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The French are a proud people, and national pride runs deep.  The history of France is extremely rich, as is the language.  Be sure to show a great deal of respect for the nation, its history and the French language.  For example, while in France always communicate in French, unless the person you are speaking with offers to speak your native language.  Now let’s move on to a few taboos for traveling in France.

Manners and Language

Use your best manners while in France, similar to those used in the UK but in French.  Use a lot of ‘please’ (S’il sous pait), thank you (merci), and excuse me (excusez-moi).  Be sure to say hello “Bonjour”, and goodbye “Au Revoir”.If you are really having a hard time understanding French, then politely say “Mon francais n’est pas tres bon. Pouvez-vous parler anglais?”, which means “My French isn’t very good. Can you speak English?”.  Never sit with legs wide apart, even the gentlemen, as it is seen as crude.  Greet people with a handshake, unless you have already met and thus a peck on the cheek is expected.


The French like to linger over their coffee.  It is both a social and a relaxing experience in which haste is not welcome.  Therefore, when visiting a café be patient about the time in which your order arrives.  If you are in a hurry, go straight to the counter and order.  When dining at a restaurant in France, it is customary to place your napkin on your lap as soon as you have been seated.  Place your hands on the table, and the server will hand you a menu.

When it comes time to order, be sure to order at least an appetizer and an entrée.  Ordering just one dish is considered a waste of time and rude.  Also, never ever drink anything other than alcohol or water with a meal.  Consuming carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, or anything sugary, while dining is viewed as ruining the food.  It is meant to be enjoyed as the chef intended.  Never, ever ask for leftover food to be wrapped up to go.  If you are dining at a private home, follow all the same rules of politeness, but do not begin eating until the host has invited everyone to eat by saying “bon appetit”.  Pace your eating throughout the courses, as there will be more than a few and it is rude to leave food on your plate uneaten.  Bring your host a gift of flowers, but never red carnations.  They are a symbol of ill will.


Here we have a few tips to keep in mind, things that don’t necessarily fit in either of the above categories.  When shopping for clothing, be sure to ask the sales assistant for help in getting a size from the pile or rack.  Store staff are quite protective of their wares.  While on the topic of clothing, do your best to dress well while in France.  The French take pride in their appearance, and definitely keep an eye on fashion.  People who appear unkempt, unhygienic, wrinkled, and generally messy are seen as untrustworthy.

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