The French Habit Americans Need To Pick Up

Emma Bennett is a student at Point Loma Nazarene University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.

Let me tell you about my favorite French habit: no matter the age, the social group, the location, or time of day, the French are never on their phones when they eat together.

Of course, the French are esteemed for table manners, and eating is a huge factor of the culture here. I’m infatuated with these lengthy dinners filled with several courses, great wine, and even better conversation. No one answers work e-mails, scrolls Twitter, sends a Snapchat, or posts to Instagram while they eat; everyone savors their food and engages with those sharing the table.

Salads, Saint Mont Michel, France, Bennett#1
First Course of the Menu: Eating right at Saint Mont Michel

I’m starting to realize how offensive and how sad it is that using our phones while we eat is normal in the U.S. How rude to ignore someone (and your food) for a silly screen, right?

Saturday Markets in Paris
Saturday Markets in Paris

I’ve always been semi-aware because I’m a member of an “eat dinner together family,” and my mom always snatched away my phone when I’d sneak a text under the table. But once I left home, into the cold grips of independence and adulthood, I got in the habit of being on my phone a lot when I shouldn’t be. Usually I’m pretty good about it and I have a great group of friends who usually believe in the same policy, but I’m by no means innocent.

Petite Pastry
Petite Pastry

Now I have no data nor texting on my iPhone here in Paris, but I can already feel the increased quality of my experience. I journal when I ride the metro instead of Tweet, I get to know about my friends more when we cook and eat dinner together, and I actually look up and admire the city instead of having my eyes fixed on a screen.


Countryside, Giverny, France, Bennett#4
Exploring the French country houses in Giverny
Sun set from the Opera steps in Paris
Sun set from the Opera steps in Paris

So maybe we need a reality check, myself included. I’m not saying throw your phone into the nearest body of water or chop off your hand if you send a text while you eat. Just moderate. Moderate and you’ll find how much better life (and food) is when you take time to enjoy it.

The world awaits…discover it.

Author: Emma Bennett

Hello it's me. Your friendly world traveler, coffee addicted, Nonprofit Resources Account Manager, dog lover, and outdoors fanatic.