Like most civilized countries, France has a particular set of rules, manners and customs that makes its society work in that je ne sais quois way. The very word “etiquette” is French, as is “faux pas“, so it’s no big surprise to see that prescribed behaviors are important to these people. When visiting la République, you’d be wise to bear some of these social norms and expectations in mind, lest you unwittingly be perceived as a bumbling foreign oaf. They may say vive la difference, but they’ll actually be aghast at your breaches and blunders. Conversely, some of the things that they do might strike you as odd, rude or bizarre. Cultural awareness and respect goes a long way when traveling, so here are 14 things NOT to do in France.
1. Don’t Put Your Hands on Your Lap
Forget folding your hands demurely on your lap at the table in France. Keep ’em where they can see ’em, or they might wonder what you’re doing down there. Here, the polite way to sit is with both hands visible on the table. All your life you’ve been admonished by your mother for putting your hands or elbows on the table, when maybe you were just born in the wrong country.