French Etiquette


(Valerie Skinner) #41

The left - I need to remember that. One of the mums at school (I don't even know her name) kisses me every morning and I've been very nervous about accidentally head-butting her and damaging her conk. Thank you Andrew.


(Rosemary Chalmers) #42

I think you are living in the dark ages!


(Andrew Hearne) #43

@Gregor and Suzanne, the left, but then again... I've lived in different parts where 4 was normal in Brittany, 2 in Provence, 3 here in the aveyron and when we meet old friends from the aveyron further north we still keep to 3 even though we're in an area where it's 2 and their daughters are always a bit puzzled when we insist on the third, same with family in the aude, they're all aveyronnais so we stick to three! as for which side, it just depends on which side you attack from...!


(Gregor Hakkenberg) #44

@Suzanne: there is another site that gives suggestions about which side to start, but the data base is very meager (N=few). If I don't know where to start I just go straight for the mouth.


(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #45

@ Gregor - crikey - we also need to know if you commence with left or right? I confess I usually let the other person lead or go right.


(Mei Yee Lam) #46

I held a chinese lunch three french friends and an italian.I layed my table with bowls on plates and chopsticks on rests to keep clean. When I realize my lovely french friends cannot use chopstick I offered knives, forks, spoons whatever make them feel comfortable. They declined with a polite shook their heads, removed their bowl from their plates and put their chopsticks aside, and started to grab the foods from plates to plates to mouth to eat! And when they truly stuck they went for the serving spoon and one chopstick to cut! Quite bizzar but they were so happy I just joined in and be happy with them. Little did I forget thought I made chrysanthemum tea for the heat and then realised that is the flowers for the dead! dahhhhh.


(Gregor Hakkenberg) #47

For those who are puzzled about how many 'bises' to offer, here's a map: http://combiendebises.free.fr/


(Lynn STONE) #48

Our 16 year old son is on a short list for entry to the Lycée of Airbus in Toulouse.
We were very amused when he and 850 other students went for the day of tests, ALL the Airbus officials had their black trousers, white shirts and bright pink ties on. It just looked very odd after all these years of being out of a corporate environment, but it obviously still exists out there somewhere!


(Dave Ratcliffe) #49

Appears to have been written by an American cousin as the reference to holding a knife and fork in a certain way ie not cutting food in the "conventional" way and then transferring fork to right hand to eat the small morsels of food! Living in the South time keeping appears optional - ask our macon! :-)


(David Cox 2) #50

Reminds me of the book I read before coming to France, that clearly stated that EVERYONE in France plays Bridge. Haven't played a hand of bridge in almost 15 years....


(Nick Ord) #51

Most of our rugby team do the bises. Not sure if it is hyper team bonding or the after effects of Pastis.


(Sheila Walshe-Blackmore) #52

Suzanne, I'm not surprised he was shocked. In Ireland, close male friends might hug at New Year, and certainly at one of the many piss-ups held for us before we left for France, a few close friends gave Henry a hug. We are far more used to shaking hands with acquaintances, and for the women to gently hug and sort of kiss the air as they do so.

One of my first faux-pas was when the neighbours invited us in for dinner, and thinking I was being helpful, started clearing the plates, then quickly realising my mistake, and with a red face, giving people back their plates. Fortunately, everyone thought it was funny and now if I'm not sure about a particular "social grace", I go to this neighbour for advice.


(Catharine Higginson) #53

Am too busy to reply as am chucking out all my clothes and replacing them with elegant dresses in soft colours.


(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #54

@ Sheila - ah yes New year & celebrations...I remember Darren's shock after the babies were born as our best male friend kissed him :)


(Sheila Walshe-Blackmore) #55

Agree with Johnny there, nice distraction, but bears no resemblance to our life here. How do people in the UK use their cutlery? In Ireland, it is the norm to hold the fork in the left hand unless you are seated beside some lounge lizard and need to discourage his roaming hands!

As Nick says, I waited for the other person to make the first move on the bisous matter. Mostly now, I just know. However, at the New Year's Eve party in our neighbours' house, Henry was somewhat surprised at midnight to be kissed by all the men.


(Valerie Skinner) #56

I love it. I think I may take this literary gem literally - the next time I go somewhere 'posh', I will arrive within the first 10 minutes, undoubtedly making the hosts very flustered, run around saying bonjour then run around a second time and, because technically I have already met them, will then flamboyantly kiss men, women and children at least once on each cheek. If I have any time left after the kissing orgy, I will then make my most valiant attempt at holding for the cutlery in, what is for me, a completely uncontrollable fashion. Hopefully there will be plenty of napkins available as I shall be shoveling food towards my mouth like a 1 year old. Oh, and I must remember to dress smartly in my best pastel shades, especially if there are potential clients present. I'm sure they won't mind my foolhardy attempts to prong food onto my fork resulting in anything slippery landing in their laps.


(Catharine Higginson) #57

What amazes me is that it is taken from a book that you can download. And PAY for!


(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #58

Valerie - I was wondering if my left handed daughter woukd be told off for eating in an unfrench manner! I will now observe all left handed French people at the dinner table.


(Valerie Skinner) #59

I am so glad I did NOT read that before moving here.

If so, I would have believed it standard practice to kiss on the cheek after having met someone only once before. I think French Annie across the lane would be slapping my face, not kissing it, if, instead of wishing him a good morning, I insisted on planting one on her husband every time he walked past the gate.

As for "Table manners are continental – the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating", I'm not sure who wrote the article but sorry, seems a tad lazy and just plain fluff. Yes, say use a knife and fork instead of chopsticks or a garden shovel, but don't increase the word count by adding nonsense - because, hello? yes, a left handed person sitting right here.


(Andrew Hearne) #60

Thanks for that gem Catharine, sounds like a rather anally retentive torygraph journalist!

For the record, I haven't worn a suite or a tie since moving here despite teaching for the CCI in businesses for a number of years and at uni (IUT) - couldn't go back to all that hassle for nothing... ;-)