The French Waiter gets a lot of talk time.
Arrogant and contrary are some of the descriptions I have heard that come readily to mind. I will state my position early,
I am a fan.
I suppose I am used to the French waitor’s oftentimes sullen demeanour, their deep sighs, frequent frowns and purposeful lack of comprehension. Are they the only French who don’t understand my accent? I know it’s not perfect, it never will be, but it generally does the job.
And yet, I think the French waiter is a symbol of Paris.Think about Paris and the French waiter is never far from mind. Like the Eiffel Tower or the Bateaux Mouches, Paris wouldn’t be Paris without these penguin suited fellows.
“In Defense of the Notoriously Arrogant French Waiter” is a fabulous article written by Cristina Nehring for the Wall Street Journal; I think she has him well figured out.
French waiters are a breed unto themselves and if you let them, they can be intimidating. They will never introduce themselves and make the exchange seem personal. They are discreet, distant even and they never hover, one of the many reasons why they receive such a bad name.
Nehring’s quote had me smiling,
“Mais non! We are not ‘arrogant,’” he replied. “We are proud.”
“And why are you proud?” I asked.
“Our culinary culture is worshiped the world over,” he said. “Our wine is worshiped. Even our coffee is worshiped! We’re a bit like vestal virgins.” He broke into a rakish smile: “Except that…we are really—really—experienced.”
How To Win Over The French Waiter?
Always say bonjour. Practise that elementary French. It doesn’t matter about mistakes, it’s ten points for trying.
No one would ever use the word garçon to grab the attention of a waitor, a little s’il vous plait does the trick and making eye contact, even better.
Recommendations about the daily menu usually elicits a response from the French waiter, everyone likes to feel needed.
Ask for the bill, it never comes automatically as that would be considered ill mannered. Remember to tip but don’t overtip. It is still discretionary, not obligatory in France.
Leave with a bonne journée or bonne soirée, again it’s all about politeness and effort.
Tell me, are you a fan of the French waiter, or has he offended you one too many times?
To read the full article from the Wall Street Times, click here
vintage image gamma keystoen /getty images