Resource links for Etiquette & Customs in France

Jos Deuling,  Sunday, 6 August 2017


A selection of links to articles about Etiquette & Customs in France. The links are grouped by the following topics: Attitudes to Sex, Bureaucracy, Business, Dating, French bashing, French Women, General info, Invitation to a French Home, Raising children, Rudeness, Social Class, The Art of Conversation and Working with the French.

Last updated on August 6th, 2017.

Attitudes to Sex

: What can the French teach Americans about sex? : In terms of sexual capability, there is no difference between the French and any other people on earth ! What is rather different is the way it is seen, the way the French talk about it, the indulgence they show for what would be considered unacceptable in other cultures. : From 5 to 7 p.m. is the traditional time that French people consecrate to having an extramarital affair. Un cinq à sept -- literally "a five to seven" -- is when a man or woman slips out of work or home and squeezes in a sexual escapade.


: In my experiences with French bureaucracies and government, I have had only run into a few fonctionnaires (civil servants) who I would classify as rude or indifferent. Most have been very nice and tried to help.
: Businesses and local government officials feel rules, regulations and directives hinder economic recovery and impinge on daily life.


: It is not acceptable in France to ‘drop in’ on someone unannounced and such conduct will be taken as an act of rudeness, whatever the occasion.
: Whether its a simple handshake or an epic business lunch, professional protocol is serious business in France and it is, at times, very different to anywhere else in the world.


: Love is universal. There is no such thing as French love or American love. That said, we have all agreed by now that French and Americans are different.
: Dating a French person is a challenge. Really. Not because of the language barrier (you always find ways to communicate!), but mainly because of all those unwritten rules and HUGE cultural traps!
: By the time a British man would have taken you out for dinner, you could have been on a minibreak with your French boyfriend, and met his mother.

French bashing

: Top 17 images of french bashing circulating on the web.
: Of course these are broad generalizations and once Americans and French really start talking to each other and explaining their societies to each other, the stereotyped vision changes. There's more room for "grey" in what is generally seen in black and white.
: Almost one year after D-Day, in 1945, the American Army published a guidebook for the GI's, in order to answer their questions about the French.

French Women

: A few facts and questions about the French woman.
: As a new guide offers advice on Gallic etiquette to British newcomers, Alice Wright recalls her own brusque welcome to La France profonde.
: They have style, a job, often many children and a figure to die for: with such a formidable reputation, no wonder the prospect of matching Frenchwomen on their home turf is a terrifying prospect for most British women.

General info

: tips for americans about France and Paris.
: The French adhere to a strong and homogeneous set of values. They cherish their culture, history, language and cuisine, which is considered an art.
: Even though, on the surface, the French lifestyle may not seem overly exotic to Americans, fundamental cultural differences belie the uniformization that seem to have taken place.
: All countries have peculiar social customs and France is no exception. As a foreigner you will probably be excused if you accidentally insult your hosts, but it’s better to be aware of accepted taboos and courtesies, especially as the French are much more formal than most foreigners (especially Americans and Britons) imagine.
: Table manners, Restaurant manners, Corporate manners, Talk to the boss, Driving manners….
: SAYING bonjour and avoiding tu, shaking hands and not kissing on both cheeks, buying an odd number of flowers or not buying wine... France can be a minefield for the unwary expat making an effort to meet their French neighbours.
: My Top 20 tips to help tourists (or expats) understand French social customs, etiquette, and idiosyncrasies (note: I take no responsibility for cultural misunderstandings that occur from this list!).

Invitation to a French Home

: A guide to how to behave if you're invited to a French home
: Bring flowers (but not : chrysanthemums -which are for cemeteries- or carnations-which the French think bring bad luck) or a box of chocolates.

Meeting the French

: Many people arrive in France newly-retired, and rapidly become part of the expat community, and never look back - and frequently never learn to speak French.
: French people are definitely a closed bunch,it is a different way to socialize, takes forever to get to a level where you get out with coworker on a personal level but then when that happens it is more of a solid relationship. Socializing is tough, i would say.
: Many visitors and most expats report that it is difficult to meet the French. True. Several reasons...

Raising children

: As a new book asks why French children don't have tantrums, Kim Willsher, who has raised her own children in Paris, looks at contrasting views of family life.
: While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety. Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying 'non' with authority.
: How the French eat, age, dress, raise their children and live in general is a real talking point these days. So, as an American mother of three half-French kids, I figured I'd add my two cents to the conversation.
: The much-buzzed-about book Bringing Up Bebe just came out. The author Pamela Druckerman, an American mother of three, moved to Paris and said she learned how to better raise her kids by watching French parents.


: Here are five reasons you might perceive a well-meaning French person to be rude when they’re just being, well, French.
: Many foreigners have a rosy and romantic image of France. Official French information and tourist information project such an image for obvious reasons. Media project such an image because that is what people like to read, so it sells. Media generally tell you what you like to hear. But while the romantic images are not necessarily false, they only represent a part of French reality.
: An Irish poet/gardener living in France named Finnbar must fight against the Socialist actions taken by the village of Lacoste after openly supporting Cardin capitalism. He would often receive death threats and one day his beloved dog turns up dead under mysterious circumstances. Now Finn will stop at nothing to do what is right.
: France’s ‘welcome deficit’ may have more to do with British and American attitudes to service, than any perceived rudeness.

The Art of Conversation

: As an American married to an Englishman and living in France, I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to decode the rules of conversation in three countries.
: There are several ways in French to designate small talk. One of them is: parler de tout et de rein(pahr-lay duh too ay duh ryahN)(talk about everything and nothing).

Working with the French

: Working in a French NGO means wine at midday, and existential crises before dinner. But it’s worth it for the passion and commitment. : For an American, working with the French has some good sides and some bad sides, with many differences. Among them, many Americans cite…

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