The vast majority of people never want to make any tourist mistakes when visiting a new country. Most times offence is not intended, and many people feel terrible when they know they have done something silly or offensive. With most countries having different social norms and expectations when it comes to behavior, it is very easy to make a completely unintended and innocent slip. Follow these 8 pieces of advice and be a good tourist in France:
Tipping is not expected in France as the service charge is included in the final total. Whilst leaving a tip is not likely to offend anyone, it is unnecessary and means you waste money! The worst is that you look a bit silly, crazy, and ignorant about French ways.
2. Call French “Frogs”
It’s not cute, and it’s not clever. Yes, it is one of those stereotypical global nicknames; it does not mean that French people actually take too kindly to it though.
3. Accuse French People of Being Arrogant
There is a common belief that French people are arrogant. They are often proud – there is a difference. Remember, you are in somebody else’s country, so act respectfully. Bad manners, as is the case all over the world, are often met with the same.
4. Return Kisses
I’m not talking full on, uninvited snogs here, but the elegant kisses on the cheek, or air kisses, that are a common French gesture of greeting and farewell. If you make a new friend when visiting France, the chances are that they will kiss you at some point. Whilst you should not initiate the kiss, if a French person moves to do a kiss, go with the flow and participate. The number of kisses varies between the areas; Parisians typically kiss twice, whilst other areas kiss three or four times.
5. Dress Stylishly
Many French people, especially in Paris, adopt a stylish and smart dress code for social occasions. Follow suit, and don’t go to the theatre or a fancy restaurant in your casual clobber.
6. Control Your Children
Of course your darling offspring are the most important things to YOU, but that does not mean that everyone else sees it the same way. French children are generally, as a rule, very well behaved with impeccable manners. Dine in child-friendly places if you think your child is likely to want to run and play or you could really annoy other diners. Similarly, keep them in check in museums, on public transport, and other places where there are mixed groups of families and adults only. Have a quick look at French families around you and see how their children are behaving.
7. Know Your Tu from Your Vous
There are two forms of the word “you” in French; one is more formal and used amongst strangers, acquaintances, and when a younger person is showing respect to an elder, and the other version is used in more intimate, friendly, and casual settings. Vous is formal, tu is familiar. Listen to what the other person is using, and follow their lead. Do not use tu if the other person is not, and if in any doubt, stick to vous.
8. Learn Some Language Basics
French people are often very proud of their country and language and do not look favourably upon foreigners who do not make any attempt to communicate with them in their own language. If you do try, however, you will find that French people are often are lot more receptive to assisting you, and if you try but are really struggling they will go to great lengths to help. Knowing what few essential French words and phrases you already know can turn you from an average tourist into a shining individual!
Follow these tips and be a great tourist in France. Say “Bonjour” and “Salut” to La France and enjoy the French hospitality and alluring joie de vivre!