If you plan on travelling abroad, specifically to Paris and France, you may want to broaden your cultural awareness. It is more than the effort to learn French or memorise a few phrases. Moreover, your knowledge of culture and customs of a certain place show respect and add something extra to your intellect. Besides, each country has its own norms and guidelines, so, it is vital to avoid making any cultural faux pas.

There may be certain times that you may be clueless in some situations. However, with some research and application, you can show respect and blend in better in a new country. In this article, we’ll discuss manners and etiquette the french way.

Eye-pleasing riverside view, Source: Pixabay

You may see there are certain unwritten rules that apply when you are interacting with the French people. Not making grave mistakes while conversing, shows your efforts towards learning their culture, history, and daily rituals. To learn French and understand the differences of perception, you may need to focus on how they greet each other, dine, or talk over the phone.

As you know, India has a lot of cultural aspects that people who visit India may need to be aware of to blend better. Similarly, you may need to prepare more than just French Bon Jour and Merci for your next France or Paris trip. Over the years, India and French have been linked through culture. For instance, this combination of sports and music in Kolkata depicts France’s culture on a blank canvas.

The general rule of understanding the culture and following French manners is to use expressions and words appropriately. You may not need to be scared or feel awkward if it is your first time visiting Europe; however, ensure that your efforts are genuine not to offend any native French person.

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How to Greet in French Culture with Salutations

The foremost thing about starting a conversation with a Francophone is greeting and using the right salutation. You may use the word Salut to acknowledge someone formally. However, there may be a different situation to greet someone with Bon Jour, Bon Nuit, and la bise. While initiating social contact, your interaction is also dependent on the level of friendship you have with a person.

This also depends upon the social status of people and personal status of the people relative to each other. The rule applicable is similar to how well you know a person and how many times you have met before. Greeting someone formally with Bonjour is more preferable in comparison to la bise.

Street view in France, Source: Pixabay

This greeting should be followed by a little pause and a gentle gesture of greeting. One the other hand, formal business interactions or talking to a stranger may include “Je suis ravi de faire votre connaissance” along with a firm handshake. If it is a private affair or a dinner party, you may choose to say “enchanté”, which means please to meet you. While meeting an old friend, you can greet them with a Bon Jour and follow it with “comment ça va?” This is a warm approach to exchanging pleasantries and asking them how they are doing.

Keep in mind to only greet your superiors with bise if they initiate it. Otherwise, stick to the formal Bonjour with a handshake. Visitors may find la bise as confusing and concern them with the question of how and when along with the right number. It is a common practice for French to kiss on the cheek while greeting. However, this is not formal and may be preferable to lose artistic setups. Here is something about French writers!

This is generally preferred with casual family, friends and acquaintances in an informal meeting set up. Furthermore, you may greet the mutual friend or mutual family member the same way unless it is a strict business affair. These French habits of greeting are also based on the intuition of a relationship that you may form in the future.

If you don’t feel sure, you may slightly raise the hand and greet a person to see how they will respond. From here, you may move to shake hands or place the hand on the shoulder. This is ideal for clearing the confusion as the other person may guide to administer la bise with a hand on the shoulder.

One thing to avoid in la bise is to not get overenthusiastic and plant uncomfortably slobbery kisses on a person’s cheek. The general rule is to bump the cheeks and make a kiss sound with your lips like kissing in the air.

Now discussing the numbers, even French people feel confused about this act. So, ensure that you plant a minimum of two air kisses and a maximum of four. Moreover, the number varies depending upon the various regions of France, Paris, and other cities in Europe. Learn more about French Philosophers!

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You may introduce your friends and family with their full names. However, when you speak to a superior, addressing them with “Monsieur …” or “Madame… ” will be best. You may use the word “Mademoiselle” for unmarried women. By adding these simple words to your vocabulary, you will understand how to address everyone in France.

Source: Pixabay

The difference between formal and informal interaction is the use of the words “tu” and “vous”. The former is informal and should only be used with friends. On the other hand, the latter is suitable to address a native stranger. This applies to interactions at work with your superiors and boss. You may continue to use “vouvoyer” until you feel you’re comfortable enough to do the otherwise.

Letters and Emails in the French Language

The French language has a history of correspondence in formal ways even in the time of modernisation. English speakers may feel the telephone and formal French habits to be very strict and stilted to use. When you write letters in French, the correct way to be as formal as possible. It should reflect that you are speaking to your professional acquaintances.

This should include your and the receiver’s address, date, and place. Even as a beginner, start all the letters with French phrases “Cher Monsieur” or “chère Madame” and their last name along with the last name. In formal letters and emails, you are not free to play around the grammar or start with fewer formalities.

It is easy to use variations of formulas de politesse to end the letter. You are also free to use phrases Veuillez agréer, Monsieur/Madame along with the name and à l’expression de mes sentiments distingués”. Replacing sentiments with salutations may help if you identify self as a man.

French Email Etiquette and Official France Habits

Coming to French email etiquette lessons, they are less formal in comparison to letters and easy to learn. The tone of the received email will help you understand the tone of the text and write a new reply accordingly. To find any mistakes and also get familiar with different pronunciations, you may listen to the audio of the mail.

Online languages and social networking are informal in France, just like anywhere around the world. Know that you can tweet in a politely informal tone or write media posts in a similar manner. While receiving a phone call, make sure that your French Pronunciation is bearable. You don’t need to be perfect but should try to start with the word “bonjour” or ici [your nam] chez, followed by the name of the business. If you are the one calling, start with Bonjour, [self] à l’appareil”.

Similarly, workplace mannerism is similar to the one followed all over the world. Additionally, it is more formal, and there is no such thing like casual Friday. This calls for business attire and speaking in a polite manner. Also, refrain from using first names in business meetings unless encouraged by the people. It is the same for the students when applying for interviews and jobs.

The formal dinner etiquette in French involves RSVP as in “répondez s’il vous plaît” which is an acceptance to the invite. It is also polite to arrive at about half-hour after the set time so that the host or hostess has enough time to prepare for the dinner. Also, consider a life lesson of taking wine or dessert for the host. Top 10 French Celebrities!

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Superprof has the support of teachers who will provide French lessons and help you get familiar with the pronunciation. The audio sounds will help you get used to pronunciation in French. It is easy to read the vocabulary and grammar if you practice it every day along with the English translations. If you feel hesitant about speaking French, you may find it easy to get familiar with the language from online movies, shows, radio, and news. After perfecting your advanced French, you may move on to learning other dialects and languages. Way to French Citizenship!

You may like learning about French culture and language from various documentaries and children’s shows. They support in learning French by using simple native French that is easy to grasp. Moreover, it will make you more interested in starting watching more advanced online media without the English speakers’ translation. You may even read about the culture in newspapers, articles, and study people how they speak. Have a great trip to France, Italy, and other European Countries.

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