Tips to Host a French Themed Dinner Party

I miss traveling. The anticipation when planning a trip, foreign foods, experiencing new places, meeting people around the world. I miss it all. Undoubtedly, you do too.

While countries outside the United States may be closed for now, we can still create our own foreign getaway at home. 

A few years ago I spent the summer in Paris. The City of Light is known for its fashion, cosmopolitan vibrancy, and delicious food! While there, I learned how the Parisians entertain. It’s easy!

So, if we can’t go to Paris, let’s bring Paris to us!

Call a few friends to join you for a Parisian evening.  There are a few basic customs and items you’ll need to add oh la la to your fun party! I’ve included links to help you find pieces that will make your gathering truly French.

Here are tips on how you can host a French themed dinner party!

Tips to host a French dinner party - table

Dinner Party Ambiance ~ Lighting, Music and Flowers

The French are masters of presentation. They take a simple gesture and make it spectacular. Candlelight is a must on any table. Turn down the lights and place a few candles down the center.

Voluspa suede blanc candle ~This beauty has a subtle scent and gorgeous packaging. Burn time is 100 hours, so you’ll have it for many different occasions.

Voluspa Goji & Taracco candle in a red jar ~The crimson color will add a pop of color to your table.

Taper candle holder set ~A classic set of white taper candleholders are truly elegant.

Good candles for a dinner party

Music playing softly in the background sets the mood at a dinner party.

Whether you use a streaming audio service or old fashion CD’s, choose a genre that evokes an evening in Paris. Two of my favorite are:

Karrin Allyson ~ From Paris to Rio ~Multilingual smooth jazz, Allyson sings in French, Portuguese and English.

Springtime In Paris: ~My husband gave me this CD years ago and I love it! World renown musicians such as Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong, Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf contribute to this great mix of French songs.

Fresh flowers are a staple in all Parisian homes.

Flowers for a French dinner party

Pick up a few bunches of flowers. Keep the arrangements low on the table so people can see over them when conversing with other guests. Tall, full bouquets in adjacent rooms around the house are perfect for statement pieces.

Table setting for a dinner party

Setting the Table for Your Dinner Party

A French table setting is simple, yet elegant. It doesn’t require over the top dishes or ornate linens. Tastefully paired glassware, plates, and accoutrements are all you need.

Here are a few key quintessential French pieces. 

Plates, tablecloth, napkins, & tumblers for dinner party



French country table cloth ~ When visiting a café or dining along the River Seine, these cotton cloths adorn the tables. They’re sturdy and sport red horizontal stripes. The pattern is clean and classic.

Dinner plates ~ French dinner plates are usually white and smaller than in the United States. Instead of our customary 10”, their’s are 8”.  This allows diners to have a few dishes with food samplings. Similar to tapas in Spain. You can taste a little bit of everything. The plates I’ve linked here are perfect for your table setting.

Duralex Picardie clear tumblers ~ These are the original French drinking glasses. They’re on every families table and are synonymous with Parisian dining. The sturdy tumblers will last forever!

Flip top glass water bottles ~ Another staple in French homes and cafés. Europeans always have water on the table along with dinner drinks. Place a few bottles around for guests to keep their water glass full.

Honeybee design cloth napkins ~ Most countries in Europe, including France, rarely use paper napkins. They prefer more refined cotton napkins. I love these honeybee patterned serviettes! The bee motif is popular throughout the country. It is believed to be one of the oldest symbols of French royalty.

Charcuterie board

The Party Meal

The food presentation is part of the decor at your dinner party. An array of colorful courses is both pleasing to the palate and the eyes.

Serve mini courses throughout the evening.

Start with a charcuterie board. Place sliced meats, olives, cornichon pickles, boiled shrimp, smoked salmon, dried fruits, nuts, crackers, any finger food you’d like on a beautiful board. Guests can nibble at this while having an aperitif. Perhaps a bit of champagne. Provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Next, serve a leafy salad with a variety of lettuces. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette dressing and toss. Make sure to put fresh ground pepper on top and a light sprinkle of salt such as Maldon Sea Salt.

French bread, olive oil, and bread basket

The main course — or plat principal can be a coq au vin or beef bourguignon served with a crispy French baguette.

Warm bread served in a French bread basket should accompany the dish, along with olive oil in a beautiful dispenser to dip the pieces.

Marie Antoinette salt & pepper shaker, rooster apron, cutting board, Maldon Sea Salt

Add a bit of whimsy to the dinner party with a Marie Antoinette salt and pepper shaker. Don a rooster apron, another popular motif in France.

Have a selection of wine for your guests ranging from white, rose, and red. Non-drinkers can enjoy club soda with a hint of menthe, framboise or fraise syrup.

After dinner, the French serve a cheese course. Roquetfort, brie, boursin, and cantal (similar to cheddar) are just a few. Place grapes, sliced pears or peaches alongside the fromage.

French pastries, coffee cups, French press

Dessert can be pastries you pick up at the market such as éclairs, macaroons, or crème brûlée. Provide coffee. A French press is one of the easiest ways to make a delicious authentic pot of European coffee.  Serve in cute cups with illustrations of Parisian landmarks.

Most importantly, make sure you have time to spend with your guests.

Prepare as much of the food as possible ahead of time. This way you can enjoy the evening and your guests.

Bon Appétit!

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