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Smokers in France

We just returned from 3 great weeks in the south of France. We used Rick’s “Provence & The French Riviera” extensively to plan what sights to see and where to eat, especially in Avignon and surrounding area, where we spend a week. One of the things not mentioned in his book is the large number smokers in France. On three occasions, we sat outside and regretted it after our meal had started because of the smokers. Although the weather was great, we had to sit inside to avoid this annoyance. Just be aware, that although sitting outside a café or bistro is a great place for people watching, it’s not so great for us non smokers. (We did not notice this last fall when we spent a couple of weeks in Holland and Belgium).

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, that's the way it is in France. They used to smoke inside and outside, now only outside.
It's different over there, sometimes in ways that blindside you.
I'm sure you had a great trip anyway.

Posted by
12754 posts

Wolfgang, it is the same everywhere we've been in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Germany: smoking inside has been banned everywhere but it's open season on the majority of outdoor terraces. If you don't like smoke, simply choose to eat inside, and please don't use the annoying, American cough-cough or dirty looks - which won't make you any friends with your neighbors or waitstaff. It's simply the custom in most of these countries.

Posted by
7854 posts

When the law in France banning smoking in public places was written, it originally banned smoking everywhere, including the outside sections of restaurants and cafes. However, at the very last minute the government buckled to pressure to allow smoking at the outdoor areas of cafes and restaurants making them very disagreeable to non-smokers. It's too bad. Other EU countries have banned smoking even outsidely. --for example Italy.

edit: looks like Italy buckled too, as originally it was banned.

Posted by
1677 posts

One of our favorite photos from Paris is of a couple sitting at an outside cafe table, smoking, in the pouring (cold) rain, holding their umbrella up over their heads. We took it from the window by our table inside a cozy cafe across the street.

Posted by
5663 posts

http://www.wikihow.com/Smoke-a-Cigarette-in-Paris

When one thinks of Paris, aside from cheese, baguettes, and the Eiffel Tower, cigarette smoking often comes to mind. However, smoking laws and habits vary from country to country, and France is no different.
Despite this, smoking in Paris is still a common practice that Parisians of varying ages, wages, ethnicities, and genders can enjoy. You may be surprised to see that the majority of smokers in Paris are women, typically adorned in designer clothing. Whether you're rich or poor, there is a cigarette for everyone and a place to smoke it. By reading the short guide below, you too can enjoy a cigarette in typical French fashion.

See link for detailed instructions on smoking in Paris. This is for information only and poster does not recommend or endorse the use of tobacco products.

Fumer nuit gravement à votre santé et à celle de votre entourage. (Translation: Smoking seriously harms your health and that of others around you.)

Posted by
2525 posts

France 101: It's polite to smoke regardless of others and non-smokers must be polite and suffer in silence. No negative cues such eye rolls, body language nor verbal requests allowed. Suck it up folks.

Posted by
506 posts

At least it is banned inside now. When we first started going to Europe smoking was inside and out, I remember in Belgium sitting in a restaurant with friends trying to have a great dinner and all these people had cigarettes just burning in their ash trays while they ate. We just came back from Italy and they all smoke outside of every restaurant and bar. Just the way the rest of the world lives.

Posted by
31318 posts

I've found in several countries (Austria also comes to mind) that the only way to avoid the smokers is to sit inside (even if it's a nice sunny day). I sometimes get some strange looks from the serving staff but when I explain my reasons, they understand. I detest sitting next to smokers!!!!

Posted by
796 posts

We lived in Paris and learned to forget eating outside because the French love their cancer sticks and with our allergies and aversion to dying a horrible cancer death due to second hand smoke, we decided it was best to eat in where it isn't allowed. It used to be far worse- they used to do it indoors and I remember feeling like I was suffocating once in a Paris restaurant when I was around 8. It is better to find other ways to people watch.

Posted by
1808 posts

Smoking is the national pastime in European countries. Sit upwind if you can.

Posted by
2799 posts

There are other risks to sitting outside, like pushy flower sellers of strolling guitarists who want to serenade ( for a fee). We now avoid these and sit inside, especially in Italy and Spain.

Posted by
16877 posts

On some issues, Rick waxes eloquent, but this one he kept short and sweet (p. 38): All café and restaurant interiors are smoke-free. Today the only smokers you’ll find are at outside tables, which--unfortunately--may be exactly where you want to be.

I have tried selecting a table that looked "safe" from smokers, but that never lasts; they always turn up.

Posted by
1808 posts

We were sitting at a cafe to eat dinner and two young girls sat down next to us. The had one beer and chain smoked for the next hour and a half. I was hoping they would get lung cancer and die before my food came but, no such luck.

Posted by
11275 posts

"I have tried selecting a table that looked "safe" from smokers, but that never lasts; they always turn up. "

Too funny - that's exactly my experience! I always think I can outwit them, but I never can, and now favor sitting indoors just to avoid the smoke.

Posted by
3 posts

Currently in Cinque Terre Italy (June 2015) there are many smokers partaking in outdoor cafes and bars throughout- I'm surprised to see a reply that says Italy banned smoking here in these places because there's not any heed being taken! We try to sit up wind of them whenever possible.

Posted by
8889 posts

smoreau, smoking is banned inside restaurants and other public buildings. It is not banned outside in the street. And the seating outside a restaurant, café or bar counts as part of the public street. I don't know anywhere that bans smoking in the streets (unfortunately).

Posted by
26369 posts

smoreau,

it is, as you say, in those places, not outside.

Posted by
11613 posts

I have been in Italy since May 10 and smoking is permitted at all outdoor restaurants/bars I've been to so far.

Posted by
5085 posts

Tip for anyone who enjoys breathing: when visiting lovely European countries, always, ALWAYS be aware of the wind direction.

Posted by
8 posts

In Paris, we have noticed more smokers than in the Loire Valley. Being outside with a nice breeze seems to keep the smoke from hanging around. My wife and I always eat outside and enjoy the ambiance. It's France, live like a local!!!!!!!

Posted by
5663 posts

Chris. Re: " I don't know anywhere that bans smoking in the streets (unfortunately)."

Oregon US:
http://www.no-smoke.org/goingsmokefree.php?id=160
The law also prohibits smoking within 10 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes of workplaces or public places.

California:
http://www.blr.com/HR-Employment/Performance-Termination/Smoking-in-California#
Smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of main entrances, exits, operable windows, or ventilation system intakes.

Posted by
7205 posts

You do have to wonder why, in this age of so much information about cigarette smoke and cancer, why people still do it...and not just the old who can't break the addiction, but also the young and well educated.

Posted by
6888 posts

For me, the most annoying thing (because I'm well aware that sadly a café or terrace table is unlikely to be smoke-free, so I'm not even thinking about it) is that you can't walk down the street/sidewalk without getting puffed up. Since folks can't smoke inside, they smoke so much outside that you can't even WALK smokefree!!

Posted by
56 posts

You'd think that for all their early contributions & advances in culture & civilization, Europeans would be enlightened as to the long-proven negative impact of smoking on your health & the health of those around you? Sadly, through either ignorance or apathy, that's not the case, as they puff away. Even in Disneyland Paris, where there are designated areas for smoking, it's a request more than a rule that smokers confine themselves to those areas & if you're seated & waiting for a parade on Main Street & some inconsiderate local lights up, you're out of luck until they're out of cigarettes. It's very frustrating for more health conscious individuals, especially when traveling with children.

Posted by
4538 posts

The smoking rate in France overall is less than in Kentucky - although that has the highest percentage of smokers in the USA.

You cannot generalise about smoking prevalence across Europe as it varies as widely as it does in the USA.

The thing that is relatively unusual in France is the relative high percentage of young smokers.