In France, snacking is taken quite seriously. On an average working day, people get up and eat breakfast at the same time as the rest of the world – say 7-ish. They have lunch at roughly the same time as the rest of the world – say between noon and 1:00. And that’s where normal ends, particularly for school-age children, at least for an American kid like me. Because the school day doesn’t end until 6:00 for high schoolers, and 5:00 for middle school. Except on Wednesdays, when it finishes at noon. So dinner gets pushed back a bit, and kids of all ages have what is known as a goûter at 4:00. This isn’t so much a snack as it is a very small meal, usually involving exceptionally sweet things (another breakfast, then) like cookies and/or hot chocolate and/or pastries. Dinner isn’t served until 8-ish, and it tends to be very light by Anglo/American standards, so this is reasonably understandable.
I have to say, though, that one of the things I’m almost certain about is that eating late played a big part in my weight gain. That’s partly because it’s just not good for us to eat late, but it’s also because, as someone raised in the U.S., I am pretty attached to a substantial evening meal. I feel a bit swindled if after a long day’s work, all I get is a small bowl of vegetable soup or a salad and a slice of bread (for the French, there’s almost always charcuterie or cheese involved…maybe that makes up for the lack of carbs…).