Let’s just say you are going to thank your stars for this crash course on French table manners, whether you are invited to a corporate party at a French restaurant or are going for a holiday to France this summer. The French take great pride in their cuisine and food is an integral part of their culture. They almost find it rude when proper etiquettes are not followed.
Don’t Offend Your Hosts
You can pick up some simple tips here so as to save yourself from embarrassment and stop unconsciously offending your gracious French hosts. They are known to honour food with very sophisticated table manners (that can even put the fussy English to shame) and a luncheon is almost a celebration by itself.
Understanding Various Courses
Before we get into the table manners, let’s look at what exactly to expect in terms of the 6 courses in any of the French restaurants. Each meal may or may not consist of all the courses, and it’s crucial that you understand that ‘entrée’ in English menus is actually the main course and their ‘entrée’ refers to the appetizers.
General Table Manners
The manners are given great importance in France. Even within a family, dinners are real formal. Here are a few tips to good table manners:
- Like in England, eat with the knife in your right hand and the fork in your left hand.
- It is important that you rest your hands on the table.
- Wait till the host or the head says – “bon appetite” before you begin eating. Till then, you will need to patiently wait otherwise it’d be considered rude.
- It is important that you toast before you drink. Make sure you raise your glass, just to the right height and say, “a votre santé”. If there is a head host over the dinner table, then he/she will be the first to toast and wish “bon appetite” to the guests.
- Bread is served at every meal, if there is a side plate missing for putting your bread on, it’s perfectly alright to place it on the table cloth next to your plate.
Table Manners to be Followed in a French Restaurant – Au Resto…
- It is considered rude to not greet your server with a pleasant ‘bonjour’ (or ‘bonsoir’ if after sunset) before you start ordering. Your relationship with your server will start off on a positive note if you can do this.
- The servers do not wait on you and check up on you throughout, unlike in other countries so do not be offended. They do watch out for cues though.
- When you have decided on what to order, put down your menu, closed.
- If you need to attend a call and leave your plate momentarily and you haven’t finished your food yet, make sure you leave the knife and fork with their handles pointing out towards the hand so the waiters don’t clear your table.
- If you need your server’s attention, a subtle wave or an eye catch would be ideal. If he/she doesn’t seem to notice, say, “s’il vous plait” and DO NOT snap fingers; that’s considered rude. Restaurants like Le Bouchon have servers who are especially well-natured and provide the top service in the industry.