Things tourists should never do in France – Etiquette for France and Paris

Things tourists should never do in France – France and Paris Etiquette

Welcome to France, a country known for its rich culture and strict social rules. People come from all around the world to see famous places like the Eiffel Tower and eat delicious French food.

But there’s more to visiting France than just seeing sights and eating croissants. It’s also important to respect French ways so you can have a good time without upsetting anyone.

French people are proud of their language, so it’s smart to learn some basic words in French. Saying “Bonjour” when you walk into a store or restaurant is polite and shows that you’re trying.

Remember that on Sundays, many shops close, so plan ahead! Also, when talking with someone new, use “Vous” instead of “Tu” because it’s more formal.

In France, they consider certain things rude that might be okay where you’re from. For example, walking while drinking coffee or being too loud in public isn’t well-liked. And always say goodbye properly with an “au revoir.” When you’re out eating at restaurants, try not to complain about the food as French cooking is part of their culture.

Visiting Paris? Great! Just don’t wait until the last minute to buy tickets for events or assume everyone speaks English because that’s not always true. Public transport may sometimes be late but remember your valid ticket!

France has lots more than just Paris; exploring other regions can show off different parts of French life too.

Ready for an adventure in France? Keep these tips in mind for smooth sailing!

Cultural Customs to Be Aware of in France

Learn a few basic French words to show respect and attempt to communicate with locals. Avoid being loud in public as it is considered rude in France. Be mindful of mealtimes, as the French take their meals very seriously and usually have set times for them.

Show up on time for appointments or events, as punctuality is important in French culture. Respect personal space and avoid being overly familiar with strangers.

Learn a few basic French words

Knowing some French words can help you in France. People there really like it when you try to speak their language. Start with “Bonjour” (Hello) for greetings and “Merci” (Thank You) when someone helps you out.

Use “S’il vous plaît” (Please) to ask nicely. If you need to leave, say “Au revoir” (Goodbye). This shows respect for the local culture.

If you’re not sure about a word, it’s okay! Just try your best. Many people in France know English, but they will be happier if you speak French first. And avoid using “Tu” unless the person is close to you; use “Vous” instead as a sign of respect.

Don’t worry too much—making an effort is what matters most!

Avoid being loud in public

When in France, it is crucial to keep noise at a reasonable level. Excessive loudness is not well-received, and it’s important to be mindful of this cultural norm. Whether you’re in a restaurant, on public transport, or simply walking around the city, maintaining a moderate volume demonstrates respect for others and the local customs.

By being conscious of your noise level, you can ensure that you are respectful towards locals and their cultural norms. It also helps create a more pleasant environment for everyone around you while exploring this beautiful country.

Be mindful of mealtimes

When visiting France, it’s important to be aware of the significance of mealtimes. Lunch is typically a big meal and many shops may close for a few hours. Remember that dinner is enjoyed later in the evening compared to some other countries, usually around 8 pm or later in local restaurants.

Taking time to savor your meals is considered polite rather than rushing through them. Embracing these cultural traditions can enhance your experience and show respect for French customs.

Remembering to adjust your schedule to accommodate French mealtimes will help you avoid any inconvenience during your visit. Enjoying leisurely lunches and embracing the late dining culture can provide an authentic taste of French life and help you appreciate their culinary traditions even more.

Show up on time

Arriving on time is crucial when visiting France. Punctuality shows respect for others’ schedules and commitments. Whether it’s meeting friends, attending an event, or dining at a restaurant, being punctual is highly valued in French culture.

Not showing up on time can be considered rude and disrespectful to the host or the people you are meeting.

Being late is seen as a sign of disregard for the importance of other people’s time. It’s important to plan your day carefully and allow extra time for unexpected delays when traveling around France.

Respect personal space

When interacting with locals in France, it’s important to be mindful of personal space. French people value their privacy and tend to keep a comfortable distance when speaking or interacting with others.

Avoid standing too close or touching someone unless it is necessary. Being aware of this cultural norm will show that you respect the personal boundaries of the people you meet during your visit.

Understanding and respecting personal space is an essential aspect of adapting to French social norms. By maintaining a respectful distance and not invading personal space, you demonstrate cultural sensitivity and consideration for others’ comfort, fostering more positive interactions during your time in France.

Things to Avoid Doing in France

Avoid making negative comments about the country, as it can be seen as disrespectful.

Don’t assume everyone speaks English, and remember to be patient with language barriers.

Don’t expect shops to be open every day

Most shops and businesses in France are closed on Sundays. This is the traditional day of rest, so it’s essential to plan your shopping and activities accordingly. While some tourist areas may have a few shops open, especially in larger cities or for tourist attractions, it’s best to be prepared with any essentials you might need ahead of time as many establishments observe this closure.

Moreover, it’s good to be aware that even during the week, smaller shops and family-run businesses may also close for lunchtime or take a day off during the week.

Remembering these details will help you avoid inconvenience because Sunday trading laws are strict in France and generally prohibit opening on Sundays outside specific tourist zones or emergency services like pharmacies and bakeries.

Don’t make negative comments about the country

When visiting France, it’s important to avoid making negative comments about the country. French people are proud of their culture and heritage, so speaking positively about your experiences will help you make a good impression.

Remember that every country has its own unique customs and traditions, and showing respect for them can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.

By avoiding negative comments about the country, you’ll be able to engage with locals more positively and create meaningful connections during your visit. Embracing the beauty of French culture and being open-minded towards new experiences will enhance your travel experience in this charming country.

Don’t be picky about food in restaurants

When dining out in France, it’s important not to be too particular about the food. French cuisine is known for its quality and flavor, so try to embrace new tastes and dishes. Avoid asking for significant alterations to your meal or making negative comments about the food.

Remember that French chefs take pride in their creations, so being open-minded will enhance your dining experience and show respect for the local culinary culture.

Being flexible with your food choices allows you to fully immerse yourself in the rich gastronomic traditions of France. Embrace the opportunity to savor authentic French cuisine without imposing personal preferences on the menu.

Don’t be surprised by displays of affection

Prepare yourself to witness public displays of affection in France, such as kissing and hugging. It is a common part of French culture and is seen as an expression of love and affection.

You might notice couples being openly affectionate in parks, cafes, and on the streets. This display of warmth and closeness is a cherished part of French social interactions.

Keep in mind that these acts are considered normal in France and are not meant to cause discomfort. Embrace the cultural differences with an open mind, understanding that this shows the warm nature of French people towards each other.

Don’t make assumptions about people’s English abilities

When in France, do not assume that everyone speaks English fluently. While some people may have a basic understanding of English, it is always courteous to try to communicate in French first.

Learning a few simple French phrases can go a long way in making interactions smoother and more enjoyable for both you and the locals.

Being mindful of language barriers and showing an effort to speak French demonstrates respect for the local culture and can lead to more positive experiences during your visit. Additionally, having a basic grasp of the language can help you navigate the country more effectively, making your trip much more pleasant and rewarding.

Don’t take photos in certain places without permission

Respect the rules about taking photos in France. Ask for permission before clicking pictures, especially in museums or religious sites. It’s important to be mindful of cultural sensitivities and privacy concerns when capturing moments.

By showing respect and asking for permission, you can avoid unintentionally causing offense or breaking any local regulations. Remember, being aware of these guidelines demonstrates your consideration for the country’s customs and etiquette.

Etiquette to Follow in France

Be polite to shopkeepers and expect men to be gallant in their behavior towards women. Keep noise at a reasonable level and be prepared to help strangers in need.

Be polite to shopkeepers

Show respect to shopkeepers by greeting them with “Bonjour” and exchanging pleasantries. It’s important to be patient and courteous while interacting with them, as it is customary in France.

Saying “merci” (thank you) after making a purchase is also considered polite. Remember that engaging in small talk before getting down to business is common practice, so take the time for a friendly exchange.

Additionally, avoid being too assertive or demanding; politeness and patience will go a long way in your interactions with shopkeepers.

Expect men to be gallant

In France, it is customary for men to display gallant behavior, such as holding doors open or offering their seat on public transport. This traditional courtesy is deeply ingrained in French culture and is often appreciated by locals.

By being aware of and respectful towards this aspect of French etiquette, you can show consideration for the customs of the country you are visiting.

Understanding and acknowledging cultural norms like expecting men to be gallant can enhance your experience as a tourist in France. It demonstrates an appreciation for local customs and helps in fostering positive interactions with the people you encounter during your travels.

Keep noise to a reasonable level

Respect the quiet environment in France, as loud and raucous behavior is not well-received. Excessive noise, especially in public places, can be seen as impolite and disruptive to others around you.

Remember that maintaining a reasonable level of noise shows consideration for those sharing the space with you. Additionally, being mindful of your noise level demonstrates respect for French cultural norms and social etiquette.

Avoid creating unnecessary disturbances by keeping conversations and activities at a moderate volume. Whether you are dining at a restaurant or walking through the streets, being conscious of the noise you create will help you blend in seamlessly with local customs while exploring the beautiful country of France.

Be prepared to help strangers

When in France, it is important to be ready to assist strangers if needed. French people appreciate kindness and willingness to help others. Whether it’s giving directions or offering a helping hand, being prepared to assist strangers can leave a positive impression and contribute to a pleasant experience for both you and the locals.

If someone approaches you for help or seems lost, don’t hesitate to offer assistance. It may also be helpful to familiarize yourself with common phrases that could be useful in offering aid, such as asking if they need directions or if they are okay.

Being open to helping strangers can create opportunities for meaningful interactions and further enhance your cultural experience while visiting France.

Tips for Visiting Paris

Purchase tickets in advance rather than on the day of the event to avoid long lines and potential disappointment. Be prepared to speak some French or have a translation app handy for communication.

Have a valid ticket for public transport, as relying on it for punctuality may lead to frustration. Don’t assume everyone speaks English, so being prepared with basic French phrases can be helpful.

And finally, be mindful that public transport may not always run exactly on time, so plan accordingly.

Don’t buy tickets on the day of the event

Buying tickets for events on the day of the event is not a good idea in France. Many popular attractions and events have long lines, and there might not be any tickets left if you wait until the last minute.

It’s better to plan ahead and buy your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

To ensure you don’t miss out on experiencing what France has to offer, it’s important to research and book tickets for popular attractions before your trip. This way, you can make the most of your time without worrying about missing out on must-see experiences due to long queues or sold-out shows.

Be prepared to speak French

Learn some basic French phrases before your trip to France. Saying “Bonjour” (hello), “Merci” (thank you), and “S’il vous plaît” (please) can go a long way in making connections with locals.

Don’t rely solely on English, as many locals may not be fluent. Being able to communicate in French will enhance your experience and interactions during your visit.

French people appreciate the effort when tourists try to speak their language. Learning simple phrases shows respect for the local culture and makes it easier to navigate daily activities such as ordering food or asking for directions.

Have a valid ticket for public transport

Make sure you have a valid ticket before using public transport in France. Always remember to buy your tickets in advance, as purchasing on the day of travel can be challenging and time-consuming.

Many locals use public transportation, so it’s important to follow the rules and guidelines to avoid any inconvenience or fines during your travels. Failing to have a valid ticket can result in penalties, so it’s crucial to plan ahead and ensure you have the necessary documentation for your journey.

Don’t assume everyone speaks English

When visiting France, it’s essential to remember that not everyone speaks English. Learning a few basic French words can go a long way in helping you communicate with locals and showing respect for their language and culture.

Assuming that everyone speaks English can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations during your visit. By making an effort to learn some simple French phrases, you can make your interactions smoother and more pleasant while also demonstrating cultural sensitivity.

So, be prepared to use “Bonjour” and “Merci” as these small efforts can make a big difference in your experience as a tourist in France.

Don’t rely on public transport for punctuality

When in France, it’s important not to depend entirely on public transportation for being punctual. Due to various factors such as strikes or unexpected delays, public transport in France may not always run on time.

It’s advisable to plan ahead and allow extra time when using public transport, especially if you have a scheduled appointment or event to attend. Being prepared for potential delays can help you avoid unnecessary stress during your travels.

Remember that relying solely on public transport for punctuality is not always the best option in France. Instead, consider alternative transportation methods or plan your travel schedule with some flexibility to ensure you arrive at your destinations on time and enjoy a smooth travel experience throughout your trip.


In conclusion, mastering French customs before your visit is vital. Implement these practical and efficient strategies to respect cultural norms effectively. How will you adapt your behavior when visiting France? Consider the impact of applying these tips for a smoother and more enjoyable trip.

Explore additional resources for further learning on French etiquette. Take action now to ensure a respectful and rewarding experience in France!

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