France is a beautiful country with a unique culture, making it one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations. If you plan a trip to France, you’re in for an incredible experience. However, to ensure you make the most of your trip and don’t offend any locals, there are a few things you should never do during your stay in France.
Not Greet People When You Enter a Shop or Restaurant
Greeting people is customary in France, so when you enter a store or restaurant, you should greet those you come across, especially the shopkeeper or server. They will meet your greeting with a smile and possibly a small conversation to know how your day is going. Also, the greeting helps you get better service.
Assume Everyone Speaks English
Although most people in France understand basic English, they may not be comfortable conversing in it. It’s best to talk with people in French, or at least apologize for your lack of fluency and try to communicate with them. If possible, use a dictionary or phrasebook to help you out.
Eat While Walking
Eating while walking around the streets is frowned upon in France. To the people, it is a sign of disrespect to them and their city. If you need to snack while out and about, take it to an outdoor cafe or park bench instead.
Forget Your Manners When Eating Out
Table manners are taken seriously in France, so use your best etiquette at a restaurant. For example, don’t start eating until everybody at your table gets served; don’t rest your elbows on the table while dining. Also, don’t make a lot of noise while eating.
Litter in Public
Littering is taken seriously in France, and there are hefty fines for those caught littering. Dispose of your rubbish correctly when you find bins around the city or at the end of your meal, don’t leave it lying on the streets.
Talk Too Loudly in Public Places
When out in public, keep your voice to a minimum. Talking too loudly will draw attention to you. It may be impolite and disruptive to locals not used to such loud conversations in public places. This etiquette is crucial in places of worship or museums.
Dress Too Casually for Special Occasions
France is known for its fashion, so if you’re attending a special event like a wedding or christening, dress appropriately and look presentable. Don’t wear overly casual clothing like shorts and flip-flops for such events. Although jeans are acceptable in some places, it’s best to wear something slightly more formal when attending a function.
Make Fun of the French Language
The French language is beautiful and should not be taken lightly. If you don’t know how to speak it, don’t make jokes or mock the language. The locals appreciate those who try to learn their language and will be more willing to help you if you show respect for their culture. Instead of making fun, take some time to learn a few words or phrases and practice your pronunciation. It’s a great way to show respect and make a good first impression.
Rely on Technology Too Much
When new to France, it’s convenient to use GPS and online maps to get around, but try not to rely on technology too much as you travel around France. If you are so focused on your phone or laptop, you might get distracted and miss out on seeing some of France’s fantastic sights.
Swear in Public
Swearing in public in France is rude and should be avoided as much as possible. When you’re frustrated, try to keep your language clean and civil. If you slip up, apologize for your mistake and move on.
Be Picky About Food in a Restaurant
Don’t be picky when ordering food in restaurants; it’s rude to the French. They take pride in their culinary heritage and don’t appreciate people who are fussy about what they order. Always value the waiter’s opinion and try something new instead of avoiding dishes because you’re unsure if you’ll like them.
Expect a Big Breakfast
In France, breakfast isn’t the biggest meal of the day as it is in some other countries. Don’t expect to be served a feast or a large portion in the morning. Most French people prefer to have coffee and pastries. If you want something more substantial, you might have to make it yourself.
Tip Excessively at Restaurants
In France, tipping is not compulsory in restaurants. Bills include service charges, so you don’t need to leave an additional tip if you’re happy with the service you received. But if you must tip, a small 5-10% tip is more than enough.
Wave Wildly at a Waiter
When you want service, do not wave your hands to get a waiter’s attention; this is a rude act in France. Instead, make eye contact and politely raise your hand or nod in their direction; that is more polite and respectful. Also, this will lead to the best exchange between you and the waiter.
Drink Too Much Alcohol at Bars or Clubs
Alcohol consumption is legal in France, but drinking too much at bars or clubs can be problematic. If you plan on going out for drinks, consume alcohol responsibly so that you don’t become a nuisance by bothering other people or getting into fights. Also, ensure that you have a safe ride home afterward.
Expect Shops to Be Open on Sundays
Shops are closed on Sundays in France as it is when people get to spend time with their families. Don’t expect to do your grocery shopping or any other type of shopping on that day. If you need something urgently, try to plan and get it done before Sunday. There are, of course, certain exceptions to this rule – pharmacies and other emergency services might be open. But in general, Sunday is an off day for most shops.
Show Up to a House Emptyhanded
It is customary worldwide to take a gift to a party or dinner at someone’s house. But in France, it doesn’t stop there. You should take a gift like biscuits or cakes when visiting a home for something as ordinary as a coffee or play date.
Expect Fast Service
In France, people are relaxed and don’t rush to finish things. Don’t expect fast service at restaurants, stores, or other places you visit, as it may take some time for your request to be processed. Patience is vital when dealing with the locals here.
Make Assumptions About People
Respect and appreciate people for who they are, and be mindful of your words and actions when interacting with them. Don’t make assumptions about people based on their religion, skin color, race, gender, sexual orientation, or background to avoid misunderstandings or offensive situations.
Forget to Say Goodbye When Leaving
When leaving a store, restaurant, or someone’s home, say au revoir (goodbye) to the people you’ve been speaking with. This polite act indicates your gratitude for their company, time, and hospitality.
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