Here’s The One Must-Know Etiquette Tip You Need While In France
The French are notorious for hating on visitors, especially Americans. But with just one easy etiquette secret, you’ll be welcomed anywhere in Paris or on the Riviera.
It’s very simple: Whenever you go into a store or restaurant, greet the shopkeeper or maître d’ and thank them before you leave.
The tricky part? You have to do it in French or the trick won’t earn you any extra tourist points.
So when you walk into a cute boutique, locate an employee and say, “Bonjour!” (That’s “bohn-joor.”) When you leave, say, “Merci!” (It’s “mer-see.”) It doesn’t have to be up close and personal; you can call from across the room. But if you forget to say hello, you’re that American tourist instantly.
If you want to get fancy, you can add “madame” or “monsieur” to the end of either phrase. That’s how the Parisians do it. Try “Bonjour, madame!” Or “Merci, monsieur. Au revoir!”
Have no fear non-French speakers, it’s the thought that counts – even if your accent is atrocious. French locals will appreciate the effort to meet cultural expectations of courtesy and may even forgive a “bun-jur” or two.
So unlike in New York, don’t try to order your croissant and coffee without saying hello first. But don’t go full-on American and ask the baristas how their day is going. That’s seen as pretty invasive and just plain unnecessary.
It does get a little more complicated if you want to dive deep into the local lingo. Bonjour technically means “good day,” so when the afternoon inches towards dinnertime, you should switch to “good night.” You can say “bon soir” – “bohn-swa” – when the lights start to go down.
However, we’ve definitely said “bonjour” after sunset without any dire consequences. You can stick to the basics.