Authentic France travel Tip #4: Eat Your Meals at the Same Time as the French
Some of the guests at our vacation rentals are frankly befuddled by restaurants here in France. They go in at 3:00pm, desperately hungry for something to eat, and the waiter looks at them strangely and informs them that the kitchen staff has left for the afternoon.
Given that restaurants are generally open in North America all day, every day to serve victuals, this confusion is eminently understandable.
However, I strongly believe that one of the keys to having an authentic experience in France is eschewing the North American concept of flexible meal times and instead eating when the French eat.
Here’s how it works in France;
Breakfast (or “petit déjeuner“): This is taken on getting up, and generally no later than 10:00am
Lunch (or “déjeuner“): The French sit down for lunch between 12:00 and 12:30, and it usually lasts until 1:30 to 2:00pm.
Afternoon snack (or “goûter“): This is taken between 4:00 and 5:00 pm, and is a wonderful time to treat yourself to something yummy from a Patisserie. This is the only meal that the French see as optional, and at times miss.
Supper (or “dîner“): The French sit down to supper no earlier than 7:00pm, and often as late as 9:00pm. People in Paris and the South of France tend to eat a bit later (due to traffic and heat considerations I suppose).
Lunch tends to be the biggest meal of the day and is almost always a sit down affair with wine and baguette and a minimum of three courses. The exception to this is if the French are having supper with friends or going out to a restaurant. You will find that no restaurant will take dinner reservations before 7:00pm.
By eating like the French, I believe you will receive not only better service and better food, but may even develop a deep appreciation of the ritualized manner in which the French enjoy their meals.
*”Authentic France Travel Tips” are posted every Tuesday and give ideas for travellers who want to experience the authentic side of France.