- It is common to find people being subtly dismissed by salespeople, waiters or others in the service industry for having poor etiquette or manners.
- At a service counter, you are expected to greet the service provider with a brief ‘bonjour’ (‘hello’), even if you are in a rush.
- It is rude to sit with one’s legs spread apart. Rather, sit straight with your legs crossed at the knee or knees together.
- Feet should not be placed on tables or chairs.
- If someone is invited to a restaurant or a business function, it is acceptable to arrive at the specific time. However, when invited for a meal at someone’s house, one is expected not to arrive à l’heure (on time). It is best to arrive about 15 to 20 minutes after the set time.
- French people tend not to visit unannounced or uninvited. To do so is considered rude.
- When invited to a dinner, it is common for guests to ask their hosts if they are required to bring something on the day. Guests may also bring a bottle of wine or dessert.
- Some French are quite reserved about inviting new people into their homes. An invitation is considered an honour.
- Guests are usually expected to dress well.
- It is seen as rude if you do not greet everyone when arriving and leaving, regardless of how many people are present.
- Table manners are highly regarded in France. Thus, there are a number of practices one should observe when with a French counterpart.
- You are expected to pass dishes around and to hold a dish so your neighbour can retrieve some of the meal.
- When one begins a meal, they typically say “bon appétit” (enjoy your meal).
- Dinner guests should not open their mouth or talk when eating, and should gently wipe their mouth after taking a drink.
- When someone finishes their meal, the fork and knife are placed side by side on the plate on the right.
- At a restaurant, guests are generally not expected to share the bill.
- There are three main meals throughout the day: le petit déjeuner (breakfast), le déjeuner (lunch) and le dîner (dinner).
- The largest meal of the day is dinner, and is often eaten with the family.
- Meals comprise different courses. The French take their time eating each course of their meal.
- Drinking alcohol (typically wine) with one’s meal is common practice.
- If you do not want any more wine, leave your current glass mostly full to indicate this to your host.
- It is generally frowned upon to leave food on a plate, particularly when in someone’s home. Each course of a meal tends to take time to make. Thus, one shows appreciation for the efforts of the person cooking through the enjoyment and completion of the meal.
- When invited to someone’s home, try to bring a small, good-quality gift for the host. Usually one will bring a bottle of wine. Everyone will put the bottles of wine on the table and will freely drink what they choose.
- If you give wine, ensure it is of the highest quality you can offer. French people appreciate their wines.
- Gifts are usually opened when received.