Are bread and water "carafe" free in restaurants?

By habit, when the customer does not want to pay for his drink, he orders " a jug ».

But is this gratuitousness a use or can the restaurateur charge it?

Bubbles (CC mr_beaver)

Bubbles (CC mr_beaver)

Water and bread during a meal


With regard to free water and bread, Article 4 of theOrder No. 25-268 of June 8, 1967 (in its initial version) indicated that the price of meals included the cover, and that the latter included:

  • the bread ;
  • ordinary water (to understand water carafe Or tap water);
  • spices…

From then on, the situation was quite clear: bread and water decanter could not be paid during a meal !

I reproduce below this article (because I find a certain nostalgia to read these old articles, with their breakage period):

Article 4 of Order No. 25-268

Article 4 of Order No. 25-268

The situation today

Today, the situation is less clear.

Would this decree be repealed?

Some people think so ...

To support their arguments, the proponents of this abrogation emphasize that:

  • theOrder of 27 March 1987 introduced new rules for restaurant owners; and
  • the title of the latter order (ie " stopped [...] relating to the display of prices in establishments serving meals, foodstuffs or beverages to be consumed on the premises") Is identical to that of theOrder No. 25-268 of June 8, 1967.

Why this can be doubted

For my part, I really doubt this repeal!

Indeed, in French law, there are two repealing mechanisms:

  • the express repeal,
  • tacit abrogation.

Theexpress abrogation consists of a provision of a new law that removes / replaces the provisions of the old law by an appropriate formula (eg " Decree No. xxx is repealed " ) : It can not be any clearer…

Thetacit abrogation consists of the creation of a new law (not explicitly providing for repeal) but whose scope is inconsistent / contradictory with the old laws.

In this case, neither the criteria for express repeal nor the criteria for tacit abrogation are met in this case.

Water and bread outside any meal

On the other hand, the fate of water and bread consumed outside any meal is clearer.

There is no provision imposing to provide water or bread for free to a customer (especially if it does not consume).

Therefore, it is quite possible for a restaurateur / bartender to charge a glass of water (even if it contains tap water).

The only obligation he has is, as for any consumption, is to include his price on the menu (Article 3 of the Decree of 27 March 1987 or L113-3 of the Consumer Code).

That's all 🙂



  1. It feels like you are a restaurateur and you do not want to provide water for free to your customers.

    • Why provide free water? Are you going to a restaurant to scrape water? I go to the restaurant to have fun and choose a drink that will accompany a quality meal. It's quite pathetic this need to drink chlorinated water when France bottles spring water. We don't go to restaurants like we go to eat at the boarding school canteen. If we still dare to serve tap water to students today. Big country, small mentalities. And this law and its decrees which are not sufficiently clear. As an express fact of a political assembly unable to take a stand. As usual, political courage. Drink tap water, but stop making demands beyond your means.

  2. For information the website of the Ministry of the economy takes again the text of the decree of 1967 (which implies that it remains applicable):

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