French culinary culture focuses heavily on the consumption of bread, but unlike in some dining contexts in the United States, a basket of bread on a table is meant to accompany a meal rather than serve as an actual appetizer. It may be seen as a faux pas for a foreign diner to immediately dig into bread when it's set down on a table, especially if this happens before any other food or beverage has been brought out.
Bread can be seen as a sort of side dish to the other food that gets consumed at the typical French meal, though breakfast is a notable exception to this, as French breakfasts typically consist of some sort of bread and a beverage. Bread is also usually not served with butter in many parts of France, especially Paris, except at breakfast. French waiters will serve butter on request, but those who want the authentic local dining experience should go with the flow, whether there's butter on the table or not. Though they don't consume it in the same way that Americans do, French people tend to have a great appreciation for bread, and visitors to that country should take the opportunity to try authentic French breads while they can.