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Manners in France

Dallas, Texas
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Manners in France

I have a question I hope someone who lives in France won't mind answering. I have a French student living with me this year. She's telling me in France no one says "thank you" or expects to be thanked for normal daily life such as when someone holds a door for you or buys you dinner or cooks you a meal or hands you something. Se tells me "thank you" is only said when someone does something really big for you so that you're indebted to that person. I'm telling her that culturally, particularly in the south, we say "thank you" every time someone does something for us. I don't recall ever having the thought when I've been in Paris that people just don't say "thank you". Is she correct, or is this just the opinion of a 17 year old?

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Perpignan, France
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for Languedoc-Roussillon, Perpignan
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1. Re: Manners in France

No, she is not correct and she probably has a lot to learn !

Edited: 13 November 2012, 15:26
2. Re: Manners in France

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provence
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for Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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3. Re: Manners in France

I have been told by a local Frenchman that they do not say thank you as often as the British and Americans (this was on an intensive language course in Provence at lunch where I thanked the waiter whenever he did something) .

That said we still always say thank you.

Perpignan, France
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4. Re: Manners in France

That's right. You do not thank the server every time he does something.

Bedoin, France
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5. Re: Manners in France

Agree with post #1.

I do not thank the waiter/tress every time they bring me something, but I do say thank you in the beginning and end of service. I also say thank you just about every time someone does something for me, including opening a door for me and most certainly when someone buys me dinner or prepares a meal for me.

Good grief !

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Manners in France

i have watched boulangers 'discipline' foreign tourists who don't say 'bon jour' when starting a transaction or 'merci au revoir ' when leaving their shop

Merci is in pretty common use here -- I haven't noticed that it is less than in the US

when I have done small kindnesses like holding a door for someone or giving them my seat on the metro, I have always been thanked -- it seems the norm

Val-de-Marne, France
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7. Re: Manners in France

I am 100% French, born and raised here and second everything Pvoyageuse, toutou and Janet said. That girl has a lot to learn. Actually in Spain my brother was even told to stop saying please and thank you all the time.

Edited: 13 November 2012, 17:03
Louisville, Kentucky
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8. Re: Manners in France

I really hadn't thought about this, but it's automatic for me to thank someone every time they do anything for me, be it holding a door, serving or providing my dinner or selling me a ticket. I do this making eye contact and with a smile, and however brief, I like the interaction. In my mind, it's simply common courtesy, and when I've traveled in France, I've always thought this was appreciated. As a further courtesy, I try to say my "thank yous" in the language of the country where I'm traveling, and as it is at home, the response is always a warm smile. I'm going to keep doing it. I think a gracious recognition of a person's effort is always appreciated, and I never take the person who delivers me a courtesy or good service for granted. It's just my mindset, and as I said, I don't think about it.

Actually, I have a friend who had an exchange student from France, and she had the same frustrations. Some of it is being a teenager, but people like being thanked. Perhaps, the exchange student might practice her thank you's while she's in the US, and she might be surprised how well this is received once she gets home.

Edited: 13 November 2012, 17:09
Paris, France
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9. Re: Manners in France

I also second Pvoyageuse and i'd add she's "mal élevée".

I say s'il vous/te plait and je te/vous remercie plenty of times a day, when talking to a stranger as well as adressing to a friend or relative.

I find it very basic courtoisie and i get pissed if someone who i hold the door to don't acknoledge it, at the very least by a head sign.

Bedoin, France
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10. Re: Manners in France

"I also second Pvoyageuse and i'd add she's "mal élevée". "

You do mean the gal the OP is referring to, not PV ? :-)