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Top Tips for families in a restaurant in France

Follow a local’s tips for maximum enjoyment in a restaurant in France

Exploring the charming villages of France with your family becomes a journey that goes beyond the simple sight of beautiful landscapes and historical monuments; it is also immersing yourself in a world where every taste, smell and sound builds your experience and your vacation memories.

For me, true tourism is about living and deeply feeling the local culture, immersing ourselves in it using each of our five senses.

In a restaurant in Sauve France
In a restaurant in Sauve, France

So, sitting at a table in a French restaurant is not just about enjoying a meal; it is an invitation to experience the art of living the French way, a ritual that is celebrated daily and defines the very essence of the local culture.

It is here, between bites of traditional dishes and tastings of local wine, that you really begin to understand what it means to be part of this magnificent country.

I know that every detail counts in this experience, and that is why I have compiled a series of practical recommendations that will guide you on this culinary journey.

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What you should know before eating in a restaurant in France

Attention to schedules

In France, restaurant opening hours are often more rigid than elsewhere. Most of them close between meals, so it is essential to be aware of these hours so as not to miss meals.

Remember these time slots and use them as a reference:

  • Noon from 12 to 14 / 15h
  • Evening from 7 to 10 pm / 11 pm

You can find variations, of course, but if you move within these schedules, you will be assured of a seat at your chosen restaurant.

My first experience with restaurant opening hours in France

I always remember my first trip to France. It was for work and I stayed in a hotel for one night just outside Perpignan, to continue my trip the next morning.

At one point I said to myself, “I’m hungry. It’s time for dinner.
It was 9:30 p.m., ideal time, right?

Well, no, surprise and total despair when I found that the hotel restaurant had already closed!

Fortunately, thanks to the kindness of the hotel staff, they exceptionally prepared a salad plate for me (which was delicious).

If it weren’t for that hospitality, I would go to bed that night without a bite to eat.

What an adventure! 😄

Booking in a Restaurant in France is always better

Making a reservation is a common and recommended practice, especially in high season. Be sure to reserve your table to avoid long waits or, even worse, finding all the restaurants full.

In a restaurant in La Couvertoirade France
In a restaurant in La Couvertoirade, France

I remember once while walking in Baux-de-Provence, a charming little village of just 300 inhabitants and few restaurants, we had the reflex to book a table in the restaurant for 12 o’clock.


Then, already seated and enjoying our meal, we watched as a lot of people came in and, seconds later, left disappointed for lack of space.

My experience reaffirms something important: in small and charming places, where the tourist attraction far exceeds the capacity of their restaurants, booking is not only an option; it is almost an obligation.

It assures you not only a place to sit, but the tranquility of enjoying your meal unhurriedly, savoring each local dish and soaking up the unique atmosphere of the place.

So, now you know, when planning your next getaway to these magical corners of France, remember to make your reservation at the restaurant – your stomach and your memories will thank you!

Once at the Restaurant

Carafe d’eau or Water Jug

In France, it is customary to be served a carafe d’eau or bottle of water free of charge at your table. If you don’t see it, don’t hesitate to ask for it; it is a welcome and expected gesture.

Le Sirop or Syrup

Syrup is a very popular drink among the French. Diluted in water, it offers a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative that children and adults alike enjoy, allowing them to share a little of the French art de vivre.

My daughter, when we go out to eat, always asks for her “Sirop à la fraise” (strawberry syrup) or, in summer, mint syrup, it is super refreshing!

Les Sirops en France
Consejos para comer en un restaurante en Francia

Pichet of wine

To experience the local wine culture, consider ordering a “pichet de vin”. A pichet is a small carafe that comes in different sizes, offering a perfect and inexpensive way to sample local wines.

Formules or Menus

At lunchtime, many restaurants in France offer fixed-price menus, called “formules”. These gastronomic options offer different combinations that may include a course and dessert, a starter and main course, or the complete option of starter, main course and dessert. This variety allows you to enjoy the rich local cuisine while adapting to different appetites and budgets, all at a more affordable cost.

Children’s menu

Most restaurants have kid-friendly options, ranging from classics like burgers and fries to healthier options with salads. These menus make eating out a pleasure for the little ones as well.

In restaurants in France, people speak low

The restaurant culture in France values a quiet atmosphere and conversations at a moderate volume. It is a good opportunity to enjoy food and company without distractions.

Consejos para los restaurantes en Francia
In a Restaurant in Roussillon

3 Things not to do in a restaurant in France

  • Don’t call the waiter “Garçon”. Call him : “Monsieur”
  • Do not raise your voice
  • Do not put ice in the wine

At the Restaurant in France, avoid impatience

Service times in France can be slower compared to other places. It is important not to show impatience or frustration; enjoy the relaxed pace as part of the French dining experience.

En un restaurante en Anduze Francia
In a restaurant in Anduze, France

Basic vocabulary to use in a French Restaurant

Knowing a few key terms in French can completely transform your experience in French restaurants. As you delve into the rich and varied French cuisine, having a basic vocabulary will not only make it easier to communicate with restaurant staff, but will also allow you to better understand the menu, make specific requests and ultimately enjoy the local food and culture in a more authentic way.

Dare to interact with the staff ! It’s another way to immerse yourself in the local culture, the food will be more enjoyable and they will be delighted to see that you make an effort to communicate with them in French 😉.

Bonjour >>
Good morning
En espèces >>
In Cash
Bonsoir >>
Good evening
Par carte >>
With Card
Formule >>
L'addition >>
The account
Des Frites >>
Fried potatoes
S'il vous plaît>>
Du Vin >>
Merci >>
Thank you
La Bière >>
Au revoir>>
Do you tip in restaurants in France?

In France, service is included in the bill. Although leaving a small tip is an appreciated gesture if the service was exceptional, it is not mandatory nor is it expected to be a high percentage as in other countries.

The Aperitif: An Unbroken Tradition in France

The aperitif, also called “Apéro”, is a window into the soul of French culture, and in particular, the spirit of the South of France. It’s a reminder that, beyond the food and drink, what really matters is the moment shared, the laughter exchanged, and the stories told. So, the next time you find yourself in the South of France, don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in this tradition and toast to the beauty of life.

lAperitif franais

More than a Simple Drink

The aperitif is a mainstay of daily life in the South of France. This ritual, which combines drinks, small bites and good company, is the perfect prelude to any meal.

The Toast: An Ancient Ritual

The act of enjoying a drink before a meal has deep roots in French history. In the South of France, this tradition has evolved, taking on a more relaxed and social character. The main objective is not simply to whet the appetite, but to share a pleasant moment with loved ones, while savoring delicious appetizers and tasting local beverages.

Cheeses at the Restaurant in France: for Dessert

Restaurants franais

After enjoying the main courses, there is an opportunity to explore a selection of finely cured cheeses. This selection ranges from mild and creamy to strong and mature, each with its own unique flavor and complexity reflecting the region from which it originates. They are served with fresh bread, a perfect base that complements and enhances the flavors of the cheeses without overwhelming them.

But no cheese plate would be complete without the accompaniment of a good wine. The choice of wine is crucial, as the right combination can elevate the experience, creating a perfect balance between cheese and beverage. Sommeliers in French restaurants possess exceptional knowledge to suggest the ideal pairing, ensuring that every sip and bite harmonizes in a ballet of flavors.

So, when you visit a restaurant in France, don’t pass up the opportunity to order the cheese plate. More than just a dessert or an end to the meal, it is a gateway to understanding and appreciating one of the country’s most beloved culinary traditions.

Conclusion of the French Culinary Journey

With these stories and tips in mind, I hope you have everything you need to make the most of your family meals in the charming corners of France.

My Top Tips for Families in a Restaurant in France will not only help you avoid minor mishaps, but will also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the rich French gastronomic culture, transforming each meal into an unforgettable memory.

From making reservations in advance to learning about local customs, every tip is designed to enrich your experience. So, the next time you and your family sit down at the table in that charming French village, remember that every bite, every dish and every moment shared is a celebration of l’art de vivre à la française.

Bon appétit!

Diego en France

Dear reader,
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and, above all, that it has been useful for planning your getaway or family holiday in France.
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