French Etiquette: The Dos 🇫🇷

French Etiquette: The Dos 🇫🇷

Dear readers, 

My recent trip to France was draped in exploring French etiquette customs and I can assure you - there is a lot to talk about!

Whether you’re planning a trip to France, hosting French guests, or simply want to embrace French customs, understanding local etiquette can make your interactions more pleasant and respectful. 

France is a big country and certain customs might differ depending on whether you are in the north or south, whereas others remain the same across the whole country. In today’s newsletter, I will share my observations from a week à la française:

In most social situations, especially among friends and acquaintances, it’s customary to kiss cheeks. The number of kisses varies by region (usually two, but sometimes three or four). It is important to mention that this is not an actual kiss, but rather an air kiss with cheeks gently touching each other.

European etiquette customs are widely influenced or even originate from France, thus showing proper manners when meeting the locals is a must. You can start with a simple greeting such as "Bonjour" (Good day) or "Bonsoir" (Good evening) when entering a café, restaurant or a shop. And remember to always express thankfulness by using "S'il vous plaît" (Please) and "Merci" (Thank you) generously.

In France, it’s polite to keep your hands visible with wrists resting on the table edge at all times. This habit originates from the aristocratic times, when members of the higher society feared for their life and didn’t want to get poisoned. Hence, every dining guest had to show their hand at all times. Beware, the wrists belong on the table in France, but not the elbows!

The French appreciate well-put-together attire. Even in casual settings, neat and stylish clothing is preferred. After all, their capital is the mecca of fashion, right? Especially after 6pm, it is good manners to switch shorts, tank tops or casual shoes for a more formal attire.

By embracing these dos of French etiquette, you’ll not only show respect for the French culture but also enhance your experience and interactions with the locals. Next week, we will look closely at the dont’s of French etiquette, so we can save ourselves from the literal French faux pas.

Yours sincerely,

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