mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life

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Insider Tips to French Café Society


cafe 1


Sitting outside a café sipping a coffee and watching the world go by is part of daily life in France.  Manners and etiquette are important here so here’s a few tips to help keep you out of hot water!

As you arrive always greet the Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle behind the bar with a bonjour and a general bonjour to everyone in the room.  This is the case, especially in rural France when you enter a shop, post office, doctor.. anywhere…obviously not in a large supermarché and it maybe a bit different in Paris and large towns!  If you decide to sit on the terrace, find a seat and the waiter will come to you.

Always be polite in France. Manners count for a lot and a little politeness goes a long way.  No shouting or calling across the café to gain the attention of the waiter.  Remember merci and s’il vous plait!

Did you know the cost of your coffee depends on where you sit?  Outside on the terrace is always more expensive but sitting up at the bar is the cheapest and you can enjoy the atmosphere.

If you ask for ‘un café s’il vous plait’ the waiter will bring you a café noir or café express in a small expresso sized cup. It will be served with sugar cubes or sugar wraps on the saucer and a tiny biscuit or a chocolate covered almond.  The other popular coffee, mostly drunk at breakfast time is a café crème or café au lait with hot milk, served in a larger cup.

A custom I love is that if the café does not serve croissants or gateaux you can buy your cakes elsewhere and eat them in the café.  I would always check first out of politeness.  We did this recently, before we opened our big box of cakes on the table and the waitress even provided serviettes, plates and knives!!

Bottled water can be expensive and I am happy to drink Eau du robinet (tap water).  If you ask for a verre or pitcher d’eau du robinet you won’t be charged.

For a delicious treat, order a Café Gourmand, a petit café with a selection of bite sized desserts served alongside.


cafe gourmand

You are generally left alone to take your time to enjoy your coffee.  Lots of cafés and bars, even in rural France have free Wi-Fi (internet). When you do decide that you want l‘addition, (the bill), the service charge is already included.  You will see the words Servis Compris on the bill which means service is already included in the total to be paid.

A small extra tip is still a nice gesture to recognise good service as that will go directly to your waiter.

What have your experiences been like?  I would love to know.

Please comment and share.





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Women! We all need to live in the woods

Direction Luzy

No surprise to hear that research has found contact with nature is soothing, restorative and good for mental health.  The School of Public Health at the University of Washington and Nurses Healthy Study surveyed over 100,000 women finding that the women who live in greener areas have a 12% lower mortality rate than those who live in polluted environments.  Having access to green spaces where you can exercise and be active also plays an important role in having a healthy lifestyle.

We live in Le Morvan, Bourgogne in a sea of green, surrounded by forests and ancient woodland.  We enjoy the freshest air in Europe and never miss the opportunity to go for a walk even in the rain!

A walk first thing clears my head, I drink in the views, enjoy the solitude and it sets me up for the day. A quick break outside mid afternoon gives an energy boost and if I am looking for inspiration it even  helps me problem solve and come up with ideas.


A walk in the peaceful green woods, with trees towering cathedral like high above is great therapy.

The fact that a village 10 minutes away has the highest amount of people aged over 90 in the area seems to endorse the research.  One old lady celebrated her 105th birthday with a glass of champagne and a big piece of cake, putting her longevity down to eating everything and of course, the fresh air!

Nature really is the best therapy and it’s free. So never mind how big your patch of green is, get out there and enjoy it!