French Dinner table

Receiving guests around a dinner table is a a very important part of French culture. Having guests over for a religious occasion, anniversary or other important date requires flawless planning and execution. Every person sitting at the table will become a judge of the affair and any faux pas will necessarily become a subject of gossip for years to come.  This may seem a bit exaggerated (and it is) but I do remember my mom really stressing trying to prepare Easter or Christmas dinners for a dozen family guests. So here are a few dos and don’ts for successfully setting a French table:

Silverware: They should be organized in the order in which they will be used from the outside to the inside.

Forks: Left of the plate, facing down.

Knives: Right of the plate, the cutting side of the blade facing toward the plate.

Dessert spoon and cheese knife: Over the plate with the handle to the right. Spoon faces down and the cutting side of the knife toward the plate.

Glasses: From left to right, from larger to smaller. In order: water then red, then white.

The plates: Positioned one to two centimeters (3/8″ to 3/4″) from the edge of the table. Never use more than three stacked plates. After the main course, the dinner plate (and presentation plate) are removed and replaced with the cheese plate and then the dessert plate.

Presentation plate: Optional, it is there to help present the other plates. It is removed when the cheese is served in its own plate.

Dinner plate: Used for the main course.

Soup bowl: Called a deep plate (assiette creuse) in France, its shape is in between a plate and a bowl.

Bread plate: Optional, the small plate is positioned above and left of the main plates.

French table place setting

French table place setting

Tablecloth and napkins:

Napkins can be folded in many ways: in a glass, in a plate,  in a napkin ring, as a square, in the shape of a flower, use your imagination! The Napkin Folding Guide has 27 ideas to get you started.

Tablecloth folds: If you are using a round tablecloth, all folds should be ironed out. If you are using a rectangular tablecloth, you can leave a fold lengthwise, but the crosswise folds must be ironed out. If you have table extensions, you can use several tablecloths to cover the whole length — or just visit our website or call us and order the correct size!

Decorations: Your table should be quite full when the food is served, so you do not need much to decorate. Avoid flower bouquets that are too large as they will block the view between guests. Try two or more smaller, short arrangements of cut flowers instead of one large arrangement that people will strain to see over. If one of your guests brings you a large bouquet, thank them, but don’t feel obligated to add it to the dining table if it’s too big or carries a strong fragrance. Placing their gift on a side table, coffee table, or bar top will show your appreciation just as well.

Do not use scented candles during a meal — instead, try our perforated taper candles, which will burn longer without making a mess.

Make sure to put enough salt shakers and pepper grinders (try our salt, pepper and herbes de Provence ceramic mills), trivets, and water carafes.

To avoid making too many trips to the kitchen, have a place nearby where you can keep your serving utensils. A buffet table or sideboard is designed just for this purpose, but if you don’t have one, a small table or a tray will do just fine.

Now it is time to get everybody seated and enjoy a delicious French meal!

Information courtesy of www.clase-frances.com.ar.

–Jean-Michel

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French Gifts for Your Valentine!

Visitez I Dream of France to order beautiful and useful gifts for others, or treats for yourself (we won’t tell). As always, orders of $75 or more ship free! No coupon code required. (Alaska and Hawaii pay $10 extra.) Also, we now ship to Canada!

Faience Jewelry from Brittany

From HB Henriot Quimper Faience, maker of popular collector tableware patterns such as Tradition and Fleuri Royale, this line of handmade jewelry featuring hearts, crosses, and original designs is hard to find in the United States, but we have it! Every piece comes with a gift box and a certificate of authenticity.

Quimper Faience Jewelry

Gifts for Foodies

We are so pleased to announce the debut of our French Foods line! We offer fruit candies from Provence, salted caramels from Brittany, and the perennially popular Herbes de Provence!
Our hand-painted Provençal spice mills (herb, salt, or pepper) are a topselling gift year-round, and now we have a new design with a heart for Valentine’s Day!

L'Ami Provencal Raspberry Old Fashioned Candy Le Petit Saunier Fleur de Sel CaramelsHerb Mill with Herbs, Salt or Pepper - Heart
 

Gifts for Hostesses

Cupcake or macaron? We vote for French macarons! Cast your vote with a terry kitchen towel from Coucke.

Coucke Terry Square Towel - Macarons

The three-bar box set of Gingembre (ginger and spices) scented soaps from Roger & Gallet Paris is so beautiful, you don’t need to wrap it!

Roger & Gallet Blue Ginger 3 Bar Box of Soap

Gifts for Nesters

Get cozy with a French flair! How about a Paris throw pillow, or fabulous reversible coated placemats?

Paris Postcard Pink Roses Ruffled Throw Pillow

Le Cluny Coated Reversible Placemat Lisa Red

–Brett