Being attached to an intellectual french lady, it was made quite clear that apéros started at six or seven and lasted for an hour.
For canapés, google apéro dinatoire. Most decent supermarkets will have ready made selections.
For drinks, a fruit punch and kir with sirop de cassis or crème de cassis (crème is alcoholic). Kir Royale is with sparkling wine.
In the Charente, you may be offered Cognac with Schweppes in tall glasses! This seems to be a favourite of the Conseil Général, at functions.
Also in les Charentes, you will find Pineau des Charentes, which is a blend of cognac and grape juice, and not wine, as some expats assume, thinking it is similar to sherry or port.
In Normandy and Brittany, you will find Fine de Maine, which is a version made with calvados and apple juice. Sometimes called Pommeau de Normandie.
Armagnac is a “brandy” made in the departments of Gers, des Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. Contrary to popular expat belief, it is made from wine.
If you have invited “unassimilated” expats, then you may have to have some gin and tonics on hand.
Drinks served at apéros are restricted to apéritifs, which do not spoil the wine served with the following meals, so serving straight sprits is a no no.
Rarely do apéros involve some of the guests staying behind for a meal.
If you are pally with locals who have their own private vines, you may be presented with bootleg versions of the various eaux des vie, some of which are made from cherries or plums, which are exceptionally strong: so beware!
If you are serving foie gras, you will need to have on hand, Montbazillac or a Sauterne.
Traditionally it is not good manners to bring a “bottle”, when arriving for apéros or, for that matter, dinner: one brings a small gift.
The French have a saying “come with your hands in your pockets”! Bringing a bottle is interpreted as indicating the host can’t afford to supply the drink!
This “bring a bottle” business, seems to be confined to the english speaking world!