Dos and Don’ts- What to Know When Moving to France

  1. Work

-DON’T start a meeting right on time. Start fifteen minutes later than you originally planned so that you can give a chance for those who are a little late to the meeting to get there before it starts. This is pretty usual in France and people who are late will be surprised if you start on time without them.

-DON’T interrupt the person who is speaking or talk about something which is not on the daily agenda when there is one

-DON’T forget to Forgetting to run through the conclusion again and do a little recap or send out a memo about it after your meeting.

-DO take advantage of the fact that French meetings can be very creative, take the best out of it and watch your business flourish.

-DON’T think that you are going to have an easy negotiation. These people do not believe in a win-win situation, it just doesn’t exist. In their opinion if one side wins, the other side loses, so prepare to the fact that negotiations with them are going to be very difficult and the consensus will not be easily reached.

-DON’T think that your oral agreement is binding. The French believe in written commitments, they are pretty serious about them, but oral agreements are not as binding and lying is not that big of a deal.

  1. Wine

Just like Italy or Spain, France is a wine-loving country. Wine is special and important to them and they know how to appreciate it. To them, wine is not something you drink in order to get drunk, but in order to share a memory together, a special moment. They enjoy talking about the wine, tasting it, making comments, discussing the taste and whether or not it goes well with the meal and so on. Wine is a big part of the identity of people in France and it is not thought of as simply an alcoholic beverage, some people don’t even drink any alcohol other than wine!

-DON’T just take a sip and swallow the wine. Because wine is so important to French people, you should learn how to properly taste a wine, and this is how you do it: You look at the wine, checking for its transparency and how the light goes through it, you look at the color and then you smell it. The smell can tell you about the complexity of the wine, whether it’s simple or complex. Then you taste it and keep it in your mouth for a while to taste how strong it is and how long the taste remains in your mouth, afterwards it is up to you whether you want to swallow or spit it.

-DON’T order the wine by its grape. When you order a wine you may usually order Chardonnay or Cabernet or Merlot, however in France, you order a wine by its origin (Bandol, Pommard, Saint-Emilion,etc). You may also notice that a bottle’s shape depends on the region,

-DON’T fill up your glass all the way. When pouring wine, fill up two thirds of a glass, that will be enough.

-DON’T pour wine in plastic glasses or put ice cubes in it and so on, because the French respect wine, and that is definitely not respectful.

-DON’T serve yourself, but instead wait for your host to pour you more wine or politely ask for a refill.

-DON’T drink the wine too fast, remember the steps above and enjoy your sips.

-DON’T bring wine as a gift to a dinner. Unless you are bringing it to a close friend or to a close gathering, it would be best not to do so because your host has probably already put in a lot of effort to match the wine with the food and you unexpectedly bringing another wine could jeopardize that.

-DON’T touch the glasses while you clink because it is quite possible that the host used his or her valuable crystal glasses in your honor, so just raise your glass, smile and say: “Santé!”  (French people don’t use “cheers”, instead, they use “sante” which basically means “health”).

-DON’T drink the wine when it is too cold or add ice cubes as mentioned because the cold kills its taste.

-DON’T trust the rumors that wine will give you a massive headache, only too much wine or bad wine does that and by assuming that the wine you are having at dinner will give you one, you may be saying that the wine is bad. Therefore to avoid your hosts getting insulted, avoid mentioning headaches.

-DON’T worry if you do not know a lot about wine, you can learn easily just by talking to people with whom you are drinking with, they will teach you a lot about wine.

  1. Cheese

-DO offer cheese after your main course. If you are having guests for dinner, before the desert, bring out a plate with at least two or three types of cheese, their real cheese plates usually have more but two will be fine. After you have finished, bring the desserts because your guests will not be expecting second helping.

-DON’T keep cheese in the refrigerator, because that will kill it’s taste.

-DON’T leave uneaten food on your plate- that would mean that you did not like it. Therefore be careful not to cut pieces of cheese that are too big, you wouldn’t want to leave it uneaten on your plate.

-DON’T cut cheese randomly; there is a way cheese has to be cut depending on the shape of it.

-DON’T assume that smelly cheeses taste that strong, that is not necessarily true, do not be afraid to try blue cheeses because they might not be what you expected.


And again DON’T worry if you do not know any of these things once you get there, or feel ignorant, simply talk to your friends, they will enjoy teaching you new things about their favorite type of cheese or the best wine they ever tasted.