Eat Like The French: What Does A Typical French Dinner Look Like

Eat Like The French: What Does A Typical French Dinner Look Like

If there is one thing the French know how to do well, it’s food. They’re famous for it, with Paris and its lowly 108 Michelin stars being one of the top food destinations in the world.

But it isn’t just the sumptuous foods that make it special. It’s that the French really value mealtimes with everyday lives marked by the three main meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sitting down around the table is a ritual that they just aren’t willing to give up. 

In honour of that most precious of rituals, we’ve decided to pull together a post that outlines what a typical French dinner looks like. So if you’re one of the unlucky ones who never got to experience it first-hand, you can at least recreate it at home.

What’s included in a typical French dinner?

Starter (entrée)

A French dinner will usually start with a light entrée which might include,

  • A charcuterie board
  • shredded vegetables (usually carrots and/or radishes),
  • olive tapenade, 
  • or a simple salad

The French like to have a starter as it gives them a chance to have something light before the heavier meal later in the main course. The entrée doesn’t usually come with wine as the wine will usually complement the main course. So water is normally their go-to to start with. 

Main Course (plat principal)

Although the “plat principal” is a heavier meal, the French tend to keep this pretty simple and basic, usually consisting of meat (this could be grilled chicken, red meat or fish), vegetables and a carb (usually potatoes). 

The French tend to leave the office between 6 pm and 7 pm, so by the time they get home, it’s nearly time for bed, thus, a convenient and simple meal is what they like.

Typical French Dishes

Some typical French dinners night include,

You can explore more of our French cuisine here



The French also don’t like to snack during the day, so their sweet tooth is seriously aching by the end of the day.  

Although they are typically sweet, desserts can vary a lot in France and will usually depend on whether or not they are eating out. 

Typical dessert dish at home

While at home, desserts are more simple and easy to prepare, these might consist of,

yoghurt and berries

Typical dessert dish when dining out

When dining out, the desserts might be a little more extravagant and indulgent such as:

  • A tart 
  • A creme brûlée 
  • Or a rich slice of cake.

creme brulee

French Dining Culture – 5 Facts You Need To Know

As well as a three-course meal, there is much more to French dining than one might think. There are several rules and etiquettes which make the French dining experience so exquisite. 


Now we’re not saying you’ll be put into foodie prison if you don’t follow these rules, but like with any culture, it shows a sign of respect if you do.

Some of the rules include,

  1. If at a dinner party, you must finish your dinner; otherwise, the host will be offended.
  2. Don’t ask for butter – butter is reserved for cooking and breakfast.
  3. No soft or fizzy drinks when eating – unless under age, of course!
  4. No second helping.
  5. No Ketchup with meals. 

You can look at more of the French dining experience and what that entails with our blog post on Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – The Everyday French Cuisine

Bon Appetit!

So now you’ve been introduced to what a French dinner looks like, you’ll be able to recreate a French dinner yourself, with a delicate entrée. A simple and classic plat principal. And something sweet and indulgent for dessert. 

With a dinner like this and the perfect French dining etiquette, you’ll be living like the French in no time!

Explore our website to get more traditional French cuisine here.