"Place your bread directly on the tablecloth rather than on your plate. If there is a bread plate provided, you can use that."As for the "if" cited by eHow, there is rarely a bread plate provided at French restaurants. I recently returned from eight days in Bordeaux and Bretagne, and only once did I eat at a restaurant or brasserie that provided a bread plate on the table.
"How to Follow French Table Manners," from eHow.com
It didn't seem to matter where I dined — large city or village, Michelin-starred restaurant or small village bistro — bread plates were almost never to be found. It's one practice (or lack of practice) that seems to be holding firm over there.
Some French restaurants in the U.S. do without bread plates, but it is much more common to see a bread plate on this side of the Atlantic than on the other.
Either way, it's no big deal to me. I am far more concerned about the quality of the bread itself than I am about whether it will rest on a plate or a tablecloth.