Beginner’s guide to the French art of table setting

 It's no secret that the French set the standard for the art of table setting (art de la table). Since the days of Louis XIV's royal court, they have been leading the way when it comes to dining etiquette. 

                                                                           Photo credit: Pinterest & Frenchgardenhouse.com

The hectic nature of today's fast-paced lifestyle means that we often skip formalities around dining, just another chore to whiz through. But we would do well to remember that mealtimes are something to be savoured together, taking our time, enjoying the company of family and friends. 

With this in mind, let's take a beginner's look at how we can add a little touch of France to our dinnertimes.

  • Tablecloth! A simple, quality tablecloth is essential (bonus points for linen!). It adds to the ambience of the table setting, protects furniture and provides a modicum of comfort for your guests (in France, it's polite to keep hands on the table!)
  • Knives are placed on the right side of the plate, and if you're using a soup spoon, that goes there too. Forks go to the left, and (this one's a biggie) fork teeth are placed downwards, in contrast to British custom. Why? Chalk it up to ancient traditions. 
  • Napkins to the left of the forks, please, folded into a simple rectangular shape. Nothing fancy here!
  • Breaking bread together is a beautiful European mealtime custom, so be sure to add a plate for bread and butter, placed to the left of the place setting above the forks.
  • Mix and match! You don’t need to have an all-matching dinner set. Work with what you’ve got, it all adds to the rustic and authentic feel that’s common in most European homes.
  • It's all about the ambience, so be sure to adorn the table. Candles create a warm and romantic atmosphere, whereas fresh flowers in a glass vase add a more upbeat and breezier vibe. Whatever you do – don't overdo it. The French are all about understated elegance!

 No one is suggesting you whip out a full multi-course dinner service on a busy Monday when you've got places to be. Still, for those occasions where you want to put in a little extra effort and wow your dinner guests, these simple little touches can really up your game when it comes to French-inspired table settings. 

 Photo credit: Pinterest & Pezcambe

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