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10 things that are normal in France but seem weird elsewhere

10 things that are normal in France but seem weird elsewhere

European Business Listicle 37/2018

Typical French behaviour sometimes seems weird to other Europeans. We have compiled 10 things that are normal to French people but seem weird elsewhere. Would you eat cheese for dessert?

1. Kisses as a greeting

It is common to kiss cheeks when you greet a friend or family members. Although every region has its own rules, there are some general facts you should know. If you are a woman, you kiss friends, family members and sometimes acquaintances. As a man you do not kiss someone of the same sex unless they are family members. The double kiss is most common. To avoid unwanted nose bumps and lip locks, start on the right side.

2. Formal greetings

When you meet someone new, you have to say “Hello, madam/sir” (Bonjour Madame/Monsieur) and shake hands. Saying “Hi” (Salut) to strangers is impolite. You only say “Hi” when you see friends and family members. When saying goodbye, it is common to shake hands again. Even in an office, coworkers shake hands or kiss each other’s cheeks.

3. Croissants for breakfast

The French generally start the day with a light breakfast featuring coffee (café au lait) and a croissant that is eaten with jam or butter. Croissants are ubiquitous and are essential for a typical breakfast on the weekend.

4. The crusty baguette

When you think about France, baguettes will automatically pop up in your mind. And that is completely correct. Most French people use baguettes to soak up sauces. They buy them at the local market and carry them home in paper bags. Even restaurants offer fresh baguette pieces with your meal. You can see many people walking around, eating their baguette. The end of the baguette is called crouton and is known as the most delicious part of the bread.

5. Cheese for dessert

The meal structure in France follows the order of starter, main course and cheese (and dessert.) Even the former French president Charles de Gaulle said, “It’s difficult to rule a nation with 265 cheeses.” Today, there more than 1,000 different types of French cheese, and the French love to eat it after the main course and sometimes as dessert instead of something sweet.

6. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

French for “liberty, equality, fraternity.” This is the national motto of France. The slogan appeared during the French Revolution and has been used since then. When in France, you can often find these words at the entrance of public buildings and schools. It is also found on items used by the public such as coins and postage stamps.

7. Bureaucracy keeps you waiting

It is said that the French love paperwork and that there is much more bureaucracy in France than in other European country. They have almost twice as many civil servants as Germany and three times as many as Japan. If you want to sign any contract, you will be asked to provide numerous copies of your passport, bank statements, birth certificate and much more.

8. Kids eat like grownups

In France it is quite normal for children to eat the same foods as their parents. Only chain restaurants have children’s menus. At home children also eat what adults eat. There is no child-friendly cooking. That’s why many French kids have eaten typical French meals before they've learned to read or write.

9. Two-hour lunch breaks

Having a long and proper lunch break featuring a three-course meal with your colleagues or even friends is common. Lunch is a very important meal and takes place between 12 and 2 pm. Between these two hours, most people are not working, there is no school during this time, and many shops are closed.

10. Snails and chips

Snails are a speciality in France. They are known as escargot and are eaten with chips. After they have been cooked, the snails are prepared with garlic and parsley butter and are served in their shell. Nearly every restaurant offers snails as a traditional dish. You can even find stalls at the local market selling them.

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