« Merci » a basic rule of French etiquette

The day after a reception, french people often send a thank you card to their hosts or guests. After a weekend or a holiday in your friend’s home for example, send them a short letter or a “Lettre de château” in the week following back home, is the best way to emphasize the pleasure you had during your stay.

The how to express his gratitude may vary depending on the type of reception and also on the degree of intimacy that we have with our hosts or guests. If you know them well, you can express it by a phone call; and you must do it the next day; but if your relationships are less intimate, preferably send a card or a letter; you can sent it within the week after the event.

The text can be short: it is not essential to rave about the beauty of the place or the excellence of the cuisine … The great art is to write a sincere letter; an original thanks, so, you can be warm but natural !.

Some french words of thanks… « Je te remercie beaucoup, Je vous remercie très sincèrement, Je te remercie infiniment, Je vous remercie de tout mon cœur, Je tenais à vous remercier sincèrement, un grand merci pour…, c’est très aimable à vous, mes plus sincères remerciements, … »

At work we must thank after a promotion or obtaining a distinction. It is very common to thank its guests after a wedding, for a baptism or a birth’s present also. You should remember in your card, how pleasant was to share this special moment with them and do not forget to thank for the gift they offered you. If you do not send a “remerciement”, you risk being taken for an impolite person.

If you have accepted an invitation and finally you cannot attend it, send a note of apology the next day. If you expect to be invited back, do not forget to make the invitation within two next months.

Thank you letter

Thank you letter


The traditional “Galette des Rois”

The old tradition in France is to share a layered cake the day of Epiphany on January 6. It marks the arrival of the three Magi to Bethlehem.

The “Galette des Rois” or the “King Cake” is often enriched with marzipan and it has great popularity both at home and in the workplace where it is a time for celebration.

In the middle Age, a boy or a girl was dressing for the occasion to show the guests a cake covered with a napkin. Everyone had to slip her hand under the napkin for take the piece of the cake. Whoever has found the bean had to elect the queen or king, while the people applauding shouted “Live the king” “Live the Queen.”

Today, the ritual is a bit simplified, but the goal remains the same; the youngest guest, hidden under the table, determines the distribution of the cake pieces. Someone who wins the figurine of porcelain named “la fève” becomes the king or the queen of the day and has the right to wear a fancy crown. Currently, the bakers provide the cake with a crown of paper in gold color. Traditionally some families produce and conserve its own crown.

The “Galette de Rois” in the North of France, was originally a cake of puff pastry, simply baked, accompanied with jam, it can also be stuffed with various preparations: fruits, creams, chocolates. In the south of France, the “Galette de Rois” is a brioche cake stuffed with candied fruit in a shape of fragrant crown with an orange blossom and it is preferred to the puff pastry called “Parisienne”. However, there are also cakes made from shortcrust pastry or “pâtes sable” in the west of France.

Photos from: ja6.free.fr and franceinlondon.com

galette de roiimages

How to serve the Champagne for this New Year’s Eve?

Champagne cannot miss for the special occasions: New Year, marriages, baptisms. Only the French wine with this name is made according to the original and traditional method “Champenoise”; the only one with the right to be appointed with this title.

The Champagne glasses

In the 18th century, the wine champagne in tapered glasses was usual; the flute appears a century later. It was a smooth and transparent champagne glass for better tasting! In 1830, the traditional glass of champagne has born from the caterer’s imagination.

How to accompany the champagne?

Nowadays the Champagne is served as an aperitif; preferably dry. With dessert (fruit or pastries) should be pretty sweet.

The champagne can be “raw “, “dry” or «half – dry». Some amateurs love champagne during the dinner; this is not really recommended, because the champagne does not have enough body and has too much foam to match with all kind of foods. If despite all you chose to drink a champagne during your dinner, make sure not drink the raw champagne with dessert or the sweet champagne with full-bodied dishes.

The champagne temperature

Generally champagne is a wine best-served chilled, but not frozen. The temperature recommended is 5 degrees for young champagne, 10 degrees for a vintage.

There are two methods to refresh the champagne: Immerse the bottle in an ice bucket for half an hour or lay the bottle in the bottom of the refrigerator for 4 hours. In all cases, avoid refresh a bottle in the freezer; this could affect the effervescence of the champagne. In the same way, it is inadvisable to refresh the glasses in the refrigerator.

Uncork the bottle demand great care. It is recommended to stand the bottle and then remove the metal casing around the cap and keep the bottle in the ice bucket. Avoid losing the first drops gushing from the bottle. Indeed, if the cap jumps too quickly, the pressure drops too fast dissipating some bubble; the secret of taste. Avoid the whip champagne which eliminates bubbles!

For the “Magnum champagne”, take the bottle in the right hand, the thumb placed inside and the bottom of the bottle. Maintain the neck below the glass with the index finger of the left hand.

Put ice in the glass is an abomination in the eyes of connoisseurs!


photos from: merltyfood & pinterest

The decoration of the Christmas table.

Everything is almost ready, now you know how to welcome the Christmas season and you know how to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner. Surely, you would love to impress your guests with a lovely Christmas table. Here are our tips to prepare your table in the rules of the “Art de la table“:

We advise you to prepare your table before your guests arrive. They will be surprised to see a beautiful finished table!

Arrange the cutlery and glasses in the correct order exactly as we have already taught you to do in our article to set a perfect french table. Keep the bottle of champagne fresh and bring it when this will be served. The glass of champagne is placed slightly behind the other wine glasses.

For an elegant and festive table; place first a plate of decorative presentation.  Use water in a beautiful jug, or in a glass bottle, but never in a plastic bottle! Put the bottle of water and bottles of wine on a coasters to give a more elegant and chic atmosphere to your table.


You can take the bread in individual portions and place it on the left side of each dish, or in a basket in the center of the table; but beware, you never presents the bread knife on a table!

For an harmonious table, be sure to place mens and womens  intercalated and try to mix the talkatives with the shy people; this will create that people talk with each other!


Avoid too big decorative items and flowers or scented candles. It could disturb your guests when dinner.


In addition to Christmas items ( balls , ribbons, angels , Santa … ) , bring at your table nature elements such as pine cones , leaves, acorns, branches, wood chips … You can paint in pastel shades , sprinkle glitter, and use the Christmas colors; gold, red, silver and green.


Do not forget the little decorative touches that will delight your guests:  cards to indicate the guest place on the table or a special little bag of sweets slided  under the Christmas tree or for your table decoration. Your Christmas table is now ready now, you just need to wait for your guests!

The Hotel Napoleon Paris wishes you a merry Christmas full of love and happiness!

Photos from radisrose.com et ellemaison.com

christmas table decoration decoration de table christmas

A Traditional French Christmas Dinner.

The Christmas Eve is a generous dinner for the French families, the perfect moment for share the evening of 24 December. The menu varies depending on the region of France, but it is always an opportunity for the family to sit together around the table and enjoy a variety of delicious dishes. This is an important tradition for the French culture.

Christmas is a time of celebration, which is why the French do not hesitate to get high quality food. The dinner can last for six hours in some families; stay at the table for long hours is a social custom in the country, and the children see it as a magical and unforgettable. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to blow the food budget and enjoy the specialties of the French gastronomy (snails, frog legs, scallops and truffles).

The Parisians usually eat seafood and oysters with bran bread and butter, caviar, foie gras with gooseberry jam, and the famous “Yule logs” (chocolate cake with a shape of log and a Christmas decoration).

In Alsace and in Bourgogne, turkey (or capon) roasted and stuffed with potatoes is more widespread. In Provence, the turkey is on the menu for Christmas Eve dinner. The foie gras and the log are also consumed in Provence. However, it is a tradition in Provence eat 13 desserts, symbolizing Jesus and his twelve apostles (oranges, pears, apples, plums, melon, white and black nougat, “Pompe à l’huile” that is a traditional Christmas dessert from the South of France. This round cake, which can also be called “Christmas pump,” “Arles’s focaccia” or “gibassier,”* features a typical Provencal ingredient not often found in dessert: olive oil).

The French pay much attention to the creation and the decoration of the Christmas dinner. On Christmas day, food is always an important part of the day, especially at lunch time where it is common to eat a specific dish, such as “Rabbit”, “Coq au vin”, “Vol- au-vent” or “Bouchée à la reine”, etc.

menu-noel-exceptionnel-10590825omyhd les-recettes-traditionnelles-de-noel_landing_entete

How to welcome the Christmas season?

The decor is part of the Christmas festivities and the special moment to share with family while we are waiting to Santa. Why not decorate your home with lights and an amazing Christmas tree?
Decorate your Christmas tree with your own style and creat your own ornaments with a personal touch.
Set your lovely tree where you and your family will be opening the presents together on the Christmas day and place your gifts around the tree.

Nowadays the artificial Christmas tree is often replaced by the natural tree.
How to welcome the Christmas season? The decor is part of the Christmas festivities and the special moment yo share with family while we are waiting to Santa. Why not decorate your home with lights and an amazing Christmas tree? Decorate your Christmas tree with your own style and creat your own ornaments with a personal touch. Set your lovely tree where you and your family will be opening the presents together on the Christmas day and place your gifts around the tree. Nowadays the artificial Christmas tree is often replaced by the natural tree. Consider to buy or make a great wreath with fresh holly or sweet-smelling evergreen for decorate your door. A wreath will make your guests feel welcome to your home.

Red and green are colours of Christmas, so anything that has this colours will make your house look more festive.
The table can be decorated in a harmony of green and red: white tablecloth, on dark green tablecloth, white plates, napkins surrounded by red and green ribbons, table center piece made ​​of green fir.

Buy a Poinsettia plant to add a natural red and green element to your home.
Your house must shine so, set out red and green candles to your tables and bookshelves, so happy Christmas season!

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The choice of wines

At the beginning of the century, it was common to serve five different wines during the same meal. Today, we are limited to two wines. Champagne is most often offered as an aperitif.

In fact, according to numerous criteria such as taste, location, season or product quality, the mix between the food and wine can vary considerably. Nevertheless, there are some basic rules:

-The delicacies deserve subtle and fine wines. In contrast, if the dish is strong in flavor, the wine must be full-bodied.

-The red wines are a perfect match with meats; while white wine, with fish and shellfish.

-Sweet white wines should not accompany oysters; avoid red wines with sweet dishes.

-To accompany a dish with sauce, it is important to drink a wine from the same region. In general, regional products are often excellent match for taste and the innovation.

- Contrary to popular belief, the tannic red wines are very susceptible to cured cheeses. With the exception of some full-bodied, most white wines harmonize perfectly with cheeses. Once again, regional products should be preferred!

For dessert, avoid, if possible, the brut champagne that destroys the delicacy of most dishes. Favor semi-dry champagne or a sweet wine.

Find below a list of our best advices to define your wine in terms of taste:

Tannic red wine: lamb, grilled or roast beef, duck, venison, stew.

Light red wine: charcuterie, grilled.

Dry white wine: seafood, shellfish, grilled fish or with sauce, snails, white meat.

Sweet white wine: foie gras, fish, desserts.

Champagne: shellfish, fish in sauce, foie gras, dessert (semi-dry ).

Photo from le blog de la belle école


Seven tips to make your heart to heart dinner memorable!

  1. To welcome “the one” and create a perfect moment of happiness and romanticism, try to know the personal likes and dislikes of your guest before choosing the place or chose your menu if you stay at home. Remember that romanticism doesn’t fit too rich dishes and strong flavors of garlic and onion.
  2. Do not go over complex recipes that will make you cooking very long, except if your partner accepts to share a moment with you in the kitchen ;)
  3. The choice of the table and of the restaurant is essential for your “tête à tête“; make sure the table is for two people; a large table would lose the charm of the evening!
  4. Ask for a little decor; choose a small candle or a small round bouquet of fresh flowers.
  5. For a soft and serene ambience, think of every detail. Switch on a very dim light; choose a place with soft music. If you stay at home, play music according to you and your guest musical tastes.
  6. A light fragrance of pine or cedar for example is very nice. It should not exist any kitchen or deodorant smell in the room.
  7. A warm atmosphere is mandatory.

Note: when your guest leave, give a small bouquet of the table in memory of the soirée.

If you are the guest, even if you are at the door twenty minutes before your appointment, do not ring,  when the waiting does not last too long,  it is a wonderful prelude to happiness ;)

Do not arrive empty-handed! She will appreciate the flowers, and he may like plants or a good book.



Photo from ellehoy.es

The sauces in the French cuisine!

French cuisine refers to various culinary styles derived from the French traditions. The chefs become the “True Artists” and art of preparing sauces has changed the ‘pleasures of tasting’ and the ‘Art de la Table”.

We owe those fundamental changes to Marie- Antoine Carême and Antonin Carême. A few months before the death of Antonin Carême, he published a book : “The Art of French Cooking in the nineteenth“. This is a culinary bible in five volumes in which the preparation of the sauces has truly become an art.

In this book, he classified the sauces to use them better and adapt them according to their color, texture and temperature. Four mother sauces formed the basis of his cuisine:  Spanish, Velvet, German and Béchamel. With a careful and graduated selection of the ingredients, he created what he called “small sauces”; those are the perfect dominant complement in the flavor of a dish.

“The succulence of small sauces in general is the accuracy with which they are made, if the palate discovers its ingredients, the science of cooking disappears.”

Today, sauces do not end up being tailored to suit every dish. They were created lighter with much less butter and the flour has been incorporated.

The Chefs were interested in the original textures like the“mousse”. They also played with its textures, temperature and the contrasts of flavors .They are part of a “cuisine d’ailleurs”, and combining the culinary creation to the tradition; always a pleasure to eat well to renew the flavors!

Photo from 750g


How to kiss in France?



carte bisesToday, the kiss is a sign of affection practiced by the vast majority of civilizations but with country-specific nuances. Sometimes we just kiss our intimates, sometimes we embrace only in special circumstances.

A French custom, which seems strange to other countries, is to kiss people on the cheek when you say “bonjour”. We should take into account the family, friends or professional relationship, age and status of the person. For example, you don’t kiss your manager; or rather, expect that it will be herself/himself proposing you. But we kiss with colleagues. For men, it depends: sometimes they kiss when they are friends or members of the same family, but not always. Young people kiss each other a lot, and the boys seem to do it more and more.

The number of kisses differs and depends on the location. In France, in most of regions, the kiss starts with the right cheek. It starts with the left cheek in eastern France and part of Provence. It varies depending to the region; 2, 3 or 4 kisses.

We found a map of the number of kisses in France where we show you the different patterns according to departments!



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