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Oct 26, 2008 09:01 AM

French Menu Reader

In need of a French menu reader for my upcoming trip. Any recommendations? I'm considering either "Marling Menu-Master for France" or "Eating & Drinking in Paris". For obvious reasons, I would prefer something small and discreet... ;-)



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  1. We have Eating and Drinking in Paris and have used it a lot. It's very user friendly. I've ripped out the whole first part that's all about restaurants and only carry the translation part. It's small enough to fit in my purse or even my husbands jacket pocket.

    Don't be embarrassed to be looking at it in restaurants. No one expects you to know the intricacies of menu French. Either you'll be in a place where the wait staff will be happy to help you with the menu or they'll be glad that you can help yourself so they don't have to bother. They'll know you're tourists no matter what you do so don't be ashamed. You're spending good money to eat in that establishment. As long as you're polite, no one will think less of you for having and using a menu translator.

    1. We have used both of those Menu readers. I recommend The A - Z of French Food. It is more comprehensive. It is available from Amazon. It is pocket/purse size. I plan on putting mine to good use for our upcoming three week trip in November.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hoteliere

        The A-Z is my recommendation as well. Small format, comprehensive. I've used the same edition for years and the binding is still in great shape. I've given many copies as presents to friends traveling to France. Amazon's price is a bit high ($50 US), but worth it if you are going to look at it before you travel. Otherwise, it is usually at the Brentano's on rue de la Opera for around 24E.

        I really do not like the organization of Marling Menu Masters. Eating and Drinking in Paris would be my choice if I was picking only between those two.

        In an earlier thread, someone also mentioned Patricia Well's online glossary:
        and I was impressed with it. I liked the .doc version that you could download and annotate. I still prefer the A-Z for everyday carrying in my bag, but I think this is a really great reference.

        1. re: souvenir

          Thanks for the advice everyone. The A-Z looks handy, but $50...wow! Mmm...I'll have to mull over this one.

          I've read similar complaints regarding the organization of The Marling Menu Master. A co-worker showed me her German one and the organization did seem odd.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. how about this one?


          Free, extensive, and another poster loaded it on their iPhone to take with them.

          8 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            We gave up on the oddly organized Marling Menu Master a few years ago. As Sunshine suggests, Patricia works very well for us, and downloaded to "favorites" on dropbox.com on our iPhones, we have free access to her glossary even without acesss to the Internet. -- Jake

            1. re: Jake Dear

              on another forum, I seem to remember someone downloading it to their Kindle, too.

              1. re: Jake Dear

                "dropbox.com" is fabulous! Thanks so much for the nudge, Jake. One can keep files to use over and over or delete those that are no longer useful after a trip, therefore releasing content space. Very easy to use after 5 minutes of staring at the online "getting started" instructions.

                1. re: mangeur

                  Mangeur, yes, we use dropbox for lots more of our travel needs. We post to our dropbox account (which is itself free) pdfs and word docs of our car rental vouchers, TGV tix, itinerary, lists of restaurants we may visit, etc., credit card terms & conditions re rental car damage waiver, etc. We can pick this up from any computer in the world, not just our iPhones. And beause our phones are password protected (easy to do), we feel pretty safe putting on sensitive stuff that we would need in an emergency: copies of our passports, credit cards, etc.

                    1. re: Jake Dear

                      Not only is dropbox great but if you mark the file as a "favorite" it can be viewed off-line. As a previous poster mentioned I have used it for maps, vouchers, reservations and a restaurant spreadsheet I created.

                      1. re: dennis855

                        Yes, that's the key: Once you have the doc in dropbox and brought up on your screen -- on a smartphone, ipad, home computer etc -- you then need to designate it as "favorite" (by clicking on the star in the upper right corner) in order to have acess on that particular device without the internet. (I can't believe I'm giving semi-technical advice, my son would be astonished.)

              2. If you have a smart phone, you may find some of the "photo translator" apps helpful. You line up the phones camera with the text you wish to translate and it pops up with the English (or whichrever two languages you select.)

                I don't have a particular one to recommend, not all apps on all phones.

                2 Replies
                1. re: calliope_nh

                  " 'photo translato' apps" -- that may be fun to try, but I suspect we'd read things like "salad with lawyers." Also for such an app, you need the internet -- which we don't often have, esp. in the countryside. That's why we like Patricia downloaded on an iPhone.

                  1. re: Jake Dear

                    heck, you can read "salad with lawyers" on a well-intentioned but poorly-executed English menu!!

                    I've reached the point I just ask for the French menu because half the time I can't figure out what they're really trying to offer....