Quiz – French etiquette when dining out

Want to avoid making any faux pas when invited for a meal by French friends or when dining out in a French restaurant? Test your knowledge of French etiquette with our quiz.

Bon courage !

1. When invited for a drink or a meal, you should arrive
a) a few minutes early.
b) exactly on time.
c) ten minutes late.

2. When invited for an aperitif, you should stay
a) half an hour.
b) an hour and a half.
c) until your hostess announces dinner.

3. When French acquaintances invite you for dinner, you should
a) dress smartly.
b) wear formal evening dress.
c) opt for a casual style.

4. When invited for a meal at a French person’s house, you should expect to be
a) shown around the house.
b) asked about your job and salary.
c) offered an aperitif.

5. When you are invited to the table, you should
a) wait to be seated by your hostess.
b) choose your own place.
c) sit next to another person of the same sex.

6. When the bread is served, you should place it on the
a) upper part of your plate.
b) tablecloth beside your plate.
c) blade of your knife.

7. When eating bread, it is customary to
a) use your fingers to break a small piece off.
b) cut the bread with your knife.
c) bite into the whole piece directly.

8. During pauses in a meal, you should
a) place your hands on your lap.
b) put your elbows on the table.
c) keep your hands on the table.

9. When served foie gras with toasted bread, cut a small piece of the foie gras and
a) place it on the toast.
b) spread it on the toast.
c) eat it followed by the toast.

10. To indicate that you are just pausing and haven’t finished, it is customary to
a) cross you fork and knife on your plate.
b) place your fork alongside your knife at a slant.
c) put your knife and fork beside your plate.

11. When you have finished eating a dish with sauce, you should
a) leave the remaining sauce on the plate.
b) use a spoon to finish the sauce.
c) put a piece of bread on your fork to soak up the sauce.

12. When eating lettuce, you should
a) cut it into pieces.
b) fold it onto your fork.
c) use a piece of bread to push it onto your fork.

13. When offered a wedge-shaped cheese, you should take a piece by cutting
a) vertically down the side.
b) off the point.
c) across the widest part.

14. If given several cheeses, you should start with the
a) strongest tasting cheese.
b) mildest tasting cheese.
c) local cheese.

15. During a meal, it is polite to
a) avoid commenting on the food.
b) restrict comments to the end of the meal.
c) comment on the food during the meal.

16. In France, it is considered polite to
a) try everything that is offered to you.
b) always leave a little food on your plate.
c) refuse a second serving.

17. To refuse a refill of your wine glass, you can say
a) ‘Merci’ and place your open hand, palm down, just above your glass.
b) ‘Non merci, je ne veux plus de vin’ and move your glass away.
c) ‘Non, ça suffit’ and cover your glass with your hand.

18. In France, dessert is served
a) hot.
b) with coffee.
c) after the cheese course.

How well did you do?

Check your answers below.

Quiz

1c. In France it is customary to arrive about 10 minutes or so after the appointed time.
2b. An invitation for an aperitif is not an invitation for a meal. You will embarrass your hosts if you stay too long as they will not have prepared a meal for you.
3a.The French usually dress smartly for a dinner invitation. Your hosts may be insulted if your attire is too casual.
4c. A tour of the house is not usual in France. You will be offered an aperitif before the meal. It is considered rude to ask about salary or financial position.
5a. Your hostess will usually decide who is to sit where depending on age, importance, family relationships and alternating men and women.
6b. Side plates are not common in France and it is usual to simply place your bread on the tablecloth near your plate.
7a. You should avoid biting into a piece of bread and just break off a small piece of the served portion with your fingers.
8c. You should rest your wrists on the edge of the table keeping your hands in view.
9a. Foie gras should never be crushed and spread with a knife.
10a. Cross your knife and fork, prongs facing down, in a twenty to four position.
11c. During family meals, French people will hold a piece of bread with their fingers to wipe their plate, but it is considered more correct to put the bread on the prongs of a fork.
12b. You should never cut lettuce. Simply fold it onto your fork.
13a. It is considered bad manners to cut off the point, ‘le nez’, or the nose of the cheese.
14b. Always start with the mildest cheese first and finish with the strongest tasting cheese. In a restaurant the cheeses will be placed in the correct order around your plate starting with the mildest.
15c. Your hostess will consider you impolite and think that you are not enjoying the meal if you do not comment on the food as you eat.
16a. You should always try a little of everything and finish the food you have been served.
17a. This is the polite formula, said with a smile, of course.
18c. Cheese is served before the dessert in France. Warm desserts are the exception rather than the rule and coffee is usually served after the dessert.

More than 15 correct replies? Bravo! You can feel relaxed and enjoy your meal when invited.

More than 10 correct replies? With a little preparation you will be the perfect guest.

Less than 10 correct replies? The French are proud of their food and enjoy spending time around a table. It’s well worth making the effort to brush up on the rules beforehand so that you can fully enjoy the wonderful food and convivial atmosphere.

À bientôt !

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