<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

27 things you need to know about French food etiquette

PUBLISHED: 15:40 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:15 02 May 2017

27 things to know about French food etiquette © oneinchpunch / Thinkstockphotos

27 things to know about French food etiquette © oneinchpunch / Thinkstockphotos


Eating and drinking is a crucial part of French culture and social life. There are rules and codes to be aware of so here are some of the dos and don’ts of French dining etiquette.

General French food etiquette

1. Eat together and at the dinner table, not in front of the TV.

2. Break the baguette, don’t slice it.

3. Know your wine glasses: small oval ones for white wine, large round glasses for red.

4. Never spread foie gras but place it on the piece of bread.

5. Use fingers when eating frog’s legs but eat fruit with a knife and, sometimes, a fork.

6. Fold lettuce leaves, don’t cut them.


Related articles

10 things you need to know about French etiquette

Bizarre French superstitions you should know about


Dont cross other peoples arms when reaching to clink your glass with someone © DragonImages / Thinkstockphotos Dont cross other peoples arms when reaching to clink your glass with someone © DragonImages / Thinkstockphotos

If you are invited to a dinner party

7. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes late to give your host time to prepare everything perfectly. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, warn your hosts with a phone call.

8. Never come empty handed when invited to a French dinner party. Good gifts include a bottle of wine, flowers or a plant, macarons or perhaps something homemade like jam.

9. Look people in the eye when you raise a toast and don’t cross other people’s arms when reaching to clink your glass with someone.

10. Wait until the cook sits down and says ‘bon appétit’ to begin eating.

11. Always keep hands above the dinner table.

12. Finish your plate but don’t ask for seconds: your host will offer seconds if there is any left.


Related articles

French words you are pronouncing incorrectly

15 of the funniest French idioms


Start a dinner party with an aperitif © Marcelo_minka / Thinkstockphotos Start a dinner party with an aperitif © Marcelo_minka / Thinkstockphotos

If you are hosting a dinner

13. Start the evening with an apéritif which includes a drink and some light appetizers.

14. Systematically provide bread - offer different types of bread in a basket on the table - and water: a jug of still water and a bottle of fizzy water.

15. Order is important: white wine before red, cheese before dessert.

16. When serving a cheese platter, have a different knife for each type of cheese and don’t serve crackers, just bread.

17. Generally, children eat at the same time and the same meal but in smaller portions as the adults.

18. Stay up to date with local news and national stories to keep the conversation interesting. It’s not unusual for the French to have heated political debates around the dinner table.


Related articles

11 things to do before you move to France

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


Always greet your waiter with a bonjour or bonsoir © istockphotos Always greet your waiter with a bonjour or bonsoir © istockphotos

Dining etiquette at the restaurant

19. Do not be late.

20. Always greet your waiter with a ‘bonjour’ or ‘bonsoir’.

21. Close your menu to indicate you are ready to order.

22. To get the attention of a waiter, catch their eye and say ‘s’il vous plaît’ or give a little waive. Never call out ‘garçon’ or snap your fingers!

23. If you need to leave the table but have not finished your dish, place your knife and fork with the handles facing up, as if you were about to take them in your hands.

24. When you are finished with your meal, place your knife and fork side by side across the plate.

25. You’ll have to ask for the bill – the usual gesture is to catch your waiter’s eye and pretend to sign a cheque in mid air.

26. Unless you’ve discussed otherwise, whoever gave the invitation for the restaurant will pay the bill and it is expected that you will pay the next meal out.

27. Service is included in your final bill but you can leave a little extra for your waiter.


  • Chrysanthemums are to be avoided as gifts - they are reserved for funerals and graveyards. I thought wine was also a bad idea - it suggests you do not believe your host will supply decent wine himself.

    Report this comment


    Thursday, April 6, 2017

  • I disagree about taking flowers as a gift - the host andor hostess will have too much to do to stop and deal with cut flowers, unless they are in a vase.... Better to take a potted plant or send flowers the day before in anticipation of a wonderful evening....

    Report this comment

    Emma Rooney

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Friday, January 12, 2018

France is full of beautiful places to explore and discover during your stay. These are a few of our favourite spots for you to visit during your next trip

Read more
Short breaks
Thursday, January 11, 2018

From picturesque coastal villages to charming countryside villages with traditional half-timbered houses, Normandy has plenty of pretty villages to explore. These are 15 of our favourites

Read more
Thursday, January 11, 2018

From winter walks with a cup of chocolat chaud to historic buildings all lit up in fairy lights, winter in France is a magical time of year. Just take a look at these beautiful photos to see for yourself

Read more
Winter trips
Friday, December 22, 2017

Do you want delicious French food, stunning landscapes, exciting local festivals, fun activities and a bit of art, history and culture from your French holiday? Then a CroisiEurope river or canal cruise could be the perfect holiday for you

Read more
Boating in France
Thursday, December 21, 2017

Finding your own new cycle routes can be a great part of a cycling adventure; Andy from Fellow Velo shares some tips on what to look out for when you are researching your rides off the beaten track

Read more
Cycling in France
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hop off the Paris métro at the Grands Boulevards station and discover Paris’s 19th-century shopping streets

Read more
Sunday, December 10, 2017

An insider’s guide to Charente in Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, and buying property in Charente.

Read more
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A cycling holiday with young children might sound stressful but with some careful planning you could enjoy great family adventures on two wheels

Read more
Cycling in France
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Need inspiration for a short break in France this winter? From a ski trip to a spa weekend, from a city break to tasty truffle festivals, here are 12 ideas for a winter getaway in France.

Read more
Winter trips
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Get in the festive spirit by visiting one of these 12 traditional Christmas markets in France and pick up some French Christmas gifts

Read more
Christmas in France
Subscribe today

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