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Eating and Shopping
In the land of foie-gras and blue cheese, they don't take food lightly! Eating is a sacred act for the French, who are fiercely proud of their gastronomy, which was classed as an "intangible masterpiece of world heritage" by UNESCO in 2010.
The French usually eat three meals a day: breakfast between 7 and 8am, lunch at around 1pm (midday in regional France) and dinner at around 8pm.
For students; the cheapest option is the "restaurant universitaire (FR)" (resto-u), which offers a complete meal for around 3 euros. These restaurants are open to all holders of a student card. Some open at night and on weekends.
Another possibility is the lunchtime menu offered by most cafés and restaurants. A menu usually includes an entrée, a main and a dessert for a fixed price, or else simply a main and a dessert.
In France the ham and cheese or ham and butter sandwich from the local bakery is a great lunch-time favourite. And don't forget the sandwiches from the Sciences Po "cafet" (basement of 27 rue St Guillaume and other locations)!
Key-expressions : « manger sur le pouce » (= eating a sandwich quickly) et « la boulangerie du coin » (the local bakery)
As you will very quickly notice, the French always eat bread with a meal. While the baguette is world-famous, there are also many other types of bread.
In France, it's exceptional to find restaurant open 24/7. Most restaurants open between midday and 3pm and then again from 7-11pm. Only in Paris are certain restaurants open all night.
Very often restaurants also close in the late afternoon, between lunch and dinner. It can be hard to find a late lunch other than a boulangerie in this case, which sells sandwiches along with pastries. Restaurants, however, that advertise "service continue" will be open all day long. Brasseries often fall in this categorie, which are medium-priced restaurants with a wide selection on their menu, and are found everywhere in Paris and most French cities.
Tipping in France (and most of Europe) is not mandatory because servers receive a salary. Generally tips are not given for ordering coffee or alcoholic beverages; however, a couple of coins left after a meal if the service is good is appreciated, but not expected. For example, when paying the bill for a dinner for 2 people, 1-2€ is quite a nice gesture. It's really up to you.
Food and grocery shopping
Small shops and supermarkets
There are numerous small shops and supermarkets in town (Carrefour Market, Carrefour City, Monoprix, Franprix, Super-U, Intermarché, etc.) where you can do your food shopping. Carrefour City only sells food products, but the others sell everything.
The big supermarkets and other major stores are usually located in the commercial zones on the outskirts of cities.
The cheapest are the « hard discount » stores such as Leader Price, Ed, Aldi and Lidl.
The tradition of the farmers' market
Many French people buy their fresh products (vegetables, meat, cheese, etc.) at farmers' markets. There are markets in every city once or twice a week. In Paris, each arrondissement has a market.