Looking at restaurants in France and how we are all spoilt for choice!
Eating out in France really is a complete pleasure. How many times have you visited a pretty town in France and admired the laid back attitude of folk sitting outside with a delicious fixed price menu, a glass of local wine and a lot of sunshine beaming down? This really is one of the loveliest things about France. French gastronomy is still renowned all over the world and remains one of the biggest attractions for people visiting this wonderful country.
A typical French meal consists of three courses: entrée, plat, fromage then dessert. Most restaurants offer an incredibly good value menu at lunchtime, often with a glass of wine and coffee thrown in. Then again, there are some delightful restaurants in smaller villages which don’t even have a menu: the cook simply offers what he or she has sourced that day, just like home cooking.
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As for types of restaurant, you can find anything from simple bistros, cafes and small brasseries offering simple fare and snacks to the more upmarket gastronomic restaurants which are often justifiably proud of their specialities. The capital of food in France is not Paris, believe it or not, but Lyon, where some of the finest restaurants in the world are situated.
The French take eating out seriously and are renowned the world over for their love of food and fresh ingredients. Dining out in the evening can be quite an affair, as can any French celebration such as a wedding or christening, with the courses being spread out until late into the night. There is no such thing as rushing in France. Food and company are to be savoured. French people will often sit around a table whether at home or in a restaurant for several hours. It is a true social occasion.
One thing to beware of is opening hours in France, however. Unless you are in the centre of Paris or perhaps one of the other large towns in France, you will not easily find anywhere out of the normal lunchtime and evening hours. French restaurants tend to be open from 12 noon until 14.30 for lunch and then 19.00 to 22.00 for dinner. This is the big cultural difference, and some planning is therefore usually necessary and booking advisable. “Apero” time is anything from 18.00 to 19.00 and the usual time for eating around 20.00. In coastal regions these times may be extended, particularly in the summer months, but it is important to know that food service around the clock does not really exist in France.
Weekends are when French families venture out. There is nothing more delightful than seeing whole families from babies to grandparents getting together in their Sunday best and lingering over a delicious Sunday roast.
There are so very many things to love about France but eating out usually comes close to the top of the list. Bon appetit!