Being accepted by a local crowd and making French friends isn’t easy, so when you’re fortunate enough to be invited to dine with a French family you understandably want to make a good impression. Cultural faux pas are inevitable and the French are as willing as us to laugh them off, but here are a few tips to avoid offending your host:
- If you follow a special dietary regime or have allergies… let your host know in advance. Maybe suggest alternative foods to help them prepare for you. It is considered very impolite to refuse their food on the night, as being a good host is very important in France
- They tend to eat very late. So even if you arrive at 6pm it is likely you will only eat at 8 or 9pm. However, you must be on time as they have aperitifs and snacks before their meals
- If you take a bottle of wine make sure it’s a good one but don’t expect it to be opened that night. Your host will probably have chosen wines specifically for the meal you will be eating together.
- Guests are expected to bring a gift – flowers (never 13 of them) or chocolates are fine, but we recommend taking this opportunity to offer them something typical of your home town or country. A fabulous way to break the ice and show that you put thought into your gift.
- Never cut bread, always break with your fingers
- Taste everything that is offered to you, even a small amount and try not to leave food on your plate.
- Pace yourself, as meals are often long and can include more than 3 courses
- Eat with a knife and fork, not your fingers, unless your hosts do…even when served prawns!
- Whenever in doubt, wait to see what the hosts do and follow suit
- Conversations flow at mealtimes, often everyone talking at the same time. Newcomers are generally showered with questions – so you won’t get away with being a shrinking violet
- Avoid getting involved in any political or religious conversations at all costs!!!!!
- Thank them the very next day with a phone call or a note
Once the French have invited you into their home, their hospitality is second to none and you will be treated like royalty. So enjoy it and remember that a big smile and open appreciation will go a long way to winning their hearts.
To return the invitation by hosting a dinner party of your own, brush up on your culinary skills with Chef Eliane in Cannes to learn to shop, cook and eat an authentic French meal – for more details click here >>>