Just £2 per issue Subscribe to one of our France Magazines click here

Ian Moore: is the two-hour lunch break still observed in France?

PUBLISHED: 16:05 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:05 14 February 2017

Ian Moore observing the French lunch time rule © Rita Evans

Ian Moore observing the French lunch time rule © Rita Evans

Archant

Are the hours of noon until 2 still sacrosanct in France or is the traditional French lunchtime under threat?

It’s pretty much a given that meals in France are sacrosanct, lunchtime especially. It’s a surefire bet then that if you’re at home and your phone rings between the hours of 12 noon and 2 o’clock that either something very, very serious has occurred or, and this is far more likely, it’s a sales call.

Actually, to describe lunchtime as sacrosanct is underplaying it somewhat; it’s far more important than that. It’s a symbol of the French way of life in itself and therefore, in a world hurtling towards dull homogeneity, something to be defended. Pity the UK office workers sitting at their desks during their manic ‘one-hour’ lunch breaks, cramming a shop-bought sandwich into their faces, still working at their computer screens. While over in France, those with similar occupations are sitting in a nice brasserie somewhere, whacked out on crème brûlée and considering a brief sieste before returning to the fray.

______________________________________________________________________

Related articles

Ian Moore: How many times should you kiss in France?

Bizarre French superstitions you should know about

______________________________________________________________________

Obviously not all French workers are knee-deep in napkins and post-meal ‘Who had what?’ discussions, but the country likes to give that impression. It suggests a happy population and a contented workforce, so why not? Young children at école maternelle (kindergarten) are even put to bed after their lunch, so this is taught from a very early age. It’s France! It’s lunchtime! That’s how we do things. You want to know how serious lunchtime is in France? Even car parking is free between the hours of 12 and 2. That’s right, even parking meters get a longer lunch break than most Brits.

It’s surprising then that the grit in this oyster of lunchtime tranquillity – the ubiquitous sales call – hasn’t yet been outlawed. It not only happens every weekday lunchtime, it can happen as much as three or four times that day. Sales calls, as far as I can make out, are intended to make the receiver buy something, and from my experience are usually conducted by ‘resting’ youthful actors doing their best to exhibit their full range of cheeriness. Not so in France. Clearly school careers advisers here are hand-picking some of the surliest examples of teenage grump and shoving them all into call centres, with strict instructions to let their grouchiness run free.

______________________________________________________________________

Related articles

10 things you need to know about French etiquette

Ian Moore: the perils of the French language

______________________________________________________________________

Maybe this insolence is a sales technique, but more likely it came about as a battle of wills. French person receives call at lunchtime and responds impolitely, caller – who would like to be at lunch – replies with equal rudeness and the thing escalates into a heavyweight contest of impertinence. Of course, you can sign up to the liste rouge which is designed to remove your name and number from the ‘lists’ that they operate from, but the respite is short-lived. And there’s always some loophole which means that this next particular caller is special – a charity for example or, dubiously, ‘educational needs’. The worst are the automated ones, expecting you to hang on the line while the ‘real person’ completes the onerous task of disturbing someone else’s meal.

Honestly, it’s easy to see why people think that most of France is in a restaurant at lunchtime; they’re just trying desperately to escape their landline.

The French, in my view unfairly, are often described as rude. Maybe in the big cities they can be, but that’s big cities all over the world. If, however, you long for the comfort of traditional pigeonholing and rude French people are what you’re after, answer the phone at lunchtime. I’ve been insulted, had my language skills mocked and generally been sneered at by some anonymous phone flunkey who then wants me to stump up 20 grand for solar panelling.

And it is always solar panelling. Well, I’m not answering the phone any more. I don’t need to have that kind of abuse phoned in thank you very much. I have children who adequately fill that role.

Read more of Ian Moore’s musings on life in France and find out more about him

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Article by Living France Living France

More from Living in France

Tue, 13:26

British expat Rosie Hill grows a variety of fruit and vegetables in her Normandy garden that she uses to cook for the family throughout the year

Read more
Expats in France
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Moving to a new country can be daunting and feel lonely, but follow our tried and tested tips for making new friends in France and your social calendar will soon be packed

Read more
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Make a note of these French emergency numbers and what to say when you ring them in case you need help while in France

Read more
Friday, January 13, 2017

A step-by-step guide to setting up broadband in your new French property so you can stay connected with friends and family

Read more
Thursday, April 6, 2017

The competition for holiday lets in France is high. Donna Sloane from French Connection shares her tips on how to add value to your holiday let and maximise your income

Read more
Running a business
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

From running a B&B or gîte to renting out your land or even listing your home as a location for filming, there are plenty of ways you can make money from your French property

Read more
Running a business
Mon, 16:59

A new law means that those transferring a UK pension abroad could now face a 25% tax, so what options are there for those looking to take their UK pension abroad?

Read more
Monday, March 20, 2017

Retirement in France can be idyllic but make sure you plan ahead and take the necessary legal steps to ensure you can relax and enjoy your golden years in France

Read more
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Finding the right mutuelle (top-up health insurance) in France can be enough to make you feel ill. But considering these points will help you make the right choice

Read more
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The French healthcare system is considered one of the best examples of universal care at affordable rates – but how does the mutuelle work?

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now