The beautiful thing about the different countries of the world is that there's a diversity in cultures. No two places are exactly the same, which makes traveling and relocating to different places all the more exciting and educational. Though this also requires many people to act differently in various countries. Let's focus on France, for instance. In a country rich in culture and heritage, you're expected to act a certain way in order to not just blend in here, but also to avoid offending the locals. So to help you out, here are what's considered good and bad manners in France.
You're in France! Of course, it'd be good manners to speak in their native language. It's not necessarily a requirement, per see, but the French would highly appreciate if you, at the very least, learned a little of the language. Most especially if you're going to relocate here
and hopefully find a job
. Fortunately, many cities have great French-language schools
, not the least of which is the capital city, Paris. These institutions will teach you well enough to, hopefully, be fluent in French soon.
Compliment The Host
When a person invited you his/her home, you ought to pay him/her a compliment. You don't have to sugarcoat what you say or anything like that. But just take note of the positive qualities of his/her home and mention them to your host/ess. At the same time, if you're invited for a dinner party or any sort of meal, know that your host/ess most likely worked hard on preparing the menu. It won't hurt you to share some kind words about them as well!
Use Your Fork on Salads
The French are very particular about dining etiquette. The country's capital city, Paris, is considered the 'food capital of the world,' after all! It shouldn't surprise you that the way you eat will catch people's attention. So in this regard, do know that you ought to only use your fork on your salads, as well as other more tender dishes such as a thin slice of pizza, prosciutto, cheese, and more. Using a spoon for such would get you a lot of weird looks, believe that!
Sending Flowers as a Thank You
You don't have to send a huge bouquet or anything like that. Just a nice bunch of flowers from your nearest shop or stall. Though it's better if you bring the bouquet when you go to your host/ess's place, there's no etiquette law barring you from sending the flowers after the event instead. It's a small but impactful gesture that your host/ess will appreciate very much. And it's more common in the country than you might realize.
Men Helping Women Take a Seat
Chivalry isn't dead in France! A lot of men still act very gentlemanly to women, not the least of which during a meal. Simply helping a woman take a seat right before he does may seem nothing at first—to some, it might even feel outdated—but it's the norm here in France. Whether it's in a fancy restaurant
or a humble café if you're a man and you won't help your female companion take a seat before you do, expect a lot of glares all-meal-long.
Drinking Before Anyone Else
Drinking, especially drinking wine
, is very important to the French. It's part of their daily culinary routine. And when you're invited to a dinner party, if your glass gets poured and you take a sip before everyone else, you'll hear a lot of gasps, see a lot of glares, and will feel like the tiniest person in the room. Drinking before anyone else, most especially if you're not the host/ess, is considered bad manners. For the French, it conveys an expression of selfishness.
Eating Food with Your Hands
Even though most French dishes and delicacies, from the most exotic cheeses
to the most classic pastries
, can be eaten by hand, the French don't do that. Or, at the very least, avoid eating with their hands as much as possible. You'll see them use a knife and fork for everything, even when it'll be easier for them to use their hands instead. It's simply bad manners to do so, most especially in public places. So as much as possible, don't eat with your hands in France!
Holding Potluck Dinners
The French are very particular with food. That can't be stressed enough! So if you invite people over for lunch or dinner, never, under any circumstances, ask them to bring food. Potluck isn't a thing in France. When you ask people over, they expect you to put in the effort of preparing all the refreshments you'll serve, be they appetizers, multiple-course meals, or even just a batch of pastries or something!
Share the Bill Based on What You Ordered
in France are already quite high to many, so when splitting the bill, do so equally. It's not considered polite to ask your companions to contribute based on what they ate. That's simply not how it goes here. The notion may seem fair, yes, but it's considered rude if you do it to the French. So, for instance, if the total bill is €300.00 and there are three of you who ate. Regardless of the price of your respective orders, you have to contribute €100.00 each. No more, no less!
Mixing Your Professional with Personal Concerns
With how they greet (kissing on both cheeks) and their views on romance and passionate love, it's easy to think that you can get as close as you can with the French in their country, right? Well, not at work, you can't! It's extremely taboo to mix your personal and professional lives in France, most especially if you're in the corporate world. You can consider your co-workers as colleagues and acquaintances, but anything beyond that would be too scandalous and probably controversial in the office!
If you think the French are snobby and snooty just like the stereotypes you see on TV or in movies, well, it's probably because what you're doing is actually rude to them! There are different things that are considered good and bad manners in France. The more you know about them, the better!
Do you know what's also rude? Going to France and not booking a luxury rental
for your home here! Go do that the next time you visit the country!