Bonjour tout le monde, I mentioned in my post for ‘Soupe de Moules’ (see blog under starters) a couple of tips on how to eat soup in Paris ( Never with wine and never with bread!) So I thought that I would share with you some table/restaurant etiquette* to stop you from making ‘faux pas’ when dining out in Paris, and that may even get you better service – or at least treated with a little more respect by the Parisian waiters!
The first thing to learn is to let go of the Anglo-Saxon idea that ‘The Customer is always right’ and that we have the right to swan in and out of shops and restaurants as if we owned them, treating the staff as our temporary servants,
In the UK and the US shops and restaurants etc are seen as ‘public domain’ and we have the right to mooch around at leisure. In France however, these establishments are ‘private domain’ and we enter them on the invitation of the owner and it is polite to say ‘bonjour madame / monsieur when entering and merci madame / monsieur when leaving,even if you have not bought anything, this will be greatly appreciated and set you aside from other ignorant tourists who are being treated with disdain.
Parisian waiters follow a rigorous training to be given the honour of wearing the long black apron. Watch them weaving their way, expertly balancing trays laden with plates, bottles and glasses on one hand raised above their heads, through impossibly tight spaces, often up and down narrow spiral staircases, narrowly missing a colleague coming in the opposite direction.
The best way to attract a waiter is to either, catch his eye and give him a polite nod, or by saying ‘S’il vous plait monsieur’ as he glides past your table, he may not return immediately, but you will have been placed in a mental queue and he will serve you when your turn arrives. Their efficiency is second to none – unless of course, you don’t follow the rules…..
So next time that you find yourself in the beautiful ‘City of Light’, put these simple tips into action and see what a difference it makes.
* ‘etiquette’ is a false friend ‘faux amis’ in English it means ‘social manners’
But in French it means a sticky label (as on a wine bottle!)