A few useful tips on mastering
Our language when eating out in Brittany
Where to eat?
The first thing to appreciate about eating out when you visit Brittany is that the array of eating places is magnificent — restaurants, brasseries (simpler restaurants), speciality crêperies (serving galettes, which are savoury pancakes, and crêpes — sweet pancakes), pizzérias, even salons de thé (literally teashops, but often doing a range of salads, quiches and so on).To show that you agree with something strongly try "Mais oui" as in: "Vous aimez le vin blanc?" (Do you like white wine?) "Mais oui" (Absolutely!)
You’ll probably be asked, Vous avez reserve?’ (Have you reserved?), and shown to a table.
Don’t be afraid to say where you’d like to sit: ‘près de Ia fenêtre’ (near the window), ‘sur Ia terrasse’ (outside), ‘dans le jardin’ (in the garden).
You might start with un aperitif’ — perhaps a ‘kir’ (cassis: blackcurrant liqueur mixed with white wine), even a ‘kir royal’ (cassis with champagne), ‘une pression’ (a beer), or just ‘un jus de fruit’ (a fruit juice) or ‘de l’eau minérale’ (mineral water).
What and how to order?
Decide if you want ‘le menu fixe’ (set price) or ‘à Ia carte’. What will you have (or ‘pour commencer’ (the starter) and ‘comme plat principal’ (main course)?
Perhaps this is the chance to try ‘un plat de Ia region’ (a local speciality) or e plat du jour’ (the dish of the day).
You can assume that French bread will be served as a matter of course, but check whether your dish includes vegetables: ‘c’est servi avec des légumes?’
If not you could order ‘des pommes de terre à Ia vapeur’ (boiled potatoes), or ‘des frites’ (chips), ‘des haricots verts’ (green beans), ‘des petits pois’ (peas), or maybe you prefer ‘une salade verte’.
If you have young children, ask if there is "un menu pour les enfants’. Or, if your kids prefer to share the adults’ food, many less formal restaurants will happily provide ‘une assiette supplémentaire’ (an extra plate); just expect a small charge for ‘le couvert’ (the extra place).
If you’re ordering steak, do you like it ‘saignant’ (rare), ‘à point’ (medium) or ‘bien cuit’ (well done)? Since we tend to prefer meat on the rare side, you might compromise with ‘bien à point’ (more medium than rare!).
Desserts can vary from scoops of ice cream — ‘deux boules de vanille/chocolat/praliné’ (maybe topped with ‘crème Chantilly’ — sweetened whipped cream) — to ‘tarte tatin’ (the French equivalent of apple pie) or ‘crêpes flambées’ (pancakes with alcohol — which is set alight!).
And maybe you’ll have time for ‘un café’ (that’s black coffee) or ‘un café crème’ (white coffee) — unless you prefer ‘une tisane’ (herbal tea).
"OUI et NON"
Of course you know the French for "yes" and "no".
But you may not of met some of these interesting variations in the way they are used in everyday French.
* If you want to use "yes" to contradict someone, you need to use "si" (not "oui"), or even "mais si", as in "Tu n'aimes pas le fromage" (You don't like cheese do you?) "Mais si!" (Yes I do!)
* When French children go to one of the popular summer puppet shows with Guignol (our equivelent of Mr.Punch), they have a great time shouting, "Mais si" (Oh yes he is!) whenever the policeman says "Guignol not here is he?"
* "Non" simply means "no", which is easy enough - though for emphasis you can always use "Mais non" as in "Vous connaissez Saint Malo?" (Do you know St.Malo?) "Mias non, pas du tout." (No, not at all)
* If you offer someone something to eat or drink, they can say "non" if they simply don't want it, but quite often a French person will simply say "merci". To an English speaker, that can sound confusingly like "thanks, yes", but in this situation "merci" really means "no"!
the painful bit — when you ask for ‘l’addition s’il vous plaît’ (yes, the bill!).