If someone is in the elevator when you get on say bonjour to him or her and as people get on or off the elevator be sure to continue to respond with bonjour or au revoir. When you reach your floor, if anyone is in the elevator don’t forget to say simply au revoir as you exit the elevator.
When you are entering a waiting room, be it at a doctor’s or a hairdresser’s, be sure to say bonjour as you enter the room. You don’t need to personally great each person. One bonjour will cover the entire room. As others enter the room, remember to respond bonjour to their greeting.
Each time you enter a store, make eye contact with the salesperson and say bonjour madame or bonjour monsieur. As you leave the store, don’t forget say au revoir madame or au revoir monsieur.
If you are working in a French office, you need to personally greet each of your coworkers every morning. This may seem tedious and an inefficient use of your time, but if you don’t do this your French colleagues will be confused and may even think you’re rude. If you are in a small office, be prepared to say bonjour and shake hands with each employee in the office. In larger offices, you will probably only need to greet those you work with regularly. Female co-workers who are at your level and maybe you regularly have lunch with you will kiss on both cheeks rather than shake their hands as you say bonjour. After you sit at your desk, don’t be surprised when everyone who comes into work after you stops by to shake your hand or do the kiss-kiss. Of course, things might be slightly different where you work and it is always best to watch and take the lead from your coworkers.
It doesn’t matter if you live there or not, when you pass through the lobby (or hallway) of an apartment building you will need to greet everyone you pass with a bonjour madame or bonjour monsieur. If you live in the building, you may know everyone’s name from the co-op board meetings, but don’t be surprised if you never get on a first name bases with the majority of your neighbors, even if you greet them daily.
Then there are parties, park benches, schools, bus drivers… The list goes on and one.
At French As You Like It, Paris is our classroom. We build our lessons around topics that interest you and as all of teachers are Parisian, we have lots of experience discussing and explaining the little differences between Anglophone and French culture.
Interested in getting some cultural coaching while improving your French language skills? Call or contact us here to organize a private French lesson and cultural coaching in Paris.