When Living in France…

August 27th, 2012 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on When Living in France…

do. You shouldn’t need Jason Hartman to tell you this is good advice no matter where you travel but perhaps doubly so in France. The French are a bit, how shall we say, persnickety when it comes to observing local manners and traditions. Unless it is your goal to replicate the innate arrogance and cultural condescension exhibited in the 1958 novel, The Ugly American, visitors or expatriates to France should pay heed to the following.

1. Don’t start a conversation with a Frenchman or Frenchwoman in English. France is quite enamored with their own language and sees the English tongue as competition. Even if your French is terrible and the person you’re talking to knows English, there’s a chance he might refuse to stoop to the level of what he sees as a second rate language. A word to the wise: get your French up to snuff quickly or expect a miserable experience.

2. Don’t toss a general “Hi” to everybody in the office where you work. In France, there is a proper process to dispensing a greeting at the beginning of a work day, which includes walking up to each colleague, shaking their hand, and greeting them with a cordial, “Bon-jour, Whatever Your Name Is.” It’s also critical not to do this more than once a day per person, so remember who you’ve already bon-joured.

3. Do take the appropriate time off for breaks and vacations. The French don’t operate on the same sort of nose-to-the-grindstone mentality that we often see in America. Busting your butt at the expense of regular lunch and coffee breaks will make you seem a bit strange. Consider the lunch break a good time for networking and don’t even think about brown bagging it. France didn’t get its reputation as a culinary mecca for no reason. Eat up!

4. Do understand that the French socialize more at a one-on-one level than here in America. For example, give a friendship time to blossom at its own pace rather than inviting an office colleague to your home right away. What seems like a friendly gesture to you will probably be seen as embarrassingly

forward to them.

Now that we’ve made you thoroughly afraid to go to France, don’t worry too much about all the unspoken rules. If you show tact and respect for your host country, most French people will bail you out of a goof without making a big deal of it. But if you decide to act like an ugly American, expect to pay the price. (Top image: Flickr

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The Jetsetter Show Team


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