What makes you think of France

12 things better to avoid in France

From TRAVELBOOK | November 07, 2019, 12:20 p.m.

As a holidaymaker, you run the risk of making various blunders at your destination because you don't know the customs and rules there. Because some of them differ blatantly from what one is used to at home. TRAVELBOOK has put together the twelve biggest no-gos in our neighboring country France.

1. Just sit down in the restaurant
In this country we are used to sitting at a free table in the restaurant, provided that there is no “Reserved” sign on it. In France, however, you should avoid choosing the table yourself and simply sitting down. Instead, you wait at the entrance until you are greeted by the waiter and shown to a free seat. Should you prefer a different table, you can politely ask whether this is also still free - but it is better not to discuss it if the answer is no.

2. Don't speak a single word of French
Even if you've never learned French, you should know at least a few words and phrases when you go to France. In doing so, you show a certain appreciation for the language, which the French are very proud of and which they actively cultivate and protect. On the other hand, if you start babbling off in English or try it out in German, you might get offended looks and wrinkled noses. However, as many people wrongly assume, there is usually no arrogance behind it, but rather shame: the French simply do not like to speak English - because they are often not good at it.

3. Order a meringue
If you're in the mood for a specific type of sugar biscuit in France, it would be better not to go to the bakery meringue order - although the name sounds so beautifully French. It's also a French word, but the saleswoman will think you wanted her to kiss. In the worst case, she even thinks you want to make her an immoral offer - because “meringue” is also used colloquially in French for the f * ning, which is common in this country. The correct word for the sugar cookies is: Meringue.

4. Kiss right away
The French greet each other with kisses, that much is known. However, under no circumstances should you make a new acquaintance on your own initiative Bise give - because only those who know each other are allowed to kiss. Initially, people in France only shook hands. And the correct way of kissing later on also has to be learned: in most areas you give yourself two to four kisses, starting with the right cheek, whereby it shouldn't be a direct smack on the skin, but rather a light touch of the cheeks. In other regions of France, for example in the east or in Provence, you start with the left cheek, and sometimes you end up with just one kiss. The best thing to do is to let the other person set the pace, then hardly anything can go wrong.

5. Just call strangers
In Germany it is common practice among young people to immediately see each other, and in Berlin it would hardly occur to the waiter in the bar or the seller in the health food store. In France, on the other hand, things are much more formal in this regard, and even young people of the same age often see each other at first. Only when you know each other better can you use something.

Also interesting: Caen - an insider tip in the north of France

6. Make the "Okay" sign
Form a circle with your thumb and forefinger - this is used in this country to show when you think something is particularly good or when a dish tastes particularly delicious. In France, however, you should avoid this gesture as much as possible, because it signals that you consider your counterpart to be zero or completely worthless.

7. Pay money for water
Do not order bottles of water in the restaurant - unless you want a sparkling one. If you want still water, you just order un verre d’eau, une carafe d’eau or quite simply: de l’eau. This is usually free of charge. In Paris you can also find the so-called Wallace fountains in many places. The Englishman Richard Wallace had dozens of them put up from 1872 - as a gift to the poor population. Drinking quality water still flows from them today.

8. Leave valuables in the car
In general, of course, you shouldn't leave valuables anywhere in the car. But especially when you travel to France in your own car, you should be particularly careful, because foreign license plates attract thieves even more. After all, tourists often have expensive cameras or navigation devices with them, or luggage is suspected in the trunk.

9. Go to the sauna naked
Anyone who goes to the sauna in Germany in bathing suits is looked at crookedly. In France, as in some southern European countries, the opposite is the case: Here, under no circumstances should you enter a public sauna completely naked. Textile-free sweating is only permitted in saunas with separate sexes. Otherwise: only with swimming trunks or bikini / swimsuit or, if necessary, with a towel tied on.

Also interesting:19 things you should absolutely avoid in the sauna

10. Out of curiosity Banlieues visit
The outskirts of large cities are called in French Banlieues. Most of them are large high-rise estates with their own rules and with high levels of crime in some places. Even if the architecture of the apartment blocks that were built 50 to 60 years ago is certainly interesting for many, tourists should by no means go out of curiosity in the Banlieues drive from Paris, Strasbourg or other cities, certainly not alone. If you absolutely have to, you should rather take part in a guided tour in the bus.

11. Pay the bill separately
In Germany it is customary to split the bill among each other and only pay the part that you have actually consumed. In France, however, the waiter will shake his head in disbelief if you ask him to break the bill this way. Usually one guest pays the entire bill and then you simply divide the total by the number of people - regardless of how much each individual has consumed.

12. Just enter a zebra crossing

In this country we are used to the fact that motorists drive more slowly in front of zebra crossings and actually stop when they want to cross this street. Although similar traffic rules apply in France, pedestrians can sometimes wait a long time for a car to really stop. The chances increase if you signal with a show of hands that you actually want to cross the street. It also helps to put one foot carefully on the road. Ideally, you will join a Frenchman who is also just about to cross the zebra crossing - he is guaranteed to know how to be successful.

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