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France Business Etiquette, Culture, & Manners

Understanding Etiquette and Manners in France           French etiquette and manners for international business plus Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions profiles

France Introduction

France has a population of approximately 58 million people and is the largest West European country, approximately 4/5 the size of Texas. France does not have an official religion, but the majority of French citizens are Roman Catholic. France is home to approximately 4.5 million foreigners, many of whom are from other European countries or former Communist countries. Education is of great importance to the French.  This is demonstrated by the fact that the educational system is almost free of charge from the primary school through the Ph.D. level,  for French citizens.


France Fun Fact

The French are very aware of their presence, and are extremely proud of their heritage. They boast of their long history and their important roles in world affairs, as well as being known as a world center for culture.


Geert Hofstede Analysis for France

The Geert Hofstede analysis for France illustrates their emphasis on uncertainty avoidance.   The high uncertaintly avoidance ranking indicates France’s concerns for rules, regulations, and issues with career security. In addition to uncertainty avoidance, both individualism and power distance are also ranked fairly high, with masculinity ranking the lowest.  More Geert Hofstede Details


Religion in France


In a country that has over 50% of its population practicing the Catholic religion, we found the primary correlating Hofstede Dimension to be Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI). There were only 2 countries out of 23 that did not follow this correlation, they were Ireland and the Philippines. (See accompanying Article)

France Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance  The French are very conscientious of their appearance.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Dress conservative and invest in well-tailored clothing.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Patterned fabrics and dark colors are most acceptable, but avoid bright colors.

International Business Dress and Appearance  French businessmen do not loosen their ties or take off their jackets in the office.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should also dress conservatively.  Avoiding bright or gaudy colors is recommended.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should also avoid any glitzy or overpowering objects, such as flashy jewelry.


France Behavior 

  Punctuality is treated very casually in France.

  France is a highly stratified society, with strong definition and competition between classes.

  The French handshake is brief, and is accompanied by a short span of eye contact.

  Always shake hands when meeting someone, as well as when leaving.  French handshakes are not as firm as in the United States.

  The French have a great respect for privacy. Knock and wait before entering into a room.   Additionally, do not "drop in" unannounced. Always give notice before your arrival.

  Business can be conducted during any meal, but lunch is best.

  Avoid drinking hard liquor before meals or smoking cigars between courses. The French believe this permeates the taste buds, compromising the taste of the meal.

  Gift giving is left to the foreigner’s discretion.

  Good gifts to present include books or music, as they demonstrate interest in intellectual pursuits.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Considering sending a gift to someone in France? See this information


France Communications 

  French is the official language in France.

  If you do not speak French, it is very important that you apologize for your lack of knowledge.

  Most individuals in business speak English.

  The French have a great appreciation for the art of conversation.

  The French frequently interrupt each other, as the argument is a form of entertainment.

  The French often complain that North Americans lecture rather than converse.

  Be sensitive to the volume of your voice. Americans are known to offend everyone in a restaurant, meeting, or on the street with their loud voices and braying laughter.

  Eye contact is frequent and intense, and can often be intimidating to North Americans.


 France Resources

International Business Center Newsletter
Free subscription offer click here

Site Resource Page

International Career Center - Information on international careers and jobs

Factbook on France

Education information for France

French Newspapers

French Travel information

French Prime Minister's official Website

Global Etiquette Guide: France

Discover France

Business and Travel Etiquette in France

Lovure Museum



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