What you need to know about eating during your France, Switzerland, Italy and San Marino Tour

A trip through some of the most fascinating countries in Europe will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience- and eating will be a big part of it. When it comes to this three-country tour, you’ll enjoy food as varied as the incredible sights you’ll get to see.

The tour starts at France, a country so famous for its food you could travel there solely to eat. The French usually eat three times a day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is usually light, and while it might be included by your hotel, you could also go out and get it at any corner café; most of the time, it consist of an assortment of bread with butter or jam, croissants, and either juice or coffee or hot chocolate. As for lunch, it should be noted that it’s usually served between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm, and you’ll rarely find places serving it later than that. French lunch typically consists of a starter, the main course, a cheese course and dessert. The type of food you’ll be served depends on the restaurant, and many places offer “le Menu du Jour”, the day’s menu, with a special fixed menu available for that specific day. The French take eating seriously, so rest-assured the quality of your food will be excellent. As for dinner, for some people in France it’s considered the main meal of the day, and while it’s usually served between 7:30 pm and 8:45 pm, some restaurants start serving at 8:00 pm and expect it to be an almost night-long event. Eating out for dinner is considered a special social event, and can last for almost three hours and consist of three to five course meals, with varying levels of luxury depending on the restaurant you choose.

After such an awe inspiring experience at France, your palate will have time to relax at the Alpine sceneries of Switzerland. The Swiss have an uncomplicated but cosmopolitan perspective on eating, and while they have five meals through the day, they are simpler than the ones you could find at neighboring countries. On week-days, the Swiss have fast and early breakfasts, from 6:00 to 7:30am before going to work or study, it consists of what might find anywhere else, bread, cereal and the like accompanied by juice or coffee. However, on weekends and specially Sundays, they take time to relax and enjoy a fuller meal, and brunch is a welcome tradition. After the first meal, the Swiss usually take a break from work or studies for their 9am meal, which typically consists of some fruit or croissants, and either a warm coffee or tea or some juice. By midday, every activity ceases from 12pm to 1pm as the Swiss have their lunch and relax. At this time, most stores close and some people even consider it rude to make business phone calls or interrupt anyone during their rest-exclusive time. As for the menu, people usually eat varied and international dishes, which nevertheless shouldn’t stop you from trying a local dish at a traditional restaurant. Around 4pm, the Swiss have their second snack break to have something small, a fruit or even some ice-cream if it’s the summer. At the end of the day, the Swiss tend to eat something light and cold, either different kinds of cheese and other cold cuts and some bread with butter or jam accompanied by a warm drink.

When you think of Italy, you think of eating. Italians take a big pride in their food, and traditions associated with it are not only varied and rich, but also specific to every region, town –and even family! So while you’re there take time to discover and enjoy their rich gastronomic culture. Breakfast in Italy is usually on the sweet side, with pastries accompanied by coffee, some ham and cheese bread will be the dish most similar to the usual saltier breakfasts you might be accustomed to. Lunch is the first big meal of the day, and Italians take usually a long time both to prepare and consume it. It consists of an appetizer usually consisting of some drink, a heavier starter, first and second courses,  a side-dish, salad, a course solely consisted of local cheese, dessert, coffee and a drink served to conclude the meal, usually some alcoholic beverage special for digesting a big meal. Enjoying food and company is a big part of Italian culture of eating, so don’t rush and make the most of each experience. An important detail: what you may know as Italian food abroad might not exist in Italy, for one, and also you’ll rarely find more food dressing beyond olive oil, as Italians give a lot of importance to enjoying the original taste of each ingredient. Not that you’ll miss either, as Italian food is delicious enough as it is! Lunch in Italy is considered the most important meal of the day, and most stores and places close from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, the time is served at. At the end of the day, dinner may be slightly lighter than lunch, however some Italians are ready to repeat a multi-course meal like the one served by midday.

Enjoy your tour, and Bon Appétit! / En Guete! / Ä Guetä! / Buon appetito! 

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