Etiquette

  • Greetings When entering or leaving a shop, it's polite to say bonjour and au revoir. When greeting friends, it's usual to give a kiss on both cheeks and ask Comment ça va? (How are you?)
  • Conversation Use vous (you) when speaking to people you don't know well, or who are older than you; use tu (also you) with friends, family and children.
  • Asking for help Say excusez-moi (excuse me) to attract attention; say pardon (sorry) to apologise.
  • Religious buildings Dress modestly and be respectful when visiting.
  • Eating & drinking When dining in a French home, wait for your host to start first. Always clear the plate. When you're finished, line up your fork and knife on top of your plate towards the right.
  • Waiters Never, ever call waiters garçon – use Monsieur (Mr), Mademoiselle (Miss) or Madame (Mrs), or attract their attention by saying s'il vous plaît (please).