Garçons...in Paris

et ça papotte... !

The classic French waiter, the “garçon” that Jean Paul Sartre modeled his character on in his book Existentialism is an intricate part of the Paris café culture. The use of the word ‘garçon’ under the Ancien Régime in France (with the meaning of valet), came from his marital status. A ‘garçon’ was first of all a young unmarried man (cf. the expression "he is still a boy"). And the servants of the farm were and should remain, with rare exceptions, single. They were housed by their "master". Just like the servants in town. Getting married was about settling independently. Today, this word is not much appreciated by the staff and you better not use it. The same goes for snapping your fingers. The recent café etiquette requires that you call him 'Monsieur'! or just raise your hand and say 's’il vous plaît'!


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