France has a reputation the world over for its customer service – and not in a good way. Waiters in particular are reviled for looking down their noses at their clientele. However, with the occasional exception, I’ve not found this to be the case.
Indeed, a restaurant such as Le Bistrot Dagobert in Bergerac is a perfect example of just how good service can be in France. I went there a couple of years ago with a group of friends. There were eight of us and we arrived midway through the lunchtime rush.
The restaurant was packed – which was partly what attracted us in the first place – yet the maître d’ couldn’t have been more accommodating. He put together a table for us and made us feel as though we were the most important people ever to have graced the restaurant.
As we started eating after his other diners, we also finished later, and he came and chatted with us – and gave us glasses of his homemade plum liqueur. Touches like that have ensured that we now go back at least once during any trip to Bergerac.
Offering service with a smile is particularly important when you get outside of Paris. Rural businesses generally can’t afford to alienate their customers. A café on the Champs-Élysées is less worried about it – chances are they’ll never see you again no matter how good their service.
Let’s face it, you’re unlikely to fare any better in central London or any other major capital city.
“He made us feel as though we were the most important people ever to have graced the restaurant”
That isn’t to say that waiting staff in rural France can’t be rude. The behaviour of the female co-owner of the PMU bar Le Carre Bastide in Villeréal, Lot-et-Garonne, last year still has me speechless.
But that, as they say, is another story.