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France - Local Customs

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Dos and don'ts of Business
Social etiquette
French celebrations

Dos and don'ts of Business

The business attire is more formal and you should wear a suit, but not necessarily a tie.
Always try to be on time.

  • Working environment
    Since the law of 35 hours work/week was accepted, people can begin between 8.00am and 9.00am and finish at 4.00pm or 5.00pm with one or two hours for lunch. Work can be organized according to personal needs, as long as you decide on a timetable with your team.
    Job interviews usually take more than an hour, so be prepared!
  • Greetings
    People greet each other by shaking hands. It is better not to have body contact with a lady except if she is a good friend of yours! 

Social Etiquette

  • Eating out
    In smart restaurants, for men a tie and a suit is recommended (even though not strictly necessary), for women elegant attire would be suitable but a long dress would be out of place. They are open from 7 pm until 1 am.
  • Smoking
    It is forbidden by law to smoke in public places like airports, stations etc. All restaurants offer a room for smokers and  non-smokers.
  • Dinner
    If you are invited for dinner or lunch, it is polite to arrive on time or with a maximum delay of ten minutes (food may be spoiled by the long wait), it is considered bad manners to arrive prior to the set time. As a polite gesture you may bring a box of chocolates, flowers or a bottle of wine. Do not take personal gifts.
    If the invitation is formal (aristocracy is far from having disappeared from the French scene), you should arrive empty handed, but are expected to deliver flowers or a present with a thank you card the next day.
  • Clothes - fashion
    Proper attire is required in few places, like churches, some theatres (Folies Berger, Opera etc.) or exclusive restaurants. Fashion is very important for teenagers. You must wear the right jeans with the right T-shirt etc if you want to be accepted in teenagers' groups. Common sense applies in most cases, and there is no strict enforcement of dress codes. 

French Celebrations

As American culture is very present in the world through marketing products, some feasts like Halloween and Thanksgiving, are now celebrated in France as well. Most French people like going out to dinner at restaurants.
Feast of kings, Candlemas, Valentin's day, Shrove Tuesday, April Fool's Day, Mother's day, Father's day, music fests are celebrated by most French people. These days are marketing days, as we say in France!

  • Feast of Kings is a religious feast on January 6th. Special cakes called "galettes des rois" are sold in bakeries which contain a small object called "fève" (fava bean). The person who gets the "fève" in the cake is crowned King or Queen for the day with a paper crown (aso included in the cake package).
  • Candlemas - February 2 - is a traditional day to eat pancakes.
  • Valentine's Day is the day for  lovers on February 14th. All restaurants are usually full and you need to book a table in advance.
  • Shrove Tuesday in February is celebrated with carnivals. All schools organize their own carnivals.
  • April Fool's Day - the first day of April - A day of fun when people play tricks on their friends and children try to stick a paper fish on people's backs.
  • Mother's Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of May. At school, children prepare a little present for their mothers.
  • Father's Day takes place on the 3rd Sunday in June. Children prepare a little present for their fathers.
  • Music Fest - June 21st - is to celebrate the start of the Summer. In the evening, the streets are full of people who listen to concerts with professional and amateur musicians.
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