Faux Pas to Avoid Making When Visiting France

If you’re traveling or moving to another country, culture shock is inevitable. It’s the reset button on our customs and values, that thing that makes us stop and say, “Well, why do we do that?” It’s half the fun of traveling—putting those tiny things we do everyday in the spotlight, making us appreciate them for what they are: small indicators of our nationhood and shared values.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to avoid the awkwardness or dirty looks caused by an action that would be considered perfectly normal back home. This list by Not Even French is a handy guide to not offending French people. Much of it is common courtesy (i.e. never arriving at a party empty handed, never eating before everyone else has been served). But others are things that you might not even process as being rude. For example, complaining about shops not being open on Sundays. While this might strike you as an inconvenience, it’s actually something French people have worked very hard to maintain, and representative of a culture that values social protections and a healthy work/life balance.

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In summary, always be polite, and remember to faire la bise.