It is easy to confuse menu (in English) with menu (in French). They are two different words. What is referred to as a menu in English is called a “carte” in French. In French the menu is a prix fixe choice of set menu items for a specific price. (The one price is for all the items listed for that particular prix fixe menu.)
First, you ask for the Carte to get a list of food offerings. Next, when you read the carte, you will see one or more menus offered at one or more prices. Each “menu” is quite specific as to what you may order, e.g. a starter, a main course and a dessert. You may have a choice of several items in each section . . . or for a very inexpensive prix fixe menu, you may have no choice at all. You take what they give you. (Don’t worry, it’s usually great.)
When you order a menu, you simply call it by the price, e.g. I would like the 25 euro menu. If there are choices on that menu, the waiter will then ask what you want in each section. If it’s a 25 euro menu, the cost is 25 euros for whatever is listed under that menu on your carte.
You will be charged for drinks unless they are listed as part of the menu. You may ask for a carafe of tap water and no one will think you odd. Ask for a “carafe d’eau.” If you just ask for water, you may get mineral water and it’s expensive.
You can also order “a la carte” or off the carte. Then you may choose anything you like. If you order several courses a la carte, it can be very expensive, often nearly twice as much as a menu. The prix fixe menu choices are a great bargain. In cheaper restaurants they are often the best tasting items on the menu because that is what the locals will order and the chef knows better than to provide poor food for his bread & butter clients.
A word to the wise: You will not get your bill until you ask for it. “L’addition, s’il vous plais.” The waiters will not interrupt your dinner or your conversation so you must ask for the bill. If you don’t, you may sit there all night waiting for it. Its’ considered rude to put it on the table while you are eating or talking . . . cultural difference.
The service charge is usually added to the bill . Check for the words “Service compris” or just “SC” to see if service is included. It is okay to round up the amount to the nearest euro.