CHRISTMAS OFFER 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 / ThinkstockphotosDont 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 / ThinkstockphotosStart 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 © istockphotosAlways 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.

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

More from Travel

Friday, December 7, 2018

These welcoming and wonderful Christmas markets are just a short trip across the Channel away, so what are you waiting for?

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

When it’s cold outside, indulge your love of French food and drink at one of these stylish pop-ups and events closer to home

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discover the Christmas delights of northern France with our top five Christmas markets in the region

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From lakeside jazz festivals to chestnut fairs, get stuck in with these events taking place across France in December 2018

Read more
Thursday, November 22, 2018

You can ditch the airport queues and long drives, and hit the rails instead, says Daniel Elkan. The French Alps has an abundance of ski resorts that suit families, easily accessed by train.

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Budget travellers can pay nothing to stay at bed and breakfasts around the world during Barter Week in exchange for manual, creative or teaching activities

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Find out when your favourite French ski resort opens and closes this year and start planning your ski trip to France

Read more
Winter trips
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Find out what events are taking place in France to commemorate the Armistice centenary.

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

The full route of the 2019 Tour de France was announced in Paris on 25 October

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

From hot air balloon gatherings to scallop festivals, there’s always something fun and unique going on in France in November

Read more
Subscribe for

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

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