French dating norms

Don’t use the familiar form ( tu/toi) or call someone by his Christian name until you’re invited to do so.Generally the older, more important or simply local person will invite the other to use the familiar tu form of address (called tutoiement) and first names; in fact, the switch will suddenly happen and you should pick up on it immediately or you will forever be stuck with the vous form.The familiar form is used with children, animals and God, but almost never with your elders or work superiors.However, the French are becoming less formal and the under 50s often use tu and first names with work colleagues (unless they’re of the opposite sex, when tu may imply a special intimacy!The president of a company or institution should be addressed as monsieur ( madame) le président ( la présidente), a courtesy title usually retained in retirement. It’s best to take it slowly when negotiating this social minefield and to take your cue from the French.The mayor must be addressed as Monsieur/Madame le Maire (even female mayors are le Maire! You shouldn’t kiss ( faire la bise) when first introduced to an adult, although young children will expect to be kissed.(It’s also customary to kiss everyone in sight – including the men if you’re a man – at midnight on New Year’s Eve!

Far safer to stick to discussions of food and drink.

It’s also customary to say good day or good evening ( bonsoir) on entering a small shop and goodbye ( au revoir madame/monsieur) on leaving.

Bonjour becomes bonsoir around 18.00 or after dark, although if you choose bonsoir (or bonjour), don’t be surprised if the response isn’t the same.

The French say bon appétit before starting a meal and you shouldn’t start eating until your hosts do.

It’s polite to eat everything that’s put on your plate. The French love detailed and often heated discussions, but there are certain topics of conversation that need handling with care.

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