Parisian Living

Paris Restaurant Etiquette: Dining Discreetly

by Tory Hoen
Written By

Tory Hoen

After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of's Guide To Life After College. View Tory Hoen's Website

9 comments on “Paris Restaurant Etiquette: Dining Discreetly

I was in France last Spring, I am of Spanish origin, the french where very unique, with the gentleness with which I was treated; In restaurants, shooping centers and activities, were very respectful. I adore them and dream of going to live in France some day. Bonne Journee, Anna

Great Tip about the Talking Softly. That should be in Bold and Numero Uno on your list.
Before I sit down in a lovely restaurant I make sure not to sit down next to my fellow Americans (sorry, but experience has proven its point). To hear about how grandma and gramps in the U.S. are looking after your plants while you’re in Paris, while I’m enjoying my amazing dinner is not what I’m paying for. Speak softly, or someone might hit you with a big stick. I would never do such a thing. A death stare yes, nothing more. LOL!

I love the quiet, dignified, slow-paced meals (even the simple salads in cafes) I experienced in France. Restaurants back home seem so loud and rushed now.

Don’t forget how much nicer you are treated when you have a reservation for dinner.
Mary Ann

Thank you so much for the tips! My husband and I are thinking of going to Paris this year, but we’ve never been there before. So this will help a lot. Now, if we could just read the french menu, things would be great. 🙂

I think all these tips are great. The funny experience we have had is that when we tried to pour our own wine from the bottle at the table, the server ran over, basically shook her fingers at my husband and said, “no, my job.” It happened a couple of times.

I am wondering if this is a typical experience?


I could add: switch off your mobile phone. I had lunch with a (french) friend last week at lovely Saint Germain bistro, Les Editeurs. He put his i-phone on the table as he was expecting a call confirming a buisiness meeting that afternoon. The waiter came up and gently but firmly explained that he should swich it off and put it away – and didn’t leave until he did.

I find that dinning in Paris is pretty laid back still, even in restaurants étoilés I find the atmosphere much, much, more relaxed than in most big North American cities.

What’s most important it’s to enjoy oneself 🙂

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