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Dealing With French Business Taboos

In France there are a number of issues that are considered inappropriate and that you should be aware of in order to avoid insulting your French counterparts and showing disrespect for their views and values:

There are a number of matters which are known to be inappropriate and one should be aware of such scenarios to avoid offending your French culture, their view and value.

  • Try avoiding a dialogue, to begin with, English, attempt to chat French even if your communication knowledge is inadequate, you will intensify your odds of a concrete partnership.
  • Never focus on asking someone’s salary.
  • Try not to shake hands as French people prefer ‘la bise’ – the kiss on the cheek, which is done at least twice.
  • Address people with “Vous” instead of “Tu” as Vous is more formal.
  • Avoid calling people during the lunch break from 12 pm to 2 pm except you have been invited to the lunch.
  • French people don’t like to talk or discuss their wealth. Talking or showing of wealth is a bad gesture.
  • French administration is very hierarchical & information across these lines can be a time spending process, speaking to the supervisors directly may assist you.
  • Chewing gum in society is deemed vulgar.
  • Put your hands out of your pockets when in public.
  • Striking an open palm up a locked fist is offensive to the French.
  • Snapping fingers is also considered offensive.
  • Try not to ask French people about a Political opinion or whom he voted for. You may enquire however about the federal policy or public opinion on federal leaders.
  • Try not to criticize Napoleon, as he portrays a part of the French spirit.
  • Abstain from practicing any conventional communication openers such as, ‘What do you do?’
  • Courtesy is of the utmost importance to the French. Ones disrespect will not be simply ignored or pardoned.
  • Knowing and acknowledging these issues will make a meaningful offering towards experiencing French culture, developing and supporting great trustworthy business relationships.


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