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Home / French Culture / L’Apéritif: the French Happy Hour

L’Apéritif: the French Happy Hour

What do French people talk about, when they are not arguing over the menu of their next lunch or trying to decide what wine would be the best for dinner? They’re getting ready for the Apéritif of course!

This very special time of the day is a little bit like “Happy hour”, except Apéritif can be served anywhere, from a café to your living room (and any way, who wants to be happy only an hour a day? At least the Aperitif time rings twice a say, at noon and at 7 pm!).

“Prendre l’apéro” is much more than just emptying a glass of alcohol. It’s a special time, before lunch or dinner, when you unwind from the last few hours, and enjoy this moment to connect with those who are sharing this moment with you.

In a nation obsessed with good food, it’s also a great excuse for sharing small pleasures to eat. So of course, French people had to create a whole range of special foods you should have for this special moment. Go to any grocery store or supermarket in France, and you will see at least one whole aisle dedicated to all the good things you can have pour l’apéro. Any French pantry is stuffed with special nuts, savory cookies, or spreads, to be served in case some one showed for apéritif.

The most common are pâté or rillettes, pork charcuteries. Spread it on a slice of good plain bread, or some special toast, add a sliced cornichon on top of it, and your French friends will feel “comme à la maison”, just like home!
Then, you can also have different treats depending on where you come from…
In Burgundy, Gougères (cheese puffs) are mandatory to eat with a glass of the local cocktail, kir (white Burgundy wine with crème de cassis, blackcurrant liquor).
In the South of France, where a glass of Pastis is all the rage, tapenade is always served. This olive spread is perfect just like this, on a toast. But it can be even better with some slices of goat cheese and a few drops of a good olive oil…

So what are you waiting for? Be French for a day, invite your friends for an Apéritif! This more casual time is often used as a way to meet people for the first time, and invite people over that you don’t know that well. After a few drinks and some great conversation, who knows, they could turn into great friends, and might stay for dinner!

Cheers!


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