I wanted to repost this article that was published in The Connexion, an English newspaper published in France. It discusses (in detail) style and etiquette in French society.
Old-Fashion courtesy is still de rigueur in the best circles, says Geneviève d’Angenstein, of L’Ecole Française de la Courtoisie et du Protocole. She teaches foreigners how to make the best impression in France, drawing on her own experience as a diplomat’s wife.
How did you get into teaching good manners?
If you want to succeed you need to respond to people’s needs and society has somewhat lost its bearings when it comes to manners, due to globalisation and mixing of different cultures. People come to me to reassure themselves about what one should and should not do.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where good manners were innate and I went to good schools and then studied anthropology and several languages, so I have always been curious about other cultures and their social rites. I have lived the life of a diplomat’s wife, so I learned how to receive important people and discovered customs around the world, in India, Washington and Vienna, but I was always there to show what French culture was.
Do you often work with English-speakers?
Not only, but yes, I often do. My clients are usually quite refined people, such as English people living in France who want to understand the mysteries of French social rites. They have a certain sensitivity; coarse people don’t see the interest.
Are the rules changing a lot, or is it as important as ever to respect tradition?
When you look at society you might think standards are slipping, but at the same time people are looking for an identity and I think good manners are very much part of our French identity. It goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
We are talking about manners that came from the royal court essentially, [view some of the rigors of royal court under the I Hate France section.] but at the same time, our courtesy also comes from the Rights of Man and the idea of respecting the other person and especially, respecting women, which is an important part of French courtesy.
One thing English-speakers have trouble with sometimes is tu and vous. Is it best to let the other person take the initiative?
It is always the person who is hierarchically the most important to propose calling each other tu, and, in fact, the woman is always considered superior to a man, apart from in working life, where only the professional hierarchy counts.
France is the only country which gives such importance to the woman. It is the woman who takes the initiative on the kind of greeting, for example she holds out her hand or not, and on tutoiement or vouvoiement.
People also say “monsieur” and “madame” a lot more than the English equivalents…
When I was in the US I was a bit surprised at the way everyone used to smile at me all the time, whereas in France there are barriers that broken down very gradually.
At first we remain very formal and it is only when there are affectionate and social barriers that fall, that this changes. This French formality is actually quite practical because it allows people to always act appropriately and to master the situation.
On occasion I may have called someone tu a bit too quickly, or been called it, and afterwards realised I really didn’t have any wish to be on familiar terms with that person, I felt like a prisoner of this commitment.
It is better to start with saying monsieur and vous, remaining nice and polite, and little by little you can pass to first names and tu.
Is it more a natural progression than the very informal American way?
Yes, it’s like smiling straight away at people; we don’t see the need. I know Americans who are almost in tears if they don’t get a big smile at the baker’s or butcher’s; but for us it doesn’t make sense to smile at someone you don’t know. When we start smiling it’s because a rapport has been established. I think in the shops in Anglo-Saxon countries the shopkeepers have more of a sense of trying to market themselves, which the French lack.
You mention trips to the shops; British people seem to say please and thank you more in such situations than the French. Is it seen as a bit superfluous?
No, if you don’t say s’il vous plaît and merci you are just rude; but there are rude people everywhere.
Apart from the rule on tutoiement, are there other important considerations for behaviour between the sexes?
A women never gets up to say hello to a man but a man gets up for a woman. In my lessons I always outline this culture of the woman in France, that used to amaze foreign travellers. It goes back to the Middle Ages and courtly literature and the Cult of the Virgin Mary… which means that the woman has a privileged status. These days in Anglo-Saxon countries there is more of a feeling that women should be treated the same as men.
Are there certain things to think about on a date?
A man who wants to please a woman should not talk about himself too much and always be interested in his companion. If he takes her to a restaurant it is always the man who goes in first, that’s important, and it is him who pays and he should do it very discreetly. He excuses himself for a few moments and pays at the counter in such a way the women doesn’t see what he’s doing. That’s the elegant thing to do. In the world of work, however, if a man insisted on paying when a woman had invited him for a business meal, it would be insulting.
What about table manners?
It’s not polite to put your hands under the table and it is impolite to lay out the forks with the prongs in the air. The points should touch the table. Points in the air gives a feeling of aggression. Families also used to have their coats of arms on the underside of the cutlery, so this is to show it off.
If you are invited to someone’s house how should you behave – should you, for example, bring a gift or a bottle?
What is elegant is to send flowers beforehand or the following day. To come with flowers is not very well thought of, as it obliges the mistress of the house to leave her guests to find a vase.
Coming with wine is only suitable for very close friends and you should ask them what they’d like and say you are going to bring it. Usually, the host has already coordinated the dishes with wines and everything is planned. What is appropriate is to bring a box of macaroons or chocolates, but very good ones, not something from Monoprix; and the hostess must offer them with the coffee, not just keep them, which would be very impolite.
It is interesting, by the way, that, from my research, originally the English were seen as a bit too direct and unpolished and in the 17th and 18th centuries a lot of French manners treatises were imported. Also Huguenot families who left France brought French manners to Britain. It was only afterwards that the British became known for good manners, with for example with Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son, On the Fine Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman, which are very interesting.
What about hand-kissing, is it really still appropriate?
It’s up to you whether it is your thing or not, but yes, it is done in certain social circles; but unlike for example the Germans or Russians who kiss all the women’s hands, in France it is very codified. You do it only for a married woman and always in private, never outside.
Do you have tips on what English-speakers should avoid and that we often get wrong?
I have an American friend who likes to ask people how much they paid for their apartment – which is the kind of thing you shouldn’t do. One doesn’t talk about money like that, there is a taboo about money, even if Parisiens sometimes shock people too by talking a lot about their flat, because it is true that it is hard to find somewhere to live here.
Do you have any advice on how to faire la bise (kiss people on the cheek)?
It seems most natural to me to start on the right hand side. Two kisses are usual, though in rural areas, among country folk, it is three. In that case it’s best to be aware of that and not act like a “townie”. It is always the older person, the most important, the woman rather than the man, who decides to initiate a kiss on the cheeks.
To find out more about courses visit www.la-courtoisie.com
Having lived in France for more than a year, I have had my share of dining disasters.
And by disasters, I mean, I was THE disaster!
At the time, I didn't even realize it, sad, I know. However, as I reflect on my misbehavior,
I am full of embarrassment and guilt. And as a result, I haven't been invited back to their home. eek!
So what did I do?
I complained about the food.
According to the French, the previous statement has THREE MAJOR NON NONs!
I'll give you time to figure it out
First: The word I -- It's not about the guest, its about the host/tess!
Two: The word COMPLAINED --- I think that speaks for itself.
Three: The word FOOD -- food and France, go hand and hand, so it was a major insult.
I will relay the story so that you (and I) can learn from my mistake.
The host made a quiche, and according to the host, it was the first time they made it.
It was good, however, the eggs were soggy and runny, as in not cooked.
The outside was cooked, but not the interior.
Therefore, I pointed it out. BIG NON, NON!
What I should have done was kept my fat mouth shut and ate the quiche and worry about Salmonella and my possible death because of it later.
With that being said, today's French life lesson:
Dinner Guest Behavior
If you are lucky enough to be invited to a French home for dinner, here are some commandments to live by.
Many are common sense, however as stated in a previous post, knowledge is power, and these commandments are just good to know!
1. ALWAYS bring something to share: A bottle of wine, dessert, bread, etc.
Even if the host or hostess tells you not to bring anything, YOU STILL NEED TO BRING SOMETHING! You can also bring a gift, such as flowers, a plant, chocolates, etc. No, you don't need to bring diamonds (unless you want to come by my home!) However, I like to give gifts that are useful, so when they actually do use it, my gift will be something to remember me by! Other examples: soaps, if they have children, a gift for the kid. Also, a bone for the dog or a toy for the cat! It can be less than 5 bucks!
2. The hostess is QUEEN for the evening. You should do everything you can to help her, so that she can entertain other guests as well. Remember it is all about THE HOSTESS and not about you!
3. Dress up! Again, you are invited to dinner. You not only want to look good for yourself, but for your hostess as well.
4. If you don't like something, too bad!
Depending on how close you are with your host/hostess, you would probably tell them before the dinner of your lifestyle choices or allergies.
If you didn't, again too bad!
5. When being invited to a French home, always accept the invitation. ALWAYS!
6. Watch your language, drinking, and do NOT ever insult the food, the drink, the desert, the home, etc. EVER!
7. Relax and enjoy your evening!
Questions? Comments? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thou shall not make a fool of thyself!
Later on in the week, I will repost an interview that was printed in a local newspaper last year. The article discusses French traditionalism, manners and expectations!
I learned a lot from the article, so check back soon!
Also note that I update my blog at least three times per week!
Ma Vie en Rose
Love List for February 24, 2012
Today's list is a paradox. I hate working out, however I love the results, especially the small things, such as being able to bend over to tie my shoes and being able to climb 4 flights of stairs without getting (too) winded! Yay!
So, instead of showing you which exercises I love that doesn't feel like exercise (boooring, I know!)
Here are some visual inspirations to get you back on Resolution Road and to
Work that Body!
So, without further ado... and some music to set the mood! Here we go!
I love the fact that I can google anything and within seconds, bam! all the information I want!!! They say knowledge is power, I have to keep reminding myself of that!
Jenny Deux Centimes:
As you will notice, I got most of these words of wisdom from FITBIE.
You should check out their website at www.fitbie.com.
It has oceans of information on work out tips, meals plans, and other little jems! Enjoy
Now that spring is right around the corner,
I wanted to remind you of your resolutions!
Did you make any this year?
Was it to get organized, lose weight, take a French class?
Ask yourself what is really causing them to fall to the wayside and how can you move forward?
Not to worry, here are some tips to keep your New Year's Resolution on track! .
1. Take yourself out on a Date... and Organize!
Do what you love and indulge in your guilty pleasure! Once the date winds down, get a coffee or a drink and start making lists.
Your list should consist of: This week, This Month, and The Next Three Months.
This week: Organise a schedule for chores, organization, and overall taking care of the household, such as the car.
Then, create a monthly schedule out of it, and keep to it.
2. Make an appointment with someone to help you with your resolution.
If you are wanting to drop a few kilos, hire a trainer, or to save some cash, check out you tube exercise videos.
Think of creative ways to get back in the Resolution Road.
Any tips? Please comment and let me know!
Asking where the toilets are!!!
Excuse-moi, Madame, mais ou est les toilettes?
(excuzaaa-mwah, Madame, may Oh Aaaa lay toil-e-t? )
Simple yet effective when in need!
Ma Vie en Rose
Love list for February 17th
Since Mardi Gras is around the corner, I thought I would raise my glass to all the Louisianaians out there and to Napoleon Bonaparte, who sold the Americans the Louisiana Purchase, which included the Northern portion of my home state,Texas!
I would also like to dedicate this Love List soley to Louisiana and some of her own who J'adore!
Ohhh Harry! How I love you!
Mr. Harry Connick Jr.
The best concert I have ever been to in my entire life!
I took my Dad for his birthday, and it was Faaaabuloussss!
At the beginning of his show, he said, "I want you to say that this is the BEST concert of your LIFE!" and IT WAS!
For his encore, he did a second line around and through the audience walkways, complete with full band funk New Orleans style playing, Oh When the Saints go Marching in!
Love you Harry! You handsome Devil!
Just to give you some quick back history. In New Orleans, as well as other places around the world, Second Line can be best described as Bittersweet. As you will notice, the band starts by playing slow music, usually on the way to the cemetery , then the band plays faster music after the burial. The band and the family of the deceased we call the first line and the people following are called the second line. It is a tradition of showing one's sadness for losing their loved ones, however happiness for they have transcended!
When I die, I want a party complete with drinks, tacos and BBQ!!! I want people to remember me that I always provided a good time! teehee! :D
He may be a real bad boy, but baby he is a real good man! Tim McGraw! When I hear him sing, I get all chocked up! This Louisiana native, well, let's just say he makes my jambalaya spicy!
Muffelettas overlooking the Mississippi!
The famous sandwich which consists of salami, ham, mozerrella, olives, capers, artichokes, peppers, and all other salty and gooey goodness on french bread!
I ate this sandwich overlooking to Mississippi River with the Natchez floating on by, it was something to remember!
Pronounced: Oh La Vashh!
It is used to express surprise, admiration, and to point out one's stupidity!
We are born into this world because of love and usually the last words spoken on dying lips are words of love.
We are surrounded and enveloped by this emotion.
The best stories, adventures, tales of heroism, feats of overcoming struggle, and relationships are about love.
I am dedicating this post to Venus, the Goddess of Love.
She sprang out of sea form and presented herself to the world, as legend describes, on the beaches of modern day Cyprus.
Now that Valentine's Day is around the corner (I can hear the dreaded drones all the way to France) I wanted to share with you some ideas of La Vie en Rose... So, to get you in the mood, here is Edith Piaf (mentioned in a previous post) to transport you.
And some photos of my city for a change of scenary.
In Roman Times, the month of February was one of spring cleaning and of partying.
During this time of year, people start clearing their closests and cupboards to ready themselves for planting season.
Lupercalia, the ancient Roman festival was also celebrating during the month, February 13 - 15th.
The celebration was to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility.
In Roman mythology, Lupercus is a god sometimes identified with the Roman god Faunus, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan. Lupercus is the god of shepherds.
His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on February 15, was called the Lupercalia.
It was also the setting in William Shakespeare's piece, Julius Caeser, where he refuses the crown three times.
Be Good to Yourself...
As the expression goes, When in Rome do as the Romans. I feel this statement justifies this sweet list below -- Be Good to Yourself (BGTY)
As mentioned above, February was the month for spring cleaning, so why not hit two birds with one stone!
BGTY Creative Idea: Free and Priceless!
A few days ago, I organized a Bizarre Bazaar.
The idea was to do some spring cleaning, then host a clothing exchange with your best girls at your or a friend's residence, complete with a potluck and champagne. It was a success!
You will clear out some clothing, get new clothing, catch up with your girls and above all, have a good time!
BGTY Creative Idea: Couple of bucks and Worth it!
Take yourself out on a date in your city!
There are so many charming places to visit right in your own backyard.
Do you remember those conversations with yourself where you said that you always wanted to try this place, go there, do this, read that, see that, or try that?
So, why don't you?
Make a date with yourself, get dressed up, wear perfume (you should be doing this anyway!) And yes, I can understand that life can get in the way, however make arrangements.
It's. Your. Date!
For some ideas, take my date for example...
My Date: I start early with a cafe and criossant at some bistro along the way. Next, matinee movie, preferably one with Johnny Depp.
I either carry a book or have my Ipod on me, which keeps me occupied as I decided what I want for lunch.
I usually go all out, from the aperitif - kir cassis royale, then a salad, an entree with wine, next, cheese, and finally, dessert and coffee. After lunch, I go for a walk around the city. I window shop, look at architecture and look at people. Two and a half hours later, I stop for a drink, coffee or wine or beer and look over my new small purchases. I purchase small things that I know I will use, such as soaps, a new book, or creative materials. I also take out my journal and start planning my next date and some ideas of where I would like to visit for next time.
Then, I write ideas for future blog articles of what inspired me that day and start planning either a photo shoot and research.
As I about to finish my drink and get up to pay, I then take one last look at my agenda to remind myself of my evening and week ahead, then I head home!
BGTY Creative Idea for Couples:
Couple of bucks and Worth It!
I wish you Oceans of Happiness, Joy and above all LOVE!
Without getting too cheesy, I will get to the point.
Pizza. Who doesn't love pizza? Please tell me you love pizza!
This idea is simple and sweet and easy!
Purchase you and your partner's favorite toppings and the other ingredients needed to make your pizza. Don't forget the drinks, whether it is wine or Dr Pepper, gets the goods you both enjoy!
Once home, get ingredients and drinks prepared and in order, set the table, then change out of your work clothes and either shower or take a bath.
When your partner arrives home and greets you, ask him to also change and take a shower, and for dinner you both will make a pizza.
After you are both dressed or in bath robes, start the oven and a cookin'!
I leave it to the both of you to make up the rest!
BGTY Creative Idea for Couples: Free and Priceless!
Go on a romantic nature walk! Not a nature walk, but a walk out in nature, dirty minds!
Near your home, I am sure this is a park with trees and nature paths. Dress accordingly.
Walk hand in hand, enjoy the silence and the moment, and breathe the cool winter air.
It is just a sweet way to stay close, and to keep warm.
BGTY Creative Idea for The Girls:
Couple of bucks and A Night to Remember!
Anti-Love at the moment? Get the ladies together for a Valentine's night out!
Make it a night to remember even when you are 100!!
But remember, it's GIRL'S NIGHT OUT!
Please keep me updated!
Leave a comment and let me know what you have done and some ideas of your own. I look forward to them.
Ma Vie en Rose
Love List for February 10, 2012
I decided to take a retro look back at all the things I loved and still love from my old High School days and a couple of years after!
Right after High School, I went on holiday in Mexico City.
It was wonderful!
I climbed this Sun Pyramid, and when I finished it, I felt like I could kiss the sky. Didn't find out until much later that the base of The Sun Pyramid and the Pyramid in Cairo are exactly the same size! Creeeeepppy Cooolll!
My idea of romance... fine dining with a dark Prince and reading Anais Nin to each other.
The combination of this movie and book has all the ingredients of my passions now! Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Monica Bellucci, Antony Hopkins, vampires, a Texan with a big bowie knife, the outfits, the romance, the magic, the authors, the writing, the eroticism.
I could go on, however I think you get the picture!
I love this tour, The Girlie Show.
I think I must be stuck in this Madonna phase, because I love the costumes, the creativity, the songs, I love her!
The style in this tour is very Euro, I seen versions of these styles in the streets of Bordeaux everyday. Hummm, Interesting!!!
At the time, I didn't realize my connection with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain.
I remember hearing his songs, but not listening.
I saw the MTV Music awards where Axl Rose got in Kurt's face, and Kurt said he laughed at him. After that is when I started hearing him.
I tuned in because I understood why he laughed in his face.
He laughed because Axel was so blind, so stupid, so self important, such an incredibly sad person, it was funny. So, Cobain laughed.
I understood and I still understand.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of his passing.
I was at work, getting ready to edit a story to run on air when I heard the news, I stopped, turned my head, and thought that's sad and that sucks, and went on my way.
The following articles on French President Nicolas Sarkosy was published Febuary 2012 in The Mirror (UK). The satirical news article and subsequent video were released by The Onion.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s $15,801 daily food and drinks bill French President's lavish lifestyle at the taxpayers’ expense has come under criticism and close scrutiny in France
If Nicolas Sarkozy ever invites you to dinner, wear your elasticated pants and leave the car at home.
The diminutive French President runs up a gigantic $15,801 (11,931€ or £10,000 ) daily food and drinks bill on entertaining guests.
Recent feasts at the Elysee Palace have boasted lobster carpaccio and calves cheeks with gnocchi, washed down with 1995 Pouilly-Fume white wine or 2006 Crozes-Hermitage red – at $253.00 (192.00 or £160) a bottle.
Sarkozy, 57, and his former supermodel wife Carla Bruni, 44, are active in choosing such extravagant refreshments.
But the couple might have to rethink their banquet menus of the future.
The President’s lavish lifestyle at the taxpayers’ expense has come under criticism and close scrutiny in France.
Mr Sarkozy’s total expenditure in 2011 was about £95million – including £200,000 on flowers. His fleet of 121 cars cost £275,000 a year to fuel, he has an expensive taste in clothes and wears a Rolex.
Last week he came under fire for allegedly misusing public funds. It was reported he sent a medical team on a state-owned Falcon 50 jet to Ukraine to check out his son Pierre, who had an upset stomach, and fly him back to Paris.
It cost £22,000, of which Mr Sarkozy is said to have refunded only £6,400. To appease the French people he did cancel an annual £500,000 garden party.
But Socialist MP Rene Dosiere said: “It seems the transparency announced by the president of the republic is far from being complete.”
And news from my Motherland...
Obama Criticized For Living In Lavish Mansion While Most Americans Struggle To Make Ends Meet 132-Room Estate Includes Personal Chef, 24-Hour Security Detail
WASHINGTON—Over the past three years, as the sluggish economy has forced many Americans to tighten their belts, President Obama has reportedly enjoyed a lavish personal lifestyle, residing with his family in a 132-room house staffed by a 24-hour security detail, five full-time chefs, and a live-in maid service.
In recent weeks, many of the president's critics have seized upon the issue, arguing that anyone who sleeps in a sprawling six-level neoclassical mansion covering 18 acres of Washington, D.C.'s most valuable real estate is clearly out of touch with the lives of ordinary citizens.
"What message does it send to the American people when their president is living in a ritzy palatial estate at the same time they're struggling to keep their heads above water?" political strategist Robert T. Carlson said Wednesday, noting that Obama's gated home features a lush rose garden, a private balcony, an ostentatious room seemingly devoted to the color blue, a solarium, "fancy portraits" of John F. Kennedy and George Washington, and a movie theater. "So much for all that 'shared sacrifice' he keeps talking about."
The various ways the president flaunts his lavish lifestyle.
"And just look at those gaudy columned porticoes," Carlson continued. "It must have cost a fortune to build that place."
Other commentators have noted that while Americans lucky enough to have jobs often spend hours in traffic commuting to work each day, Obama simply "walks on over to another wing of his huge mansion," where he keeps an opulently furnished home office replete with a large wooden desk, a fireplace, three giant windows, and a passage leading to his own private study and dining area.
"Each morning, as most office workers are squeezing into tiny cubicles, the president is kicking back in an 800-square-foot space with not one, but two separate couches," said pundit and blogger Chet Ogilvy, adding that Obama even employed a personal secretary to "handle the phones and basically everything else." "On top of that, he sits there like a king while a whole team of people brings him typed reports on everything important happening everywhere in the world."
"Can't this guy just pick up a paper like everybody else?" Ogilvy added. "Who does he think he is?"
Ogilvy also pointed out that on occasions when Obama does leave his luxurious home, he insists on being privately chauffeured around cities in large motorcades. In addition, sources confirmed the president has taken innumerable trips overseas in a private Boeing 747.
"No cramped flights in coach for Mr. President," Oglivy said. "When he wants to jet off to some exotic locale—and in the past three years alone he's traveled to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice—he has his own personal pilot ready to take him there. Meanwhile, the rest of us average joes are still standing in the security line waiting for our pat-down."
Many citizens across the country have also registered their disgust with what they perceive to be Obama's conspicuous lifestyle, claiming he often spends his work hours hobnobbing with other federal officials and even hosts cushy public events for visiting foreign dignitaries.
Others said they found it inappropriate that the president is living in "this big white house" at a time when home foreclosures in the United States are at a record high.
"Did you know he has Abraham Lincoln's bed right there in his own home?" Baltimore-area electrician Caleb Bell told reporters. "He keeps it in one of his guest rooms. Here I am, working 80 hours a week at two jobs, and this guy's got a whole house full of ridiculously ostentatious status symbols like that. In this economy, I think it's nothing short of obscene."
"And we're talking about the same person who has this enormous, presumably very expensive American flag flying from his roof at all times," Bell added. "I'm all for patriotism, but that's way over the top. Does he have to rub his extravagance in everybody's face like that?"
Responding to the criticism of Obama, presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged his willingness, should he be elected, to stay in a small studio apartment in Arlington, VA.
Bonjour et Bienvenue!
Thank you for stopping by for a spell!
I am a 40-something year old American woman. Born in Texas, raised in Las Vegas!
Frenchified for Life
is a fabulous little lifestyle blog about truly embracing French life!
My intent is to simply inspire you to create something unique and beautiful in your everyday life. The French have this wonderful and annoying habit of seeing the world through rose colored glasses, might as well learn something from them!
That said, I lift my glass to you!
By the way, I mention the name Cachou (or The Cash) a lot, I'm referring to her...