March 27, 2011


The French like beverages.

They like having lots of different types of beverages during a single meal.

In my experience, a typical French meal will start with an apéritif, which is composed of two parts: little snacks (chips or nuts), and a cocktail. During the rest of the meal, there is a glass of water, as well as a glass of white wine during l’entrée (hors d’oeuvres) and a glass of red wine during the main dish. Then with desert comes champagne, which is swiftly followed by un café (coffee).

It’s a lot of beverages. Especially considering during dinners at my house, my brother and I drank only one drink, milk.

This love of beverages isn’t restricted to les repas (meals), but it would seem that enjoying six beverages over the course of a meal is the result of the French love affair with liquids.

They like meeting up at cafés to boire une verre (have a drink). They like offering drinks to their invitées (guests), and they love accepting drinks from their hosts.

Now, I know that in America we too offer our guests something to drink, but we’re not as aggressive about the whole ordeal as our French counterparts seem to be.

Sometimes when I go over to a friend’s house to hang out, I am not thirsty. Sometimes I just don’t want a beverage of any kind. I can still have a good night without something to sip on.

This fact does not seem to register with my French counterparts. If I refuse their offer for a beverage, it seems to make them uneasy. They will without a doubt ask me again a little while later if I’m sure I don’t want anything to drink. They have all sorts of beverages readily available to suit any kind of beverage related craving I might have.

In the beginning, I would accept people’s offers just to make the situation less awkward, but I’ve had enough of drinking unwanted beverages just to make the French comfortable.

I was at a friend’s house the other night, and they offered me something to drink no less than 4 times! They even brought me out an empty glass, just in case I changed my mind.

I realize that they are being polite in their culture, and I appreciate their attention to my level of hydration, but can the French really be this thirsty? Or do they avoid drinking until they are in company? Or do they have bladders of steal and never have to pee? Or do they just like going to the bathroom a lot more than I do?

Whatever the reason, one thing is clear, you will never die of thirst over here as long as you have friends willing to invite you over.


  1. It's so true! In my high school French class there was an entire chapter on juices and sodas and I thought "this editor is a lunatic," but now that I'm here I understand the significance.

  2. passing this on to my francophile friend!! nice post.

  3. I have recently noticed I like having something to sip on-juice, water, beer etc. But then after the marathon I was mental about getting something at every water stop for fear I would run into the Sahara.

  4. Brooke: I love that your hs French book had an entire chapter on drinks!

    m*buckley: Thank you!

    Jenna: I would be scared too if I ran a marathon!

  5. Only problem is that all of those beverages (except the water) cause dehydration.

    I might need to rethink my stance on moving to France, lest I'm always knackered.

  6. I always feel SO GUILTY for drinking water at dinner, but I don't want to order something I don't really want! The waiter always looks at me like I am totally crazy.

  7. Joshua: That's true! I hadn't realized that until you pointed it out. Although don't you worry, they are happy to serve you fruit juice instead of alcohol if you so desire.

    Linds: I totally relate! I feel like they expect me to order a bunch of beverages and then I order simply "une carafe d'eau" and the waiter looks disappointed.

  8. I always have that problem! An if you dont finish the drink you feel bad, because thats rude too. I have forced drinked so many times. My french hubby has a really big faily, and when we go house to house... its so many drinks, and you cant say no, they dont understand lol

  9. Isadora: I know! You have to finish, but not too soon otherwise they'll want to refill your glass, haha. I can't even imagine how many drinks you've had to force yourself to drink with a large family!

  10. What about drinking OJ outside of breakfast hours? That's pretty strange if you ask me.

  11. I was sick! OJ is good for you if you're sick. And I felt like I had to drink something at your house!


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