Eating out in Paris
For anyone arriving in Paris, the plethora of eating establishments can be mind-boggling!
There are different kinds and they are EVERYWHERE. It's hard to imagine that people eat out so much. But they do. If you are familiar with history, many "homes" were no more than cold rooms in which they slept and did not necessarily have facilities to cook meals. So culturally, the French (and Europeans in general) have eating out in their blood.
So what the heck are the differences between the different types of eating establishments? What is a cafe or salon de the? What is a bistro or brasserie or restaurant? It's really good to know if you want to avoid a faux pas. At the same time, you'll find that many of the establishments are combined as in a cafe-restaurant or bistro-restaurant.
A Word About Waiters in Paris
Cafes and Salons de TheIn Paris, waiting tables has traditionally been a man's job. During my more recent trips, I noticed more women waiters too.
Waiters' tips are added into the bill at the end of the meal. If you received great service, you can leave a Euro just to communicate your extra appreciation - but it is not required. This works like a commission. However, as opposed to sales jobs where you are encouraged to sell more to make more, French waiters usually aren't. This makes for a relaxed atmosphere, without the constant "sales pitch" and rush to "turn" your table for the next diners.
On the other hand, since they do not have to "work" for their tip, waiters can be lackadaisical, uninterested and famously rude. But what most tourists don't understand is that they are this way to everyone, even the Parisians!
Good manners, lots of smiling, and a friendly disposition can often win over the most bored waiter. Also, matching your expectations with the type of the establishment and knowing basic menu language makes points.
As the younger generation of Parisians turn their city into a foodie paradise, the dining experience is changing. It's more casual, more experimental, and a great way to explore the city.
Cafés and Salons de Thés
Bistros, Brasseries, Restaurants