Dining Solo in France: The French Restaurant Mind-set.
I recently posted a tip about solo travel & that you might be turned away for requesting a single seat at a restaurant (not a brasserie or casual cafe). Some of you asked me to expand on that comment.
When I first started to travel to Paris alone, two things kept me tucked away in my apartment at night: my work/client schedule & my fear of rejection.
An old stalwart establishment on the street I lived was only open at night. I longed to sit at one of the little romantic table tops next to the bistro cafe curtains & enjoy one of their meals. I finally plucked up the courage to go one evening & ask for a table. Just as I feared, the waiter turned me away: “I am sorry, but you are only one person, and we have only one table left. Maybe next time.” I sheepishly scurried back to the flat and ordered pizza. 🤣
But why? Why did I experience this situation?
Let’s break this down culturally & situationally:
The average size of a studio flat in Paris is about 15 m2 or 161 square feet. The average size walk-in closet in the United States? 100 square feet.
Generally speaking, when you sit down at a table in France, this is your space for as long as you choose. Especially in large cities like Paris, this acts as an extension of your living space. They won’t bring the bill to you before you ask, and you can hold court as long as you like. It is not unusual for a meal to last two to three hours in France.
°Restaurant starts service at 7 PM.
°Kitchen begins to shut down around 10:30 PM.
That’s about three hours.
The business has only one set of customers at that table all night, and probably the ONLY revenue they will receive that evening for this precious space.
Plus, can you even imagine their costs to operate in Paris?
THAT is why I was turned away – it is simply a matter of fiscal return. Two people dining, imbibing, & enjoying a night out make them a lot more money than moi. 🤗