French Etiquette

You also can't escape the cheese course as this comes before the pudding.

I usually take sunglasses off for le bise, otherwise it depends on the person with ordinary glasses, sometimes they take them off and sometimes they don't. Never heard anything about the bon appétit thing, must ask around. I thought you always waited for your hostess to start (for English people) unless she tells everyone to start without her (ie stressed in the kitchen!). I have found that my guests wait for me to start to drink the aperitif, so have to be ready for this. The apero is a big thing, you can't get away with crisps or something, it is very elaborate and sometimes lasts longer than the actual meal (waiting for all those latecomers!)


Some people are so picky and uptight - am I allowed to use the phrase 'anally rententive' please

act accordingly or find friends you feel comfortable with ;-) (tongue in cheek!)

I went on a trip with 12 french women and when we sat to eat together non of them said ' bon apetit' and I was told to watch the hostess but not to say a word or start eating when she does. We are all live in Aix area! I guess its better to act accordingly.

makes two of us Kerry!

What I find works best is to grab both ears and plant one in the middle......... (joking!)

@Kerry, I can't believe what your Parisian friend said (well I can he/she's Parisian, that says it all...!) everyone says "bon appétit" here, when I was at Uni in Aix-en-Provence it was the same, and when I taught in Brittany too, I say it all the time, all my French family say it and it's considered rude not to do so ={:-O

a mate's wife always takes them off first, it's a ritual chez elle, others don't if they can get away with it e.g. the one or two women cyclists never take their sunglasses off, and neither do most of us blokes, when we say hello before each training ride.

Where is the etiquette for les bisous if you (or both parties) wear glasses? Is it right to take yours off, expect them to take theirs off of both do it. Or just put up with the clash of frames?

@Louise, yes time keeping or the lack of it...! it's bad in the south too, my OH says you should never arrive on time, nobody will be ready and she's right! as for the bises - three here and yes Christmas and other big family occasions are a kissing marathon, two of my brother in laws kiss each other, me and the other BIL don't (each other or them!), but the two that do have known each other since primary school, the other is from a village 10km away so is as foreign as me!

@Dave - left cheek to left cheek, but that depends on where you are too! Here's another map of how many bises and you'll see below that everyone has the same problem of knowing which cheek and how many once you leave your local area...!

I found it quite funny. People always think the French are very smart but they are really casual and usually wear jeans for everything. For timekeeping the Parisians are meant to be the worst, at least an hour late for dinner is usual but round me they are pretty much on time, I had to really improve in that department when I came here. It is true about the kissing, after meeting people a couple of times you are expected to do the bise, either two or four. My husbands family do four. A bit wearing when you go to a party and have to kiss 40 people when you arrive and when you leave.

With regard to left or right - whose left or whose right? :-)

@ Suzanne - Glad to be of service, ma'am. Blimey, we all need a giggle instead of a grizzle.

@ Andrew - I love the idea of if in doubt go with the flow. Maybe I'll conduct a mini survey, start kissing friends and strangers alike - anyone I see - and monitor whether they swing to the left or the right, as it were... ho hum.

@Rosemary, David's just said it, someone somewhere may think that - and that's what we're all laughing at because, as you say, it's just so dated and bears no ressemblance to modern France - but we're all having a good laugh at it, very tongue in cheek ;-)

@Rosemary Sorry Rosemary did you read the original blog link to the telegraph? I think Catherine was very tongue in cheek! :-)

@ Valerie - u made me giggle which after reading the 'normal?' post was a welcome relief.

Forgive me, the original comment posted by Catharine Higginson on 29/05/12

Hi Valerie, it's not a hard and fast rule though, I just googled it for fun and there are loads of french forums where the question is asked. If in doubt, go with the flow ;-)

@Rosemary - who and why?