French eating customs and hours are pretty standardized throughout the country. Meal times in France are fairly predictable and it is rare to see people eating outside of the designated hours.
It is an amazing fact that if it is little after noon, the majority of people are sitting down eating. You could set your clock by this pattern.
So, what are the French eating patterns?
Breakfast, or le petit-déjeuner, is eaten early in the morning, soon after rising. It is almost always a fairly simple affair and typically other then heating water for hot drinks, the French do no cooking for this meal.
Even while working, the French will nearly always take at least an hour to eat at noon time or 12:30. This meal (called le déjeuner), although perhaps simplified with people's increasingly speedy lives, will still typically include three courses: a starter, a main plate, and a cheese or dessert course.
A goûter, or afternoon snack, will typically be offered to children at four in the afternoon. Some adults also enjoy a tea or coffee at this hour.
When entertaining, the French often have an apéritif, or before dinner drink with some finger foods, at 7 or so in the evening.
Dinner, called le dîner, is usually eaten at 7:30 or 8 at night. Parents of small children might feed the kids a bit earlier before sitting down to dinner themselves. Dinner is eaten slowly and once again several courses are usually enjoyed. The whole affair might take about an hour.
As you can see, traditional French eating customs are characterized by punctuality and taking the time to enjoy one's food and family.