Dining in France


Meals in France 

Breakfast (Petit Déjeuner)

Hotels in France offer breakfast from about 7:30 to 9:30.  Breakfast is not included in the room rate, and ranges from $7 to $15 additional per person.  Those traveling on our small group trips enjoy breakfast included in their cost.


  The most basic breakfast (Simple) is Coffee with hot milk (Café au Lait) and a piece of French bread.  Travels with Friends hotels offer the above as well as butter, jam and fresh croissants, and perhaps juice (Complet).  Hotels often have a small breakfast room, while others will deliver a breakfast tray to your room.


If you stay in a large international hotel, you will find items more typical of an American breakfast; ham and eggs, etc.


 Lunch (Déjeuner)

Lunch in France is served from 12:00 until 2:00.  This was originally the main meal of the day, but in modern times has become a bit lighter and more simple.  You can choose from a five course meal to a light salad or wonderful sandwich on the go.


  Dinner (Diner)

Dinner in France is served from 7:30 until 10:00, slightly earlier in small towns.  The French usually eat around 8:00.  Dinner is a leisurely event and restaurants are geared to served a complete 5 to 7 course meal that can last two hours.  Many small restaurants only have one serving per table.  Meaning that if you arrive between 7:30 and 8:30, you will be the only person to occupy that table for the entire evening.


The term menu has a twofold meaning in France.  Menu or Carte refers to the list of what a restaurant serves, as it does in the States.  The term Le Menu or Un Menu refers to a fixed price meal   The term á la carte refers to ordering individual items from the printed menu.  Listed below are the names of each course and an idea of what you might order. 


Hors d' Oeuvre (appetizers or first course) Some establishments will offer a plate of assorted  Hors d' Oeuvre, others will have options for you to choose.  Options may be Assiette de Crudités (raw vegetables) or Assiette de Charcuterie (selection of meats).  Probably the most French choices are the Pâtés, these are a type of cold meat loaf made from the meats of various game or fowl.  For something more elegeant and expensive, you will find Caviar, Saumon Fumé (smoked salmon) or Fruits de Mer (seafood), including Huîtres (raw oysters).


Potages (soup) Soups tend to be refined, purée rather than chunky, and range from simple seasoned consommés to complex and rich cream based varieties.  Soup a l'oignon is a popular onion soup served with cheese covered croutons browned in the oven (gratinée).  You will also find; bisques which is a cream soup with lobster or shrimp, bouillabaisse which is a hearty fish stew, and vichyssoise which is a chilled potato and leek soup.


Oeufs (eggs) Eggs are not commonly served for breakfast.  Omelets are often on the dinner menu, especially on Mont St. Michel, which is famous for an omelet made with beaten egg whites.  As an appetizer,  hard boiled eggs are served with an accompaniment such as tomatoes or potatoes, or on a salad (Niçoise) or even on top of a pizza.


Poissons (fish and seafood) A tremendous variety of seafood preparation styles exist in France.  You will find fish dumplings, fish pancakes, fish soups and fish with cream sauces.  Some of the most elaborate French cuisine involves the use of fish.


Entrées (Main or meat course) The term entrées refers to the course after the appetizer and does not specifically mean meat, it could be fish, meat or vegetarian.   Common items found in this section of a French menu are Steak, Lamb, Pork, Veal, Chicken, Duck. Goose and a variety of internal organs.


Légumes (vegetable dishes) Vegetables are most often served as a garnish, or to accompany an entrée.  Vegetables may be stuffed, covered in a cream sauce, or carved into unusual shapes.  French chefs want vegetables to be in harmony with the main item they accompany, creating a feast for the eye as well the stomach.  Pommes Frites or French fries are very common in France, often designated simply as P.F. on a menu, but are not usually served in fine restaurants.  It is common for fries to be served with mayonnaise rather than ketchup.


Salades (salads) The most common is a green salad with a few vegetables or an egg and a vinegar and oil dressing.  Salads are served after the entrée.  You can order this salad at the time you order your meal, or when the entrée arrives.


Desserts (dessert) You will find fresh fruit (fruits frais), ice cream (glaces), and countless pastries, cakes and custards.  It is common for a liqueurs such as Grand Marnier or rum to top fruits or any other dessert offerings.


Fromages (cheese) The French often have a cheese course instead of dessert.  With over 400 different types of cheeses, from soft and mild to hard and pungent, it's no wonder they are eaten everyday. You may be offered an assorted plate at a fixed price.  In fine restaurants a cheese cart will be brought to your table for you to select the ones you'd like, and you'll be charged per selection.  Enjoy how the waiter carves and serves your selections from the blocks on the cart.  This is an excellent opportunity to explore and get your taste buds jumping at the end of a meal while you experience flavors you may never have known before.


For more information about Eating in France Drinking in France or Wine in France,  please click on these links.  Bon Appétit!


Travels with Friends: Learn more about other European destinations and tips for traveling within Europe. www.TravelsWithFriends.com

Private Guides: See Europe and learn about its history with your own private guide.  www.PrivateGuidesInEurope.com 


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