Lunch is usually between midday and 2 pm, when the kitchen will go off duty. Watch out, as during these times, service can be rather slow if you find yourself in a business area.
Parisians don’t dine until at least 8.30 pm as prior to that, time is set aside for “l’apéritif”. If you’re used to eating earlier, restaurants in the more-frequented tourist areas are open from 7 pm onwards, although you won’t see too many Parisians at that time! Alternatively, you can go for a lighter fare (salads, sandwiches or pizza for example).
You can eat late in the busier districts and many restaurants stay open until after midnight, in particular the brasseries who serve food non-stop. It’s a good idea to check opening times in our information pages and to book a table in advance in order to avoid a long wait at the more popular spots, especially at the weekend.
The majority of bars and cafés open early, around 7 or 8 am and close late, sometimes not until 2 am, or even later if the establishment has a special dispensation.
Restaurants should have designated smoking and non-smoking areas and the inevitable question “fumeur ou non fumeur?” will be asked as you go in. Cafés and clubs remain the places where this law may be not so strictly adhered to, and where the cigarette as a leisure companion is very much in evidence. Mutual respect is ultimately the only rule.