French Culture, Customs, and Etiquette

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FACTS AND STATISTICS

  • LOCATION:  Western Europe, bordering Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km

  • CAPITAL: Paris

  • CLIMATE: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral

  • POPULATION: 66+ million 

  • ETHNIC MAKE-UP: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities

  • RELIGIONS: Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%

  • GOVERNMENT: republic

  • BUSINESS CULTURE: Ranked 5th in The Business Culture Complexity Index™

FRENCH SOCIETY & CULTURE

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Cuisine

  • Food is one of the great passions of the French people.

  • French cooking is highly refined and involves careful preparation, attention to detail, and the use of fresh ingredients. 

  • It varies by region and is heavily influenced by what is grown locally.

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Family Values

  • The family is the social adhesive of the country and each member has certain duties and responsibilities. 

  • Families have few children, but parents take their role as guardians and providers very seriously.

  • The extended family provides both emotional and financial support.

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS IN FRANCE

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Meeting Etiquette

  • A handshake is a common form of greeting.

  • Friends may greet each other by lightly kissing on the cheeks, once on the left cheek and once on the right cheek.  

  • First names are reserved for family and close friends. Wait until invited before using someone's first name.

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Dining Etiquette

  • Arrive on time. Under no circumstances should you arrive more than 10 minutes later than invited without telephoning to explain you have been detained. 

  • If invited to a large dinner party, send flowers the morning of the occasion.

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Gift Giving 

  • Flowers should be given in odd numbers but not 13, which is considered unlucky.  

  • If you give wine, make sure it is of the highest quality you can afford. The French appreciate their wines. 

  • Gifts are usually opened when received.

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Table manners

  • Table manners are Continental -- the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.

  •  Do not begin eating until the hostess says 'bon appetit'. 

  • Finish everything on your plate.

  • Peel and slice fruit before eating it.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE AND PROTOCOL

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Business Meetings 

  • Appointments are necessary and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance.

  • If you expect to be delayed, telephone immediately and offers an explanation.

  • Avoid exaggerated claims, as the French do not appreciate hyperbole.

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Business Cards

  • Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions without formal ritual.

  • Have the other side of your business card translated into French. Although not a business necessity, it demonstrates an attention to detail that will be appreciated.

SO YOU WANT TO START LIVING AND WORKING IN FRANCE? 

We are looking for specialist doctors who would like to move their careers to France. It offers a great possibility of professional development,  as well as attractive working conditions and a competitive salary. We will help you with formalities and lead you through the registration process.