What not to do or say in France

Here you are preparing yourself and your chosen other/s for this once-in-a-lifetime trip to France. Everyone has been suggesting things you can do, places to visit, and shouting out restaurants with to-die-for food that you must not miss. You name it, they’ve seen it, been there and done that, so you must do so too! Oh la la! Although this is very thoughtful, you will be making the eventual decisions of what to do in France. Yet, Merci beaucoup à tous pour toutes les bonnes idées! (Thank you to everyone for all the good ideas), you are still thankful to everyone for their lovely ideas!

The BIG question though is, has anyone told you what you should rather not do in France?

Well, here are some of the things you shouldn’t do in France: 

Just in case no one has discussed this with you, let’s walk this road in good preparation for les Français (the French people). We know about the importance of la politesse (politeness) don’t we? So let’s be absolutely sure to put this into practice every day, no matter where the conversation lies.


Start all conversations with bonjour monsieur/madame. Beware if you simply launch into speech, or into a question without this vital prelude. This is an integral part of French culture and you will not be acknowledged without it. Should you be wanting to ask for help, you’d be smart to add in “excuse me”, so bonjour, excusez-moi madame/monsieur….. Oh, and  merci ou merci beaucoup et au revoir is clever too, when parting.

Off you go to that exclusive little French boutique

You are beyond excited going to buy that classic chic jacket you spotted when you were doing du lèche-vitrines (window shopping). You buy it, get back to your hotel room and put it on again. Oh no, now you are as miserable as you were excited, because you realise you should have taken a smaller size. Now, whatever you do, do NOT go back to the boutique and ask for a swop or a refund. Just don’t! That chic little item you bought has got your name on it for life, with indelible ink. It is not even vaguely done in French (boutique) culture, to return the garment I mean. You bought it, you own it! Their return of goods policy translates into “buy another one”. I promise, you would not live to report the look of sheer disdain you’d receive. You’d have to learn French like une Française (French woman) to cope with all this!

Talking about wearing… Here is what you should wear, or rather, what you shouldn’t wear in Paris!

Now here’s a discreet little warning to dress it up a little rather than down at all. Keep those famous flip-flops, sweatshirts, shorts, jogging pants, sneakers and the like ever so definitely out of sight of the cultured Parisian eye. They are NOT going to serve you in any way. Instead, go for casual chic and you’ll be sure to blend in wherever you may want to wander. This is an integral part of their culture and the way you dress creates the level of respect you express to your surroundings and to the people you interact with directly or indirectly. Remember, la politesse et le respect wins the day en France (in France).

And then… Whatever you do, do not do this!

So you and your gorgeous other/s are treating yourselves at this delectable restaurant. You think how nice it would be to take home what you could not manage to munch. Don’t! Don’t even entertain the idea of asking for a take-it-home-bag because you will not survive the penetrating look of total shock and disgust targeted at you in response. That’s it peeps, sometimes less is definitely more likely to be in your favour! Do not ask for a d-o-g-g-y bag!!! Jamais! (never!)

Le français, le français ……….. where oh where is my beautiful Frrrrrench ?

So now, you are desperately sorry you did not take that French course or even try to learn French as you promised yourself you would. Knowing how much the French love and respect their language, and a little knowledge of spoken French could be among your greatest assets in France. So, at least have a little French phrase book with you and learn French as you travel. Do not start a conversation en anglais (in English), start it en français!  This will at least show the French some respect for their language and will be received with a touch more of French friendliness (now what is French friendliness, if you please?) than otherwise.

Do you think it is high time to take that promised French course back home and finally start to learn French? 

Voilà, on va parler français (we are going to speak French) …….. c’est bien!!!