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Cafe Etiquette in Paris

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Canada
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Cafe Etiquette in Paris

PLease walk me through the process of eating/drinking at a paris cafe. Any particular Cafe Etiquette facts would be helpful.

Loire Valley
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1. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

I dunno if there are any really.........

If its a cafe for coffee, sit at any table that hasn't been laid, unless there is a waiter by the door. In that case you ask for a table (out of politeness more than anything else).

If it's just a drink and/or cake youre after, it helps to work out approximately how much it will cost and put the money on the table ready (its amazing how much hassle this can save later). This presupposes youre drinking seated at a table

If youre eating, ask for a table. When you have chosen your meal, close the menu and put it face down on the table. Elbows on table are OK, and dont put your bread on the plate - tear in and put it on the tablecloth.

Don't sit there with your hand in your (or anyone else's) lap. Use your knife in your right hand and your fork in the left. Unless you're left handed.

When you're ready to leave, ask for l'addition. If the waiter isn't near, look towards him and do the writing on hand gesture. They won't bring the bill (check) for a meal until you ask for it.

That's about it really - just dont forget your greetings and salutations.

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2. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

Be sure not to sit down at a "set" table, because that table is reserved for dining.

When the waiter brings your drink, he will usually also bring the bill (unlike in restaurants where you ask for it). He will leave it underneath your coffee pitcher or something like that. Once he sees you are ready to pay it, (money is on the table or you flag him), he will come by, count the money, give you change and make a rip in the bill. That rip means that it's been paid.

If you stay for many drinks, you will just accumulate many of those receipts as you go.

Remember that the coffee over there is different than here, and if you ask for "un cafe" you will get a very strong cup of black coffee. If you want milk with it, ask for un cafe creme or un cafe au lait. If you want it watered down, it's a cafe americain.

And don't forget the sticker shock...it's not unlikely to pay 5 euros for a cup of coffee, but it's usually a little pitcher and you can get two cups out of it, which is a bonus.

Kamloops, BC...
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3. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

Hi --

The two most important things to remember are that what we call the menu, the French call la carte; and what we call the daily special, the French call le menu. Le menu usually consists of two or three choices for each of two or three courses, and some times even includes a glass of wine. Generally, these will be the most economical meals of the day.

You will never be blindsided in terms of cost in France. By law, the bills of fare must be posted outside the establishment, so you know going in approximately how much your meal will cost.

CA
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4. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

I wouldn't worry about what hands to use for the utensils, but all of these other comments are right on. Make sure to say bonjour when entering and au revoir when you leave, same as in any other business establishment. Tap water, which is excellent--"Un carafe d'eau [carafe dough], sil vous plait."

Loire Valley
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5. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

Francophool - surely the question was about etiquette in a cafe?

Not cutting all your food up small then scooping it into your mouth definitely comes under that category. (Unless, of course, youre under 2 years old). Also, the hand in the lap thing is definitely seen as just plain weird.

Also, forgot to mention, It's quite OK to unfold your your napkin, leave it on the table and just wipe your mouth on it as needed if you feel you don't need a bib.

Bendigo, Australia
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6. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

way to go Wiz, right on the money. We all want to behave the right way, Manners are inmportant.

My kangaroo badge is in my lapel and I am 2 days to go for paris.

Bendigo, Australia
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7. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

way to go Wiz, right on the money. We all want to behave the right way, Manners are inmportant.

My kangaroo badge is in my lapel and I am 2 days to go for paris.

San Diego
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8. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

I hate to recommend another board, but I found Virtualtourist.com to be an invaluable resource for local customs/etiquette - I'd look there for customs/etiquette - it's structured a little different than here - useful though......

Also, read Polly Platt's "French or Foe" - also full of insight.....

New Hampshire
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9. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

At a cafe, you are welcome to sit at tables that are set with dishes/flatware, etc., if you are planning to order any food. Otherwise, you should select a bare table.

Almost always, your check is delivered with your order and placed under something to keep it from blowing away. If you order anything additional, you'll receive another check, but just for the additional item(s).

Rarely does anyone seat you at a cafe.

It's best not to assume that everyone speaks English and start asking questions or ordering in English. As soon as you've said, "Bonjour Monsieur/Madame", the server will know, and speak to you in English, or do their best. Speak in a low voice and avoid shouting. It's always fun to watch folks holler in English figuring the waiter will understand them better.

Wait until someone comes to your table to take your order. At nearly every place, a close eye is kept on all tables - but, they do things in their own order. They won't come over any faster if you wave or (please don't) holler "Garcon!" You may even see them deliver orders, collect money, all around you, while seeming not to notice you. They will get to you.

For some reason, they do not take kindly to moving the chairs and tables around too much. At most places, everything is close together. So, don't "spread out". And, they have those chairs all set in one direction so a) everyone has a view of the "passing parade", and b) they can get down the nearly-nonexistent-aisle.

And, don't assume they don't understand English, even if they don't seem to speak it well.

Story: We were sitting on the terrace at Chez Francis (one of our favorite spots in all of Paris) enjoying our favorite libation. Along came five middle aged, fairly large (real large) American ladies. They selected a couple (okay, a few) of tables, arranged chairs around them for themselves, and shoved all other nearby tables and chairs aside (rendering them impossible for anyone else to use), then sat down. We had been there for quite a while, and knew the waiter to be quite attentive, and also very friendly, with an excellent command of the English language. First, he looked quite bemused (having neatly arranged all those tables and chairs a few minutes before they arrived). He did not rush over. When he did pass by them, on his way to another table, one of them yelled, "Hey, hey, HEY!" He ignored her, went inside, and went to their table when he came back out. One of the women said, "I'll have Drambouie on the rocks". He said, "Drambouie"? (I know they have a full bar and stock Drambouie.) She said, "Well, how about Champagne? You DO have CHAMPAGNE, DON'T YOU?" He turned, left, and returned with a wine list - in French (they also have an English cocktail menu, including Champagne by the glass). So, she (apparently the "leader" of the group), says, while he's standing there, "Well, this place is just disgusting - just like all the others we've been to!" With that, she rises to leave, and the others follow.

Paris and Gatineau
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10. Re: Cafe Etiquette in Paris

I have seen more version of this same story that I care to remember. And each time of course the lady goes back to their hometown and tell everyone how rude and arrogant the Frenzies are!