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Hints and tips about restaurants in Paris

I was born in Paris and always loved eating out (as well as cooking). Discover my insider advice for enjoying Paris’s restaurant scene. From making reservations to understanding local dining etiquette, my guide is here to help you savor the best of Parisian cuisine.

Restaurants tips and hints in Paris

How much should I tip?

Unlike in many other countries, a waiter has a salary and a tip is extra. There is no obligation in letting a tip and many French people don’t let any tip. But when the service is good and friendly, it is normal to let a 5 to 10% tip. I usually consider giving 2 to 5€ per person as a tip, depending on the meal price, quality, friendliness and efficiency of the waiter.

How to choose wine?

In a bistronomy restaurant, the waiter will know which wine matches. Just tell him if you want a very good wine or a cheap wine. Unless you”re a real connoisseur, go for cheaper wines: paying 4X the price doesn’t make much of a difference. In a brasserie or cafe, the waiter will often try to sell you an expensive wine. So my advice: don’t go for famous wines surch as Bordeaux or Bourgogne, go for LAnguedoc wine for red and Loire Valley wine for white. They almost always offer the best value for money.

And if you’re not sure, just buy a glass. If you don’t like it much, you won’t feel like you have to finish the bottle.

What time should I go?

For lunch, restaurants start their service around 12, and ends it around 2 pm. If it’s a popular place, either make a reservation or arrive early (before 12.30).

For dinner, service goes from 7 pm to 10 pm for small restaurants and to 11 pm or midnight for big brasseries. Some big brasseries even offer all-day-eating service.

How long does a meal take?

French people spend a long long time having meals. So for lunch, consider 1 hour an average meal time.

But for dinner, it might talke much longer. Dinner is a favourite moment for people to meet their friends and share a good meal with some wine or beer, so an average dinner can last about 2 hours. And you will see tables where people arrive at 8 pm and leave only when the place is closing…

If the restaurant is full, service might be a bit long. So try never to be on a tight schedule for your meal. Better dining after a show than before.

How to pick a good restaurant ?

In Paris, many restaurants provide very good food at affordable price. Of course, check my page about best restaurants in Paris. But restaurant ratings in Google or Tripadvisor are quite reliable too. It’s also a matter of knowing what you like and what to expect.

If you have to choose a restaurant somewhere a don’t have more data available, pick one with:

  • many customers (trust local people)
  • a short menu (the shorter the menu, the higher the food quality. A menu with too many dishes means they’re using frozen food)
  • an ambiance you like

Dietary Requirements

More and more restaurants in Paris provide dishes for vegetarians, but not all of them, so check the menu or as the waiter when arriving.
As for vegan options, it’s still rather scarce. Focus on vegan restaurants or places who talk about it.
If you have some food allergy, always make sure to tell the waiter.