Dining in a foreign country can be TERRIFYING, especially if you don't speak the language. I just returned from a month-long study abroad trip in France and even though my French language skills are limited, I became a pro at ordering food at restaurants. Here is a list I compiled about everything you absolutely need to know about dining in France. 

1. ALWAYS say bonjour

If you take away anything from this article, it should be that you MUST say bonjour every time you enter a restaurant or store and after 5 o'clock, say bonsoir. Saying bonjour shows respect and that you view the other person as an equal. If you fail to say this simple word, you can count on receiving poor service. 

2. Tips aren't a thing

If you're ballin' on a budget, then you'll be happy to hear that tips don't exist in France. Compared to waiters in waitresses in the United States, waiters in France receive higher pay because the profession is well-respected. Enjoy being €3 richer! 

3. The term "splitting the check" doesn't exist in France

Paying for the check quickly became my most dreaded activity in France because I had no clue how to tell the waiter I wanted to pay separately from my friends. Luckily, there is a simple solution to this issue: when the waiter presents the check, just point to the item you want to pay for and voila, you have split the check. 

4. Always ask for tap water

Waiters can be sneaky! If you don't want to spend €3 on sparkling water, then make sure you tell the waiter you want tap water. If not, be prepared to see a €4 charge for every bottle of water you drink hidden in your check. 

5. Be prepared for a two-hour meal

Dining in France is anything but rushed. Because the chefs put so much care into what they cook, the meal takes longer to prepare. But trust me, the wait is worth it. I learned to love the long wait times because it encouraged me to engage in deeper conversations with my peers and actually enjoy the taste of my food.

Caroline Ursu

6. Expect your waiter to be MIA for most of your meal 

Don't worry, your waiter didn't ditch you! Conversing and enjoying the tastes of the food with little interruption is part of what makes dining in France so special. The waiter doesn't want to ruin your meal so expect to see him or her only when you order and are ready to pay.

Caroline Ursu

7.   Do your research! 

Hidden gem restaurants aren't always easy to find so it is important that you do your research ahead of time. The internet is filled with blogs that list cute, trendy cafes and restaurants that are not to be missed. Doing your research will also help you find out where the locals eat. Pictured below is an adorable cafe and boutique called Palma that my friend and I discovered in Montpellier. 

Caroline Ursu

Learning to appreciate the art of dining in France will completely alter your travel experience and add a layer of meaning to your trip. Of course, walking into a restaurant can be intimidating at first, but remember these 7 tips and you will become a pro at dining in France.