The French adhere to a strong and homogeneous set of values. They cherish their culture, history, language and cuisine, which is considered an art. The French have been and are today world leaders in fashion, food, wine, art and architecture. They embrace novelty, new ideas and manners with enthusiasm as long as they are elegant.
Meeting and Greeting * At a business or social meeting, shake hands with everyone present when arriving and leaving. A handshake may be quick with a light grip. * Men may initiate handshakes with women. * When family and close friends greet one another, they often kiss both cheeks.
Names and Titles * Use last names and appropriate titles until specifically invited by your French host or colleagues to use their first names. First names are used only for close friends and family. * Colleagues on the same level generally use first names in private but always last names in public. * Address people as Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle without adding the surname. * Madame is used for all adult women, married or single, over 18 years of age (except for waitresses, which are addressed as Mademoiselle.) * Academic titles and degrees are very important. You are expected to know them and use them properly.
Body Language * Do not sit with legs spread apart. Sit up straight with legs crossed at knee or knees together. Feet should never placed on tables or chairs. * Toothpicks, nail clippers, and combs are not used in public. * Keep your hands out of your pockets. * Do not yawn or scratch in public. Sneeze or blow your nose as quietly as possible using a handkerchief or tissue. If possible, leave the room. * Do not slap your open palm over a closed fist (this is considered a vulgar gesture). * The "okay" sign, made with index finger and thumb, means "zero." * The French use the "thumbs up" sign to say "okay."
Corporate Culture * Professionalism is highly valued in business