Basic French: French Restaurant Vocabulary

Basic French: French Restaurant Vocabulary


Salut c’est Géraldine, bienvenue sur Comme
une Française TV, Sound French, even to the French! Restaurants are one of French people’s favorite
places. You can eat your lunch or dinner while talking
with friends or family, with wine in your glass and a baguette always within reach. But with time and habits, you’ll find out
the interactions there are quite codified, especially with the staff–and that’s good
for you! Once you learn a few of our usual scripts,
you can order your meal and drinks just like a native, and that’s a huge boost for a
student in French! Which sentences, you ask? Let’s dive in! Le serveur
Le serveur is a waiter, while la serveuse is the waitress. They’re probably the first people who’ll
greet you in the restaurant. They might ask how many people are in your
group, which you can answer for example with: Bonjour, on est quatre. Hi, there will be four of us! Bonjour is expected, as it’s good manners. As a general rule, be generous with your s’il
vous plaît, please, and merci, thank you, it’s always appreciated as well. So now you are seated, someone gave you le
menu, the menu, you’ve made your choice and you’re waiting for a waiter to take
your order. You can raise your hand subtly, or even ask
S’il vous plaît ? if you catch their eye. Avoid yelling Garçon !, it’s quite rude. Anyway, they might come to take your order,
or ask you to wait a little: “J’arrive tout de suite.” “I’m coming in a minute.” Or “Juste une minute!” “Just a minute!” You can answer OK, Merci ! Just to be clear. Now you can order. Try le menu / la formule, the special formula,
or order à la carte, or in English, “a la carte [NdA : à dire avec accent américain
qui parle français]:” a combination of entrée-plat-dessert, starters, main dish
and desserts. Commander
Commander means “to order.” Food, for instance. The simplest order would be “Un café, l’addition”
“A coffee, and the bill.” Straightforward, to start your day or enjoy
the afternoon. For a full meal, though, you can start your
order with: “Je vais prendre le…” “I’m going to take the…” For instance, “Alors, moi, je vais prendre
le plat du jour, s’il vous plaît.” “So, I’m going to take the daily special,
please.” Le plat du jour is very often a good call
to make if you’re not sure, anyway. Another informal and popular script we use in
this case, especially if you’re following someone else’s order, is:
“Pour moi ce sera…” “For me, it will be… For example: “Pour moi, ce sera le saumon
au four, s’il vous plaît.” “For me, I will take the baked salmon, please.” For several reasons, you might want to ask
for precisions on the kind of dishes you want. For example: “Qu’est-ce que vous avez
comme poisson ?” “What kind of fish do you have?” “Qu’est-ce que vous avez en viande ?” “What
kind of meat do you serve?” And don’t forget your drinks! The default is une carafe, or une carafe d’eau:
a pitcher of tap water. But if you want, ask for: “Et une bouteille
de vin rouge.” “And a bottle of red wine.” You can ask for something specific from the
drink list, or ask for input: “Qu’est-ce que vous nous conseillez ?” “What would
you suggest?” By the way, it’s also a great question to
ask at any point of your order! Demandes spéciales
Les demandes spéciales, your special requests, can often be met, especially if you’re asking
nicely. Try c’est possible de…, Is it possible
to… “C’est possible de faire la salade sans
les lardons ?” “Is it possible to make the salad without bacon?” “S’il vous plaît, c’est possible de
mettre les anchois sur un seul côté ?” “Please, is it possible to keep the anchovies on just
one side?” You can also ask for their selection of les
plats végétariens / les plats sans viande, vegetarian dishes. Végétarien has a wide definition, but it
still includes dishes with eggs and milk for example. Vegan isn’t really a thing in France yet;
it exists but is even less common than végétarien, so you might need to be clear or careful about
what you’re asking. And also in your meal, just ask for more bread
and water if they run out: “Vous pouvez nous apporter du pain ?” “Can you bring
us some more bread?” “Vous pouvez nous apporter de l’eau, s’il
vous plaît ? Merci !” “Can you bring us more water, please ? Thanks
a lot.” Remercier, payer, et partir
Now hopefully your meal went well, so it’s time to remercier, payer et partir, to say
thank you, pay the bill and leave. When you’re ready to leave, catch a waiter’s
attention to ask: “L’addition s’il vous plaît” “The bill, please. Sometimes you might not be sure: “On paye
ici ou au comptoir ?” “Do we pay seated here, or at the counter?” In France the tip is not mandatory, as employers
are actually supposed to pay living wages, but if you’re satisfied you can leave 5%
of your bill for the staff. A nice word is always appreciated, if it’s
true. “C’était très bon / délicieux / exquis.” “That was very good, delicious.” And before you leave for more adventure, be
nice and say goodbye! “Merci, au revoir ! Bonne journée !” “Thank
you, good bye! Have a nice day!” And you’re ready to go! Et toi ?
When was the last time you went to a restaurant? Have you ever been to a restaurant in France? For which other situations would you like
to have scripts and sentences? Tell me in the comments section, I want to
hear from you! If you’re on Youtube, you’ll find a link
below this video to the blog CommeUneFrançaise.com: on the site I read all the comments and answer
all your questions too! Did you like this video? Want more? Let me share exclusive lessons, private offers
and my 10 favorite Comme Une Française hand-picked episodes with you by email. It’s super easy to join. Leave me your first name and email and I’ll
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to your inbox; the fantastic stuff that’s not even on YouTube. And the best thing is, it’s all free. Merci for watching Comme une Française TV,
sound French, even to the French. Allez, salut !

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90 thoughts on “Basic French: French Restaurant Vocabulary”

  • Excellent as always.
    Thank you very much for your hard work.
    Your English is brilliant!!
    However be careful with
    "Anchovies "
    The "ch" is pronounced as in "child".
    I know- English is crazy….
    Many thanks again.
    Your videos are always most useful.
    🙂 🙂

  • Ksenia Voloshina says:

    Hello! This was very helpful! Thank you. For the next video, scheduling a rendez-vous/interview/meeting on the phone?

  • When in a Chinese restaurant in France, and you ask for les baguettes, would they give you the bread or chopsticks?

  • Geraldine, does this also apply for cafes? Normally in cafes, I would just sit down, not talk to the waiter to be shown a place – this applies to most of Europe and France, however, I keep coming across waiters in Paris (in non touristy neighbourhoods) who refuse to serve anybody who was not shown to their table by them, even when sitting outside and the place is not busy. Or is this just a snobby Paris waiter who hates tourists issue?

  • In rural Brittany, where I live, pick a small restaurant. My vegetarian nephew was visiting and the only thing on the menu was green salad. I said "no worries, I'll ask". The chef said "ask what he would like and if I have the ingredients I'll cook it". He could have asked for an asparagus soufflé, a vegetarian lasagne. … and they charged menu of the day price. Fantastique!

  • Very usefull video, Geraldine. When I went to Paris with my family we could manage restaurants fairly well. There was only one situation when I was really shocked with how rude the waiter was in a restaurant/cafe very close to Ile de la Cité. Please comment on the habit of bringing small orders (like drinks and ice-cream only) together with "l'addittion". The situation: I order a coke and an ice cream, while my wife went to the restrooms as she badly needed it. I didn't master french enough yet to tell him my wife was still coming. He brought my order and the bill. Following I order a beer for my wife and – ok – he brought the beer and the bill again. We took our time having our drinks, and thought of paying after we were finished. But the waiter was uncomfortable. He passed by a couple of times and even pointed the bill and repeated the total price. Is this common for drinks only? Or did he suspected we foreigners were not going to pay? I would appreciate your comments, so I can understand what happened. (and maybe avoid a second situation like that).

  • Nicholas Eckhardt says:

    Hi Geraldine, i visit France a lot but never know what to say when you go to a grocery store like carrefour etc. As you speak and interact with the cashier. How to say 'just these today' and so forth. Any help I'd greatly appreciate 🙂

  • Thank you very much! I would be very interested in vocabulary to use at the market (for buying fruit, fish, etc. etc.)

  • Wonderful series of lessons…you make learning French so easy and entertaining.  When the sentences are long it might be helpful if you repeated three times with the first repeat slow.  I visit your site several times a week.  Wishing you much success.

  • 2 years ago i went to a restaurant in the Latin Quarter of Paris and i ordered Frog legs and chips. I wanted to try the frog legs and i had a side in case i didn't like the frogs legs. In fact i really liked it which was a surprise. At the end, even at the cafe i always tell the waiter to round up the bill such as the meal was 15 euros i always pay them the 20 for the good service.

  • L'été dernier, j'étais à Paris pour étudier. Ma mère a venu me voir et nous avons dîné à une restaurant prés de nos hôtel. A ce temps je ne comprends pas beaucoup de français et le serveur a essayé de parler avec moi mais j'ai malentendu ce qu'il disait. A cause de ça j'ai complètement trompé la response. Heureusement, il était très gentil et après il parlait plus lentement.

  • EmptySequencee says:

    me souviens pas de la deniere fois j suis allé au restau honetement haha… aux etats unis, bien que c'est obligatoire pas a donner un pourboire, c'est tres poli. et tu peux donner un pourboire de 15% minimum. donc, cette video est tres super pour quand j vais au restau en france un jour… haha. mais, je veux savoir si on peut commander du vin a n'importe l'heure de la journee? pour petite dejeuner, dejeuner, et diner? parce que aux etats unis, c'est tres bizzare a commander du vin au restau a n'importe l'heure. dailleurs, il n'y a personne qui commande du vin au restau ici lol. c'est drole parce que si on veut a commander quelque chose a boire, on a commander du coca cola ou de l'eau ou un "cock tail" (mais ca depend de l'heure). je n'ai jamais vu une personne commande du vin au restau ici hahaha. mais, je veux savoir si on peux commander et boire du vin au restau en france a n'importe l'heure? désolé si mon francais n'est pas trop bon.

  • Richard Schroepfer says:

    Due to American television, We Americans got the idea that garçon means waiter When in actuality it means boy. which is quite rude, Geraldine is right, .

  • telboy1966manu says:

    Very useful videos, thank you? Could you perhaps think of making a video about phrases to use when taking a taxi in France? Merci!!

  • J'ai vu bcp des channels, mais cette videos sont plus bon que les autres. Je vais continuer aprendre francais avec toi. Merci Beaucoup!

  • Anna Tinsman says:

    This video is great. I do have a question though.
    I can't stand vinegar. I always want to eat the salad but because of the dressing I don't and it goes to the trash.
    How would I ask if they can leave the dressing off the salad? Merci

  • What would be the best way for me to order on behalf of both my partner and I? Would it be okay to just say "Je voudrais [[ my order ]] et [[ her order ]] s'il vous plait". Or will i look like a fatty ordering lots of food for me?

  • I absolutely love your videos Geraldine. Question: How would tell the waiter how you wanted your meat cooking, for example rare/medium rare/well done? I got flustered once and had difficulty saying I liked my meat rare – ended up saying 'rouge' and my husband like his well done, so I said bien cuit?

  • all i can say for you is Woaaaa !!!!
    je suis etudiant a Dijon, Bourgogne , est qqs que vous avez dit est tres agreable est tres sympa

  • I got a rude waiter in Nice, France on the promenade de Anglais. He charged me for bottled water when I said a regular water, he never explained the difference and he spoken English well. He was being sneaky.

  • Michael Monarrez Puckett says:

    I went to Paris this past March and had no problems ordering food. Knowing certain verbal phrases (je vais prendre being one I learned from this channel!) and reading French was enough to get by.

    The only issue I ran into was trying to order enough turkey for two sandwiches. My husband and I picked up a baguette, some wine, and desserts, and wanted to eat at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Everything went smooth until we got to a small meat shop ran by an older French couple who didn't speak English. After some attempted conversation, I Google translated the sentence and got my order.

    Perhaps a video about how to order food from specialty shops (pâtisserie, boulangerie, fromagerie, etc.) would be helpful.

  • L'année dernière, ma copine et moi sommes allées à Paris.
    Le tout premier restaurant qu'on a visité était un restaurant de sushi. La nourriture était fantastique, et abordable, mais dès que j'ai essayé de parler c'est devenu très maladroit.
    Je demandais "le billet" au lieu de "l'addition", et à notre sortie, j'ai dit "b…b…bo…..bonne soirée". 😛

  • Marites Medina says:

    Could you do an episode of the questions a server would ask you? Or what an interaction would look like ordering at a Starbucks?

  • I just discovered your channel last week, and you do a terrific job! I am now a subscriber.

    I would just like to make a couple of comments: You said to ask for "le menu" but "la carte" is what people will want, right? Seulement après avoir lu la carte, est l'on en mesure de décider si l'on voudrait commander le menu, ou bien 'à la carte', non ?

    + Comme une Française, I'd like to offer a couple of little hints on English pronunciation: "salmon" is an odd word in English, as the "l" is not pronounced — I don't know why. Try www.forvo.com; they must have pronunciations of this word. And the "ch" in "anchovies" is pronounced like "tch" in French.

  • Quincy Birwood says:

    S'il vous plaît faire une vidéo sur la commande de la nourriture de rue d'un vendeur ou un camion.

  • I appreciate the speed at which you speak, it's perfectly natural, fluid, confident.

    Question; how will the waiter ask "what would you like?". Merci d'avance.

  • Bonjour, Géraldine – merci pour le video, c'est trés util. I suggest a video on how to order a steak/entrecôte in France. There is no information in English on how to do this – we Americans try to translate "rare," "medium rare," "medium," "medium well," and "well done" into French, but those words do not exist in the French kitchen. "Moyenne" ou "mi-saignant" is what the books say, but that is not French. A clear, thorough explanation of "bleu," "saignant," "bien cuit" would be super helpful! And extra time spent on "trés-bien cuit" – which will get you a piece of the dishwasher's shoe leather – do not do that! MDR.

    And extra extra time spent on the best way to order a steak in France: À Point. A good explanation of "cuit à point" would be so helpful! Comment cuit? Cuit à point, s'il vous plaît!

    Merci bien!

  • Janet MacKenzie says:

    Merci beaucoup, chère Géraldine, tes conseils sont super! Eating out can be a pretty stressful situation in another country, especially one with such high culinary standards as France (and when you're also trying out your best French!), so your phrases and tips are really appreciated.

    I was actually pleasantly surprised at how easy it usually is to order in "ordinary" French restaurants – not nearly as nerve-wracking as I expected, because there is often a choice of set menus (formules, as you mentioned) which take the complexity out of selecting from a long list of unknowns. It is also good to know that asking for a carafe d'eau is perfectly normal (often it is provided automatically) so there is no need to order mineral water. And the house wine is always drinkable.

  • How do you say at the end of your meal, you want to pay but let's suppose your are with friends and you want to pay one by one you want to split the bill and everybody pays for what he ordered? Do you have some good phrases for that?

  • I have found that the only options normally on the menu for vegetarians are salads, fries or an omelette. Can you please tell me how to ask what they can offer vegetarians if I don't see anything appropriate on the menu? Thank you!

  • William Groome says:

    Please can you advise us on what to say upon entering a restaurant and when we're greeted by the waiter/waitress (especially if you're alone)? I always have a mind blank when I first enter a French restaurant

  • I love your channel. I lived in france two years and now in the french speaking belgium area of La Hulpe. I am moving back to france in a couple of months. I am studying french but what I like about your channel is the real life conversations. Class is great but this is very helpful in my day to day life.

  • Note that those of us who learned French decades ago learned that addressing the waiter with "Garçon!" was normal…but usually by older people as waiters were "boys" compared to their own age: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKlXEmeQjGQ&t=340

    This series also shows how much French has changed in the 30 years since the series was made. Then, "ok" was rarely used but now it's common. Then it was always "d'accord" as "ok" sounded like "hoquet".

  • Always use ‘s’il vous plaît’ and ‘merci’, unless you’re in Paris. Then you snarl at the person taking your order, in return for their snarl at you… look to the sky, say what you want, and then back to your company.

  • Bonjour,
    I plan on visiting Paris for three days next year. As for scripts, I'd like to be able to explain that I am on a ketogenic diet and ask if the staff have any recommendations, also to explain that my daughter is a vegetarian. In a polite a way as possible. I appreciate you channel. Merci

  • Bonjour, Géraldine. J’adore votre channe. J’ai un question. Ma fille ne peux jamais manger de la nourriture avec où près des cacaouettes. Est-ce que vous pouvez m’aider demander si toys it’s sûr pour lui? P.S. How many grammar mistakes did I make in my question?

  • Madara Kodituwakku says:

    I find your videos useful and interesting. This is the second time im watching one. I've been to a few restaurants in France and especially on one bâteaux mouche sailing on the river Seine. 😊 S'il vous plaît, could you make a video on what to say to break the ice during un déjeuner de travail. Merci. A plus 💜

  • Excellent approach to say the situation in a restaurant is kind of scripted. I always feel – especially in France – being part of a stage play while eating in a restaurant.
    However… even being prepared for the expected things to come might cause problems… speaking of the "poetry of menues" in France. 😂 Depending of the quality of the place of course you have to know all about meat & fish – the name of the animal and the cuts – vegetables, herbs & spices plus the style of cooking and last but not least the name of special recipies named in a certain kind (not only the sort of "à la" / "au"). I once ordered fish dish "civet"…not knowing that the name comes from a recipe for game dishes (e. g. deer, hare) including a blood sauce… the excellent white wine didn't match at all…

  • Merci,
    C'etait tres utile pour moi parce que je visite France toujour et je'adore les restaurants francais. Comment puis-je ecrire avec des accents sur ce commentaire?

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