France is an amazing country, full of attractive architecture and a great culture. However, there are some things that tourists should keep in mind and never do while visiting France. Follow these things and you’ll have a great time, wherever you are. This guide will help you to get some inside information on things to know before going to France.
Check 11 Things Tourists Should Avoid Doing in France
1) Do not forget to exchange pleasantries
The French love their greetings. Literally, everyone’s always greeting each other and doing the “bisous.” Don’t forget to greet or say “Bonjour”.
Planning a trip to France? Check: 21 Best Tourist Spots in France – Charming Places to Visit in France
2) A little french goes a long way
Try to avoid speaking in English. You’ll always get better service and respect by opening with as much French as you know even if it’s just a few words. Remember, “Bonjour” (“Hello”), “Merci” (“Thank You”), and “Au Revoir” (“Goodbye”) can go a long way.
3) Do not expect anything to be open on Sundays
Take note that in France, almost all stores are closed on Sunday, so you can’t go shopping on Sundays. But, on Sunday most restaurants and activities stay open while they are closed on Mondays, so just a little thing to take note of your exploration.
4) Do not anticipate fast waiting service
In France, peoples are very relaxed and chill. Things there move a little bit slower. There’s decency to ordering things in brasseries and bars. In restaurants, you’ll usually be seated but otherwise, you need to normally sit down at a table of your choice and wait for the waiter to come to you. If they don’t come soon but are nearby, then just make eye contact or raise a slight hand. To do more, would be terribly rude and wouldn’t lead to the best exchange.
5) Never leave your phone out
It’s okay when you have to check your phone. But it’s socially unacceptable to have your phone on the table as if you’re waiting for a call. And don’t do it during the meal or drinks. It’s a rude gesture as if you don’t want to be there. Wait until you’re on your own.
6) Do not expect to eat at any time
French and much of European restaurants are not like in America or most Asian countries. Like there are tons of fast food joints open 24 hours a day but this is likely not the case in France Fast foods are generally frowned upon and thought of as distasteful. French cuisine is all about fresh and local products, which the French take very much pride in.
The restaurants serving these products will only open at a certain time like lunch and dinner service. So if you suddenly get hungry or crave to eat something at midnight, you’re most likely not going to find any restaurant service still open.
7) Do not rush, take your time
Try to fit in as much as you can in the few days you’ll spend in Paris and in France. There is a lot to see. And it’s tempting too. But to truly experience France and its culture is all about taking the time to enjoy life. You need to sacrifice a few stops on your schedule and learn to take your time: take a three-hour lunch break and really enjoy the food and the company or grab a coffee at a terrasse and just watch people pass by for a couple of hours.
8) Do not speak loudly, especially at night
The French are pretty respectful of other people when it comes to noise levels. Most of the time, the people you’ll hear at night or in cafés, speaking the loudest, will be anglophone tourists. Try to watch your levels of noise, particularly in quiet villages and towns at night, if you don’t want to face angry French people telling you to be quiet.
9) Do not always expect to get responses online, go in person or call instead
It’s always, always better to call the business directly, if you’re making reservations for a planned trip or accommodation in the more countryside areas of France. Most may not even have any option to book online or otherwise, you likely won’t get a response. Hence, if you need to check on your reservation or make a reservation, it’s better to call the business or go in person. It feels a bit more old-school to have to do this, but that’s how it often goes in most of rural France.
10) Do not assume cars will stop at Pedestrian Crossings
In France, there are pedestrian crossings but cars will not automatically stop at them to let them cross. If you want to cross and no one stops, don’t assume cars will stop, you have to signal your intent, and start moving but ensure they’ve seen you and are slowing down before you step out.
11) Do not get widely drunk
French people love their alcohol but mostly in moderation. It’s common to have a drink and the French love their pre-dinner drink, but you rarely find them drinking so much that they can’t stand it. They rarely have pints of beer and will often be found with halves instead.
France is a beautiful country and one that we highly recommend you go to. When the time comes that you travel to France, we hope these 11 important things not to do in France as a tourist helps you out.