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La salle de garde: bastion of the French lunch hour for junior doctors

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7123.1708 (Published 20 December 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1708
  1. Bernard D Prendergast, Medical Research Council French exchange fellow
  1. Institut National de la Santé et de la Récherche Médicale, Unite de Récherches sur la Biologie et la Pathophysiologie du Système Cardiovasculaire, Hôpital Lariboisière, 75010 Paris

The Parisian teaching hospitals are guardians of a number of proud traditions, including (predictably) catering arrangements for internes, or junior doctors, at lunchtime. La salle de garde, originally conceived in the mid-19th century to provide a convivial, mess-like facility for all doctors resident in the hospital, now functions as the junior doctors' dining room, where central funds finance a simple, sustaining midday meal. Originally a bachelors' preserve, each salle retained a refined ambience (albeit male oriented), being finely decorated in the style of la belle époque (around 1900). Nowadays, despite the advent of sexual equality, the prevailing atmosphere is somewhat akin to that of a rugby club late on a Saturday night. Artistic frescos have been replaced by lurid, semipornographic murals, which are updated regularly by students at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris to depict current members in various states of undress. Nevertheless, despite the passage of time, certain original rituals remain. Daily rituals

Daily rituals

Internes arrive from half past 12 onwards, and after ceremonially greeting everyone present with a tap on the shoulder take their place at table in …

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