Food and Drink For Members

Are 'doggy bags' taboo at French restaurants?

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Are 'doggy bags' taboo at French restaurants?
Take-away orders are prepared in Aubervilliers outside Paris on May 06, 2021 (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

Asking for a 'doggy bag' may have gotten you a weird look in France a few years ago, but that may be changing as the country tries to tackle food waste.


Asking for a 'doggy bag' - take-home boxes or bags for leftovers after you have had a meal at a restaurant - is less common in France than it is in the United States. 

The practice may not be as taboo as it is in Italy, but France does not have a tradition of 'doggy bags'. In fact, there isn't even a word for this in French - when talking about them French people use the English term.

You might be interested to know that doggy bags are masculine in French - un doggy bag.

This may have to do with portion sizes - Denis Courtiade, a restaurant manager at Alain Ducasse told Le Figaro in 2021 that "In the United States, Asia or even the Middle East, the portions are generous and the dishes intended to be shared by groups, whereas in France, the plates are generally less abundant and prepared in a more individual way."

Courtiade also pointed to manners, noting that "in many families, children are taught early to finish what is on their plates."

Doggy bags have also earned a bit of a bad reputation, with the people asking for them risking a 'penny-pincher' stereotype.

A 2014 study found that 15.1 percent of French people said that "asking for a 'doggy bag' makes you seem stingy". Another 11.1 percent percent of people went so far as to call it rude to ask for a doggy bag, 5.1 percent said it was unhygienic, and over a third of respondents (33.7 percent) called the practice 'useless'.

But attitudes have been changing in France when it comes to leftovers - some have pushed for the title 'gourmet bag' instead of American 'doggy bag' to encourage French people to take home their extra food.

There has also been legislative action - in 2016, the country passed a law aimed at combating food waste, which came into effect in 2021. It required that restaurants provide, for customers who request them, reusable or recyclable containers to take away uneaten food. 


On top of that, the pandemic has helped to make people more accustomed to food in a reusable box and restaurants switched to takeout services.

The French takeaway market was worth €7 billion as of 2022 and expected to continue growing and reach €9.2 billion by 2026, according to reporting by BFMTV.

The fight against food waste

As of 2023, 10 million tonnes of food waste was still generated per year in France year, representing an estimated commercial value of €16 billion.

On average, about 157 grams of food were wasted per meal as of 2021, with food waste in restaurants being five times the level than food waste at home, according to Le Point.


There has been more legislation on the anti-waste front, including the wide-ranging Loi relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage et à l'économie circulaire (law on anti-waste and towards a circular economy, also called "loi Agec") which was passed in 2020 and phases in new measures up until 2026.

READ MORE: Plastic bans to repair bonus: How France's anti-waste laws work

One measure prohibited fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's from using disposable tableware and cups for meals served on site. As such, any restaurant with more than 20 seats, which also includes work canteens and bakery chains, was forced to provide reusable and washable tableware for customers dining in.

Vocabulary help

Est-ce que je peux emporter mes restes à la maison ? - Could I please take home my leftovers?

À emporter - Takeaway

Est-ce que je pourrais avoir une boîte pour mes restes ? - Could I have a box for my leftovers?

Est-ce que je peux avoir un doggy-bag ? - Could I have a doggy bag?

Do you get doggy bags when eating out in France? Share your experiences in the comments section below


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Susan 2024/01/31 22:24
Most French portions around here are appropriate for a greedy me but steaks, which I love, can often still be far too large, so I now carry a ziplock bag into which the unconsumed meat can be easily and surreptitiously transferred - and yes it does then end up in one very happy doggy.
Pam Gully 2024/01/26 19:10
Yes, there's a restaurant, near our home in Nouvelle-Aquitaine that serves huge portions that I cannot finish. It is daunting to ask to take the rest home, as the restaurant calls them 'piggy bags', but I do. The bag I take home, when reheated, is enough for lunch, the next day.
Christopher 2024/01/18 20:42
Recently, at a local resto where I am known, I was offered a carton to take home the uneaten remains of an unusually generous plate. No pretence about a dog.
Joan Jenkinson 2024/01/15 18:38
Never had a problem asking for or receiving a ‘doggy bag’ here in the Dordogne. As I get older I can no longer eat large meals so for me works well.
Richard 2024/01/15 18:23
I think this is not so much an issue of the manners or traditions of French restaurants as one of the outrageous portions served in American restaurants. French restaurants tend to serve sensible size portions, so there is no need to take uneaten food home. I also think the idea of taking home part of your meal home, presumably to microwave later, is completely disgusting.
Patricia Smothers 2024/01/15 17:22
Yes, I do request to take my uneaten food home with me on occasion for many reasons. French portions have grown larger and larger. For my own health, I do not want to overeat and throwing it away creates more problems for handling waste.
Michelle 2024/01/15 16:44
Let's go one step further and normalise bringing your own container to the restaurant for either a doggy bag or importer in order to reduce plastic waste and takeaway container waste. I live in the 10th and have hit and miss experiences with this. Some don't even question it while others refuse to fill my clean container because it is "unhygienic".
Rebecca Brite 2024/01/15 16:38
The pandemic changed the situation enormously. I've always asked to take away my leftovers except in higher-end places, where in any case there's seldom anything left. But restaurants often used to jury-rig containers out of aluminum foil or whatever. Now almost everyone has special boxes.
Jane 2024/01/15 16:11
Let’s get rid of the term “doggy bag” in both languages. Inappropriate, unattractive, and mostly not what happens to “les restes.” I have not taken Les restes from a restaurant in France because the portion sizes are appropriate, but I wouldn’t be averse to asking for a box in some situations.

See Also