Etiquette et savoir vivre

Etiquette and social customs are important in any society and essential to life in France. France prides it self on social etiquette, manners and politeness, as a refined society and reflection of your social esteem.

When in France or amongst French peoples these codes and conventions govern behavior of individuals in public life. Ignorance of some social graces may be an indication of lack of civility, grace, education or qualities.

Etiquette seen as important by the French

Some basics

  • punctuality: arrive at the correct time for an appointment
  • telephone calls: it is impolite to call a friend after 10pm in the evening.
  • spitting: this is seen as the height of rudeness and is strictly forbidden.
  • burp: do not burb in public with out excuses
  • yawn: when yawning in public, one must place their hand over the mouth
  • sneeze: it is polite to sneeze discreetly and cover with a tissue
  • crossing the road: in the street it is most polite to cross at the lights or the designated crossing zone
  • public transport: refrain from loud conversations, it is polite to offer your seat to someone elderly, frail, pregnant woman or a child
  • staring: it is considered rude to stare at someone in the street or in the elevator
  • the bill: it is best to split the bill evenly at the end of a meal
  • queue: it is polite to wait patiently in the queue and not push

Greetings and salutations

  • thank yous: say thank you, please, excuse me as often as possible
  • madame, monsieur: to address someone it most polite to use madame, monsieur or mademoiselle at all times
  • vous: use of the formal form of you is the most polite way to approach someone
  • le petit bisou: greeting someone with bonjour followed by a small kiss on the both cheeks is customary in France
  • introductions: when meeting someone for the first time it is polite to say “Enchante”, or “ravi de vous rencontre”
  • the bisous, is also important in France, acknowledging someone with a kiss



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