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The French Culture

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You are expected to say “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” (good morning, and good evening) with or without the honorific title “Monsieur” or “Madame” each time you encounter someone.

Frenchmen usually handshake whereas Frenchwomen often kiss on the cheeks. Depending on the situation (business meeting, first meeting, between colleagues…), you may be expected to handshake people instead of kissing them on the cheeks.

Depending on the region, the number of kisses can change. In Franche-Comté, we kiss twice, once on the right cheek, once on the left cheek.

First names are reserved for family and close friends. Wait until invited before using someone's first name.


Tu and Vous

They both mean you.

You can use “tu” with your friends, your family, people your age or people younger.

You can use “vous” in shops, with strangers, with your teachers and older people.

When in doubt, use “vous” at first, then ask the person if you can use “tu” with him/her.

For more details, please check this website.


Cuisine and Meals

Food is one of the great passions of the French people.

The lunch break will usually happen at 12 pm. It will last one to two hours.

During this break, most shops are closed except in big cities. It is quite common to eat in a restaurant or a cafeteria at lunch. There are a few cheap student restaurants around UTBM.

Dinner will not start before 7 pm (usually at 7.30 or 8 pm) but it greatly depends on the region.

The traditional meal is divided into: appetizer, starter, main course, cheese, desert and coffee.

If you’re invited to eat at someone’s place, it is advisable to bring a gift such as a bottle of wine, flowers or chocolates.


Public Holidays

  • 14th July: Bastille Day celebrates the storming of the Bastille, which occurred on 14th July 1789. Since then, 14th July in France has been a public holiday
  • 1st January: New Year’s Day
  • Monday (the date can change): Easter Monday
  • 1st May: Labor Day
  • 8th May: Victory in Europe Day
  • 40 days after Easter: Ascension Day
  • 7th Sunday after Easter: Pentecost
  • 15th August: Assumption Day
  • 1st November: All Saints’ Day
  • 11th November: Armistice Day
  • 25th December: Christmas Day