Eating out in Paris
For anyone arriving in Paris, the plethora of eating establishments can be mind-boggling!
There are different kinds and they are EVERYWHERE. It's hard to imagine that people eat out so much. But they do. If you are familiar with history, many "homes" were no more than cold rooms in which they slept and did not necessarily have facilities to cook meals. So culturally, the French (and Europeans in general) have eating out in their blood.
So what the heck are the differences between the different types of eating establishments? It's really good to know if you want to avoid a faux pas. At the same time, you'll find that many of the establishments are combined as in a cafe-restaurant or bistro-restaurant.
A WORD ABOUT THE WAITERS
In Paris, waiting tables has traditionally been a man's job. I did, however, on my trip last summer (2010), notice more women waiters.
Waiters' tips are added into the bill at the end of the meal. If you received great service, you can leave a Euro just to communicate your extra appreciation - but it is not required. This works like a commission. However, as opposed to sales jobs where you are encouraged to sell more to make more, French waiters usually aren't. This makes for a relaxed atmosphere, without the constant "sales pitch" and rush to "turn" your table for the next diners.
On the other hand, since they do not have to "work" for their tip, waiters can be lackadaisical, uninterested and famously rude. But what most tourists don't understand, it that they are this way to everyone, even the Parisians!
Good manners, lots of smiling, and a friendly disposition can often win over the most bored waiter. Also, understanding the type of the establishment and basic menu language makes points.
Cafes and Salons de The
Bistros, Brasseries, Restaurants