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Waiter at les Deux Magots, Paris 6th. Photo by crayolasue.
French Lesson: Au restaurant—Part 1
Arriving at a Restaurant & Addressing Your Server
Here are some tips and a few common expressions to help you communicate when going to a restaurant in France. This is part one of four Au restaurant lessons; stay tuned for la deuxième partie (part 2)!
There are many restaurants in France; most offer very good food for a very reasonable price, some can be very expensive, and then there are the tourist traps. Before choosing where to eat, check out the many restaurant reviews here on BonjourParis.com or ask for recommendations on its Facebook page. Also, if you have a smartphone, use one of the many available restaurant suggestion applications.
When you arrive at a restaurant, say:
Bonjour Monsieur /Madame /Mademoiselle, je voudrais une table pour deux personnes
(Hi, I’d like a table for 2).
You may be asked if you have une réservation (a reservation), in which case, you simply answer: oui, au nom de… (Yes, under the name…) or non, désolé (No, sorry I don’t).
Remember, restaurants are non smoking, but not on the terrasses (outdoor patios), which have become a smoker’s heaven, so be careful about choosing tables by the window—especially if that window is open.
Next, let’s address the use of the word garçon.
When calling your serveur/serveuse (waiter/waitress), simply use Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle.
Un garçon de café is a waiter in a bar, a café or une brasserie, but not a restaurant; and it’s a term rarely used in France today.
Restaurant Etiquette in France by Karen Fawcett
Hundreds of restaurant reviews in our Dining section, from casual to special occasion, in Paris, greater France, London & more
PHOTO CREDITS: Photo published per Creative Commons 3.0 license with photographer credit in caption.
Camille Chevalier-Karfis lives in Brittany and she’s been teaching today’s French language to adults around the world for over 19 years with her company, French Today. Please click on her name to learn more about her by reading her complete profile.
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