1. Avoid eating in a restaurant that has a menu written in English. In case you haven’t gathered, we’re against them for a number of reasons. One good reason is that at one restaurant, we were automatically given the English menu (which is really irritating, since we hate being so obviously American) and we discovered as we walked out that it bore no relationship to the French menu which was more than twice as long.
2. Don’t be afraid. They can’t and won’t hurt you. They are not laughing at you, they don’t dislike you, they aren’t even thinking about you. Waiters in France are trained professionals whose job is to serve you. Despite what you’ve heard, they want you to have a good time. Sometimes they are just mystified by what we do.
3. Don’t ever call the waiter “garçon.” Though sometimes in bars a Parisian will use this word, travelers should never use it.
4. Try to make reservations. This isn’t as difficult as it seems; the words are similar in both languages and they’ll get the gist of what you’re trying to do. We often do a walk-by in the afternoon and stop in to make the reservation. When we go back that night they are almost always happy to see us again.
5. Return to a restaurant if you like it. If you have the luxury of time and can withstand the temptation to try other restaurants, you will always be treated better if they recognize you. Few travelers return to the same restaurant.