The mission of the Fédération Tables & Auberges de France (hereafter called “the Federation”) is to value and promote the skills of professional caterers working in independent, traditionally-run restaurants or hotel-restaurants – ie those which do not belong to commercial chains – both in France and abroad.
To become a member of the Federation a restaurateur or hotelier must agree to accept unannounced inspection visits by representatives of the Federation. The aim of these inspections is to uphold standards and maintain the reputation of the Tables & Auberges de France within view of public authorities and consumers alike.
SECTION I : PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
Article 1 : The restaurateur or hotelier must hold a relevant professional qualification (such as a diploma recognised by the government, or an authorised certificate in catering or hotel management). He or she must not only have experience in catering but also demonstrate a commitment to maintaining high professional standards.
If a professional caterer does not have a diploma but can demonstrate that he has been running the same establishment for more than 5 years, and that he enjoys a good local or regional reputation, the Federation may grant him special exemption from the preceding rule.
– Article 2 : The restaurateur or hotelier commits himself to maintaining and improving :
– the welcome, service and facilities offered to customers, which must include provisions for people with reduced mobility (except by special dispensation from the prefecture) and for children;
– the promotion of regional wines and other local products, emphasising their authenticity and quality;
– high standards of hygiene and fire safety in his establishment;
– the provision of tourist information about the region, by making brochures, leaflets and maps available to customers;
– the training of staff.
Article 3 : The restaurateur or hotelier promises to respond to a complaint by a customer according to the following procedure:
The Federation receives the complaint and replies to the customer, to acknowledge it, within 10 working days. It then passes the complaint on to the restaurateur or hotelier who must respond to it within 10 working days and send a copy of his response to the Federation.
If the restaurateur or hotelier does not respond to the complaint within the 10 days stipulated he will be prompted by the Federation to do within the following 4 working days.
If the restaurateur or hotelier still doesn’t respond, the Federation will send him the complaint by recorded delivery for a second and last time and give him 4 more days take action.
If the restaurateur or hotelier doesn’t respond within this final deadline the Federation can, as a last resort, write a letter of apology or explanation to the customer and make a commercial gesture such as refunding the price of the meal. This refund will be charged to the restaurateur or hotelier.
Article 4 : The restaurateur or hotelier must provide customers with reliable and objective information about the services available: in particular, signs advertising services offered and prices must be clear and easy to read.
The descriptions of all food and drinks available must conform to current regulations: region and local products must be very readily identifiable as such by the customer.
All dishes must be prepared by professional staff who make use of the best quality ingredients available and home-made sauces.
The tables in the dining room must have table clothes and linen napkins – with the exception of solid wood tables of intrinsic character, outdoor tables on a terrace and tables in restaurants classified as Table de Terroir or Auberges de Village.
SECTION II : INFORMATION FOR THE CONSUMER
Article 5 : With the aim of providing information to the public, the restaurants and hotels bearing the Tables & Auberges de France label are divided into six complementary categories:
Table de Prestige : Exceptional cuisine in which the best ingredients are transformed with outstanding skill.
Table Gastronomique : Creative and inventive cuisine in harmony with French culinary heritage.
Table de Terroir : Cuisine that values regional flavours and locally-sourced ingredients.
Bistrot Gourmand : Traditional cuisine (that may be refashioned by the chef) characterised by emblematic dishes.
Auberges de Village : A classification that aims to promote country inns and thereby encourage social and economic life in villages with less than 3,500 inhabitants. Traditional country cuisine is served (with dishes costing less that €20) and there are no more than 19 bedrooms if it is a restaurant with rooms.
Hôtelleries de France : Independent hotel without a restaurant benefitting from a new hotel classification. It offers guests advice about high-quality traditional local restaurants.
SECTION III : SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE RESTAURANT OR HOTEL
Article 6 : The restaurant or hotel must, whenever possible, be well integrated into the immediate environment so as not to cause nuisance through noise, unpleasant smells or the impairing of views.
Article 7 : The various areas of the restaurant or hotel should be kept perfectly clean and in a good general state of maintenance.
Article 8: The staff must have the professional skills and knowledge necessary to carry out their work efficiently and offer the best possible welcome and service to the customer. (It is recommended that at least one person on the staff speaks a foreign language).
Article 9 : The outside facilities, the interior decoration, the floor and wall coverings and the furniture must all be in a style in harmony with the restaurant’s level of comfort and services.
SECTION IV : EXPULSION OR RESIGNATION
Article 10 : Any restaurateur or hotelier who infringes these rules, or who has damaged or tried to damage the brand image of the Tables & Auberges de France label, could, after careful consideration, be expelled from the Federation.
Article 11 : The procedure for expulsion is as follows :
After receiving three complaints from customers in a period of less than two months, the Federation will arrange a secret inspection of the restaurant or hotel.
If this inspection visit confirms the customers’ complaints, or if the establishment is found to be below the standards expected in its sector of the market, the Federation will contact the manager and suggest a plan of action plan to resolve the problem according to an agreed timetable.
The restaurateur or hotelier will be obliged to meet the cost of this secret visit which will serve to verify the efficiency of actions subsequently taken.
The restaurateur or hotelier will be given one month to draw up the plan of action and submit it to the Federation, accompanied by a letter in which he promises to put the plan into practice within two months.
After this period has passed another secret visit will take place. If the problem has been solved the expulsion procedure will be aborted. If, on the other hand, the problem persists, the Federation will announce the expulsion of the hotel or restaurant.
Article 12 : If a restaurateur or hotelier is expelled from the Federation he must return all promotional material that he or she was previously given, including the bronze plaque, the sign, the sticker and the illuminated sign – all of which remain the property of the Federation at all times.