Think about these few suggestions next time you're in France...
Want Produce at le Marché?
Strolling through a local fruit and vegetable market is one of the many simple pleasures awaiting you in France. Everything is so fresh, so appealing, so artfully displayed, perusing and purchasing produce can be a highlight of your trip. However, be forewarned that poking, prodding or picking up the goods is not accepted. There’s an unspoken hands-off policy at a French marché . Let the vendor pick up the produce for you, and just point if you want to select a specific item.
Greet the Shopkeeper
In some countries, it’s okay to just nod, smile or ignore the staff when you walk into a shop. Here, when you walk in and out of a small boutique, bakery, pharmacy or shop, you should always acknowledge the clerk with a crisp bonjour – better yet, bonjour Madame or Monsieur. Mercis are always appreciated as well.
Ask Your Waiter to Bring You the Bill
The French are very laissez fair about hanging out in cafes, bistros or restaurants as long as you’d like. There’s no pressure to turn tables here, and so you can nurse a glass of wine or a cup of coffee to spend all day at a coveted spot on a sidewalk table should you choose. The flip side is the waiter won’t anticipate your need for the bill or present it to you in a timely manner unless you specifically ask for it. To them, handing out the check is akin to rushing you out the door. They’re not necessarily ignoring you, neglecting you or providing poor service. They’re just happy to have you linger.
Drinks with Your Meal
In many countries, it’s okay to have a cup of coffee, sip soda, or drink a flavored beverage throughout a casual meal. Sometimes we expect the refills to keep coming. Not so in France. Water or wine are the accepted liquids to accompany food. Sure, you can order a Coke or juice or whatever you like, but you’ll be going against the grain here. If you don’t want to stand out like a sore foreign thumb, do like the French do. A glass of wine is usually cheaper than a soda, and tap water is free (no need to pay for the bottled stuff), so this shouldn’t be a problem.