French courtesy and social rules: examples of cultural specificities

France, territory of courtesy

Politeness and French culture

Politeness in France is an essential component of French culture. The French attach great importance to respecting social conventions and courtesy, whether in daily, professional or social life. This preoccupation with politeness often reflects the notion of “French savoir-vivre”. Here are some of the cultural specificities regarding politeness in France.

“Hello” and “Good evening”

In France, it is common to greet people with a “Bonjour” (in the morning or during the day) or a “Bonsoir” (in the evening) when entering a public place or starting a conversation. Failure to do so may be perceived as rude.

The use of titles and surnames

The French are often formal when speaking to someone for the first time or in a professional context. The use of titles (Sir, Madam, Miss) and last names is common, especially in a professional setting.

Polite expressions

Phrases like “please” (please in case of privacy), “thank you” and “excuse me” are used regularly. Saying “thank you” is essential after receiving a service or gift, and not doing so can be frowned upon.

Punctuality

Being on time is a sign of respect towards others in France. It is important to arrive on time to an appointment or meeting, especially in a professional or academic setting. When/if late , it is polite to notify in advance. But isn’t this a universal rule of courtesy ?

Kissing

When they meet or take their leave, French people tend to kiss each other on the cheeks. The number of kisses may vary from region to region, but two is generally the standard. This tradition contrasts greatly with what we sometimes observe in other countries around the world. In China it is therefore very rare to touch someone to him/her, Chinese modesty therefore excluding the hugs and effusions that we sometimes encounter in France.

Courtesy as a component of social rules

The art of conversation

French people often like to debate and discuss various subjects. However, it is important to be respectful of others’ opinions and avoid sensitive topics like politics, religion or money in light conversations. A reality which is close to that which we encounter in the United States where cordiality, which is often established easily, should not be confused with too cavalier familiarity!

Table manners

In France, meals are an opportunity to demonstrate politeness. Waiting until everyone is served before starting to eat is an important rule, as is the courtesy of thanking the host at the end of the meal. Renowned for its gastronomy, France offers multiple opportunities for visitors from around the world to savor typical dishes while enjoying good-natured discussions.

Dress codes

French people are attentive to their appearance and that of others. Dressing neatly is a sign of respect for the people you meet. It should be noted, however, that a certain lightness in the choice of outfits worn in France can contrast sharply with the more conservative habits of people born in certain Asian or Middle Eastern countries. So mutual understanding and tolerance are essential!

Courtesy at work

Politeness is essential in the professional environment in France. It is common to greet colleagues and superiors, a respectful and professional tone often being required. A courtesy that will not disorient our Japanese, Chinese or Korean friends for whom politeness in the workplace is an often unavoidable norm.

Politeness in public places

On public transport, it is polite to give up your seat to elderly people, pregnant women or people with disabilities. Queues are also respected. Here again for some international students or visitors from other backgrounds, familiarities in public can be destabilizing. Let us therefore be attentive to each other’s morals in order to facilitate dialogue and exchange!

Similar articles

Guy Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant: Portrait of a Master of literary realism

  Guy de Maupassant remains one of the most remarkable figures of 19th century French literature. His prolific work, marked by realism and psychological finesse, continues to influence generations of writers. In this text, we will delve into the life, work, and literary legacy of Maupassant.  The life of Maupassant Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850 in

Read more
Students FLE

Cinema, culture, cafes…what to do in Paris as a FLE student?

   “Civilization and culture” activities Paris is a city rich in history and culture, and its museums are among the most famous in the world. The Louvre, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and many other iconic works, offers a fascinating dive into art history. The Musée d’Orsay, located in a former train station, showcases impressionist, post-impressionist and art

Read more
Le Marias (SoMa), a district combining culture, entertainment and fashion

Le Marias (SoMa), a district combining culture, entertainment and fashion

  The Marais, an emblematic district of Paris in the fourth arrondissement, is in some ways a true historical and cultural “enclave” which embodies both the medieval charm of the city and its vibrant modernity. Located in the center of the French capital, Le Marais – also called SoMa for “south marsh” – is known for its picturesque cobblestone streets,

Read more

INFORMATION

Le secrétariat sera exceptionnellement fermé le jeudi 6 juin.

The secretariat will be exceptionally closed on Thursday, June 6. 

Information sur la session de printemps 2024

L’inscription à la session de printemps (rentrée du 5 février 2024) est encore possible jusqu’au 2 février, sous réserve de places disponibles.

Les étudiants souhaitant s’inscrire sont invités à se rendre directement au bureau des admissions de l’institution, ouvert du lundi au vendredi de 9h30 à 16h30.
Ils doivent s’assurer de disposer d’un visa valide.

L’inscription en ligne pour cette session n’est plus possible sur ce site.

Information regarding the 2024 spring session

Registration for the spring session (starting on February 5, 2024) is still possible until February 2, subject to availability.

Students wishing to register are invited to go directly to the institution’s admission office, open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
They must ensure they have a valid visa.

Online registration for this session is no longer available on this website.

Dates des prochains examens TCF

Les prochaines sessions d’examen TCF auront lieu dans les locaux de l’institution aux dates suivantes :

Le 30 janvier et le 27 février :

TCF TP SOS’INSCRIRE
TCF TP SO
+ épreuve orale
S’INSCRIRE
TCF TP SO
+ épreuve écrite
S’INSCRIRE
TCF TP SO completS’INSCRIRE

Le 31 janvier et le 28 février :

TCF IRNS’INSCRIRE