It’s not all frivolity and fun in France
No, sometimes we have to work and every country has its own idiosyncratic way of conducting business. Etiquette matters, so does the political make-up and geographical boundaries of wherever you are in the world. So it makes sense, prior to any trip in which your goal is to either clinch an economic deal or forge better relations with international colleagues, to brush up on a few pointers such as:
Regardless of whether your French business meeting is in the city or provinces, or the north or south of the country, there are certain ‘rules’ you should certainly acknowledge.
For instance, it’s the norm to address business acquaintances with either Madame, Monsieur, Professeur or Docteur, then their surname followed by a firm handshake. Make sure you only use the friendly and informal ‘tu’ when the other person you’re meeting with does so.
Expect plenty of small talk and for the initial meeting to be help in a restaurant or chic café. Incidentally, the person who organised the meeting will also expect to pay the bill.
Following your meeting you should formally bid each person farewell individually with a kiss on the cheek.
Your attire should be formal. If you’re going to speak French in your meeting then do so throughout. The French regard it as impolite – and no doubt confusing – to switch between their language and another.
If you’re not staying at your business colleague’s family home (which is doubtful as the French like to keep business and family life separate) then it’s a good idea to book into a hotel which has the facilities to cater fully for the businessman/woman such as the Holiday Inn (these as scattered throughout France in most major cities or airports). This way you will be guaranteed an internet connection, access to a scanner and even the use of a boardroom (salle de reunion) if need be.
Smaller B & B facilities made be comfortable but they can’t always guarantee Wi-Fi or even computer access and no-one wants to go trailing around looking for an internet café late at night in a foreign city.
Depending on where and when you’re conducting your business, the weather in France can vary enormously. In the South in the summer it’s advisable to take lighter cotton suits and skirts with temperatures regularly reaching as high as the nineties and humidity a fact of life. In cities there tends to be more air-conditioning around. The rainy season in France tends to be between November and April.
We hope the above helped. Meanwhile here’s a few more interesting quasi-business facts about France:
- The most dominant religion by far is catholic (up to 88 per cent), next is Muslim (around 10 per cent) followed by Protestant (two per cent)
- In terms of economy, France is the fifth largest – following on from America, Japan, Germany and China
- Paris is the world’s leading conference centre
- France joined the Euro in January 1999 and has a close business relationship with Germany
- In 2004 a national survey showed 6.2 per cent of France’s population was below the poverty line
- France’s trading partners in the main tend to be Germany, Spain, Italy, UK and America