A travel journal
to France by A. Stevenson
Quote: French behaviour and how to make your trip go more smoothly.
Pronunciation and meanings of these key words:
Bonjour : 'bone-joor'. Means 'Hello', 'Good day'
Excusez-moi : 'ek-skyoo-zay-mwa'. Means 'Excuse me'
Merci : 'mair-see'. Means 'Thank you'
Au revoir : 'oh ruh-vwa'. Means 'Goodbye'
On colder days, men and women wear nice coats (no North Face-style jackets, unless they're going skiing) and scarves. What identifies someone as an American in France (or just about anywhere in Europe, in fact) is the untucked shirt and sneakers - to the French, sport shoes are exactly that - shoes for sports. You walk around town in town shoes (generally this means leather shoes). So,
French men wear sandals in summer - but not Tevas or the like, as in the States. They wear leather sandals, without socks. Women also wear leather sandals, generally with heels. In colder weather men and women wear leather shoes.
After all this, if you're a man you're probably thinking that you will be resigned to a jacket and tie at dinners - not so! It depends on the restaurant and event, of course, just as in the States. The 'least stylish' men's wear I've seen in French restaurants: nice shirt (tucked in, please!), no tie, and nice pants, with leather shoes. For women, the general rule of thumb at dinner in restaurants would be no jeans and no sneakers. Anything else is fine, depending, as usual, on the event.
For those who are wondering about the jeans-in-France question, jeans are perfectly all right for men and women - it's the shoes and shirt, as I mentioned earlier, that can be Frenchified. Women never wear t-shirts, unless they're dressy t-shirts. Generally they wear comfortable, nice blouses. Men always tuck in their t-shirts (unless they want the grunge look), use belts, and often wear nice 'chemises.'