All shapes, sizes, styles, cuisines and price ranges. Restaurants are among the foremost delights of the French capital.
Who doesn't dream of a leisurely dinner in a Paris restaurant? Romantic couples, groups of friends, gourmands on the lookout for a new delight....
Which Paris Restaurant?
To say "Paris restaurant" is to say nothing, however. The variety is so great that one needs to be much more specific.
Let's concentrate on the classic: the small neighborhood restaurant with a dozen or so tables, eclectic décor, professional waiters and a carte (list of dishes) that gives some of the classics of French cuisine as well as a few innovative creations of the chef.
Ask friends for recommendations, look online for reports of experiences, go to the restaurant ahead of time to examine the menu, then make a reservation and be there on time.
We'll make it easier for you: find one of these major restaurant areas near your hotel or apartment/flat, wander through it at mealtime, check menus and décor, find a table and enjoy!
You can also read about some of our meals and consider those choices.
Parisians like to lunch anywhere from noon to 2 or 2:30 pm, and to dine from 8:30 or 9 pm onward (so if you make a reservation for 7:30 pm you'll be dining very early...if the restaurant is even open.)
Please read our page on French restaurant etiquette.
As you enter the restaurant the staff will greet you, and you should respond in kind with Bonsoir, monsieur or Bonsoir, madame as appropriate.
Look at la carte (the menu) and also L'ardoise, the blackboard list of daily specials. Every restaurant except the most elegant ones has a blackboard outside, inside on a wall, or on a table...somewhere.
Order an entrée (first course), a plat (main course), a boisson (beverage) such as wine, beer, a soft drink or bottled water. (You can always—and we always do—ask for un carafe d'eau, a flask or bottle of plain tap water—no charge.)
You will always be brought a basket of French bread (pain), and you can always ask for more as you need it. No extra charge.
After your two first courses, you may want to order a fromage (cheese) course, and/or dessert.
A final option is a pousse-café or digestif, an after-dinner brandy or liqueur.
Paying the Bill
Your waiter will not normally bring you your addition (check/bill) until you ask for it. It should be printed from the cash register, with an itemized list of what you've consumed.
The total will be in euros, and will include all taxes, service charges and tips you need to pay (taux et service compris, prix net, TTC are terms you may see on the check indicating that all is included.)
There is no need to leave a tip/gratuity.
If you pay in cash and there are a few small coins among the bills/notes in your change, it's customary—but not at all obligatory—to leave these on the table.
As you leave the restaurant, your waiter and indeed the entire staff will bid you goodbye, and you should respond the same way with Au revoir, monsieur or Au revoir, madame, as appropriate.