How to Order Food in France Like a Local

Eat Like a Native: Your Essential Guide to Ordering Food in France

When in France, do as the French do – and that includes mastering the art of ordering food.

Whether you’re sitting in a quaint café in Paris, a bustling brasserie in Lyon, or a charming bistro in the Provencal countryside, knowing a few key phrases and cultural tips can transform your dining experience from simply satisfying to genuinely Gallic.

Let’s dive into the delicious world of ordering food in France with a sprinkle of humor and a heap of helpful phrases.

1. Master the Greeting

Before you dive into the menu, remember that politeness is the appetizer of every French meal.

Start with a friendly “Bonjour” (Good day) during the day or “Bonsoir” (Good evening) if it’s later.

A simple greeting can set the tone for your entire meal. Example:

“Bonjour, une table pour deux, s’il vous plaît?” (Hello, a table for two, please?)

2. Deciphering the Menu

French menus can be a delightful puzzle. If you’re scratching your head over words like “entrée” (starter), “plat principal” (main course), or “dessert” (dessert – some words are pleasantly straightforward!), don’t fret.

Here’s how you can ask for recommendations:

“Qu’est-ce que vous recommandez ?” (What do you recommend?)

3. Ordering Like a Pro

Now, for the main event: ordering. If you want to sound like a local, it’s all about the delivery.

Here’s a classic: “Je prendrai le coq au vin, s’il vous plaît.” (I’ll have the coq au vin, please.)

Notice the use of “Je prendrai” (I will take) – it’s more common in France than directly saying “I want.”

How to Order Food in France Like a Local 2

4. Dietary Restrictions and Preferences

Navigating dietary restrictions? The French take food seriously, so they’ll understand.

Try: “Je suis végétarien. Qu’est-ce que vous pouvez me proposer ?” (I’m vegetarian. What can you suggest for me?)

or “Je suis allergique aux arachides.” (I’m allergic to peanuts.)

5. The Art of Wine Selection

No French meal is complete without wine. If the list seems daunting, ask for a recommendation:

“Quel vin se marie bien avec ce plat ?” (Which wine pairs well with this dish?)

Remember, it’s perfectly fine not to know your Bordeaux from your Burgundy – discovering is part of the fun.

6. Compliments to the Chef

Loved your meal? A compliment goes a long way:

“C’était délicieux, compliments au chef !” (It was delicious, compliments to the chef!)

It’s a nice touch that acknowledges the skill and effort behind your meal.

7. Asking for the Bill

In France, the bill isn’t brought to your table until you ask for it (a polite nudge that they won’t rush you out).

When you’re ready, simply catch the server’s eye and say “L’addition, s’il vous plaît.” (The bill, please.)

8. A Graceful Goodbye

As you leave, don’t forget to say “Merci, au revoir !” (Thank you, goodbye!)

Showing appreciation for the service and the meal is the cherry on top of your authentic French dining experience.

Embrace the Experience

Ordering food in France is more than a transaction; it’s an exchange of culture and courtesy.

With these phrases and tips, you’re not just a tourist – you’re a guest. So, embrace the mistakes, laugh off the mispronunciations, and savor every moment. Bon appétit!

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