Four Tips for Dining Like a Local in France

Posted by on February 12, 2013

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Thousands of foodies flock to France every year to enjoy the best local cuisine, in the most authentic setting possible, but for those heading over for the first time the French food culture can feel a little intimidating. Indeed, the French take the act of eating seriously and there are a certain set of rules that everyone seems to follow, but they’re much easier to understand than you might think. Here are our four top tips for dining like a local when you arrive in France.

French cake

French cake

Say No to Snacks

Where eating is concerned, one of the greatest cultural differences in France is that the majority of people eat at the table, not when walking around the city! There’s also no culture of snacking in France, which apart from explaining why just 10% of the population is obese, also means that when the locals eat, they really go for it. To dine like a true local in France, save your appetite for lunch and dinner in great restaurants, then indulge in all the rich cheese, soft fresh bread and heavy creamy sauces you like.

French cafe

French cafe

Slow it Down

Long, lingering lunches and dinners that last for several hours are the norm in France. Leave at least an hour free to eat lunch, around 12.30pm, and around a couple of hours for dinner, which the French usually eat at around 7.30-8.00pm. It’s also typical to eat at least two courses for lunch and dinner, but as portions in France aren’t large, you’ll find this easy enough to manage – plus you should never turn down an opportunity to try more of the food.

Mussles in France

Mussles in France

Don’t Use Your Hands

While we’re all used to picking at our chips with our fingers, the French are still rather strict about their use of a knife and fork with which to eat their meals. Even foods like fruit and sometimes even bread are eaten with cutlery! To stay on the safe side on package holidays to France with specialists like Jet2holidays, always reach for the knife and fork, and take cues from those eating around you.

Try the Plat du Jour

This one isn’t really a rule, but it’s a great suggestion. To the unfamiliar, French restaurant menus can be confusing to say the least, so if you’re on the adventurous side try ordering the ‘plat du jour’. Translated literally as ‘plate of the day’, the plat du jour will consist of whatever special ingredients the chef bought for that day, and is the best opportunity to try the best local vegetables, meat, fish and cheese and explore just how exciting French cooking can be – plus you won’t have to spend hours decoding the menu!

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