Subject: Re: bring your own croissant
Hello Ziners,

To add to the discussion about whether it's ok to bring your own croissants to a cafe table: my experience in the village La Garde-Freinet, where I live, is that it's quite alright with two of the three cafes, because they usually don't serve croissants. The third one does and the waiter frowns when people put a croissant bag on the table or a baguette, but he says nothing. My gut feeling is that it's more relaxed in the country than in Paris, where I would not do such a thing.

In the same way, the restaurants here and in the region are quite relaxed about just ordering a first course and not a main. I regularly dine with a friend who doesn't eat much, only orders a starter. Never have we encountered an objection. But then, he always orders expensive wine. Sometimes I've relaxed at an outside table of a restaurant, outside the regular eating hours and not heard a complaint. Once, however, I had a strange experience. With my son (then 14) I went to eat at a tiny restaurant in the village, that I had not tried before, but heard good things about. My son was famished, so we arrived at the earliest time possible for the south of France: 7:30 pm. We went inside where there was only one long table, seating about 16. Quite odd, I thought. But since the restaurant was owned by a Breton family, I thought that it must be the way they do things in Brittany. We sat down and waited. In the kitchen someone was busily chopping away. Two waiters were outside, smoking and talking. We continued to wait. On the table was a large bowl with pieces of fresh fruit, melons, strawberries, raspberries, etc., very appetizingly displayed. My son started eating away. The cook in the kitchen sometimes looked up and smiled at me. The wait staff remained outside, smoking and talking. I couldn't make eye contact. Finally after 15 minutes I got up and walked outside. Upon my request for service, they told me I had to wait for the rest of the group. Suddenly it dawned at me and the wait staff. The whole restaurant had been booked by a group which we were not part of. I grumbled that they should have marked the table with a notice and dragged my son away who had started on a second bowl of fruit. For a long time I did not walk past the restaurant during dinner time. Fortunately they closed the following year.

Frieda Lekkerkerker