray (2-5%) that the bill comes on, but it is not required. Be careful when filling out a credit card slip that you don’t forgetfully fill in the line for the tip. (Elaine’s note: The space for a “tip” on your credit card slip will be left blank, but don’t fill it in as the service charge has already been included in the total. As above, you may leave a extra cash in the tray if you like. In a luxury restaurant with outstanding service, the extra cash you might leave in the little tray could be 5-10 % if you are especially pleased. But don't leave odd euro cents, it's like leaving pennies, dimes or quarters in the U.S.)"

I have a file on Paris; if you'd like to see it, email me.

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