The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette (Or, How To Survive A Dinner In Paris)

“Maybe we should take a bottle of something with us? Prosecco, perhaps?”

I could tell by my French boyfriend’s slightly agape mouth that, no, we would not be taking a bottle of Prosecco (or Italian white wine) to his parents’ dinner party in Paris. This was my first lesson in French dining etiquette: always bring a gift for your host, but never let that gift be a bottle of anything non-French.

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

Here at BonAppetour, we are all about dining with locals. Of course, this means that you actually need to dine like a local, too – which includes adopting the eating customs of your culturally-different dinner-party host.

Naturally, the French have many interesting customs centred around their cuisine; some of these are common sense, but others only a local would know.

But don’t worry, none of them involve frog legs.

Toast properly

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

“I’ve heard that only men should refill wine glasses, but I think that may be antiquated,” says Hardly Snarky’s American expat and blogger Anne. Although I don’t think this would sit well with modern-day Parisiennes, it is hardly surprising that drinking wine is no simple affair in France.

Known for their bon vin (or fine wine), the French take great pride in what they serve with their food. In terms of drinking customs, when you’re toasting, always look your toasting partner in the eye, and try not to cross arms with anyone.

A common toast to use is à votre santé (which means “to your health”). This is more commonly shortened to just “santé.”

Take your time

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

Dining with French locals will never be a quick dinner date. In fact, a survey found that 43% of French people spend over 45 minutes eating lunch each day. This was by far the biggest percentage out of all 14 countries surveyed.

If you are invited to dine in France, make sure you take your time over your food to savour the delicate flavors. It’s only polite to do so!

Watch your “baguettiquette”

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

When you are literally breaking bread, leave it by the side of your plate, never on top of it. This would be a serious breach of what is known as “baguettiquette.”

And don’t be surprised if your fellow diners clean-up their plate with their remaining hunk of bread.

…and your table manners

The Essential Guide To French Dining Etiquette

Any slip-up in table manners might offend your local host or hostess, so it is always a good idea to be well-versed in French dining etiquette. Here are some good dining habits to keep in mind:

  • Keep your hands on the table at all times
  • Don’t eat until your host says, “Bon appétit!”
  • Always keep the knife in your right hand, and the fork in your left
  • Lay the knife and fork parallel to each other on the right side of the plate once done with the meal

After 5 years of dining with a French family, I have also learned to not touch cheese with my fingers, to not remove the skin from cheeses like brie and camembert, and to not spread foie gras with a knife; rather place a slice onto your bread, and then eat it.

But most of all, I learned to enjoy the delicious dishes of France – and more importantly, the company of my fellow diners.

Over to you

Now that you’re (relatively) well-versed in French dining etiquette, it’s time for you to put it into action at one of BonAppetour’s many home restaurants in Paris. Go ahead, give it a try!

Sacré Bleu! My Parisian Dining Experience with French Locals.

Sacré Bleu! My Parisian Dining Experience with French Locals.

The German philosopher Friedrich Engels once quipped that “if there were no Frenchwomen, life wouldn't be worth living” and that is especially true of two Frenchwomen in particular: Bonappetour hosts Catherine and Florence. I was lucky enough to spend two fabulous evenings with these locals, who have opened up their homes in Paris to travelers and tourists alike who want to try the crème de la crème of French cuisine.

Paris is a wonderful city, and one that I am lucky enough to call my home. But even with my (almost) fluency in French, I can appreciate how hard it can be to completely immerse yourself and connect with local Parisians. Fortunately for me, I work as the Digital Marketing Manager and Paris Community Manager for BonAppetour. This means I get to test out our hosts and their dining experiences before we promote them on our site (if you want to read more about what we do and how we verify our hosts click here!). So, it basically comes down to the fact that I get to enjoy lots of skillfully prepared meals with thoroughly enjoyable company and call it “work”, la vie est belle!


I was invited to Catherine’s abode in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, home to one of Europe’s largest China towns. I was accompanied by Inez, BonAppetour’s Co-Founder, with us were two lovely American ladies, Debbie, who was a journalist, and her sister. Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the hostess of the evening, Catherine and her husband Olivier- even their son Arthur made an appearance during the evening. It was wonderful to have an insight into French domestic life and to witness a family meal in action.

Along with the rich red wine, our conversation flowed freely. We spoke about France, the French culture and even the secret to making quince jelly, but we also shared stories about ourselves. Our conversation was meaningful and inspiring. We heard about local life in Singapore, what it means to be British and also listened in fascination to Debbie’s story about her mother, who emigrated from Poland to America in search of a better life. To match the quality conversation was the superior food that was professionally put together by Catherine. I do not hyperbolise when I write about Catherine’s professionalism, she trained for 5 years to become a chef, and it showed through in every course we tucked into.

I had a truly amusing evening, with the food being on par, or perhaps even better, than many French restaurants in Paris. If you’re looking for a home-from-home experience with authentic French fare then Catherine is the way to go.

Another Parisian experience in the BonAppetour repertoire that I got to try was an evening in Florence’s 19th Century apartment, just a turning off the famous Champs Elysees. Far from a traditional, everyday French experience, this dining event has more than a touch of luxury. I was invited along to a soiree where locals and expats mingled against an opulent baroque backdrop. The evening, organised by BonAppetour and the lovely Cara Cruickshank of Cafe de la Culture, had a theme: “The 18th century Parisian salon”.

Amongst us were actors and musicians in full Marie-Antoinette-style garb. The setting and fascinating lectures about important 18th Century Frenchwomen inspired intellectual talk from the guests as we sat on tables of 5-7. Florence’s food was a delight, my personal favourite being the chestnut soup…Or perhaps the little dessert bites (including my beloved panna cotta), brought along by another BonAppetour Parisian hostess, Karen.

My luxury salon experience not only showed me just how chic Paris can be, but also taught me a lot about French history, philosophy and art. It’s such a great way to get the chance to peek behind the sumptuous facade of apartments that line the great boulevards of Paris, that as a tourist one often admires but can only imagine what is inside. When dining with Florence you can wait for such an event, or you can simply dine with your friends and feel transported back in time in Florence’s apartment as she puts on a delicious Parisian spread.

I am very grateful to all our BonAppetour hosts that invite me into their homes and make me feel a part of a big French family. Which of these two experiences do you want to try when you are next in Paris? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credits: photos from the salon by What's Hot? Blog, read her review of the evening here.


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Where To Get The Best Macarons in Paris

Where To Get The Best Parisian Staple - Macarons

Paris, a dining capital with fine restaurants, casual bistros, bustling markets and fabulous gourmet shops. Of all the lovely foods to be savoured in the city – amazing cheeses, luscious wines, delectable charcuterie and to-die-for pastries – one little gem stands out from the rest: Macarons! This luxurious French delicacy is a must-eat in Paris, where you will find some of the best macaron makers in the world, and here are some of the places that you can find them.


The name Laduree shouldn’t be foreign to you because of how it is usually the talk of the town. The traditional macaron is a staple for an everyday Parisian, and this is where they go and get it. Known for its consistency, crunchy outer pastry and soft flavourful filling – a must try. Each season they come up with new flavours just to spice it up, as well as a limited edition box where they collaborate with fashion designers (you should really consider buying a collection as they all look like jewelry boxes).

Pierre Herme

This next macaron house is as famous as Laduree. Infact, there has been many reviews challenging Laudree’s position as the best macaron house in Paris. Pierre Herme, a master of our era, started his career at iconic house of Fauchon before working at Laudree. The creator of one of the most mouthwatering macarons out there, the famous Isfahan desert which is made out of two macaron shells with a fresh raspberry centre, rose cream filling and a lychee in the centre.

Now you might ask, what differentiates Pierre Herme to Laduree? Pierre Herme provides a twist to the tradition macarons. Venturing off the path of flavours such as ‘chocolate’, ‘vanilla’ and ‘strawberry’, Pierre Herme brings to the table modern and experiemental flavours such as white chocolate and wine, passion fruit and the one that surprised us all, foie gras. This is definitely the macaron house to go to if you are looking for something less mainstream anda little different.


This next place, Angelina, though known for their hot chocolate and Mont-Blanc, their macarons, crunchy with light fillings, should not be missed either. Their iconic “chocolat chaud à l’ancienne” is a must try (you’ll never look at a cup of hot chocolate the same again), paired together with some of their amazing macarons as well. A perfect mix of luxury and Parisian patisserie experience.

Homemade Macarons

And why not have a taste of home-made macarons! For this luxury dining experience you will be ushered into a chic Haussmann-styled apartment in Paris and handed a glass of champagne- the perfect introduction to Parisian life! You will learn how to make macarons with pastry expert Benedicte and also the secrets of macaron making and you will also get to eat with a local in Paris. As I am sure you know- food always tastes best when it is homemade! With your belly full of sweetness and your heart filled with pride after mastering this macaron cooking class you can head off for a stroll along the Champs Elysées or explore Montmartre- both of which are only 15 minutes from Benedicte’s Parisian kitchen!

Know of any other macaron stores there are as good as the ones mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below 🙂

Image Credits: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Make Full Use Of Your Time: Paris In 3 Days

Make Full Use Of Your Time: Paris In 3 Days


Day 1: 

1. Eiffel Tower

Should there ever be a reason for you not to visit the Eiffel tower?
The Eiffel tower is the global and cultural icon of France, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It towers over a green pasture where throngs of people gather with their selfie sticks and sunglasses ready to take a tourist picture with the famous attraction. If you want to go a little off-the-beaten path then you can always enjoy some of the city's famous French food with a local!


2. The Louvre

The Louvre, also another one of France's most recognisable cultural icons. A former royal palace located on the right bank of the river seine, the Louvre is easily recognised by its pyramid-shaped structure, lined with glass panes in the middle of the Napoleonic courtyard. It was a platform for the evolution of architecture and taste in France, hence the interior of the walls and ceilings of the museum are lined with pictures of antique paintings and the intricate design of each wall tile will set this particular attraction apart from the rest.

3. Notre Dame

Notre Dame, at the heart of the city is easily recognisable by its pointy spire. Here lies a historical, Catholic cathedral known for its French Gothic architecture and one of the largest church buildings in the world. It houses one of Catholicism’s most important relics such as the crown of thorns worn by jesus himself, fragments of the cross and one of the holy nails. The Notre Dame is also known to be one of the most visited attraction in Paris as its entry is free.

4. L'Arc de Triomphe

L'Arc de Triomphe stands in the centre ofthe bustling Place Charles de Gaulle, this attraction is one of Paris' most distinctive landmarks. It was erected in 1806 to honour those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. All the names of the French victories and generals are carved into the walls of this majestic structure. At the top of the monument, you will be able to witness an amazing panoramic view of Paris.

Day 2: 

5. Sacre-Coeur

An attraction dedicated to the the 58,000 lives lost during the defeat of France. The Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, the second tallest structure in France, is situated on a hill in Montmartre. Easily identified thanks to it almost all-white architectural design with two turquoise like Equestrian statues of King Saint Louis and Satin Joan of Arc watching over the church. Similar to the Arc de Triomphe, you will be able capture a breathtaking panoramic view of Paris at the top of the stairs.

6.Jardin du Luxembourg

An inner-city oasis inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence, the gardens cover over 25 hectares and is split into French and English gardens. In between lies a garden with over 106 statues, activities for children such as puppet shows, and for the adults there is chess, tennis, bridge as well as remote control boats you can sail into the large pond.

7.Palais Garnier

A 1,979 seat opera house famously known for its opulence and architecture that portray deities of greek mythology. The Palais Garner, rich with velvet and gold leaf linings, is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, mainly used for the prestigious and highly regarded ballet shows.

8.Parc de la Villette

Parc de la Villete is the third-largest park in Paris. It houses one of the largest concentration of cultural venues, such as 3 major concert venues, Europe’s largest science museum and much more. Large patches of greenery are dotted with people enjoying an afternoon picnic or even just reading a book.

Day 3:

10. Grand Palais

A historical site, exhibition hall and museum, The Grand Palais was designed with glass ceilings as before the age of electricity, light was a necessity. At any time of the day you will be able to watch as light drenches the floors of the Grand Palais, which was used as a place of meeting between Parisians. It is also now used as an exhibition site for many different kinds of art work!

11. Canal Saint-Martin

In spring and summer, Parisians dot the canal to picnic and strum their guitars. Cafes, bars and quirky boutiques line the banks. A perfect location to rent a bike and tour the city.

12. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

 Bein the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, it is a main attraction that houses many notable and respectable artists, writers and singers, such as Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

13. Place des Vosges

A graceful, charming and perfect square garden, with beautiful symmetrical fountains placed at all four corners of the square and a serene green oasis surrounded by rows and rows of red brick houses that feeds the aesthetic appeal. Plane des Vosges is also a place of great historical value as it is the same place where the medieval royal palace used to stand. An absolute pleasure to visit and an ideal place to sit back, relax and sip some wine.

Image Credits: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 

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