Etiquette and Customs in France
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Etiquette and Customs in France

The French culture has formal rules when it comes to etiquette and customs. If you are traveling to France for business , study abroad, or for leisure, it is important to understand the customs and etiquette of France. What do you need to know about the etiquette and customs of France? The following article explains basic etiquette for greeting, business, gift gifting, etc.

The French culture has formal rules when it comes to etiquette and customs. If you are traveling to France for business, study abroad, or for leisure, it is important to understand the customs and etiquette of France.

Meeting and Greeting

The handshake is the common form of greeting in French culture. It is common for friends to greet each other by lightly kissing each other once on both cheeks.  First names are reserved for close friends and family members. Therefore, you should call someone by their title and surname until you are invited to call the person by their first name. 

Giving Gifts

If you choose to give flowers, you should give them in odd numbers. However, you should avoid giving 13 flowers because the French consider this to be unlucky. It is important to choose your flowers wisely and avoid giving white lilies and chrysanthemums because they are used at funerals. Also, red carnations symbolize bad luck, and white flowers are generally used at weddings. If you choose to give wine, make sure that it is of high quality.

Dining Etiquette

If you are invited to a French home for dinner, you should make sure that you arrive on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, you should call your host or hostess to explain why you are going to be late. However, in southern France, your host or hostess might be more flexible on the time. 

The French are very fashion-conscious. Therefore you should dress well and appropriately. The French’s view of casual is not the same as western countries. 

Business Etiquette

The French believe that appointments are important, and these should be made at least two weeks in advance. You should avoid scheduling business meetings in July and August, because this is usually vacation time. 

If you are late for a business meeting, you should call and offer an explanation.  Business meetings are used as a time to discuss problems, not to make decisions. In addition, avoid exaggerating claims because the French do not appreciate hyperboles. When attending a business meeting, here are a few important points to remember. Although business persons should wear conservative business attire to the initial meeting, how you dress for future meeting depends upon the dress code and personality of the company in which you are conducting business with.

Men should wear dark-colored conservative business suits to the initial meetings. Women should wear business suits or elegant dresses in soft colors. Wear high quality accessories.

Business cards are exchanged after the initial introduction. You should make sure that one side of your business card is translated in French. Although this is not necessary, it shows that you pay attention to details, and this gesture will be appreciated by your clients. If possible, be sure to include any advanced academic degrees on your business card.

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