Conviviality is at the heart of French customs
The art of entertaining: the latest statistics
The Département Arts de la Table du Comité Francéclat (Comité Francéclat’s Culinary Arts Department) worked in partnership with CREDOC (Research Center for Studying and Observing Living Conditions) to publish recent statistics that prove that French citizens still devote themselves to entertaining their peers, a custom that is institutionalized in French virtues, so to speak.
This study states that two thirds of French citizens invite the following individuals to their homes to enjoy a meal at least once a month: their children (83%), friends (75%), family (74%), colleagues from work (31%) and neighbours (26%).
On average 8 individuals gather around the table to savor the following: a meal (93%), an appetizer (81%), a picnic (88%) or a brunch (32%).
The economic crisis has not influenced French citizen’s habits when it comes to entertaining guests, as 80% of them have not changed in this matter despite the slightly morose economic situation. The study also showed that 68% of these individuals even stated that they felt that “it is important to entertain guests in times of economic hardship.”
A large majority of hosts (88%) stated that they devote over an hour preparing the meal, whereas the number of home-cooked meals is much higher than pre-cooked meals purchased from a caterer or at a supermarket. Of individuals responding 99% stated that they cook meals for themselves regularly and only 52% of individuals resort to purchasing pre-cooked meals.
Of the French citizens taking part in the survey 77% replied that setting the table constitutes an important part of the “art of living.” The importance of choosing appropriate wines, appetizers and pre-dinner drinks remains firmly rooted in the French way of life.
A large majority of the French find that the overall ambiance at the table is an essential factor.
Eight meals out of ten are accompanied by an acoustic atmosphere or music. Of those surveyed 31% revealed that singing at the end of a meal is something that is lacking.
It should be noted that a large number of guests participate in the meal by offering the guest a gift (58%) or bring a dish, the most popular of which was the dessert (37%), or wine (31%).
The important effect that the menu and location have on conviviality
Dinning at home instead of at a restaurant
Another interesting fact that recent studies on French customs and their art of entertaining uncovered is that the French do not hesitate about putting some money into preparing a successful and convivial meal. The latest statistics on this subject were collected in 2009 and highlight the fact that French individuals spend 18% more on ingredients and non-alcoholic drinks than the average of all Europeans combined.
French individuals prefer inviting people to their homes over going to a restaurant. The CREDOC’s director in charge of consumer research, Pascale Hébel, puts emphasis on the fact that “compared to other cultures, the French are very attached to the idea of inviting others to their home.”
In the French collective imagination, a meal shared at home with family and friends will always come first. This is contrary to other countries such as Germany where the custom is to have people over to talk before inviting them over to dinner or in England where individuals meet in pubs and tearooms.
The art of entertaining with TB Groupe!
In order to make a good impression on your guests, nothing is stopping you from laying an elegant table that will have an effect on your gathering. Therefore the art of entertaining is synonymous with the quality of the tablecloth, silverware, dishware and glasses that you lay out at the table.
Do not hesitate when it comes to showcasing your most beautiful table service. In terms of cutlery, TB Groupe can only give you fabulous recommendations:
- The very elegant line, Laguiole Evolution, which is both modern and classic
- The Maestro collection of professional grade knives from the “Made in France” line
- The Evercut® kitchen knives that are reputed to be the strongest and sharpest knives in the world!
Now it is up to you to make a decision about which you prefer!
The art of entertaining your guests and creating a successful and convivial meal
In terms of invitations you have several options and you must decide the number of guests you wish to invite to your house. You can invite your guests to:
- Have a pre-dinner drink
- Eat a meal at noon or in the evening
- Have an appetizer or a brunch
- Have a picnic or buffet
- Drink a coffee or tea, etc.
Make sure that you give your guests sufficient time to organize themselves between your invitation and the event, except for last minute decisions. You may invite them in person, over the telephone, by e-mail or with a hand-written letter. The latter should be saved for the most important receptions (baptisms, weddings, etc.). Set the arrival time for your event as follows:
- Between 12:30 noon and 1 PM for lunch
- Between 6 PM and 6:30 PM for a reception
- Between 7 PM and 7:30 PM for an appetizer
- Between 7:30 PM and 8 PM for dinner
Offering a bottle of wine to the host is a common French custom
The famous apéritif or pre-dinner drink is a French tradition that is often celebrated! A good host or hostess never forgets to offer their guests a beverage before sitting down at the table. Make sure that you have a wide variety of drinks at your disposition, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, cheers!
Invite everyone to sit down around the table. Be sure to prepare a table-seating plan according to your guest’s affinities before the meal.
All you have left to do is serve the delicate dishes that you have prepared with your chef-like expertise thanks to your essential kitchen knives!
After the meal, nothing is keeping you from inviting your guests into your living room in order to end your enjoyable evening in your most beautiful armchairs.