First steps in a French restaurant


First steps in a French restaurant3 min read

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The right place

Did you reserve a table for a name in the restaurant before? Then you can tell the waiter at the entrance:

Good day good evening. I reserved a table for two people called Müller. Bonjour / Bonsoir. J'ai réservé une table pour deux personnes au nom de Müller.

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You will be escorted to your table. If you have not reserved a table, do not look for a place yourself, but wait at the entrance and tell the waiter for how many people you need space

A table for two / four people please. Une table pour deux / quatre personnes s'il vous plaît.

Are you non-smoker?

In France, there is a general ban on smoking in public areas, including restaurants and cafés. If there are separate rooms, you will probably be asked for your preference.

Smoker or non-smoker? Fumeur ou non-fumeur?
I am smoker / nonsmoker. Je suis fumeur / non-fumeur.

The order in French

To make it easier for you to look at the menu order, you will first find the most important basic terms here. Note that in French restaurants, if you order a plain water, you will get a decanter of tap water. If you prefer sparkling water, express this expressly.

The menu please. La carte, s'il vous plaît.
Did you choose? Vous avez choisi?
I take / we take … Je prends / Nous prenons …
… a still water. … de l'eau plat.
… a sparkling water. … de l'eau gazeuse.

For dessert, it is common in France to order different cheeses, from which one then cuts off with a cheese knife attached pieces. As a courtesy, this cheese platter is never completely eaten.

The appetizer L'apéritif
The appetizer L'entrée
The main dish Le plat principal
Dessert Le dessert
The cheese Le fromage
Example sentence:

As an appetizer, I take the soup.

The prends la soupe comme entrée.

Payment and tip in French restaurants

In France, it is unusual to divide the bill at the end of the evening among the individual guests. However, you can politely ask the waiter to roughly calculate the amount (for example, four or two).

The Bill please. L'addition s'il vous plaît.
Could you divide the bill by two? Pourriez-vous diviser l'addition par deux?
Many Thanks. Goodbye. Merci beaucoup. AU Revoir.

Tipping (usually 10%) is not included in the final amount in France. It is not customary to give the operator a rounded sum and tip directly when paying the bill. You just leave it on the table afterwards or throw it in a designated container next to the cash register.

So it is common in smaller cafes to leave the money for a coffee on the billed Tellerchen and leave the café easy.

Picture credits: ekaterina_belova / stock.adobe.com