Introduction: How to Show Respect in France
"When in French, do as the French do." Want to learn how to be respectful in France? This is the guide for you.
Step 1: Step 1: Do Not Begin a Conversation in English
Always try to speak French, at least at the beginning. The French are very proud of their language so it's considered rude not to attempt to speak it. Greet them in French and proceed to ask them in French "Parlez-vous anglais?". If you follow this, you'll be considered polite and they will make the effort to speak in English to you.
Step 2: Step 2: Always Say "Bonjour" First
When addressing a salesperson, or any French person is general, always start by saying "Bonjour" (or "Bonsoir"). Wait until they acknowledge you back, and then proceed to ask the question. Don't be surprised if you are treated rudely if you don't follow this step.
Step 3: Step 3: Address People the Right Way
Do not confuse "tu" and "vous". "Tu" is informal and singular, while "vous" is formal and/or plural. If you use "tu" to address someone older than you, an authority, or someone you don't know, it might come off as disrespectful. If in doubt, use "vous", but do not keep saying "vous" if the other has suggested "tu."
Step 4: Step 4: Use the Right Greeting
There's three different types of greetings in France:
- Shake hands (with strangers)
- Kiss (with acquaintances, family, and friends)
If you are a man, you only kiss the opposite sex on the cheek.
Make sure to keep these things in mind when greeting a French person!
Step 5: Step 5: Don't Leave Food on the Plate
If you are invited to the house of a French family, be aware that you are expected to eat all food on your plate! Also, always wait for the head of the table or the host to say "bon appétit" before starting to eat.