15 Habits You Pick up When You're Living in France

French cafe | © AurelienDP/Pixabay
French cafe | © AurelienDP/Pixabay
Photo of Holly Howard
19 November 2017

Each country has its own quirks and customs, so it’s no wonder we adopt different habits depending on where we live. Here are Culture Trip’s top 15 that, like them or loathe them, you’re sure to pick up when living in France.

Saying hello, a lot

Saying bonjour about a hundred times a day is the norm in France. When entering a shop, when seeing your hairdresser on the street, when seeing someone you only vaguely remember on the street … and on and on.

Bonjour | © Foundry/Pixabay

Saying sorry, a lot

The French for sorry is pardon and you’ll get used to saying this a lot, too. It is the go-to phrase for most things, from bumping into someone in the supermarket to trying to get the waiter’s attention at a restaurant.

Eating cheese before dessert

The cheese course comes before the ‘something sweet’ in France. So enjoy your fromage before your fondant au chocolat – not a hard life, is it?

French cheese | © Jill Wellington/Pixabay

Walking everywhere

France is a nation of walkers, ramblers, and hikers. Whether it’s choosing to travel to work on foot over public transport in the big cities, or going on randos (hikes) during the weekend, if you live in France, walking more will simply become a way of life.

Never having leftover bread

Bread is generally bought daily in France. This means you’ll get into the routine of going to the boulangerie instead of the bread bin when you need a new loaf. Luckily, this new habit translates to fewer stale sandwiches!

French bread | © Jill Wellington/Pixabay

Kissing, not shaking

Put your hand away and get used to offering a cheek instead when you first meet someone. Two bisous for general meets, three (or more!) when you are greeting a friend.

Not eating on the move

Of course you’ll see the odd person tucking into a fresh baguette from the bakery but, generally speaking, eating equates to enjoyment in France and this means sitting around a table with family and friends.

Paying by cheque (or queuing while someone else does)

It is a criminal offence in France to write a cheque without enough money in your account to cover it, so the use of cheques is quite commonplace. In fact, you might even be held up at the supermarket while someone fills one out simply for some soup and toilet paper!

Euros | © Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

Chatting casually about sex

Get your sex chat on and be nonchalant about it. The French are a lot more open about sex topics, so even if you’ve only just met someone, this isn’t a conversation that is off limits.

Wearing more black

As time goes on, you’ll see your shopping habits change item by item and your wardrobe will slowly start containing more and more fashion pieces that are black. The French man or woman cloaked in dark colours really isn’t a stereotype walk down any street and you’ll feel positively multi-coloured in merely a blue coat.

Fashionable black | © Khusen Rustamov/Pixabay

Rushing to the shops at 11:55 am every Sunday

Shops are generally shut on Sundays, with the exception of some small local supermarkets that are allowed to operate in the morning. So each Sunday, without fail, you’ll probably be rushing to buy milk at closing time.

Taking a long lunch

And what a happy habit this is! The time between noon and 2 pm each day (and usually the full two hours) is reserved for savouring your food in a leisurely, peaceful manner.

A French cafe | © smattern/Pixabay

Starting the new week slowly

In a lot of towns in France, Monday will almost feel like a Sunday, with a lot of shops and cafes closed. In time, you’ll get used to this slower start to the week and even welcome it after a busy weekend.

‘Closed’ sign | © Sylvain Naudin/Flickr

Watching really, really long TV shows

There’s no other way to say it: French TV programmes are long. A standard programme with few or no advert breaks will last for 90 minutes and most of the prime time shows are two hours long.

Perfecting your arrival time

In France, it is considered borderline rude to arrive at an event or a dinner party at the specified time. After a while, you’ll get used to arriving 10 to15 minutes late; this is the general rule.

Light Bulbs | © Free-Photos/Pixabay

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