French restaurant bans mobile phones at the table… and ketchup and Coca-Cola

The Local
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French restaurant bans mobile phones at the table… and ketchup and Coca-Cola

The owner of a restaurant in the south of France has made the national headlines after he imposed a ban on diners using their mobile phones in a bid to make the atmosphere more convivial. And he’s also banned ketchup and Coca-Cola.


The Petit Jardin restaurant in the quiet village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert in southern France has been in the news this week.

That’s because the owner Hean-Noël Fluery has imposed some rather strict rules on diners. 

Fleury has decided to ban clients from using mobile phones at the table. He says it’s all in the name of conviviality and fun.

The owner has decided to use a football-style card system whereby waiters will blow a whistle and show a yellow card to someone caught using their phone. If they are caught again then it will be red, meaning the culprit will be asked to leave the restaurant.

The restaurant owner told The Local that staff have been forced to "send off" a few diners.

"Some have refused to put down their phones and said they don't like the rule and have left," he said. "I don't mind, I'd rather people like that eat in another restaurant - there are three in the village.

"If they are in a bad mood or grumpy they should go. We explain the rules to them all when they come in," he said. "People accept having to turn their phones off when they go to the cinema or the theatre so why not restaurants?"

A board placed outside the restaurant lists all the rules imposed on diners.

(Photo: Screengrab: France 3)

But the owner says the system is working and anyone who is on the end of a “booking” (yellow card) normally puts their phone away for good.

“It’s a tradition in France to talk during meals,” he said. “As soon as we blow the whistle and show a card it gets the whole restaurant involved and even encourages dialogue between different tables.”

Fleury might have trouble persuading his diners to give up the bad habit, given that a recent survey revealed eight out of 10 French people used their mobile phones during dinner.

Young people, who are perhaps more attached to their phones, are already proving difficult.

“We have had some unpleasant comments on our Facebook page from young people who don’t like the ban and who have not appreciated being shown a card in front of others,” said Fleury.

But he also said some parents chose his restaurant specifically so they could have a meal without their children getting their mobile phones out.

The phone ban is not the only peculiar rule Fleury imposes. He has also banned Coca-Cola, Ketchup and Mayonnaise.

"We do it to promote local produce. We have good local fruit juices here that people can drink instead of Coke and we have Moutard a l'ancienne instead of Ketchup."

It's not the first time restaurants in France have cracked down on mobile phones. In 2014 The Local reported how top chefs in France were cracking down on so-called food porn.

Grumpy French chefs crack down on food porn





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