Restaurant and meal delivery: the rules in France

During your stay in France during the 2024 Olympic Games, you want to taste the pleasures of French gastronomy? But how do you know the origin of the products in the restaurant? Is a tip obligatory in France? Do you have to pay for a glass of water? Before you go to a restaurant, brasserie, bistro or café-bar, find out in this article all the rules for restaurants or home delivery.

 

In Paris, the majority of bars and cafes open in the morning around 6:30 am and close in the evening around 10pm. In terms of restaurants, their opening hours can vary. If you want to be sure to have a hot and cooked meal, it’s better to respect the service hours: between 12pm and 1:30 pm for lunch and between 8pm and 10:30 pm for dinner.

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, restaurants, bars and cafes will exceptionally be allowed to stay open until midnight. These opening hours apply from 1 July until 8 September 2024.

The “Accès libre” platform lists accessible establishments (restaurants, cafés, supermarkets). Establishments adapted to different types of disability are awarded the “Tourism & Disability (Tourisme et Handicap)” label. You can locate them on the spot using the pictograms, which specify the conditions of accessibility according to the type of disability: hearing, mental, motor or visual.

Before entering a restaurant or sitting on its terrace, you should at least know:

  • the menus or daily menu offered, with details of their prices inclusive of all taxes and whether or not drinks are included
  • if a reduced price menu is offered during the week or for lunchtime service, details of the days and times when it is served;
  • the names and prices, including taxes, of the 5 wines or 5 drinks most commonly served in the establishment (e.g. fruit juice, mineral water, soft drinks, coffee);
  • the times of lunch and/or dinner service.

This information must be displayed, in a visible and legible manner, from outside the restaurant, throughout the duration of the service and at least from 11.30 a.m. for lunch and 6 p.m. for dinner.

Inside the restaurant, menus or cards identical to those displayed outside the restaurant must be available to customers. If a menu is only served at certain times, this should be clearly stated on the displayed document. Similarly, it should be made clear on menus whether or not drinks are included.

The dishes advertised on the menus and menus displayed and offered to customers

Yes, the price displayed must be in euros, including all taxes. The price you are asked to pay at the end of the meal must correspond to the price displayed.

In a restaurant, the price of the meal must include the cutlery, i.e. everything that is usually provided for the customer during a meal. This includes bread, water (in a carafe), spices or condiments, crockery, glassware and napkins.

It also includes the service and this should be indicated on the menu or bill by the words "prix service compris" (price including service), followed by the percentage applied for the payment of this service.

No. A tip is a sum of money given by the customer to an employee. It is traditional in restaurants or cafés, but it is optional, at the discretion of the customer.

You cannot be asked to give a tip.

No. A restaurant owner may not prohibit access to his or her restaurant on discriminatory grounds (religion, race, state of health, morals, etc.) or because of the presence of children.  To find out what recourse you have in the event of discrimination, click here.

Good to know: the children's menus mentioned on the menu are reserved for children. The maximum age must then be specified on the menu. 

The establishment can count one place setting for each child, even if the child does not eat, provided that the price of the place setting is mentioned on the menu or a la carte.

For reasons of hygiene, pets should not in principle have access to areas where food is prepared, processed or stored.

On the other hand, provided that the rules of hygiene are respected, their presence may be accepted by the restaurant owner in the dining room, but this is not an obligation. The restaurant owner may ask you to keep your animals on a lead.

If you are a holder of a "mobility and inclusion" card bearing the "disability" and "priority" wording, your assistance dog is allowed to enter a restaurant. The presence of the guide or assistance dog must not result in additional charges for access to the service.

The website Alim'confiance provides the results of official health controls carried out throughout the food chain. The controls relate to the hygiene of food production, processing and distribution establishments (e.g. restaurants, butchers, supermarkets, slaughterhouses, food processing establishments). These controls are carried out by the veterinary services of the Departmental Directorate of Population Protection (DDPP).

The results published on the Alim'confiance website are freely accessible to all and remain visible for one year after the inspection.

For each establishment, the date of the last inspection and the level of hygiene established by this inspection are indicated.

The level of hygiene is rated on 4 levels:

  •  Highly satisfactory if the establishment is compliant or has minor non-compliances
  •  Satisfactory if the administration has issued a simple warning to the establishment (letter reminding it of the regulations with a view to improving practices), but has not imposed any sanctions
  •  To be improved if the administration gave the establishment formal notice to comply with the sanitary rules within a certain period of time under penalty of a sanction (a new control will take place to verify the implementation of the corrective measures)
  •  To be corrected urgently if the establishment may endanger the health of the consumer. The administration has pronounced a sanction (e.g. closure of the establishment).

Good to know: the restaurant owner is not obliged to voluntarily display the inspection carried out in front of the establishment. However, they may do so using the notices sent by the DDPP at the end of the inspection.

There are a number of platforms offering ready-made meal delivery. They do not all operate according to the same model.

Some are just intermediaries between the restaurant owner, the courier and you; others also take care of the delivery. Finally, there are also platforms that do the catering and delivery themselves.

Please note! The person to contact in the event of a problem (non-delivery, quality of food, etc.) will depend on the model chosen. Complaints should generally be made via the website or app. Consult the general conditions of sale before ordering.

You must be informed of the price of the dish ordered and the delivery costs before placing the order.

The restaurant owner must give you written information on the allergenic ingredients in the dishes and drinks.

This information can be specified :

  • on the restaurant menu ;
  • or by displaying it on a board at the counter, for example
  • or be made available to you in a notebook that you can ask the staff for.

If you have a menu of the day or if you do not find this information in writing, do not hesitate to report your food allergy and ask the waiter directly.

Please note! In Europe, the list of ingredients considered to cause allergies is limited.

Good to know: on shop windows, advertisements, the menu, certain references or labels may be communicated. Examples: on the origin of the products (régionalfermier, Label Rouge, AOP, BIO), on the type of production (maisondu chef, artisanal) or on the nature of the products themselves (shoulder ham).

These claims, like the name and origin of the products, must correspond to the reality of the dishes and drinks served.

This mention (and the logo) indicates dishes made on the spot, cooked in the restaurant, from raw products, with some exceptions allowed by the regulations.

If the dish served to you is not what was advertised (e.g. surimi instead of crabmeat), you can ask for the dishes to be served as indicated on the menu or à la carte.

If the dish is not hot enough, not cooked enough or the wine is 'corked', you can ask the restaurant owner to replace the dish or drink concerned.

However, if a dish you have ordered is not to your liking, you cannot demand that the restaurant owner replaces it. If they refuse, you will have to pay for it even if you have not eaten it.

No. In France, you can ask for free drinking water. This is fresh or tempered drinking water for drinking purposes. You do not have to order bottled mineral water, wine or any other beverage by the glass.

No, you will not be able to know the origin of all the products served to you. Only the origin of certain products must be displayed.

This is the case for the origin of meat served in a restaurant. This applies to all meats: beef, sheep, pork and poultry.

The origin must be indicated legibly and visibly on the menu or on any other medium.

The display of wines must also indicate the precise name of the wine, including its origin if it is a wine with a protected designation of origin or geographical indication.

No. Unless there is a legitimate reason, the restaurant owner cannot refuse to serve you, including a simple coffee. However, if the meal service has begun and the available tables are allocated in priority to customers eating a meal, he may refuse to serve you. It should be noted that the legitimacy of the reason for refusing to sell is assessed by the courts on a case-by-case basis.

 

Yes, restaurants and cafés have the right to refuse access to the toilets to a person who is not consuming in their establishment.

 

In a restaurant, before you are asked to pay the “addition” (also called “la note”), you must be given a written document summarising

  • the name and contact details of the trader ;
  • the price of each service provided (including VAT and service)
  • the total amount to be paid.

In a café, as in a restaurant for any service provided on the premises, the written bill is only obligatory above €25 including tax.

On the other hand, if you ask for it, the trader is obliged to give it to you, even for a lower amount.

Yes, in France, the practice of "doggy bagging" (or gourmet bagging) is allowed (unless you have ordered dishes or drinks included in an "all-you-can-eat offer").

Restaurateurs and cafe owners must provide you with a reusable or recyclable takeaway container or accept the reusable or recyclable container you have brought yourself (unless it is dirty or unsuitable).

Please note that the restaurant owner can charge for the container they provide, provided they have displayed the price of the container on their menus.

Restaurateurs, bistrotiers and cafetiers must comply with the hygiene regulations for their establishments and the food served there.

Whether or not the symptoms persist, consult a doctor. Gather all the useful information that the doctor or the control services will ask you for:

  • The name and contact details of the restaurant;
  • The date and time of the meal;
  • The number of guests at the restaurant;
  • If several guests are ill, the list of patients specifying their age, the symptoms experienced and the dates and times of onset of the symptoms;
  • The composition of the meals consumed by each patient during the previous 5 days;
  • The composition of meals consumed by a representative number of non-sick guests.
  • Finally, do not hesitate to alert the authorities: the Medical Inspector of the ARS Ile-de-France (if the restaurant is located in Ile-de-France) or the Food Safety Department of the DDPP of the department where the restaurant is located.

 

  • First, contact the restaurant in writing. Retain proof of your correspondence.
  • If this effort proves unsuccessful, proceed as follows:

If you live in France, you can receive assistance from a consumers’ association, whose contact information is available on the DGCCRF’s website. You can also report your problem with the hotel operator or the rental property owner on the SignalConso platform.

- If you live in another EU Member State, Iceland or Norway, the European Consumer Centre for your country can assist you. Visit the ECC Network website for its contact information.

- If you live in a non-EU country, contact the embassy or consulate of your country in France or report your dispute on the websiteeconsumer.gov, via the complaint form or contact the members of consumersinternational.org.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.