pay a visit

Tatyana Markovtsev 002So when was the last time you had to pay someone a visit?

You know that the French have some specific rules of etiquette that you should know if you don’t want to upset your future friends!

Check out the article below for some more insight and watch the video for some French worth paying a visit!

(This week: verb RENDRE – to give back)






This is the 4th episode of our series of articles regarding French manners and etiquette.

The French, like all people, share a number of codes and conventions that govern individual behavior in social life. This system of codes is called politeness, « savoir vivre », good manners or etiquette. These codes of behavior facilitate relationships between individuals, they help to create social harmony. They also define what is expected, allowed or prohibited in certain situations, dictate the obligations of each party to the social hierarchy, between men and women (gallantry) . Often, they also help “locate” an individual in relation to the standard: ignorance or knowledge of certain protocols in fact reveal a lack in education, or the contrary, qualities.

Pay a visit… de bon ton!

When you are invited for a soirée, a dinner, a cocktail at someone, it is necessary to observe this rule: do not arrive on time! In other words, if you are invited for 19:00 hours, it is customary to arrive 10 or 15 minutes later, because if you go sooner, you’d arrive too early. However, if you foresee a “real” delay of more than thirty minutes, it is polite to call the host to prevent them.

What can we bring for the host when invited? A bouquet of flowers of course (as natural as possible, without wrapping paper), but a bottle of good wine, copy of a book you’ve read recently, or a box of chocolates is probably a better choice. It must be assumed that your host if they receive many guests, will perhaps not be very available to deal with several bouquets of flowers to prepare, place in a vase etc. The supreme elegance is sending flowers ahead of time, the day before or the day of the visit with a card and a few words of thanks.

The French love the conversation in general, but it should remain « de bon ton » as usual. Saying nothing is considered of bad taste, but to want to shine too much is also frowned upon. Avoid conversation topics which are too controversial, like politics, religion, morality, taxation, so as not to reveal too openly his opinions. Also avoid criticizing certain professions (lawyers, teachers, doctors etc.), because it is always possible that one of the guests engaged in one of these professions.

Talking too much about oneself or monopolize attention to oneself is frowned upon. Wait until the speaker has finished his sentence to speak in turn, must also avoid to openly contradict this person, even if we do not share his views. It is important to listen to what we are told, in particular the answers to the questions that were asked.

It is impolite to “monopolize” someone for too long, even if the person seems to listen with interest. If another guest says ‘hi’ and addresses to the person to whom you speak, it is best to let them join another group.

When leaving your hosts, it is of course essential to say your good-byes and thank them personally. In general, it is not necessary to say good-bye to other guests before leaving, but circumstances vary greatly. In the case of a small group, it is obvious that your departure will be noticed, it will be polite to greet everyone, either individually or by contacting the group. It is also possible that your departure causes several other departures. The farewells can sometimes take a while in France, it is not uncommon in fact that after the first “goodbye”, the conversation to be restarted again for fifteen or twenty minutes. The idea of ​​”leaving” for French is an intended “project” rather than a determined act that runs immediately. In short, too abrupt a departure will be considered abnormal and rude.

It is polite to send a thank you message or call your guests the day after their invitation, but this habit is much less common in France than in Germany or in Anglo-Saxon countries. If you have made promises to your host or a guest, keep these promises, unless you realize that it is the wine and not the reason that made you speak!

Some things are common sense, and some are different. This is true for cultures too! Question is, do you comply or do you like to stick to what you know?

Immersing yourself in the culture that’s around you and making friends is definitely the way to get acquainted to etiquette and to start feeling like it’s your own.

You are not a tourist – you use the J’Ouellette® Method to become yet another example that reinforces the fact that English speaking people around the world work really hard to learn and honour other cultures. You are an international citizen who respects the French culture, because it touches you in a special way and keeps calling you to pay a visit.

(Inspired from


Immerse yourself as you FINALLY reach your dream of becoming bilingual, learn to speak Parisian French and BREAK your language barrier!


Now it is your turn!

Tell us in the comments below, which code of etiquette mentioned above feels the most foreign to you?


Want to learn French to enjoy Paris?
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Drop me a line and I’ll show you how I can help you – with your challenges, your level and your goals – to rapidly expand your vocab so that you can attend that client meeting, even if it’s scheduled for next week, and impress them by speaking their native language!


À la prochaine,




Photo credit: Tatyana Markovtsev, A.G. photographe

4. Are you French-manners ready? (pay a visit… de bon ton)

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