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Frank Levin

My last dinner party in France at the home of a friend began with charcuiterie in amazing abundance and variety and with two wines to go with it. This went on for about an hour and I was pretty full from sampling the Sarthoise things on offer. I thought dinner was over, but then the main course appeared. I nearly fainted, but pressed on for another hour and two more wines. The, of course was a dessert and two more wines followed by a liquer which may or may not have been rocket fuel. Oh, yes I forgot the cheeses. I was happy that we were guest of the dinner host and only had to0 make it upstairs to bed. I can't imagine how I could have gotten anywhere after all that.

bonnie groves poppe

I've been in France ten years, and have hosted this type of "apero dinatoire" to great success. However, my guests are often expats from various European countries and they don't seem at all surprised by it. We sit outside on a covered terrace/summer kitchen with little tables about to hold the goodies. The French people present always take it in stride, and in fact I have only been to a few dinners, usually hosted by older people, that go through all the formal courses at a table. As a Californian, I also do BBQ for groups of friends, we can each cook our chosen food as we like it, I always have an assortment of meat and poultry there to choose. A European friend is having a *really big* birthday party next month, 40+ people, and she's having a "mechoui" done by a caterer who specializes in North African food. There will be tables for those who want them, but I think many people will sit and eat from their laps!
bonnie in provence


I have been to countless French dinner parties but never a dînatoire. It’s typical to have a “dînatoire” type apero chez our friends who live near Poitiers with drinks, chacuterie, and other munchies followed by an elaborate lunch in their garden. They would never skip the lunch, cheese and dessert courses even though, after the delicious “aperos”, I am quite satisfied and ready for a swim in their pool.


This looks so appetizing, Lynn ! It certainly is less work than having to prepare a 3 or 4-course meal for guests but I still think it’s so much nicer to sit round a table to eat rather than having to balance a plate on your lap while holding a fork in one hand (unless one uses one’s fingers) and a glass in the other hand.


This is what we have experienced on the Côte d’Azure. Friends gather on a terrace for an apero which morphs into a impromptu meal with a combination of prepared and easily put together dishes, including bbq at times. The first time this happened I had to check the definition of “apero” after we staggered home at 11:00 pm! I’ve never heard of it referred to as an apero dinatoire, but that’s certainly what they are.

Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets)

We've enjoyed several Aperitif Dinatoires with friends in Aix, both at their homes and ours. I do feel,though, that sometimes creating all of those tasty and varied nibbles can be more work than making a multi course meal!


Dear Lynn,they say you eat with your eyes,and WOW!!Those gorgeous hors d'oeuvres are making my mouth water! Yum!
Now absolutely looking forward to Marion's dinatoire receipes!
Thank you both!
We had relatives in (then)Yugoslavia(now Serbia) and enjoyed very similar type of entertaining.One popular way of doing things was to put the "goodies" on a large table,beautifully arranged(bien sur!),a runner underneath,complete with assorted beverages,and pretty napkins.
i really liked having the cooking and prep all done beforehand so we could be free to chat with guests and enjoy.

Sue J.

Thank you for the Wright book recommendation. A delightful human and a droll writer.

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