Etiquette – France Part I


Since I am half French and Colombian, I could not pass up my ancestors and not blog about French Etiquette and Manners.  

Considering the word “etiquette” comes from the French, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  

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Most Americans think that the French are rude. Much of that impression comes from a lack of knowledge of French manners, rules, and behavior.

Start things off on the right foot by learning how to say (hello, good morning) “Bonjour, Madame/Monsieur” or (good evening) “Bonsoir.” Use Mademoiselle when a woman is under 18.  

Business greetings begin with a crisp handshake. Address each person by their last name unless invited to use their first name.  

Women will often greet each other and male colleagues or friends with a kiss on the cheek.  

The French love their titles, so as a courtesy under typical French manners, when addressing the local mayor, it is usual to say Monsieur (or madame) le Maire. A policeman is Monsieur l’agent. Academic titles and degrees are also important, and you should know and use them where possible (such as a doctor).

Dining Etiquette 

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The French take their dining to a different level. They sit down and take their time to eat. There are so many rules with dining that I will have to post the second half in tomorrow’s post, so I won’t bore you. 

  • Do not ask for butter to spread on your baguette. However, Baguette and butter are served at hotels for breakfast. The baguette lives on the table in a basket. Do not put it on your plate. In France, the bread goes on the table. They think it’s odd if you try to balance a piece on your plate. It’s a custom. During dinner, do not open your baguette and spread butter on it. Eat your bread in small bites. Do not place the baguette upside down; it is bad luck.  
  • Place your wrists on the table 
  • Eat slowly; the French eat for hours and hours
  • Serve others when dining with friends
  • Always keep the knife in your right hand and the fork in your left hand. Prongs of the knife should be facing down while eating.
  • When you are finished with your meal, lay the knife and fork parallel to each other on the right side of the plate.  
  • Look at people in the eye when you toast. The French believe you will have seven years of bad sex if you don’t. 😃 
  • Do not order sodas while dining. Only wine and water are served.  
  • Do not order a meal and share it with your friend. It insults the chef.  

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part II! 

Sending l’amour vibes! 💋

Feature photo credit: Kristina Makeeva


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