France in your Pocket

Dos and don’ts

  • Do take the Eurostar and then buy a Metro day pass
  • Do watch your step: Parisians have lots of dogs
  • Do have a cafe at a Parisian terrace cafe
  • Do eat a jambon beurre (classic baguette sandwich)
  • Do go on a Seine boat trip
  • Do walk down the Champs-Elysees
  • Do tae your roller skates to join the Parisian roller skate ride on the first Sunday of the month
  • Do go to a museum for free on the fiest Sunday of the month
  • Do kiss in front of the Paris Town Hall and then buy a poster of the famous Doisneau photo
  • Do kiss friends on both cheeks when you meet….Do not kiss somebody you do not know
  • Do wear your sunglasses – even when if it’s raining, put them on your head like a hairband

Good and bad manners

  • Do not ring people after 9pm
  • Always introduce yourself on the telephone
  • Always use Monsieur or Madame when saying “bonjour”
  • Metro manners aare not the best example of French etiquette
  • The French keep their hands (not elbows) on the table to show they do not have them on with weapons
  • The French do not actually kiss; they ‘peck’ each other’s cheeks or even just brush them

An invitation to dine

  • Never arrive bang on time. Just as in the UK, 15 minutes late is respectable, but often the French turn up even later. In fact, invitations can sometimes be vague. (Any time after….)
  • The French sit down to eat late
  • The French tend not to indicate what the dress code is nowdays; dinner parties can be casual chic or totally informal
  • What should one bring? A bouquet of flowers, chocolates, or a bottle of wine are acceptable, but traditionally one should not bring anything. By far the most elegant gesture is to send a bouquet of flowers on the day or the day after with a visiting card and a few words of thanks
  • Subject of conversation: avoid politics, religion, morals and tax
  • When you leave, say goodbye to the host and hostess. It is not necessary to say goodbye to the other guests


  • Many of the French rules of galantry are similar to those of British etiquette
  • Ladies be warned – some men still bend and kiss your hand

The art of French dining

  • Napkins should be placd half-folded on the knee, and hands each side of the place setting
  • Forks are set with the prongs down
  • Knives and forks for cheese are placed where Brits put spoons
  • Spoons are often produced with the desert
  • Bread is placed either in a bowl or individually beside each plate
  • Two or three glasses are placed in front (rather than to the side) of the plate – a small white wine glass, a medium red wine glass and a large water glass
  • Bread is usually presented in a basket. It’s bad manners to take bread to snack on (except when in a restaurant)
  • One should not drink without being invited to do so by the hostess
  • Men should serve women and fill up their glasses
  • Wipe your lips before drinking by holding the napkin with both hands
  • Don’t cut the lettuce, omelette or pasta with your knife
  • Push pieces of meat or vegetables onto your fork with a piece of bread and not with the knife
  • Bread should not be cut with a knife but broken with one’s hands
  • Once you’ve finished eating, place your knife and fork (with the prongs down) on your plate without crossing them
  • Tooth picks are bad form
  • When leaving the table, place your napkin, unfolded, on the table

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