Do’s and Dont’s About French Culture

* When you are invited somewhere, DO give a gift that shows that you are intellectual, such a gift of books or music. * DO bring a gift for the hostess if invited to a French person’s house. Good host gift ideas include flowers and wine or dessert (if you are invited for a dinner). However, keep in mind that France is known for its wine, so it is better to do some research before and bring a nice bottle of wine! As a tourist from another country, a gift from your native country is also really appreciated.
* DO expect a glass of wine with dinner. Wine glasses are filled only three-quarters of the way. DO be careful when picking out flowers as a gift. Indeed, white flowers are typically only used during weddings, white lilies and chrysanthemums are flowers for funerals, and red carnations stand for bad will. * DO maintain eye contact: it shows that you are interested in the conversation and your full attention is to them. * DO shake hands when you meet someone you don’t know for both male and female. * DO address people with the titles “Monsieur” (Mister) and “Madame” (Mrs. ) when meeting someone for the first time, or in a business meeting.
Use “Mademoiselle” when greeting a young, unmarried woman or girl and “Madame” for older and married women. * DO wear what you normally wear, but keep in mind that attire such as baseball caps, flip-flops, and white sneakers are not traditionally worn by French people. It is fine to wear it, but you will probably be labeled as a tourist. * DO be polite. French people all the time say “Bonjour” (Hello), “Aurevoir” (Goodbye), “excusez moi, pardon”(excuse me, sorry) if you touch someone in the street or even if you just brush past the person! * DO apologize for your lack of knowledge if you do not speak French.

Don’ts * DON’T eat with your fingers. You should always use your place setting; however you can use your fingers at a fast food restaurant. * DON’T eat on the street because it can be seen as unsophisticated. * DON’T start eating immediately after being served, you have to wait for everyone to have their meal and only after you say “Bon appetit” and you can start. It seems as really impolite to start without waiting for others. * DON’T put your arms on your lap during dinner but don’t put them above the table either. * DON’T give an even number of flowers as a gift.
Flowers should always be given in odd numbers, except for thirteen, as that is an unlucky number. * DON’T expect the people you are meeting with to be on time. People in France are not often punctual: “le quart d’heure francais” (the french quarter). However, be careful if it is a business meeting you have to be on time! Without any good reason people will not be happy at all. * DON’T show any impatience or a confrontational attitude in a business meeting, it can be seen as a sign of being unprofessional. * DON’T take a bite from a whole piece of bread. Instead, tear your bread into a bite-sized piece and then eat it.

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