French People Explain the Importance of Their Long Lunch Breaks

The French are famous for a few things. Fashion, food, art films starring Brigitte Bardot… But culturally, there aren’t many things more quintessentially French than long breaks from work.

In the summer, this translates to a month off from work. During the week, 35 hours instead of the American 40. But on a day to day basis, this means lunches, and long ones. According to French law, it is illegal to eat lunch at your desk or in a place where you work, a law disregarded by many (particularly now that France is making a big push for big business), but followed more often than not. While 20 minutes for lunch might not seem unorthodox in the States, an hour or even an hour and a half is not uncommon in France.

Fans of the custom say it’s healthier for workers than staring at a screen all day, and that it promotes more productivity because it refreshes employees. Detractors say it’s a sign of plain old laziness. But regardless of how you feel about it, long French lunches aren’t going anywhere.