What kind of napkins do the French use?

By Mathilde Vuillemenot | Last update on August 30, 2023

If you're preparing a French table setting, there's an important detail to consider: the napkins. Napkins are the detail that everybody notices, like a little surprise that each guest discovers when sitting.

In this video, I'm sharing the different styles of napkins the French use. You'll be delighted to use French napkins every day and when you receive guests for get-togethers lunches or fancy dinners.


The first thing to know is that the French use cloth napkins. Paper napkins are mostly used for picnics. For everyday use and dinners with family and guests, the ‘tradition’ is to have cloth napkins.

There are 4 main styles of French cloth napkins. They correspond to the French decor styles: French bistro, French country, Provence and French chateau. The style of the napkins is always in line with the style of the table setting, it’s a question of harmony. Let's deep dive into the 4 styles of napkins.  

  • The French bistro style will transport you to a bistro in Paris, like in the movie Amelie. For a bistro style table, I recommend napkins with the red color. In can be in plain red, or in white and red.
  • The French country style is the most popular, it’s a mix of rustic and chic. In this style, the key is the color palette with neutral or faded colors. So, for French country napkins, choose napkins in neutral colors like linen or beige, or French blue napkins with white stripes.
  • The Provence decorating style is colorful. For a Provence table setting, pick napkins with the traditional Provence patterns (Jacquard technique) and color (yellow).
  • French chateau decor style is inspired by the 18th century aesthetics. For a French chateau table, the best napkins are embroidered ones: napkins with an embroidered monogram or a floral embroidery or else embroidered pearls.

Et voilà! Now you know the kind of napkins the French use. For more inspiration regarding French napkins, read the article: Elevate your French table setting with French napkins.