Relocating To France - Social Customs, Culture and Etiquette |

Relocating To France - Social Customs, Culture and Etiquette

When considering making the move to relocate to France, it is important to gather as much information as you possibly can...

Posted on

12 March 2017

Last updated on 19 January 2020
Relocating To France - Social Customs, Culture and Etiquette
When considering making the move to relocate yourself and your family to France, it is important to gather as much information as you possibly can in order to make a well-informed decision about your long term future. We can judge if a particular country is right for us through finding the answers to the usual sorts of questions; what is their education system like or will I find work easily (the list goes on). One thing more of us are asking nowadays is how the culture and social customs fit into our own and if we knew more about the countries etiquette, would that make us feel more comfortable and integrated into everyday life?
Relocating To France- Social Customs, Culture and Etiquette
Understanding French social customs can go a long way when it comes to finding your feet in a new place. Prior knowledge and practice of French customs, culture and etiquette will certainly make a big difference to your move. Finding the balance between your own way of life and those of the people you are going to be interacting with on a daily basis could be a make or break situation and have a long lasting impact on your future in France. Here are just a few of the social customs you should be aware of when deciding whether France is the right choice for your next step in life.


The French see formality as a normal and integral part of life, but you will find that the further south you go, the less formal people will be. Coming to terms with this early will really help to ease the whole process of integration.

Shaking Hands and Kissing

In business situations, it is customary to shake hands before departure. Kissing is generally reserved for friends and relatives, although receiving a kiss on the cheek sometimes is not unusual. Men who are meeting other males will shake hands upon meeting, although older men may hug and kiss one another, particularly if they are related. A man may kiss a woman on the cheek and women will often kiss each other on the cheek. Small children should almost often expect to receive a kiss!

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Eating Out

If you go to a restaurant you should always greet your waiter and once you have been seated and decided what you would like to eat, close your menu and put it to one side- the waiter will follow shortly after. Waiters in France let people dine at their own pace and will not hover and will only bring the check when you ask for it. Tips are often included in the bill, but it is customary to round up the bill with some change.

Dinner At Home

A casual family meal can tend to be more formal than you may expect- there may be several courses, including wine and freshly baked baguettes. If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner then by all means, bring a small plant or chocolates but never foreign wine. If the dinner is formal, then send a flower arrangement in the morning so that it can be displayed in the evening. Be sure that you never eat before the host says bon appetite and never pour your own drink.
As with most things, learning as you go along is absolutely fine- no one can expect you to do the right thing or act in the perfect way at all times. Take note of social cues and enjoy the whole learning process as it will all be part of the big adventure that makes relocating to another country so exciting! If you’re considering relocation to France or anywhere else and would like to gain a little more insight before you make the move, be sure to get in contact with our team. We can use our expert knowledge and resources to ensure any move you make is as transparent and straightforward as possible. 

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