Meal times during your French immersion in France

When you arrive for the first time in France at your French host family's house, you might have to get used to the difference in meal times. In France, it is very common to eat dinner at 8 pm or even later! This is part of your French homestay experience and it won’t take you long at all to get used to it. 

As you will soon find out, the French consider it important to sit down at the table and have a meal together as a family. It is a time to reflect on the day and the perfect moment for you to practice your French language skills. What better way than to experience the full French immersion at the dinner table! 


Changing your habits is part of your home stay program in France  

During your immersion in France lunch (déjeuner) is usually the biggest meal of the day. Americans, Australians, and other northern European countries may have a simple sandwich for lunch, but French lunches are typically more substantial. Therefore, even when you eat at the school cafeteria you will notice that most of the time the meal consists of 3 courses! Eat well at lunchtime, because you will need it to survive until dinner time.


How about the school canteen food during your Home Stay in France?

Mealtimes are the ideal opportunity for students to be able to relax and communicate with their peers/classmates. But at the same time, it is also the perfect opportunity to sample some new foods. I am pretty sure that there are some dishes in the French school canteen that you have never heard of. I challenge you to try them all during your home stay and school immersion in France!

That said, school lunches are taken very seriously and contain a wide variety of healthy options, and tend to be very well balanced. The diet of a school-age child is essential for his or her growth, psycho-motor development, and learning abilities. Subsequently, it must be distributed throughout the day:

for example

  • 20% of total energy intake in the morning (Petit- déjeuner)

  • 40% at lunchtime (déjeuner)

  • 10% at 4 pm (goûter)

  • and 30% in the evening (diner)


With this in mind, lunch always consists of a starter (mostly salads or a soup), a main dish with meat or fish, more veggies and a type of carb and a dessert. On the other hand, don’t be surprised to see next to the more healthy options like fruit, a slice of cake or some chocolate mousse. It's not about dieting, but having a balanced menu that fills you up so you can focus on your schoolwork, without being hungry.

How about dinner during your homestay in France?

Dinner is normally lighter than lunch and consists of a soup, salad, bread and a dessert and/or cheese. You will notice soon that your french host family will not snack during the day. Unlike a lot of other countries, the French tend to stick to the 3 meals a day rule. 

Your host family in France would love for you to try the different types of food. A big part of your immersion in France will take place at the dinner table. 

Typical French dishes are:

  • Cassoulet

  • Taboulé

  • Salade composée

  • Ratatouille

  • Quiche

Always accompanied by some slices of a baguette!


And if I feel like a snack?

You might notice that it’s unusual to find granola bars, trail mixes, potato chip packets, etc in French supermarkets. Of course, it exists, but snacking is not something the French people encourage.


Except for….The famous ‘goûter’ to make your French immersion complete!

And now you will think: How do I survive from 1 pm to 8 pm without eating anything? There is one exception to the 3 meals a day rule and it's called: goûter. The French version of snack time is sacred to French children. It is the only moment outside the overall healthy 3 meals a day they get to give in to their cravings for sugary snacks or pastries. 


Conclusion

In a nutshell, the best thing to do is to get used to eating enough during mealtimes and drink a lot of water when hungry. And if you really cannot wait till the next mealtime, join the French kids and enjoy your ‘goûter’.


Approximate meal times

Breakfast: 7:30 AM

Lunch: 12:30-13:30 PM

Goûter: 16:30 PM

Dinner: 8 PM


TIP:  The host families in France try hard to cook food they think you will like. Be thankful and appreciative if your French host family has made a special effort with a particular meal. Please say ‘thank you' at the end of each meal. Don’t be afraid to try new foods, you will soon learn to appreciate new flavors, textures and dishes as this also forms part of your French immersion in France.

 

During your homestay program, it is important to participate in the daily chores. You can:  

  • Set the table  

  • Prepare vegetables  

  • Clear the table   

  • Load the dishwasher  

  • Ask if there is anything you can do to help.

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