As part of French etiquette and as a sign of courtesy, you will be addressed with Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle. When someone asks for your name (votre nom s’il vous plait), you will need to give your surname. “Nom” means your surname. In formal settings you will most likely never give your first name (votre prénom). This is something you need to know as you may be used to using your first name even in formal settings in your country : doctor’s appointments, pharmacy, restaurant booking.. etc. Despite the many years in France, this is something I’m still not quite accustomed to.
The French love debating about topics such as current affairs, society, politics, etc.. Although at certain moments, for example during meals, the subject of politics is often avoided. The French also tend not to share how much they earn.
In the workplace, the French demeanor is typically neutral and serious.
It is not easy to fully understand the jokes of other cultures, and in the same way it is difficult to make laugh someone with whom you have a great cultural difference because each joke contains the ideas, the way of being and the idiosyncrasy of each country.
The French are very proud of their language, culture, and country. A large part of their humour is based on the language, making it hard to understand for non-fluent French speakers or for those who have not lived in France for many, many years. They value wit (intellectual, sarcastic, cynical) and understanding irony is key to understanding French humour which basically shouldn’t be taken literally.
The Age of Enlightenment also known as the Age of reason (an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries) would have shaped the character inclined to question everything. It is important to add that a lot has been achieved in France particularly in terms of social protection and the French want to make sure they keep it.
French society as a whole appears somewhat pessimistic but individually the French are quite content and are happy with the quality of living they enjoy in their country
The French have a wide range of facial expressions that convey the message clearly without using words. Below are some expressions you will see regularly :
I don’t believe you…
This is annoying…
No way, you’re telling tales…
Knowing French onomatopoeias can familiarize you with French phonetics.
Oh là là ! – Ah bon ! – Ah ça alors ! – Tiens ! – Eh bien !
Ah là là ! – Zut ! – Mince ! – Purée ! – Punaise ! – Mercredi ! (replaces the M**de word)
Dis donc ! “I say” used to draw attention to the remark
Bah ! meaning « well » with indifference
Bravo ! often used ironically to highlight something silly
Hélas ! regret Alas in English
Bon ! okay
Ok ça marche ! All right, that works
Tout à fait : absolutely, exactly
Courage ! stay strong
Allez les Bleus 😊
– Tourner autour du pot Beat around the bush
– La chance sourit aux audacieux Fortune favours the brave
– Coûter la peau des fesses Costs an arm and a leg
– Ne pas être dans son assiette Feeling under the weather
– Mettre le doigt dessus Hitting the nail on the head
– D’une pierre deux coups Killing two birds with one stone
– Vendre la mêche Letting the cat out of the bag
– Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
– Quand les poules auront des dents When pigs fly
– On n’a rien sans rien No pain, no gain
– Les bons comptes font les bons amis A dept paid is a friend kept
– La couverture ne fait pas le livre Don’t judge a book by its cover
Popular idiomatic expressions around food. Do the quiz : Popular expressions around food
The correct answers are here below :