What can I bring to the US as a French?

Good Manners



It’s been almost two months that I am living in the US and I’ve been many times « out of my comfort zone » by American manners. While in France, to say « Hello » ; « Good Bye » and « Thank You » or to not put your elbows on the table is a savoir-vivre, in the US la Politesse (polite) is interpreted differently.

To start, here a short list of 10 good manners from France:

  1. Do not wear Short or Flip Flop outside the beach or your home. Very few of us would do that in the streets and if you wear these kind of clothes you will be considered as a tourist.
  2. We are not chocked to see kids naked in the beach.
  3. We flirt all the time! Just be open-minded but come on! We are not bitches!
  4. We are always late at a dinner. To be on time is rude. And we use our bread to wipe our plates!
  5. We don’t talk about immigration, money or religion.
  6. We don’t smile except if we really want to do it. For us, to smile in any circonstance is considered as hypocrite. To smile is private and we don’t smile to complete strangers!
  7. When it’s smell bad we react like nothing happened.
  8. We insult very hard other conductors!
  9. We love to be smart! Talking about the last book published, politics, exhibition, a play…
  10. You always bring a bottle of wine or something to the host and use « Vous » when you meet a new person.


New Good manners that you have to adopt :

To smile and even to talk to perfect strangers ! I was having brunch with two friends of my husband and a old (weird) woman stop by our table to congrats one of our friend about her baby.

To throw yourself in order to help somebody. People won’t be afraid to help you if you are (or seems) in trouble. Can be really nice however it can be « rude » for us, French people. I was trying to take picture of myself with my tripod the other day. So, I was running many times front of my camera and take different posture while a guy can over and ask me if I was ok. I felt very embarrassed and just left right after he came to me.

Hug people. No bisous. Finito. If you try by accident, they will take it as an agression. Hug. Hug. Hug. Easy, just practice. You have to be close but not too much. Only something like 20 cm. You can even gently hit the back of the person. Never close your eyes, always smile and say : That was so good to see you.

And you, have you ever change your manners while living abroad or during a trip ?

Here a fun link : Miss Manners will tell you everything you need to know about American Good Manners !

Biggest difference between France and the USA:

An American says Like every 10 secondes and Amazing every minutes.
A French says « Putain » every 10 seconds and « merde » every minutes.

An American in France has the feeling everybody is smoking.
A French in the US has the feeling everybody has a tatoo.

To launch a big debate in the US, you should talk about Darwin.
In France, launch a debate about Socialism.

When somebody says, « don’t worry, everything is fine ». Everybody trust this person.
In France, if somebody says « don’t worry, everything is fine ». Everybody is going to panic.

Robin Hood steals to give to the oppressed.
Robin Hood steals the Rich to give to the poors.

The worst things that we can do to somebody is to put this person in an incomfortable situation.
The Worst that you can do to a person in France is to not respect this person.

The State is necessary.
Big Company is necessary.

To take one hour for lunch time is unbelievable.
To nap for 3 hours is unbelievable.

If somebody earn a comfortable salary, this person would be happy to work the same time but earn twice more.
If somebody earn a comfortable salary, this person would be happy to work twice less hours but to keep the exact same salary.

It’s evident that the student who pays the most expensive studies has to get the best school
It’s evident that the best student in France can acceed to the best school of the country.

Military are the hero who fight the bad
Military are civil servant.

Everybody is proud to talk about his special talent.
Everybody are pround to be able to talk about a subject taht they don’t know.

At work, it’s really bad to take vacation.
At work to not take vacation is poorly viewed.

In France, the only issue is its population.
In the USA, the only issue is the terrible food.

The competition benefit all the society.
The competition split the society.

Cheese and a red bottle wine is the meal of French people.
A big coke and a huge hamberger is the meal of americans.

In a bakery, it’s impolite to not smile.
In a bakery it’s impolite to not say hello.

In education, the system is organized around the kid. Every kid learns something different.
The education system is organized around the academic itself, all the kids are evaluate on the same subjects.

The deepest mystery of all mysteries.
 How possible that small village who don’t have a school or a shop can have city hall ?
The deepest mystery of all mysteries. How possible that airport autorities think that we can say yes at this question : « are you going to the United States to kill the president ? » and this front of a policy army ? Really ?



Cécile lives in Chicago though is originally from southern France. She’s an avid traveler and is always excited by new adventures. After living in Ireland, Australia and Canada, Cécile is an advocate of having a routine but not staying comfortable for too long.


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