Preparing to Interact Socially in French

1) French Culture and Traditions:

  • La Sieste
  • Walk Like a Parisian
  • Expats in France
  • Meeting/Dining/Business Etiquette = When introduced, the common thing to do is shake hands. Once established, an air-kiss on both checks for both genders (starting with the left). You are expected to say ‘bonjour’ or ‘bonsoir’ with the honorific title Monsieur (i.e. Mr.) or Madame (i.e. Mrs.) when entering a shop and ‘au revoir’ when leaving. If you live in an apartment building, it is polite to greet your neighbors with the same appellation. Also, wait until invited to move on to the 1st name basis. If invited to an Italian’s home, arrive on time. Feel encouraged to bring the highest quality bottle of wine that you can afford. If you choose to send flowers (no chrysanthemums, red carnations, or white since they are typically used for weddings), give them in odd numbers, but never 13. If you do not want more wine, leave your glass nearly full. When doing business, if you do not speak French, learn a few key phrases, and provide an apology for not knowing their language may aid in developing a relationship. Do not try to schedule meetings during July or August, as this is a common vacation period. This can be solely a perception/opinion, but it has been said that the French do not appreciate hyperbole, so avoid exaggerated claims.

2) Useful French Words & Phrases for Travelers:

  • Thank you.
 = Merci
  • Good Morning/Good Day/Hello!
  • Good evening!
  • Fine. =Bien.
  • Very well.
 =Très bien.
  • So-so.
 =Comme ci, comme ça.
  • What’s your name?
 =Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • My name is…
 =Je m’appelle…
  • It’s nice to meet you.
  • Good bye =Au revoir.
  • See you soon.
 =A bientôt.
  • Good night =Bonne nuit.
  • Where do you live?
 =Où habitez-vous?
  • I live in…
 =J’habite à…
  • Thank you very much.
 =Merci beaucoup.
  • You’re welcome.
 =De rien.
  • Please =S’il vous plaît.
  • Yes
  • No
  • Sorry or Excuse me.
  • Pardon me.
 = Pardon
  • I don’t understand.
 =Je ne comprends pas.
  • I don’t speak French.
 =Je ne parle pas français.
  • I don’t speak French very well.
 =Je ne parle pas très bien français.
  • Do you speak English?
 =Parlez-vous anglais?
  • Could you speak more slowly, please?
 =Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plaît?
  • Could you repeat (that), please?
 =Pourriez-vous répéter, s’il vous plaît?
  • What’s your name?
 =Comment vous appelez-vous?
  • How are you?
 =Comment allez-vous?
  • Where is the subway?
 =Où est le métro?
  • Is the tip included?
 =Est-ce que le service est compris?
  • How much does that cost?
 =Combien ça coûte?
  • Is there a public phone here?
 =Y a-t-il un téléphone public ici?
  • Can I get on the internet?
 =Puis-je me connecter à l’Internet?
  • Can you help me, please?
 =Pouvez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît?
  • Where is the bathroom?
 =Où sont les toilettes?mio amico/la mia amica.
  • Where is there a good restaurant?
 =Où y-a-t-il un bon restaurant?
  • A table for two, please.
 =Une table pour deux, s’il vous plaît.
  • The menu, please.
 =Le menu, s’il vous plaît.
  • The wine list, please.
 =La carte des vins, s’il vous plaît.
  • A glass of water, please.
 =Un verre d’eau, s’il vous plaît.
  • Do you have vegetarian dishes?
 =Avez-vous des plats végétariens?
  • That’s all.
 =C’est tout.
  • The check, please.
 =L’addition, s’il vous plaît.
  • Is the tip included?
 =Est-ce que le service est compris?
  • Enjoy the meal!
 =Bon appétit!
  • To your health!
 =A la vôtre!
  • It’s delicious!
 =C’est délicieux!
  • a bottle of wine
 =une bouteille de vin
  • I like my steak rare/medium/well-done.
 =J’aime mon steak saignant/à point/bien cuit.
  • Another, please.
 =Un autre, s’il vous plaît. (masculine)/Une autre, s’il vous plaît. (feminine)
  • More, please.
 =Encore, s’il vous plaît.
  • Pass the… please.
 =Passez-moi le…, s’il vous plaît.

Stay tuned… I will add more to this post, and will provide future posts for other countries/cultures. If you have any area preferences or questions, please ask in comment section below.

Please also see tips on entering a foreign country. Gracias!

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