6 Ways To Be Brilliant At Business Etiquette In France


When it comes to business etiquette in France, it’s important to understand the country’s unique cultural norms. As you know, French business culture is known for its formality, attention to detail, and emphasis on building strong personal relationships. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at some of the key elements of business etiquette in France and how to navigate them successfully – after all, the French invented “etiquette,” so it is tres important to get it right!

French Business Dress Code

In France, the way you dress can have a big impact on the impression you make in a business setting. The French value style and elegance, and it’s important that you wear quality business attire and dress appropriately for the occasion. For business meetings, men are typically expected to wear a suit and tie, while women should opt for formal business attire, such as a skirt suit or dress pants with a blouse or jacket.

It’s also important to pay attention to the details, such as grooming and accessories. French businesspeople take pride in their appearance, so make sure to keep your hair and nails neat, and avoid wearing overly flashy or distracting jewelry, although if it is classy and expensive, then it is tres chic. Facial hair often goes unappreciated, especially by your superiors, so get rid of that trendy stubble before entering the meeting room.

Here are some words that can help:

Dress shoesChaussures habillées
BlazerVeste de costume
High heelsTalons hauts
Dress pantsPantalon habillé
Dress shirtChemise habillée

French Business Greetings

In France, it’s customary to introduce yourself and greet someone with a light handshake while maintaining direct eye contact. An overly firm handshake leaves you running the risk of making your new French business associate feel inferior and overpowered. It’s important to use the appropriate title when addressing someone, such as “Monsieur” or “Madame,” and to use formal language until you are invited to use more informal terms. Always introduce yourself using both of your names until your relationship is on a more informal basis.

When meeting someone for the first time, it’s also common to exchange business cards. Make sure to have a supply of business cards on hand, and present them with both hands, facing the recipient. Take a moment to study the card before putting it away, as this shows respect and attention to detail. And, to make an extra good impression, have one side of your business card printed in French.

French Business Conversation

In French business etiquette and French culture, building strong personal relationships is a key part of doing business successfully. This means taking the time to engage in conversation and getting to know your French business partner, colleagues, or clients on a personal level. Avoid aggressive selling techniques with French business people.

It is important to be mindful of certain topics that may be considered taboo or inappropriate in a business setting. French people avoid discussing religion, politics, or personal finances and be cautious when discussing sensitive topics, such as cultural differences or the history of France.

Time Management

In France, punctuality and being on time are highly valued, and it is considered impolite to be late for a business meeting or appointment. It’s important to arrive on time, or even a few minutes early, and to let your French business partners know if you are running late.

At the same time, it’s important to be flexible and adaptable, as meetings or appointments may sometimes be delayed or rescheduled at the last minute. Be patient and understanding, and try to be as accommodating as possible.

Stuck in a sticky situation? Here are some expressions that may help:

I’m sorry, I’m running lateJe suis désolé(e), je suis en retard
I got stuck in trafficJe suis resté(e) coincé(e) dans le trafic
My train/bus was delayedMon train/bus a eu du retard
I had an unexpected delayJ’ai eu un imprévu
My car wouldn’t startMa voiture ne voulait pas démarrer
I got lost on the wayJe me suis perdu(e) en chemin
Can we reschedule the meeting?Peut-on reporter la réunion ?
I’ll be there as soon as possibleJe serai là dès que possible
Please start without meCommencez sans moi, je vous en prie
I’ll make up for the time laterJe rattraperai le temps plus tard

French Dining Etiquette

Business meetings often take place over a meal or French business lunch, and dining etiquette is an important part of French business culture. Table manners are highly valued, and it’s important to know how to use utensils, napkins, and glasses properly. Remember to keep your hands on the table and not in your lap – this is perceived as rude.

When ordering food or drinks, it’s customary to let the other person order first and to avoid ordering anything too expensive or extravagant. It’s also important to maintain a professional demeanor at all times and to avoid drinking too much alcohol or getting overly relaxed. Remember that your glass will be topped up whenever it is empty, so when you feel you are getting tipsy, leave some wine in the glass as a sign to the waiter or waitress you have had enough.

Make Sure You Follow-Up

After a business meeting or appointment, French business customs demand that it is important to follow up promptly and professionally. Send a thank-you note or email, and summarize the main points of the discussion. This shows that you value the other person’s time and input and helps to build a strong relationship for future business dealings.

French business etiquette is an important part of doing business successfully in the country. By understanding and respecting French cultural norms and taking the time to build strong personal relationships, you can create a positive and productive business environment that will benefit both you and your French colleagues or clients.

Business Etiquette In France: French Business-Related Words

Director generalPDG (présudent-directeur général)
The head officeLe siège
EmployeesLes employés
TrainingLa formation
AssetsLes biens
The partnerL’associé
SalaryLe salaire
The branchLa succursale
A bossUn employeur

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Learning better business etiquette in France unavoidably means improving your French language. With the Ling app, you will have all the tools you need to do so at your disposal. Not just lessons, quizzes, and games to make learning French fun, but access to an ever-growing library of blogs and in-depth lessons to help you better understand the French people and their culture. Download the Ling app from Google Play or App Store today and make sure you never make a French business meeting faux pas!

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