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Basic French Phrases

One of the most important and most fun things to do in French is to go to a restaurant and order food. First of all, there are all kinds of restaurants to eat in while in France.

Nous pouvons (we can) manger a un restaurant, une auberge (inn), un bar a cafe (coffee bar), un bistrot, une brasserie, un cafe, une hostellerie (a hostelry), un relais (road side stop), un snack-bar et un tea-room. N'oubliez-pas (don't forget), nous mangeons le petit dejeuner, le dejeuner et le diner chez un restaurant.

Each kind of restaurant will have their own unique perspective on food. A cafe, bistrot or brasserie, will be less formal but nonetheless complete meals, un snack-bar or un tea room will have light fare and un restaurant or une auberge will have finer dining.

First, let's find a good restaurant.

"Pouvez-vous nous recommender un bon restaurant?" Can you recommend to us a good restaurant?

Once you arrive, you will want to ask for a table. "Bonjour (Bonsoir), j'aimerais une table pour deux (trois, quatre)."

Once you are seated, the waiter or waitress (serveur ou serveuse) will ask you if you would like something to drink: "Quelque chose a boire, Monsieur?" In a fine restaurant you would say "La liste des vins, s'il vous plait." In a more casual setting, you might say "Qu'est-ce que vous avez comme vins?" Literally, "what do you have in the way of wines?" In other words, "what kinds of wine do you have?"

You can order your wine in many forms:
une bouteille - a bottle
un pichet - a pitcher
une demi-bouteille
un verre - a glass
un litre

Perhaps you prefer something other than wine with your meal? You can also ask for:
Une biere
Un aperitif
Un gin
Un scotch
Un cafe
Un the

"Sec" is straight and "avec de glacons" is on the rocks. Don't forget to say "Sante" when everyone has their drinks!

La carte is the menu in French, and le menu is a pre-arranged dinner, usually prix fixe. The restaurant may also have une formule, which is like the specialty of the day, usually with salad, dessert, coffee and sometimes even a glass of wine all included.

You should learn the French term for those foods you like to eat. And also the ones you want to avoid! There is such a wide range of foods and ways to prepare them that it could take a book just to list them. As a matter of fact, there are many. The basic terms are Viande - meat
Fruits de mer - seafood
Poisson - fish
Porc - pork
Agneau - lamb
Poulet - chicken
Salade - salad
Fromage - cheese

Before you start to eat, don't forget: "Bon appetit!"

The French eat salad after the meal, and will also have a choice of cheeses after the salad. A separate wine may be served that complements the cheeses. Finally, there will be dessert. You can ask for it by saying: "Je prendrai un dessert, s'il vous plait." The easy thing here is that at a restaurant, there will be a wide assortment on a trolley, and you can pick the one that looks most appealing to you.

If anything more is offered and you have had enough to eat or drink, say "Je suis servi, merci." And then, of course, "L'addition, s'il vous plait." (Check, please)

In a restaurant, you will pay the waiter. Sometimes, in a less formal setting you may be told: "Vous pouvez payer a la caisse" (You can pay at the cashier.) Normally, service is included, but you can be sure by asking: "Est-ce que le service est compris?"

Finally you may want to know: "Acceptez-vous" (do you take):

Cheques de Voyages - Travelers checks
Dollars americains (canadiens, australiens) - American (Canadian, Australian) dollars
Cartes de credit - Credit cards

What Did We Learn?

  1. True or False? Since there are so many wonderful dishes to choose from in France and other French speaking nations, we should memorize the things we like and don't like to eat.
  2. Always say:______ before sharing a drink with someone, and always say:_________ before sharing a meal.
  3. You can have wine by the ______, _______,_______ or ______.
  4. The three meals you eat in a French speaking country are _________, ________,et ______.
  5. I would like a table for two. ________________________________.
  6. "Pouvez-vous nous ___________ un bon restaurant?"
  7. "La____des vins, s'il vous plait."
  8. "J'aimerais le (la) _________ du jour, s'il vous plait." (You choose!)
  9. The check, please._______________________________
  10. Do you take travelers checks?


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