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Restaurant Behavior Advice - Paris

So, this may come across as a bizarre question but I would general advice on dining in Paris (I suppose I mean versus dining in the US)...not necessarily which restaurants but more behavior-centric advice that an American who may have never dined in France could use. We are well indoctrinated at dining in the US and a couple of us have been to Paris but I never asked for this type of advice before.

For instance, that tipping is not expected...things along those lines. I want to cause the least amount of trauma on the city and our group when we visit.

We will have an 11 month old and we always scurry her out or silence her when she makes the smallest of peeps.

We will have a group of 7 people total (including the small one), 5 adults, 13 year old and the 11 month infant.

I have an additional thread about the 15th and we anticipate taking several meals in that area but will probably dine in many other areas as well.

So, maybe there is nothing of import to know...but if so, I am all ears. Thank you.

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  1. There are a lot of threads on this board on tipping. We have the habit of rounding up the bill to the next zero.
    One big difference between other countries and France in restaurants and shops is that the French don't call you by your first name (and I love them for that and for many other things), and they say bonjour and expect you to say bonjour before you launch into the subject of your patronage, whether you are ordering food or even taking the bus !
    On the other hand, since you have children in your group, do bear in mind that the French dine relatively late, and restaurants are not open between meals. The earliest you can dine is at 7h30pm. You can find a handful of brasseries that open all afternoon, but that will limit you to brasserie dining, which is not so outstanding. It would be regrettable if you come to Paris and limit yourselves to that type of restaurants.
    The French love well-behaved children (and their well-behaved parents). Children is no cause for trauma. Have a great time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      As somebody who has lived most of my life in France or the French speaking part of Belgium, can confirm that restaurants are generally very relaxed, provided the customer does not set out to shock (intentionally or otherwise).
      They have their working hours and it’s not too difficult to respect them. They understand if families with kids arrive early (say 7.00 to 7.30 pm for dinner) and want to eat correctly but not hang around too long as the kids get restive. French restaurants can seem slow for foreigners – but this is how French people relax and eat. If you really want to eat in an hour or an hour and a half, the best thing is to get there early and explain that the kids gets sleepy.
      Parigi is correct on names and the slight air of formality is important – unless you have been going to the same place every week for five years don’t think of addressing the waiter by his first name – even after five years when you think you get to first name terms, you will still at best be addressed as “monsieur Alex” rather than just “Alex” no matter how many times you make the point. Even young kids will probably be addressed as “jeune homme” or “mademoiselle” and rather than sounding pretentious, this carries the slightly flattering air of being spoken to as a near adult.
      Be cautious about asking for food not on the menu or asking to have the food presented in a different manner. This is perhaps not so easy to describe but think Jack Nicholson in the diner scene in Five Easy Pieces – this is not how to behave. On the other hand, well behaved kids and pretty girls can sometimes get anything they want – but that’s life.
      On tipping, it’s ok to round up to the next zero (or maybe a zero or two beyond that if the bill is in the hundreds) – 3% to 5% shows appreciation. I’m inclined to give this in cash because of some (perhaps mistaken?) view that this is preferred for tax reasons.
      Make a reservation and stick to it – it’s only polite. I can’t understand how occasionally people will write here about making several simultaneous reservations and look for guidance about which one to pick – that must drive restaurants mad.
      The main message is to relax and enjoy yourself – this is why most French people go to restaurants.

      1. re: Parigi

        Dans les Anges serves all day. Just saying. Au Dernier Metro too.

      2. With your concern about not being intrusive, I have no doubt that you will pick up clues from other, hopefully local, diners in the room. Sometimes, even negative models can be instructive!

        Do remember that a large group can be noisier than is self-apparent.

        Enjoy!

        1. Do not switch hands with your knife and fork.

          Hands belong on the table, not in your lap.

          Bread belongs on the tablecloth.

          Tourists order Perrier, locals have Evian.

          There is nothing cheap about the house wine. Sometimes far better than some of the bottles offered.

          Everything goes with champagne.

          Do not use the ashtray as a bread plate.

          33 Replies
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            Great points. The hardest one for me is to remember to put a torn portion of bread on the table, not my plate. It's just so counter-intuitive to American manners. DH's arched eyebrow keeps me straight.

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              "Do not use the ashtray as a bread plate."
              This advice is not specific to France. The ashtray, in most cultures I hope, is not the bread plate, or so we are taught.

              1. re: Parigi

                Besides, there aren't any ashtrays on restaurant tables anymore.

                1. re: Ptipois

                  There goes one of the great traditions.

              2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Most of my French friends now ask for "un carafe d'eau" rather than buying the fancy stuff, except perhaps in really fancy restaurants. This has become quite common. Paris tap water is actually very good. In fact, a couple of years ago the city put on a major PR campaign to get people to reduce their consumption of bottled water, which for most brands is tap water filtered and sometimes with additives.

                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  Um, is this "do not switch hands with your knife and fork" serious? My husband is Canadian and eats the British way, but I've always done the (yes, admittedly silly and more difficult, but also difficult to unlearn) American way. Have I been committing a sin in France? What drives me crazy here at home is the way some people saw away with their knives and stick their forks into the meat as if killing it. But if done correctly it can look perfectly reasonable.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    If you are trying to pass for French or, at least, not a tourist, then yes, you seriously risk blowing your cover. Otherwise, just relax and enjoy yourself.

                    1. re: RandyB

                      Phew! Not trying to pass for anything but myself, but always like to avoid being rude.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Switching hands with knife and fork does not look rude, it just looks very weird to us French.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          Totally understood. If I didn't grow up doing it, I believe I'd think the same. My husband has convinced me that it is a totally awkward way to eat, and yet since i was brought up to do it, it comes naturally to me.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I had a friend teach me to eat the European way and it is so much easier. I don't struggle any more. It looks so awkward to me when people eat the American way. It seems so clutzy.

                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                              I do wonder how it developed. Any insights? (I've always eaten European-style - mum insisted on it).

                              1. re: lagatta

                                I have just returned from vacation in an place popular with Russians, I was very intrigued to see they used their cutlery in the American way.

                          2. re: Ptipois

                            At a meal last week a thoroughly French woman was using her fork in her right hand for everything and her male, thoroughly French, companion using his left. Sorry I don't have photos but it seemed rude.

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              Which part seemed rude? Not trying to be funny here, just trying to understand. The left hand thing seems odd to me; not something I see much in the US. I'd have gathered he was left handed, maybe?

                              1. re: John Talbott

                                Sorry; reference was that taking photos seemed rude not eating habits.

                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  D'oh! Sorry about that. Rereading of course that is what you meant.

                        2. re: LulusMom

                          ""do not switch hands with your knife and fork" serious? My husband is Canadian"
                          I resonate with this; I learned to use utensils in Europe with a Canadian Mother, was made fun of on coming to the USA, switched and now switched back. Switching back & forth is far easier than negotiating that first round-about in a rental car at Heathrow.

                          1. re: John Talbott

                            But is it easier than *getting* the rental car at Heathrow?

                        3. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                          Is the water advice about brands? Or about a Parisian preference for l'eau plate?

                          1. re: Lizard

                            A lot of Parisians have wised up and just ask for "un carafe d'eau," i.e., tap water.

                            1. re: RandyB

                              Right, but unless one can get l'eau gazeuse from the robinet, I don't understand the declaration-- especially as Indianriver seems to highlight brands, not tap.

                              1. re: Lizard

                                On the other hand, so many places are now "bottling" their own.

                                1. re: Lizard

                                  Thank you all for your responses. As I indicated alreadt, I responding to Indianriver's 'Tourists order Perrier, locals have Evian', which, personally, I saw as a bit of a stretch. (And interesting, given that Evian is one of the worse tasting bottled waters, imo.)

                                  That said, I am not Parisian (I wish) and far more familiar with the custom of neighbouring francophone regions where l'eau gazeuse is our choice (but then, neighbouring or not, still not Parisian (*sigh*) and thus tourist.

                                  What is interesting, to be, is a matter of generational stubbornness (or maybe it's individual) as my family stick with bottled rigorously; I think they are unable to trust that what comes out of the tap is now potable. And as I am old enough to remember the days when we really couldn't drink the tap water, I understand the leeriness.

                                  Meanwhile, I am interested to hear about the turn to presenting and bottling their own. Very cool, that.

                                  1. re: Lizard

                                    Parisians have been drinking their water since Haussmann had filtered water flowing into the homes. It has been safe to drink since the late IXXth Century, when Pasteur's filters became widespread. The water became even more dependently safe after the First World War, when the urban French water supplies (Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse) were the first to use chemical treatment (verdunisation).

                                    The major French cities are where safe, clean drinking water comes from. (The countryside is of course another matter)

                              2. re: Lizard

                                I would say many Parisians simply drink the free water offered in a carafe - they always have done. Now some places make their own with bubbles so that is another free option.

                                But equally lots of people like a particular water, some with a fizz, some with more taste (badoit). Bottle water in France is relatively cheap (even in restaurants) when compared to many other countries.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  Crazily enough, some house-made sparkling water is not free!

                                  1. re: Nancy S.

                                    Indeed! And the price some are charging is the same as premium commercially bottled water.

                              3. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                I don't think eating American style is considered rude - it will mark you out as not local, but so will other things.

                                There are no ashtrays any more - smoking is forbidden in restaurants. Personally I'm very happy about that.

                                Hmm, a thread on restaurants and bistros with decent house wine?

                                1. re: lagatta

                                  were there ever ashtrays? a US ex-pat friend once explained that in a cafe ashtrays are considered fire hazards and one is expected to use the floor (and they sweep it all out the door later rather than put it in the trash) kinda made sense.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    There were most certainly ashtrays in restaurants.

                                2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                  I've been rethinking the "switching hands with knife and fork" issue and it occurs to me that one is better off using the best manners he knows from his own culture rather than trying at the last moment to acquire those of the culture he is visiting.

                                  I remember sitting next to a Frenchman at a large dinner table at which an American woman was frantically trying to dine "French style". She was bumbling her fork around, almost waving her knife and looked completely flustered. The Frenchman leaned toward me, subtly gestured toward her and whispered, "What IS she doing?" Better she had just used her best home manners and style which while being recognized as foreign would also have come across as civilized.

                                3. I am not kidding about the ashtray. Check my tale http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8047...

                                  about 50 down under travelma478.

                                  You cannot make these things up.

                                  1. Wow my friends and neighbors have covered it all in 3 hours while I was out of it - but,
                                    1. Start off with "Bonjour," End with "Merci Au revoir."
                                    2. Don't sweat bringing an 11 month old in; the French waitstaff, despite their undeserved reputations as rude, love kids, you'll have to shove away the mousse, etc.
                                    3. 7 people as someone said, if over 80 dB, are a problem, best to get a private room, downstairs (Les Papilles), upstairs (Bastide Odéon), etc room.
                                    4. And last, as someone who's taken kids and grandkids everywhere here for 50 years - my advice is to relax. Just make sure the 13 yo has enough books, iPad's etc. Our two 13's just blew Paris and Normandy away in June. And PS we had fun too.

                                    1. -Pâté and foie gras should be spread onto bread, and apart from on certain public holidays, never across the forehead.
                                      - When eating snails, it is customary to sing, and as loudly as possible, the theme song from "Who's the boss".
                                      -Do not growl at your waiter, except when ordering chilled soups (vichyssoise, gazpacho, borscht).

                                      Follow these rules and you can't go wrong.

                                      10 Replies
                                        1. re: vielleanglaise

                                          vielleanglaise

                                          Thank you. I was looking more for advice that may not be such common knowledge.

                                          "There's a path you take and a path not taken..." Tony and Angela would be proud.

                                          1. re: vielleanglaise

                                            Now I understand why the waiter at CLJ gave me such a dirty look when I smeared my pâté on the bridge of my nose. He thought I was aiming for my forehead.

                                            1. re: RandyB

                                              "smeared my pâté on the bridge of my nose."
                                              You mean? Oh boy. Gotta change my behavior.

                                            2. re: vielleanglaise

                                              I beg to differ on one point:
                                              Don't smear your foie gras anywhere. Think always that foie gras is - and should be tasted - like meat, not like butter. Cut yourself a slab. Take a bite as though it were a mouthful of meat; don't spread it. Get the whole foie-gras blast on your tongue.

                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                My basquaise companion at CLJ looked at me a bit quizzically (but not disdainfully) when I did that with the coarse pâté/terrine.

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  This thread is getting confusing as it swings from straight to irony to straight. I hope OP gets it right.

                                                  1. re: mangeur

                                                    Maybe I will just not order foie...but do appreciate all the serious advice

                                                2. re: vielleanglaise

                                                  LOL (and I mean that literally) - So funny! You should post more often!

                                                3. Tipping... Since you are a party of 7 anglophones with a baby, I'd leave about 5 € in cash as appreciation for the waiter's extra work.

                                                  Ordering... French restaurants are usually very understaffed by American standards. The waiter's time and attention is valuable so make the best and quickest use of it as you can. Using Patricia Wells glossary app (do a google search... it's also cited many times on this board), try to translate as much of the menu as possible on your own. Don't hem and haw when it comes to ordering.

                                                  Pacing... usually quite slow.... Americans (and others) expect pretty quick meals but the French complain about rushed service and consider eating to be a social experience and an opportunity for conversation rather than just nourishment. If the service is too slow (as it sometimes is), summon the waiter by raising your hand and one finger (and not that finger!) and without raising your voice say "monsieur, s'il vous plaît" with a smile. If you need a second attempt, raise your hand/ finger and say very firmly "monsieur, je vous prie" (which is simply a more emphatic form of "please"). It's often difficult to find the right degree of insistence when you want to get the waiter's attention but in general try not to raise your voice... loudness is almost always considered a sign of loutish belligerence/ disrespect and is counterproductive.

                                                  Getting the bill.... when it comes to asking for the bill, no need to summon the waiter to your table... just get his attention by the raised hand/finger routine turned into air writing with your thumb and index finger when you have eye contact and "l'addition, s'il vous plaît, monsieur" and then on your second attempt, the air-writing routine again, accompanied by a firm "je vous en prie, monsieur" and then your hands clasped in pretend prayer.

                                                  Second-hand smoke.... the sense of entitlement that is often the core of North American behaviour does not travel well. When it comes to second-hand smoke, be prepared to hide your intolerance. Certainly hyper-sensitivity to second-hand smoke does exist but, on the whole, Parisiens are remarkably tolerant of it. If you sit on a terrace (where smokers are now exiled) or at a table near an open door inside the restaurant, don't make those typically American peevish and exaggerated gestures of annoyance when you catch a whiff of smoke. Last summer at a café in St Germain des Prés I witnessed a near fist-fight between a table of Americans (with a baby) and a few tables of lunch-hour French smokers because, it seems, the wife had made a big scene about the smoke "killing" her baby... in the end, the waiter asked the American family to leave. The simple answer is that if you don't like cigarette smoke/ smell, don't sit on a terrace or at tables near an open door or window... and, if you are hypersensitive to second hand smoke, don't expect others to be very sympathetic.

                                                  A little BTW for others... in the unlikely event that you make it to a hip restaurant in the hip quartiers (mostly in eastern Paris), the usual formality among strangers is often abandoned... waiters will "tutoyer" you from the get-go and maybe even ask for your prénom. It's a leftover from the 1968 "revolution" and a sign of hipness today. I don't at all mind getting tutoyer-ed by waiters/ strangers but my grandparents would be totally offended and my parents would be somewhat uncomfortable.

                                                  23 Replies
                                                  1. re: Parnassien

                                                    Excellent points. I would like to emphasize the need for each diner to listen carefully to any menu description by the waiter. Time and again I hear a waiter discuss each item on the menu only to have individual diners ask for repeats of some or most of the dishes. Big sigh and back to square one...

                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                      Is the waiter speaking French or English?
                                                      I'd find it hard to keep up in French, even though I try to brush up on menu ordering!
                                                      Are Americans given a bit of a break due to the language difference?
                                                      What is "tutoyer" and "prenom"?
                                                      I don't get the context of this.
                                                      Thank you.

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        Of course Américains aka ricains are given a break... but non-French speaking tourists should also try to give the waiter a break too. Most waiters will be able to able to speak some English but very few will be fluent.

                                                        "Tutoyer" means using the second-person singular/ familiar verb forms i.e. tu me comprends. "Vouvoyer" means using the second-person plural/ formal verb forms and is the trad/ usual way for speaking with strangers i.e vous me comprenez. Prénom = first name.

                                                    2. re: Parnassien

                                                      Hello Parnassien, and all the other 'hounds who helped make my visit to Paris so wonderful. I read this board from time to time, and look forward to my next trip....someday. This thread has me laughing out loud, and then I just saw this on Eater - I hope it hasn't already been discussed elsewhere on the board. Apologies if redundant. Have any of you come across this kind of pricing?

                                                      http://eater.com/archives/2013/12/11/...

                                                      1. re: saticoy

                                                        Yes, it was even in the throwaways - Metro, Paris Matin 20 Minutes, etc.
                                                        Quite a belly laugh.

                                                        1. re: saticoy

                                                          Welcome back, Saticoy ! When are you returning to Paris ?

                                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                                            Hell-LO!

                                                            Hopefully within two years, when I have finished coursework for my program, and can plan an off-season visit. With son and husband. Daydreams include:

                                                            -Finding bordier beurre aux algues - nowhere to be found in my two quest-filled weeks,

                                                            -Foolishly hoping to repeat the paradigm shifting experiences I had at Ferme St. Hubert, Comptoir de la Gastronomie, and le Furet Tanrade,

                                                            -Eating oysters anywhere, possibly including crowded, convivial places I was too scared to plan to go to alone, and too sick to contemplate once I was there,

                                                            -Finally visiting my obsession, Au Dernier Metro (not on a Saturday), and my new obsession, Le Bistro des Oies,

                                                            -reconnecting with the essence of camembert - au lait cru, and revisiting the miracle of chaource,

                                                            -Blowing my son's mind at the Dali museum, with a relaxing, ethereal nibble and sip at Chez Plumeau either before or after,

                                                            - finding the Ultimate Cheese Guy (hi parigi)

                                                            - finding some bstilla/ pastilla.

                                                            Oops - hijacked an etiquette post while I was supposed to be working on an historiography of the US Great Migration, which coincidentally connects to France through jazz. Maybe this trip will come sooner than I thought!

                                                            1. re: saticoy

                                                              Easy to find all the varieties of beurre Bordier in the permanent building of the marche d'aligre. Just check around a ltttle,there is one stall that has beautiful cheeses and everything in the way of butter. I just bought beurre Bordier in vanilla, citron and algues there,also Bordier yogurts.also beurre au truffes which has a lovely odor when you unwrap the paper..

                                                              1. re: pammi

                                                                Searched many of the places recommended here, never found it. Lucky you.

                                                              2. re: saticoy

                                                                Having beurre bordier aux algues right now, from Les Papilles Gourmands on rue des Martyrs.
                                                                If you are going back to Ferme St Hubert to get cheeses, you can also get beurrer bordier aux algues there.

                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                  Also at Grande Epicerie and Briezh (shop next door to the main restaurant).

                                                                  1. re: Nancy S.

                                                                    Perhaps there should be a "who has seen which Bordier flavors where and when" thread, with regular updates. I spent 16 days searching the places I had noted on this board, to no avail. Found some excellent butters, had some Bordier, but the wily aux algues escaped my grasp....

                                                                    1. re: saticoy

                                                                      Algues always available at Grande Epicerie.

                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                        not when i went last summer-bare space in the case.

                                                                      2. re: saticoy

                                                                        Next time you are in Paris, and if you, like the last time, live near Ferme St Hubert, ask the lovely staff to save you a stick of beurre Bordier of your choice when it is delivered (I remember it's Wednesday). Then you don't have to schlep all over.
                                                                        Ditto Les Papilles Gourmandes, not far from Ferme St Hubert.

                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                          YES - I want to stay at the same apt for its proximity to FSH, Le Furet Tanrade, and Marche St. Quentin. Had such a beautiful experience (thanks to you) with the FSH folks - I will make this my first stop, and ask them to save me a stick.

                                                                          1. re: saticoy

                                                                            Of course if you stay on the Left Bank, you'll have lots of places where Bordier butter isn't rationed out... and nicer folks ... (sticking tongue out)

                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                Parigi, we had some great dim sum at the Marché St. Quentin, at the place you recommended, during our stay last November. Looking forward to visiting the Marché again.

                                                                                1. re: bcc

                                                                                  Ah, my secret dimsum lady. Isn't her stuff good ? Who would have thunk.

                                                                    2. re: Parigi

                                                                      Won't be going back for a while now, was not available at Ferme St. Hubert when I had my incredible experience there in 2012. Still hoping to melt it over natto....

                                                                    3. re: saticoy

                                                                      saticoy, sounds extremely interesting! Wish we had historyhound!

                                                                      1. re: lagatta

                                                                        I'm an historian - my work is in music, but I love food. When I visited, I was reading Zola, and found many touchstones - I think I lived the cheese chapter from the Belly of Paris. Hmmmm ... now I am going to be thinking about inserting more history into my posts!

                                                              3. Waitstaff in Paris are into high-fiving.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                    But never both at the same time !

                                                                1. OK serious here:
                                                                  Not much to add to all the great advice by everyone else…
                                                                  Except this:
                                                                  There is no drought in Paris, or in the rest of France. Please do not walk around with a mineral water bottle everywhere, into cafés and restaurants. In a café or restaurant, you are supposed to order stuff, not to bring your own stuff.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                    Brava! I'd give the same advice regarding bringing pastries to cafés. I've only seen tourists do this.

                                                                    1. re: Nancy S.

                                                                      I plead guilty. However, I think when there is a wonderful patisserie nearby with no café of its own, I think nearby cafés are often happy for the business if one doesn't make a big show of it. I have done this many times at Café de la Mairie near Pierre Hermé and they have always graciously said it was ok.

                                                                      1. re: RandyB

                                                                        I've read about the Hermé-Mairie connection on this board. I'm a fan of both, but independently. I'd be sad if this type of behavior would become the norm.

                                                                    2. re: Parigi

                                                                      You actually saw this, in a place you deigned to eat at?

                                                                    3. When we first started traveling to France and other "furren" parts, in addition to reading up in advance, we would watch locals around us to see what they did.

                                                                      In simple cafes, people left the change -- or not. Didn't seem to freak out the waiter one way or another.

                                                                      The only time I've seen kids frowned upon was when they were running around unchecked (and by French parents, no less!). The owner/hostess took it upon herself to scold the kids into behaving properly -- and it worked!

                                                                      I'd read that sharing dishes wasn't done, but nobody seemed to be shocked if we did (I think the phrase I learned was "un per deux"). (And I suppose I need to pronounce that carefully so nobody would think I wanted a "one lost".)

                                                                      Generally, one waiter on staff would speak English, even if nobody else did. And in one restaurant, the waiter knelt next to our table and did animal noises to explain what type of meat the dish was -- mooooo, baaaaa, cluck-cluck, etc.

                                                                      The easiest thing to goof up that I remember was in a simple restaurant where the cheese platter was a shared item... placed on your table for you to help yourself, then passed along to the next table ordering cheese. It would be easy to think this was "your" cheese plate!

                                                                      Oh, and there was that time my husband mis-took the sommelier for our waiter and tried to order dinner from him. We laughed about that for 30 years!!

                                                                      The simplest way to get along in a restaurant in France is to act like a grown-up!
                                                                      Oh, and the bill won't be brought until you ask for it.

                                                                      1. I've found that Parisians are among the most hospitable people in the world as long as you stand up straight, treat them with the same politeness you would extend to a treasured friend, look them in the eye, and try to speak their language even though your French is awful. They really appreciate the effort, in my experience.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Big Eater

                                                                          I start with an apology for my excreble (non-existent) French and then launch into as polite a request as I can muster. never had a problem.

                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                            This was my M.O. too (Bonjour madame! Je parle tres peu francais....) and worked everywhere except at Maison du Puy, where the proprietress made fun of me. The croissant was totally worth it, though!

                                                                            1. re: saticoy

                                                                              yup except I used something like 'pardon moi, je ne parle Francais...' I'm sure I was laughed at occasionally, as in "why did he even bother telling us that as it was pretty G-D obvious!" but I got by and had a good time.

                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                He who laughs first is the boor. You did good.

                                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                                              I think it's been in every newspaper I have read recently.

                                                                            2. re: souphie

                                                                              Cute. Although it brings to mind how many times I've been greeted with 'Je vous écoute'.

                                                                              1. re: souphie

                                                                                love this! Indeed a little kindness and humility travels far.

                                                                                1. re: souphie

                                                                                  Shoulda put in it a picture, instead of a link!

                                                                                2. This has been mentioned but, with a party of 7, is worth repeating. Don't be too loud. The French want to have their own experience in the resto, not somebody else's.

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: robodog

                                                                                        Amen, Brother! And by no means only the French...

                                                                                        1. re: robodog

                                                                                          Typing on CH is as loud as I get and I can control the rest of the crew (minus baby...who will end up outside if she makes any noise. I may even go out with her). I abhor loud, obnoxious people in any country.

                                                                                          1. re: winefuhrer

                                                                                            What we, each of us, need to remember, is that the loud people in restaurants aren't necessarily or normally obnoxious bur rather simply oblivious to the decibel of their joy and enthusiasm in the moment.

                                                                                            (We have met the enemy and he is us.)

                                                                                            1. re: mangeur

                                                                                              True. You should hear JT and me screeching with laughter. Miracle that we are not blackballed by all restaurants. When all of you ask JT for recommendations, don't forget to ask where you will especially not run into him (andd me). We are your worst nightmare.

                                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                FWIW, I can think of a Chow or two with whom we've raised a few eyebrows. Fun is fun, after all. But it still is worthwhile to recognize the more boisterous of these as 'ooops' moments.

                                                                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                  "screeching with laughter"
                                                                                                  You need a better class of friends so the rest of us can eat undisturbed by noisy fellow pesky Yankees

                                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                    Or Germans in Italy.

                                                                                                    Scots in the Caribbean.

                                                                                                    Everybody at Disneyworld.

                                                                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                      Yes, I was with a couple of very cultivated German friends in Perugia (sadly, the wife has died since) and they certainly didn't want to run into raucous "Krauts".

                                                                                                      One funny memory is their GPS in German giving us directions through the winding hillside roads.