Etiquette in France

There are  over 65 million people who live in France. A vast majority of the population is of Native French descent. However, you will find some individuals with heritage from North America, Spain, and Portugal.

The official spoken language is French.  English is the second most popularly spoken language.  Students in France will study English for a minimum of four years.

More than 90 percent of the French are Roman Catholics, however a small portion of the population practices Protestantism. Approximately 6 percent of the French population does not practice any religion at all.

The currency that is used in France is the French franc.

France is 6 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard time.

Business Attire Etiquette

A majority of our world’s fashion sense comes from the designers and runways of France, so it comes as no surprise that the French reflect their sense of fashion in their everyday appearance. The French have their clothes made of the best fabrics in the world, tailored to fit their figure perfectly. When doing business with the French, you must be sure to dress the part, as your French counterparts will interpret your image with the level of status you have attained.

Men should wear dark suits with white or striped oxfords and a complementary tie. Women should select a dress or suit that is modestly cut, complemented by elegant accessories to achieve an overall chic look. French women still dress in a very feminine manner, wearing soft colors, delicate jewelry, updated hairstyles, and makeup.

With business invitations, be aware when they say ‘informal’ or ‘casual’ dress. The French idea of casual is more formal than you may expect. If unsure, play it safe by dressing simply yet elegantly.

Greetings Etiquette

The French shake hands more than any other culture. When you meet (whether this is the first time or not) use a complete yet quick handshake.  It should not be too strong like a bone crusher or pumper handshake.  When you depart company you would also shake hands the same way.

Kissing between friends, family and long-time colleagues is common. The French kiss twice starting with the left cheek, then the right.  If you are not French, don’t initiate the kiss but be ready to respond is it is offered to you.

Wait for a woman to shake hands first.

Don’t be put off if your French counterpart doesn’t smile when meeting you for the first time.  They are not trying to be put-offish but instead dignified and polite.  The business culture is especially formal in this way.

Always be prompt for appointments.  Punctuality is quite important.