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Will Non-Drinkers Have Difficulties in French Restaurants?

Will Non-Drinkers Have Difficulties in French Restaurants?

Mar 27th, 2001, 02:18 PM
  #1  
JohnBoy
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Will Non-Drinkers Have Difficulties in French Restaurants?

Wine is obviously a big part of French cuisine, but neither myself or my wife are able to drink alcohol of any type.

I know this may sound like a silly question, but will the waiters find it offensive in the least when we don't order wine, especially their recommended wines, with our dinners? Has anyone experienced any type of "negative vibe or feedback" on this?

I've been studying French history, culture, language, and etiquette to be a considerate and gracious visitor (and make the most of the trip!), but I've seen nothing on this. Thanks in advance for your help!
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 02:27 PM
  #2  
Rex
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I don't think this will be a problem. There must be thousands of French who (have to?) abstain totally.

If communicating this concerns you, write it down on a little card.

Pas d'alcool, s'il vous plait. Aucun. Pas a boire et pas dans la cuisine. Merci beaucoup.

(No alcohol, please. Not any. Not to drink, and not in the cooking. Thank you very much).

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 02:38 PM
  #3  
Ed
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Shouldn't be an issue. Arguably it reduces the size of their tip a bit, but it's really a non-issue.

In any event, it's your meal, your vacation, and your right to order, or not, whatever you'd like. Just like reclining your airplane seat.

Note that alcohol in food is not normally an issue. While wine and brandy may be used in a few dishes the alcohol is always evaporated, or burned off, quite quickly with very few exceptions.

Cakes and tortes soaked in rum would certainly be among those exceptions.
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 02:44 PM
  #4  
Kelly
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JohnBoy:

My husband and I also do not drink at all. We have both lived in France, for a total of over 4 years between the two of us. We typically order juice with our meals and have never been mistreated, but we do still sometimes worry about it. I have heard one anecdote from someone who ate at Maxim's and was told that refusing the wine recommended to go with the meal was like asking an artist to take all red paint out of a masterpiece--it's just part of the deal. But I've never come up against that myself.

I've typically found less famous restaurants to be easier to navigate in this sense, and I prefer cafes and bistros because they're more casual and it just takes so long to eat at a restaurant. But the most important thing to remember is that a ready smile and expressing appreciation for good food will help you overcome almost any other awkwardness. Have a great trip.
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 03:09 PM
  #5  
StCirq
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JohnBoy:

I don't foresee a problem, as long as you order water (even tap water) or juice and NOT a coke or soft drink. For that, you might well be the subject of some ridicule, or at least raised eyebrows. I have witnessed such interactions in France, and while I felt sorry for the tourists, I did appreciate the waiters' desire to demonstrate that Orange Fanta and magret de canard are not a happy match.
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 04:58 PM
  #6  
Austin
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JohnBoy

I guarantee you a big laugh for this one--
When you order wine ask for Chateau de la Pompe---see its a joke---it means castle of the well--and it will always make the waiter wine steward or whoever laugh their heads off--guaranteed.

AH

 
Mar 27th, 2001, 04:59 PM
  #7  
Austin
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Oh I forgot---it means water
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 05:06 PM
  #8  
Rex
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Back when Jacques Chirac was still mayor of France, it was also often called Chateau de Chirac (ordinary tap water).
 
Mar 27th, 2001, 06:14 PM
  #9  
Patrick
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A friend of mine traveled extensively in France with her sister who is AA. She always ordered Coke and suffered incredible ridicule, "ooooh, American champagne" etc. When she stopped ordering soft drinks and ordered bottled water instead all ridicule stopped. The only alcohol she worries about in food is usually in desserts as it is often not cooked, therefore retaining the full alcohol, like a cake or pastry saturated or even drizzled with Grand Marnier. She often asked about liquor or alcohol in desserts and never felt it was a problem.
 
Mar 28th, 2001, 04:56 AM
  #10  
Bob
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Good bottled spring water is always on the menu in France.
 
Mar 28th, 2001, 05:04 AM
  #11  
Judy
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We have been to France many times and do not drink. (in fact we just got back this past Monday) I have never found it a problem that we don't take aperatifs or wine with our meals. If you are not comfortable ordering Chateau de Chirac, try bottled water. We like Badoit because it has small bubble and doesn't make you burp.

Bon Voyage.
 
Mar 28th, 2001, 06:13 AM
  #12  
xxx
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Absolutely no problem. Lots of people who can and do drink alcohol do not do so at every meal. while I like some wine with dinner or with a very relaxed lunch followed by relative inactivity, I rarely drink wine with lunch on an active trip, and if I'm alone I sometimes don't have winewith supper either. I usually get the tap water, which is fine. Bottled water is also a very "normal" option.
 
Mar 28th, 2001, 05:52 PM
  #13  
Joel
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Not much to add to what has been said, but you can offset the lack of wine by ordering a good water with your meal and at its end. I recommend Volvic or Evian during the meal and, after the main course plates have been taken away, do get a bottle of Badoit (bad-wah) which is a very lightly carbonated (naturally carbonated) water that the French swear by for helping digestion. Ordering Badoit is a mark of degustatory savoir-faire, you might say.
Also, I travelled on business for a while with 2 frenchmen, one of whom did not drink wine and the other who did not eat cheese. The never had a problem nor did I see so much as a raised eyebrow.
 
Mar 28th, 2001, 10:05 PM
  #14  
xxx
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One thing I did notice when we lived in France was that the French tend to equate "alcool" with spirits rather than alcohol in general. So you amy need to add "pas de vin" to Rex's phrase. I often saw French people in reastaurants who were not drinking alcohol. Almost invariably had water though.
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 01:46 PM
  #15  
Al Godon
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I don't drink for medical reasons.
I order a bottle of water in Paris restaurants. (I know tap water is cheaper.)
I try to order "safe" deserts.
No troubles yet; no questions asked.
Service has never been less than the normal standard. French serving personnel usually have many tables to cover, so don't expect them to come up and introduce themselves and say "Let me tell you about our specials."
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 06:19 PM
  #16  
Joel
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To Al, just above. You're quite right about the waiters. No happy faces drawn on the check, either. Generally, they actually go to school to learn to be inobtrusive and professional. It's a tremendous improvement of the 19 year old who gets down on his haunches in front of the table to take your order, screws it up, stops your conversation to ask you if he can remove an obviously empty plate. Not their fault as they don't know any better, but it would be just fine if management would train their people just a little here in the States.
As cause-and-effect would have it, waiting tables is a respectable lifelong occupation in France. In the town where our home office is located the same waiter and waitress are at the same restaurant since the late 80's. My wife and I ate there most Fridays at lunch to dine on their tagliatelle Zingara. It was great to have that kind of stability in this world.
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 07:28 PM
  #17  
Bob Brown
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I had heard stories about rude French waiters. I have never encountered rudeness, but I have noticed that they do not get effusive over compliments.
Even if they speak English, I have never had one to respond when, upon leaving, I said I had enjoyed my meal and that the food was good.
Any of you have a similar experience(s)?
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 09:04 PM
  #18  
JFH
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Not nearly as much difficulty as non-smokers!
 
Mar 29th, 2001, 09:34 PM
  #19  
kalena
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Cough, cough...Ahem...cough...
It does no good. Non-smokers do not fare well and it's a drag for kids, more than anyone else.

But as far as le boisson, it is just a matter of taste. My T who only drinks wine on his birthday or champagne on New Years lives it up with a Badoit at the end of a meal once in a while. He's quite adept at the sans gas/avec gas decision. The waiters will assist, pas de problem.
 
Mar 30th, 2001, 08:20 AM
  #20  
Bob Brown
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Let me put in another plug for Bistro de la Gare, west of the intersection of Rue de Rennes and Boulevard Montparnasse.
It has outside seating, and inside there is a non smoking section. We sat in it last year. The only folks there were Americans, but we enjoyed it and the service was the usual Paris professional norm. In fact, we were early, and the waitress assigned to that section was happy to have someone with whom to practice her English. Prices are on the economical side, so we found it a good place to eat.
 

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