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What are your rights in a restaurant?  Is  a  restaurateur responsible for your personal belongings? Can you require water when ordering food? A coffee ? Do you have the right to request an itemized invoice? Do you have the right not to pay for dishes that do not correspond to the menu description? In restaurants, the service is generally settled at the end of the meal. In case of malfunction, do we have to pay the bill? What can I do to dispute the grade?

As a general rule, if you have consumed  the entire meal served to you in a restaurant, you cannot leave without paying the bill. Indeed, once the restaurateur has fulfilled his main obligation to serve you the ordered meal, you are obliged to pay the bill. If you leave without paying the bill, you are committing an offense of fraud punishable by the penal code: you risk up to 6 months in prison and a fine of 7,500 euros.


As a consumer, you can dispute the rating. The reasons for this challenge must be objective. This is possible if there has been poor service: the dish arrived cold, the server made a mistake, etc. You can also contest the note if the legal obligations have not been respected: incomplete or not detailed enough, dish served not on the menu … In addition, insufficient hygiene can also be the subject of a dispute. However, we can not question the note for a matter of taste.


If you wish to dispute the quality of a dish, it is advisable not to consume it. Indeed, if you consume the dish, it is considered that you have accepted the service of the restaurateur and that the dish therefore had all the qualities that you could expect from it. If you encounter a problem of hygiene or non-compliance with legal obligations, you must immediately have your observations noted by the restaurateur and warn him that you will be obliged to seize the competent authorities: hygiene services or Management. General. Competition, consumption and fraud prevention (DGCCRF). In case of negligence, you must inform the restaurateur and ask him for reparation and compensation for this negligence (such as payment for linen).

Finally, to end this brief legal information, the law firm offers you a quiz.

Endless waits, misleading menus, supplements… In tourist areas, going to a restaurant can turn into a nightmare. To avoid getting there, Maître Grégory Damy, lawyer at the bar of Nice, enlightens you…

I have the right to sit two at a table of four: TRUE

If you insist, the restaurateur will not be able to refuse it. This refusal to sell would expose him to a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros (art. 225-1 of the Penal Code).

I have the right to dine in a gourmet restaurant with children: TRUE

If he refuses access to your children, the restaurateur incurs up to two years in prison and/or a fine of 30,000 euros (art. 225-1 of the Penal Code).

I have the right to leave if I am not served after more than forty-five minutes of waiting: TRUE

But pay for what you have already consumed, under penalty of being prosecuted for the offense of fraud (art. 313-5 of the Penal Code), and liable to a fine of 7,500 euros and six months’ imprisonment.

I have the right to refuse a salad with surimi when the menu announced crab crumbs: TRUE

No indication on the menu should be misleading or create confusion about the quality and origin of the products. This type of deception is punishable by a fine of 37,500 euros and/or two years’ imprisonment (art. L213-1 of the Consumer Code).

I have the right to refuse a dish that has just defrosted: TRUE & FALSE

It is not forbidden to serve a frozen meal. On the other hand, if this dish was presented to you as “fresh” or “of the day” on the menu, the restaurateur is guilty of the offense of deception.

I have the right to refuse to pay for the additional garnish: TRUE

Unless the price of this supplement is indicated on the card.

I have the right to refuse to pay for a carafe of water: TRUE

Under a 1967 decree, the “blanket” – included in the price – includes bread, tap water, cutlery, napkin and spices. If the restaurateur wants to charge you, the price must be mentioned on the menu.

I have the right to take away an unfinished bottle of wine: TRUE

Very common in many countries, this practice is legal and the restaurateur will not oppose it.

I have the right to get a discount if I sit near the toilet: FALSE

The restaurateur is not required to give you a specific table, especially during busy periods. If this does not suit you, you are free to change institutions.

I have the right to take only one starter or one dessert: TRUE

The restaurateur cannot require you to consume several dishes or force you to order a drink, except at the risk of a fine of 1,500 euros for subordinate sale (art. R121-13 of the Consumer Code).

What should I do if I find a hair or a cockroach in my dish?

Immediately show your discovery to the waiter who has to change your dish. From a legal point of view, you cannot demand free. But from a commercial point of view, the restaurateur has an interest in moving. In any case, negotiate with kindness…

DAMY law firm , Nice, “I have the right” to the restaurant; 2022 Update