Why are some French restaurants called brasseries

This is how you avoid making faux pas on your next vacation in France

Even if you think the cultural differences in France are not that great, there are some special features that you should be aware of. Because often mistakes are made out of ignorance. So that you can avoid embarrassing situations and inconveniences on your holiday in France, we have listed the most important tips and information here.

In the restaurant

You are placed

In restaurants in France you will generally placed. So wait in the entrance area after entering the restaurant, a waiter will assign you a table. If this table does not suit you, you are welcome to ask whether it is possible to get another table. The simpler café, bars or brasseries are an exception. Here you usually have a free choice of seats.

Order of dishes

You start with one aperitif, followed by the starter, the main dish, the cheese and the dessert.

Eating cheese as the main course is unusual in France, even if you order a lunch plate, as is offered in some regions. The cheese is usually presented on the cheese trolley, from which one can only look 2-3 pieces should choose, more would be understood as excessive.

Soups in restaurants you usually only eat in the evening, not at lunchtime.

You get to eat on request free a Carafe with tap water ("Carafe d’eau"), which is also refilled if necessary.

Daily specials and daily menus

Most restaurants offer daily specials and daily menus. Such a dish of the day usually costs around € 8. The menus include 2 or 3 courses and are usually € 12-20.

Bill and tip

The separate numbers An invoice, as is common in Germany, is not known in France. Often someone invites and pays for everyone at the table or the total amount is divided by the number of people instead of adding up who ate and drank how much.

At the Tip Do not simply add the amount to the invoice amount, but first pay the amount indicated on the invoice and let it in when you leave the restaurant Tip on the table lie. A few coins are enough. In general, the French tip less than the Germans. Ten percent is already the maximum. You should never call the waiter in a restaurant, but give him subtle signs.

Table manners

You will be in France quite strict laid out: Chicken legs are worked with knife and fork, fruit for dessert as well. Baguette, on the other hand, is broken (never cut!) And placed next to the plate, not on the plate. Dipping the baguette in sauce or something similar is also rather unusual. Salad is folded and cheese is not cut at the tip, but lengthways in slices.

Meal times

The eating times of the French differ somewhat from the usual times in Germany. Since the working day usually starts a little later, the (short) breakfast also takes place later. On the other hand, the lunch, which is usually multi-course, is all the more sumptuous. It starts around from 12.30 p.m. and lasts until about 2 p.m. The most restaurants close between 2.00pm / 2.30pm and 7.00pm / 7.30pm or do not serve continuously.

The right time for dinner is 7 p.m. at the earliest, but more likely from 8 p.m. came. You take your time and indulge in culinary delights and conversation in great detail. Dinner can last until 10 p.m.

Cafe and coffee

The French have a very distinctive coffee culture, i.e. a good cup of coffee is very important to you. In France, however, a café is something different than in Germany. Because who in France one "Coffee shop" ordered, received an espresso. A "café crème"corresponds to German coffee.

If you go to a café in France and expect cake there, you will unfortunately be disappointed. Sometimes there are sandwiches and hearty snacks. However, if you want to eat something sweet, you should rather go to a Salon de Thé or a patisserie. In addition to tea and coffee, cakes and pastries are also offered here.


In Paris and the surrounding area, it is quite normal for bistrots to have three for one and the same drink different prices can give: depending on whether you take the drink either standing at the bar or sitting in the hall or outside on the terrace.

The café is - just like the bistro or the bar - a meeting place for all age groups and social classes. The fact that you get the bill with your drink is not an invitation to leave again soon. In French restaurants you can and should take your time. By the way, you can simply leave the counted amount on the table.

Transport and traffic

By car

Even if you can easily get the impression that you are not so strict about traffic rules in France, you should stick to them meticulously. This is especially true for Speed ​​limits on country roads and highways. The French gendarmerie stands right on the roadside and collects a considerable sum for violations of any kind. And not, as is often assumed, only with tourists, but with everyone.

Curbs marked in yellow indicate no parking, additional signs are usually not found.

In the train

You need one to travel with the TGV within France reservation, this is compulsory and is usually sold together with the ticket. Some TGVs are two-story, therefore note whether you have reserved a seat above or below. This is noted on your train ticket. The Doors of a TGV close 2 minutes before the departure time and then no longer open. It is therefore important to be at the platform at least 5 minutes before departure.

The Tickets must before boarding the train devalued (except online tickets). There are yellow-orange validators for this at the beginning of the platforms.

All luggage that you take on the train must be taken with you Address tags otherwise they will be confiscated by the railway staff. In contrast to the German ICE trains, there is no space in the TGV to stow suitcases in the shelves above the seats. These are only intended for small bags, jackets, etc. For large luggage there are separate compartments at the beginning and end of the compartments as well as in the middle Luggage racks.

In the metro

In the wagons there is Folding seats. You should only use this if the subway is largely empty. In the rush hour crowd, people do not like to see someone spread out with the folding seats. Take good care of yours on the Paris Metro Valuables on, especially during the day it is often stolen in the crowd. So it's best to wear valuables close to your body.

In the bus

If you want to get on an arriving bus at a bus stop, you have to use it Hand signals signal that you would like to get on board. Otherwise he will drive past the stop. Usually you can Single tickets from the driver acquire. However, there are more and more common too Ticket machineswhere you can buy tickets. These usually have to be validated on the bus. If you want to get off the bus at a bus stop, you signal this by pressing the stop button in good time before reaching the bus stop.

In the taxi

In taxis, do not sit in the front passenger seat, but in the back seat. A tip is common, but it is enough to round up the amount a little.

As a pedestrian

Be careful at pedestrian crossings commanded! Because the French rarely stop at the zebra crossing. You should make sure beforehand that either the road is clear or that the cars really stop before crossing the road.


Topless is allowed on most French beaches, but on the French not necessarily welcome. Topless sunbathing is forbidden in Corsica, and there is a risk of a fine. Nudism however, it is only allowed on specially designated beaches. These beach sections are marked with signs.

In France you go only in swimwear in the sauna. Going to the sauna naked is not known in France. This can certainly cause problems.

opening hours

Most Museums are closed on Monday. A few, including the Louvre, are open on Mondays but closed on Tuesdays. Many too Shops, restaurants or even banks are closed on mondays.

dealing with each other


The French place a high value on politeness. It is therefore advisable to always do this when entering a shop, restaurant or before speaking to people greetings first. A simple “Bonjour” is sufficient here. Please no "salute" or, even worse, "salute, ca va", this would correspond - to put it in an exaggerated way - a "hey, how are you old man". Only when you have known each other for a long time can you greet the other person with a "salute". In France, people don't shake hands as often to greet them as they do here. Instead, the French hand out kisses on the cheek or blow two air kisses over the shoulder of the other person. Depending on the region, it can be three or four.

She or you

When communicating with the French, the answer to the question of whether to address the other person with "you" ("vous") or with "you" ("tu") is fairly simple: the French are very formal in this area. It is therefore advisable to always address your counterpart with “vous”. Even young people are often sick. Only friends are on terms with each other.

The French language

The French are proud of their country and their language. If only out of respect for the country and its people, it is advisable to do the to learn key phrases. You should at least master the greeting and the question of whether the other person speaks English in French. In this way you not only make your life easier, but also make the French happy because you have studied their language. Most of the time, you will get compliments for your good French. This is taken seriously, as the French themselves do little to deal with foreign languages ​​and therefore show respect to anyone else who takes the trouble to speak the other's language.

However, caution should be exercised French sounding wordswhich are also used in German. Because they are often so-called “false friends”, i.e. words that have a completely different meaning in the original language. This is still harmless with the piano, in France it is simply called "piano". But the sugar biscuit "baiser" is called "meringue" in France, while "baiser" is best translated as "kissing".

A common misconception is that the French do not speak foreign languages. This is only partially true. Most French people, especially the younger generation, have a good command of a foreign language - mostly English - but are often simply too lazy to speak it. Especially in tourist businesses however, the employees are able to in English communicate with you.

Another, for the most part wrong, adoption is that in Alsace everyone speaks German. However, this is no longer the case and, if in doubt, can even arouse old resentments. Here, too, the official language is French and even Alsatian is being lost more and more.


The relationship to the time in Germany is different than in France. Time is relative in certain regions of France, just as time for certain activities is relative in certain countries. Punctuality is a matter of course in countries like Germany and Switzerland. In France people are more flexible and 10-15 minutes late is quite normal.


The French are very fond of paying by credit card. In France, you can basically go anywhere, e.g. in every restaurant, all supermarkets and even at parking and ticket machines pay by credit card. However, it is necessary that the credit card has a chip and a pin number. Otherwise it will not work - especially with fuel terminals.

Our Maestro cards, with which we like to pay in Germany, are less common in France. As a result, it can happen that your debit card is not accepted in a restaurant or elsewhere.

Some gas stations are open after work or on Sundays, but without staff, so you can Tank machines refuel and have to pay. They only accept credit cards (with chip and PIN). Unfortunately, due to the different payment systems in Germany and France, there are often cases in which the German credit card with PIN and chip does not work either. It is therefore best to refuel at staffed petrol stations during opening hours.

Hotels, accommodations

Hotel de Ville

At the "Hôtel de ville" it is not, as one might wrongly assume, the city hotel, but the town hall. Even with the Hotels particuliers These are not hotels in the strict sense of the word, but city villas, which are mostly privately owned.