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Outdoor dining and cafes in Paris -- cigarette smoke

In general, how prevalent is cigarette smoke when at outdoor cafes or at restaurants with outdoor seating?

Posted by
8251 posts

Too much for us. We usually go inside. Sarkozy buckled to the lobby at the last minute, which allowed smoking at the outside cafe and restaurant seats. Up to the last minute it was supposed to have been a total ban.

Posted by
6898 posts

Last year, we found that smoking wasn't that big of a problem. My big issue is that you seem to be able to bring your dog to dinner with you. Happened to us twice during our travels through the country.

Posted by
565 posts

I never found a problem with it. Being outside is a pretty good filter in itself. I'm a former smoker so I'm not really as annoyed as many by smoke in close proximity while I'm outside.

Posted by
2876 posts

Smoke can be a big problem when they put those clear plastic canopies over the outdoor tables. Even though you're in a confined space in that situation, French law still considers the tables "outside" and smoking is OK.

Posted by
12739 posts

I remember seeing a family coming to this restaurant over ten years ago in Paris having a big size dog with them. I was at the table next to them, it surprised me because I hadn't seen this scene before anywhere: large family of at least five persons and this dog, which after he took his place under the table, you would never know he was lying there. From the looks of it, the dog knew exactly what to do as the family proceeded to sit down.

Posted by
2964 posts

It's quite prevalent, so if you want to eat outdoors I'd try to find a place that's more "open" and not enclosed by plastic like a previous poster described. The good news for you is that inside, France is one of the most non-smokingest countries in Europe.

Posted by
27402 posts

My big issue is that you seem to be able to bring your dog to dinner with you. I have been thinking about this and I wonder. I don't have any dogs but I visit friends who do. Almost all (maybe all?) have a dog food bowl and water bowl on the floor in the kitchen or utility room for the mutt. Most have the pup in the kitchen or dining room when they eat their meals. So, what's the big deal about taking a growler to the restaurant or café? Maybe I'm too Europeanised but I don't get it...

Posted by
9110 posts

Apparently there are some people in the world who haven't been to a rural pub where you have to tread carefully among tails to get to the bar.

Posted by
7205 posts

Nigel, many Americans just seem to have problems with dogs in restaurants. Through my travels in Europe I've seen how dogs "can" behave in restaurants. One specific example was a man who brought a big wooly dog into the rather nice McDonalds in Zermatt. The dog curled up in an unbelievably tiny ball under the man's table and never uttered a sound. How do European dogs get to be so well behaved?? ;-) I've never seen an animal at in a European restaurant that wasn't well behaved...wish I could say the same for "people" at restaurants.

Posted by
12040 posts

"How do European dogs get to be so well behaved?? ;-) I've never seen an animal at in a European restaurant that wasn't well behaved" Probably because only well-behaved dogs get invited out to eat. Our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever almost always accompanies us to restaurants. She usually just sits below the table and never bothers anyone. We've heard exactly one complaint- from an American couple!

Posted by
11450 posts

I love doggies in restaurants,, they are so well behaved,, there are children that should be tied up outside( not talking about just in Europe, lol) but all the dogs I have seen in cafes etc in France were almost unnoticeable!
I didn't find the smoke a huge issue in the cafes,, except at the one (it was the Canadian Pub as a matter of fact) that has an almost completely enclosed outside seating area. In the majority of cafes the tables are fairly open so it just drifts away,, unless you have chain smokers beside you!

Posted by
3923 posts

I still remeber being in Murren and we were the only ones around as it was late Sept - eating outside, loving the mountain view - and playing with the pup that the restaurant owners had frolicking about - I agree - more pooches, less kids!

Posted by
71 posts

It will vary. If you're concerned, then try to get an outside table up-wind of the others. Then you won't be bothered. There was much less smoking then I was expecting. Only once did we have any trouble, and that was when a German guy on a motorcycle tour pulled out his pipe and lit it. The smoke was more fragrant than cigarette smoke, but there was more of it. Upwind is the way to go, and not enclosed in plastic.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks to all for the input.

Posted by
6226 posts

Dogs in restaurants or cafes in the US of A hasn't been allowed for years. Unless seeing eye dogs. A puritanical illogical health concern in my opinion. That seems to be changing at least here in the Land of La in the late great state of California. I take my hound up the road to my favorite neighborhood haunt and she gets to sit at my feet ever hopeful I'll drop a crumb. Parisians still get to smoke in public places. C'est la vie.

Posted by
1877 posts

Bring on the dogs! I love seeing them but it makes me miss mine so much! (Granted she's a little demon and would be trying to eat the crumbs on the floor, but...) The smoking never really bothered me either.

Posted by
31433 posts

Scott, I find it a problem at times to tolerate the smoking at the outside tables, and for that reason I normally sit inside. On a nice day, that's not as pleasant but at least I don't have to put-up with the smoke. The situation seems to be the same in a number of countries, and not just France. On the topic of dogs in restaurants, I don't have any problem at all with that. I wish that was allowed here! Without exception, ALL of the dogs I've ever encountered in restaurants in a variety of countries have been well behaved and never caused any problems. In one restaurant in Milan, the Chef came out of the kitchen to bring a bowl of water to a dog that was sitting a few feet away from me. Cheers!

Posted by
12040 posts

"In one restaurant in Milan, the Chef came out of the kitchen to bring a bowl of water to a dog that was sitting a few feet away from me." It's actually fairly common for the restaurant staff to offer a bowl of water for dogs, although I don't think ours has ever been so honored as to have the Chef himself present it...

Posted by
517 posts

Outdoor cafés! Smokers, mais oui, otherwise it wouldn't be Paris (or Europe, for that matter). Same with faithful dogs curled up beneath their master's table and the waiter bringing them a bowl of water. And knowing which tables are reserved for eating and which are o.k. for cocktails. And don't leave your camera sitting on the table or it might get snatched. Not to mention uni-sex restrooms. I love that there is no stigma when an old lady or old man decides to dine alone or to have a glass of wine at 11 in the morning. I love it all and try never to eat indoors, except breakfast, pretty much from April into October. Have even been known to sit under those heat blasters towards the end of the season. A couple of years back we saw Jimmy Buffett at L'Olympia and then, within minutes of the end of the show, were parked at a café on Boulevard des Capucines with friends. Oh what a night. Northern European winters are so grey, soggy, cold, dark, miserable, and depressing that I totally get "the RS fetish for outdoor cafés." He is certainly not alone in the fetish. Love to watch the people going by on the boulevard as I work on a tall beer or a demi-litre of wine. Viva l' moules marinières and viva l' Steak Frites! Sorry. I get carried away about one of my favourite things in the entire world.

Posted by
3656 posts

Dogs can also get seat reservations on the French train system, at a substantial discount to human passengers. Take a look at the prices for a puppy in those pet shops along the Seine to understand why this expensive investment is pampered.

Posted by
2964 posts

Thomas, you're my kinda guy! I love the European passion for being outside as much as possible when the weather is nice (and even sometimes when it's not) and it means a lot more when you've experienced those terrible winters. I have to say I'm not the best judge of how irritating smoke is as a smoker myself (boo! hiss!) but I do try to be considerate of where my smoke is flowing. But I have to be honest, I love being able to smoke freely outdors here compared to the great state of California where it's now illegal in many cities to smoke on a sidewalk. That said, people being shocked by dogs in restaurnts is funny to me, in the bay area, people take their dogs everywhere, just like in Europe. I can't imagine someone finding a dog more irritating that cigarette smoke. The dogs are so well-behaved here.

Posted by
8645 posts

I also prefer to eat outside unless it's too cold. I am sensitive to smoke and it has never bothered me. I also don't mind the dogs, except it makes me miss mine!