Ah, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, the Louvre and the Notre Dame: all fascinating landmarks that most tourists thirst for. Yet there is so much more to France than meets the eye. Its people are as colourful as they can get with their effortless pronunciation, chiselled manners and uncontested wit. So, without further ado, let us look at the top six things to know before hitting the road to visit France!
To get to know the people of a country better, one needs to understand the basic rules of greeting. In France, kissing a total stranger a few times on the cheeks (lightly and multiple times) is practiced among both sexes and in-between (though you will find most men resorting to simple handshakes instead). This will likely be the case even when you meet complete strangers for letting people into your personal space to some degree is considered the norm. Yet do not forget that hugging is not widely-practiced – this is what we meant by “to some degree”. This, of course, usually happens on a non-professional level for in professional environments, only handshakes are practiced between men and women alike. If you happen to be coming from a culture that does not practice cheek-kissing, try to relax and immerse yourself in the friendliness of the locals.
2. Language barriers:
Most people who have visited France will tell you that the locals will often pretend that they do not speak English. While there certainly are a few of them that do not, French people prefer to stick to their mother tongue even if they do. France is the number one country in the world to appreciate the effort of outsiders trying to speak their language. If you are fluent in French, we expressly recommend that you try and do your best but if you only dabble, stick to the basics. Why? Because you might end up in a sticky situation where the bartender or the waiter speaks back in fluent and unrelenting English (implying that your rookie and fruitless French advances are unwelcome). This is a paradox, we know, but the best that you can do is to stick to basic courtesy. If you have a terrible accent, switch to English after the popular “bonjour”. Oh, and don’t forget to say “au revoir” when you are done!
3. The restaurant power-hierarchy:
You read that right: France has a completely different set of rules when it comes to customer service in restaurants. Waiters tend to ignore you, no matter how insistently you are trying to grab their attention and even when they do come your way, they will seem like they don’t give a dime about you or your orders. Yet before you get triggered, understand that it is only a subtle assertion of power – the customer is not the king there. What we recommend that you do is to stay friendly and compassionate for in the face of such an attitude they will most indubitably switch gears (not to mention the advantage of speaking French). Complementing the way that people look or the food that they serve is a brilliant way of getting on their soft sides. Abundant tipping is also a helper – probably the greatest (wink)!
Well, as beautiful as France is and as artistically-inclined as its inhabitants are, they tend to despise tourists (this is often attributed to the fact that France is the most visited country in the world with over 84 million tourists each year). This is the brutal truth: roaming around with a selfie stick or a humongous camera in a Hawaii shirt and a safari hat will not lend you positive glances. In fact, you are going to be glared at most of the times. Also, talking other languages in a loud fashion is also considered incredibly rude in France – if you are going to be loud, at least speak French (wink)! Just kidding; turn down the volume and try to blend in for that is how you are going to experience the true grandeur of the country.
5. Pants in France:
Did you hear that rhyme? Just kidding! Did you know that women in Paris had been forbidden from wearing trousers until 2013, when the 200-year-old ban was finally lifted? Well, you can officially wear what you want now but know that many Parisian women still choose to adhere by the old standards. Do not be surprised by the abundance of skirts; just admire the multifaceted nature of culture.
6. Natural beauty:
As we may all know, most of the leading candidates of today’s beauty industry are French yet the women there do their best not to reflect this. It is much rarer to see a woman clad in tons of makeup in France because the locals admire natural beauty more than anything else. This directly ties into the fact that women will get a lot of attention… a lot. Men will stare so much that they will appear downright intimidating to female outsiders. Though this is often harmless, the local women have evolved to a state where they avoid eye-contact and smiling. Women in France are not rude, they are simply adaptive (wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in France and what taste have they left you with? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it. Oh, and be sure to visit again soon and check out our exciting updates! Safe travels and… au revoir (wink)!