They really place importance on making the most of their meal times.
The first few days I was in France, I was visiting Disneyland Paris for a work trip. I was really confused when we had three hours blocked off for dinner one evening.
I thought someone was going to speak, but it turned out that time was just meant for people to chat, network, and get to know one another.
I quickly learned that wasn’t a one-time thing. I noticed a lot of time and care was put into every meal experience, from the amount of time we spent eating to the atmosphere of the locations.
A few days into the trip, a Parisian told me it’s not uncommon for coworkers to go out to lunch every day for at least an hour to brainstorm and enjoy each other’s company. I was told that if I go to a restaurant, they’ll let me sit there for as long as I want until I ask for the check.
In the US, I’m so used to taking a quick 30-minute lunch break or reconfiguring my dining schedule to accommodate work events. I never realized I’m not appreciating the things I have around me enough. I’m just running quickly from one thing to the next without allowing myself to also absorb it.
The French dining experience was a bit of a wake-up call, encouraging me to slow down a bit while also inspiring me to be more present during meals and my time with others.