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Business executives who hope to profit from their travels to France should learn about

the history, culture, and customs of the areas that they wish to visit. Flexibility and
cultural adaptation should be the guiding principles for doing business in this country.
Business manners and methods, religious customs, the importance of family are all
covered in the following sections. Some of the cultural distinctions that businesspeople
most often face include differences in business styles, attitudes towards the
development of business relationships, attitudes toward punctuality, negotiating styles,
gift-giving customs, greetings, significance of gestures, meanings of colours and
numbers, and customs regarding titles. The following headings give an insight into the
values, attitudes and culture of the French.
For further information please see below:

Communicaid website:

Kwintessential website: [en]

Cultural Crossing
website: [en]

Corporate social responsibilities

Frances environmental outlook appears positive, as successive French governments
have demonstrated their commitment to protecting the environment, and future
governments are expected to continue this trend. France is also a leader in adopting the
European Commissions green paper on corporate social responsibility, which requires
listed companies to publish information in relation to the environmental and the social
impact of their activities, in their annual reports. Thus, companies in France must report
on their use of water and natural resources, their emissions of greenhouse gases and
energy consumption, and what efforts they have undertaken to reduce environmental
risks and to educate their employees about environmental management.

Frances commitment to the use of nuclear power has allowed the country to
keep a lid on its carbon emissions, since nuclear power emits no carbon or other
greenhouse gases. Frances preference for nuclear-generated electricity over thermal
(oil-, natural gas-, and coal-fired power plants) power, has allowed it to maintain
relatively low levels of both energy and carbon intensity.

Despite its nuclear power programme, France still suffers from air pollution,
especially in Paris and other major cities. Despite the countrys reduction in its
dependence on oil imports, France has been the unfortunate victim of several major oil
tanker spills, with disastrous consequences for the countrys tourism and fishing
industries along the Atlantic coast.

Other environmental issues in France include some forest damage from acid rain.
Major forest damage also occurred as a result of severe windstorms in December 1999.
One of the countrys biggest concerns is water pollution from urban waste and
agricultural runoff. For further information please see below:

In France it is vital to ensure that you make appointments for both business and social
occasions. It is not acceptable in France to drop in on someone unannounced and
such conduct will be taken as an act of rudeness, whatever the occasion. While you
should strive to be punctual, you will not be considered to be late, should you arrive ten
minutes after the scheduled time.
Punctuality is treated quite casually in France, although there are some regional
differences, the further South you go the more casual the approach to time is. The
French themselves have a very relaxed attitude when attending appointments
themselves, so do not be surprised to find your French colleague arriving fairly late. The
French consider this a prerogative, so do not expect any apologies- but as ever it will
depend who you are dealing with. However, staying late at the office is common,
especially for individuals in more senior positions.

For social events, being on time is more important, especially if your hosts have cooked
a meal.
For further information please see below:!

Gift giving
Gift-giving among business associates is not common practice in France. To express
appreciation to a French business contact, it may be better to host a special event or
dinner than to give a business gift. Gifts are however expected at social events,
especially to thank the host/ess of private dinner parties.
When Invited to Dinner

If you are invited to a French home, consider it a rare honour. Bring flowers,
quality chocolates or liqueur for the host, and present your gift before the entertaining

Flowers should be sent in advance on the day of the dinner (popular in Paris) so
that the hostess has time to arrange them and is not faced with this task when she is
busy with a meal, or else unwrap them before presenting them to your hostess.
Otherwise, present a gift on arrival this will probably not be unwrapped immediately
(unless no other guests are present or expected).

In accordance with the old European tradition, a bouquet should have an odd
number of flowers, but never seven or thirteen. On Labour Day (May 1) the French give
lily-of-the-valley. Red roses are not reserved for lovers in France, but do imply a
familiarity that business associates are unlikely to achieve. Carnations are associated
with bad luck or bad will. Chrysanthemums are used for funerals, and are placed on
graves on All Saints Day (November 1).

Do not take a gift of wine, since the host usually prefers to make the evenings

selection themselves this will have been carefully thought out to complement the food.
The only possible exceptions to this would be a special French dessert wine or highquality liqueur. Other exceptions if you really want to bring a bottle of wine would be one
from your own country or a bottle of Champagne.
If you have been a guest at a dinner party or similar social gathering in a home,

ensure that you send a thank-you note to your hosts the next day. Preferably, your note
should be handwritten and delivered by La Poste. Sending flowers or a basket of fruit is
another thoughtful gesture appreciated by the French.
Take Note
Be aware that displays of warmth and generosity between business associates

are not the norm in French business culture. Giving presents is acceptable here, but
exercise discretion. Business gifts are usually not exchanged at the first meeting.

Give a good quality gift or none at all

Gifts are expected for social events, especially as a thank-you after a dinner

Give candy, macaroons, cakes and flowers. A gift should be of high quality and
beautifully wrapped.

Esoteric books and music are often valued as gifts. Make sure, however, that you
are reasonably acquainted with the recipients interests and tastes before making this
kind of gift purchase.

Good gift selections can also include coffee table books about your home
country, or anything that reflects the interests of your hosts and is representative of your

Do not offer gifts with your company logo stamped on them (the French consider
this vulgar).

French business etiquette dictates that you do not include your business card
with a gift.

Never send a gift for a French colleague to his/her home unless it is related to a
social event.

Card giving at holidays is appropriate and appreciated. Thanking business

partners for the previous years business and wishing them a prosperous year to come
is a sentiment that will be received with gratitude. The practice in France is to send New
Years greetings and this can occur during the whole month of January but not later.
For further information please see below:

Business dress code

As you would expect, the nation that created haute couture puts a premium on style.
Fashion and appearance are much more important in France than in most other
countries in the world. Even low-paid, entry-level executives buy the best clothes they
can afford. Generally, dress tends to be on the formal side for both men and women,
whether in business or social situations. As the French will perceive the way you dress
as being a reflection of your social status and relative success, do your best to make
clothing choices that are tasteful and stylish.
High quality and conservative suits and accessories are recommended. Men should
wear dark suits, particularly during the winter and when visiting the north. Youll notice
that mens suits made in France are cut differently. In France, executives usually do not
loosen their ties or take off their jackets while at the office, or in restaurants. Never be
the first to shed your jacket. As blue shirts are worn by raw French military recruits, you
may be labelled Un bleu, the French version of a greenhorn if you choose blue for
your shirt.
Frenchwomen are particularly fashion conscious in both their social and business wear,
and are famous for their restrained, feminine chic. Visitors are advised to dress simply

and with elegance. A well-tailored business suit or dress is appropriate and good shoes
are a must. Careful accessorising r (even of simple outfits), is also widely seen in
France. French women are also more careful with makeup than many of their European
counterparts and place a huge emphasis on skin care and maintaining a slender figure.
When you receive an invitation stating informal dress, dont assume youll be welcome
in a t-shirt and jeans. For a social gathering, informal usually means tastefully
coordinated clothes, sometimes including a jacket and tie for men. An invitation stating
formal dress usually means formal evening wear, which is very dressy and involves a
tuxedo for men and evening dress for women. On the street, jeans and sneakers can be
acceptable leisurewear, although this kind of clothing is often reserved for the gym or
the beach. However, increasingly and dependent on the industry, casual Fridays are
becoming common in offices where you can wear jeans and even sneakers sometimes.
These exceptions to formal attire however are not applicable for business meetings.
For further information please see below:

Bribery and corruption

France is ranked in the top 25 countries (on the Corruption Perception Index of
government organisations) in the world for being perceived as least corrupt compared to
176 other countries. There are laws, regulations and penalties to reduce and prevent
corruption in France. As a consequence, the French legal system has witnessed
numerous investigations and successful convictions of corrupt public officials and
The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention has been adopted in France and enforced since the
year 2000. This was done through amendments to the Criminal code, which includes
article 435-3 which incriminates the offer or promise of a bribe. A more detailed
explanation of bribery and corruption in France can be found at
For further information, please see below:

Corruption Perceptions Index: [en]

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