Cultural Differences: How to Scare a French Person

Cultural Differences: How to Scare a French Person

Salut c’est Géraldine. Welcome to Comme une Française TV, live in
France, feel at home. Today, we’ll cover precisely the kind of
topic you come to Comme une Française for. Deep insight on France and French people that
only a local can reveal. Delivered with kindness and honesty. Never judgmental. Today’s video is about “How to frighten
a French person” Please remember before we start that this
video is here is help you be aware of cultural differences, not to force you to change who
you are. Today, I’ll share with you 5 ways to unsettle
a French person. 1.The dreaded hug In France, people give “la bise”. Yes, it’s intimate. Yes faces touch. Yes it can be scary for you. But it’s very natural for us. What French people are afraid of is hugging. The whole bodies touch. To us, that’s intimate. So don’t be shocked if a French person is
unsettled by your hug and freezes. That’s normal. We’re not used to hugging at all. Only couples or children hug. We don’t even have a word for “hug”. “Câlin” is close but it has a sexual
meaning too. If you are comfortable enough in an informal
situation, try to give “la bise” in France. Or, at least, just say “bonjour”. But don’t hug a French person. Especially those who’ve never been to America. 2. Starting an email with a first name Never start an email with the name of the
person in an informal email. When I read an email starting with just “Géraldine”,
I feel threatened straight away. “What have I done?” In an informal context, ALWAYS start with
a Bonjour / Coucou / Salut… In a formal context (mainly in a professional
context), you might sometimes write emails starting without a greeting. This will usually be when it’s not the first
time you’re writing to the person that the day. But, Be careful how you choose your words: write
in a non-threatening manner and remember
to thank the person warmly at the end. 3. Be over enthusiastic in a sales meeting Here’s some personal advice I gave to a
American freelance friend who needed help closing sales in Paris. When I met her the next day, she said it was
one of the best pieces of advice she’s ever had. I told her “Smile less”. Why? Because French people are very afraid of scams
when they buy something. And people who smile too much when they’re
selling something are perceived as fake. They think “She’s smiling to hide something
from me”. Or “She’s so naive she doesn’t know
what she’s doing” Obviously I don’t mean “stop smiling”
completely, just keep in mind when you’re closing a deal: if you’re overenthusiastic,
French people will suspect there’s something wrong. 4. Rush along the French friendship scale I’ve heard many times that French people
are like coconuts while Americans are like peaches. A French person’s shell is hard to break
but they’re soft inside. To win over a French person, your relationship
must grow steadily. Your trust grows and you become more and more
intimate. Don’t promise or build anything that won’t
last. Even if you’re very open and warm on first
encounter, the French person in front of you will expect the friendship to grow steadily. We have lots of words for friends. Because our friendships take time to build
but last forever. Please check the post “7 types of French
friends” for more info. 5. Not saying hello and goodbye The French expression for “not saying goodbye”
is “filer à l’anglais”=“leave like an Englishman”… Greeting is VERY important in our culture. When entering a shop, arriving at the office,
meeting a group of friends, it’s vital you say “hello”. And when you leave a party, you need to say
“Au revoir” to each person you talked to during the evening. And I’m not going to talk about all the
sacred food etiquette. We’ll cover that in another video. Et toi ? Your French will ONLY improve if
you put into practice what you’ve learnt on Comme une Française TV. Share your experiences by leaving a comment
below this video : Have you ever heard of those unspoken rules? Does it explain something about French behaviours
around you? The comment section is the best place to start
discussions and ask questions! —- Would you like to receive exclusive content
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my exclusive tips on Real Life in France every Tuesday PLUS an exclusive video lesson: “Introducing
yourself in French.” It’s FREE! Merci for watching Comme une Française TV:
Live in France, feel at home. Allez! Salut!

86 thoughts on “Cultural Differences: How to Scare a French Person

  1. And hugging is common in certain areas and among friends in the USA, including males. It really is true hugging freaks out the French! 🙂 La bise freaks out Americans.

  2. Hello, I wish I had seen this video 15 years ago. I married a Frenchman and was meeting his family for the first time. I am a southern American so we are big huggers. Wear kissing is consider very intimate hugging is acceptable. So meeting my in – laws for the first time I gave a big hug and didnt understand the reaction my husband had to explain. I was also uncomfortable with the La Bise. 😉 This is a very helpful video for others.  🙂

  3. wish i seen this a year ago!! for the first half of a year i lived in france i seemed to do everything wrong and it got to the point where i had an attitude before even leaving my house but luckily its different now due to me having to be more understanding, good videos!

  4. Awesome video! 🙂 En Bulgarie quand on rencontre des gens on ne fait pas la bise ou des câlins mais on échange toujours une poignée de main. Je me demande est-ce que c'est acceptable en France ou est consideré trop officiel? 

  5. Salut,
    Une accolade ne serait pas "a hug"?
    J'ai déjà fait cette erreur… Le "hug" a été reçu avec un regard d'horreur… 
    J'avais complètement oublié les règles : bises, serrer la main.
    En fait, Je ne me souviens pas de vos règles culturelles lorsque je suis chez moi…
    Merci Géraldine.

  6. Ce serait super d'avoir les sous tire en français. Car c'est intéressant aussi pour les français de se rendre compte de leur différences. Elle a l'air pas mal ta vidéo en plus. Cette remarque est valable sur toutes tes vidéo Géraldine et encore bravo

  7. I resent hugging unless it's sexual but I'm also not comfortable with kissing cheeks. This was helpful though. 🙂

  8. Thanks for making these videos. I would like to go to France one day and sample 500 different kinds of cheese.

  9. I remember being quite surprised when I was studying in France and I went to get some documents signed at my university's international office. After the assistant helped me, I smiled at her and said "Merci!" to which she responded abruptly "Merci BEAUCOUP". So I realised that merci alone was insufficiently polite, and said "Merci beaucoup!". Then when I turned and started to leave, she shouted "AU REVOIR" in quite an accusing tone. I responded "au revoir" and smiled at her apologetically but she just looked angry anyway. I was pretty confused; I assumed she was just a short-tempered person, but now I understand that it's more important to say goodbye in France. Of course, she knew I was English as she'd just looked at my documents, and working in an international office you'd expect her to be a bit more tolerant of cultural differences – but at least I know that even as une anglaise, I should not filer à l'anglais :p

  10. Dans l'angleterre, Je pense que les personnes sont très ouvertes ou en sont très grave. Ils semblent toujours être l'un ou l'autre… Je suis certainement assez grave 😉 C'est parce que, si j'étais ouvert, je ne pourrais pas obtenir beaucoup de respecte, aussi vous me connaîtriez déjà. Je 'hug' mes amis, mais seulement mes amis, montrer la compassion. J'y trouve bizarre comment les américains 'hug' l'un l'autre et parlent l'un l'autre, même s'ils n'ont jamais rencontré! Ça me fait grincer les dents haha

  11. I feel so sorry for you because I've heard it is hard for french people to pronounce the 'h' at the beginning of a word however honesty has a silent 'h' at the beginning so that you don't pronounce the 'h' at the beginning like in french.

  12. Wow! Wait, wait, wait! The "bise" is only between man and woman or woman and woman!


    I think it's important to precise it…

  13. When I was in france, I hugged everyone, and everyone was hugging everyone, but maybe that was just my school and friends?? haha

  14. That's really interesting! Parce que ici au Brèsil nous dissons "Sair à francesa" (filer à française?) et vous utilizes filer à l'anglaise!! Je sais pas pourquoi c'est comme ça… 
    Mais, pour moi, j'aime bien l'anglais, j'aime bien le français, donc je diré toujours salut et aurevoir pour jamais avoir de filer à l'anglaise (or "à francesa")

  15. I have a pen pal in France who came to visit this year, and his mom is an English teacher who visits America really frequently–so she hugged me. And I hugged him, because that's what I was brought up doing, but he was really weird about it and didn't hug back! I thought he was just being rude or something (even though he's such a sweet kid!) but now I feel so bad!! When I visit them in France next year I will definitely "faire la bise"!

  16. French people sounds so insecure and calculative. Even smiles can be misinterpreted, while in most other countries are considered friendly. Lol

  17. I watch many French movies and notice that very often people do not say anything before departing or ending a phone conversation.

  18. Bonjour! Je viens de voir ta vidéo (j'adore ta chaîne au passage ^^) et je me permets une petite contre-opinion à propos des câlins/étreintes/embrassades, appelons-ça comme on veut (wow, on a plein de mots, je m'en étais jamais rendu compte!)… Pour moi, un câlin est plus affectueux que sexuel (ex. faire un câlin à son nounours, à ses parents). De plus, s'il est vrai que c'est mal vu de prendre dans ses bras un inconnu pour dire bonjour, on peut en revanche s'en faire plein entre amis proches (surtout entre filles). Bien sûr, tout dépend des caractères mais, en ce qui me concerne, si un/une ami(e) vient me voir et me dit "CALIN!", je le lui donne sans hésiter parce que j'adore ça ;P  

    Hey guys ! Little translation here:
    In case some people want to know (or perhaps have already answered in the comments below), there are several terms in French for "a hug" such as "une embrassade", "une étreinte" and "un câlin", which is the most familiar. As for me (a French), a "câlin" is more tender than really sexual. For example, there is nothing wrong in giving "un câlin" to your teddybear or your parents. As Géraldine said, it is definitely inappropriate to greet strangers by giving them a hug. However, I think it is appropriate between close friends (especially between girls). Now of course, it all depends of one's character but, as for me, if a friend, male or female, comes to me and says "I NEED A HUG!", I'll give it to him/her right away because I'm a hugger ;P

  19. "La bise" could be a real pain in the ass at work. There are people wanting to kiss everyone they meet in the morning. What's the point of kissing people you bearly know ?  Most of the time, guys shake hands, but girls are kissed by everyone (really sexist). I tried this year to shake hands to everyone, but I have a man collegue who really insisted to faire la bise and refused to only shake hands… In the end,I do la bise to some and being really rude to many.

  20. I had no idea about the hug…thankfully I've never done it since i only tend to hugh my close friends/family and only when they have a birthday or something to celebrate.

    However I have a question about the kiss…do french people have an order of how to kiss???…you know in Greece they do a double kiss but they start it with the right side…this can avoid awkward moments

  21. That's so strange that it's filer a l'anglaise to leave without saying goodbye, because we call that a French exit…! Doesn't seem to match up does it? :')

  22. Salut. I am Louisiana French and see a number of these traits in myself and in my family. I am very uncomfortable being hugged, and sometimes people think I'm cold, but I'm not, it's just something I prefer not to do.

  23. Il serait difficile mr souvenir "not to hug" quelqu'un parce qu'il j'aime (hugs). Est-ce qu'ils sont tous autres choses que les Français trouvent bizarre?

  24. you are smiling too much when you speak! I'm not sure if I should trust you Geraldine! lol
    I'm just kidding!

  25. wow… I don't think I have gone a day without hugging at least five people and always thought the French were like that also. I'm from the united States and have a lot to learn about the French and looking so forward to it

  26. Ugh,I'm a hugger,the kissing on each cheek seems pretentious to me- but it is a cultural difference;I can see how a hug may come off as too forward by your explanation.Thank you 🙂

  27. Salut Geraldine. How about if I say 'bonjour 2 times to the same person, because wore her jacket, so I don't realize that we meet earlier.
    Should I say sorry? Is it a mistake or rude here in France? What should I do?
    Merci par avance 🙂

  28. You should precise dear Française that in southern France (which is my region) we are less afraid of hugging (donner une accolade) than in Paris, our foreign friends need to know that every region has is own habits and manners.
    Quoi qu'il en soit, merci pour tes vidéos qui permettent à tous nos chers non Francophones de s'intéresser à notre beau pays. ; )

  29. Salut! Merci for all your wonderful videos, I've learned much. I do want to say I have a hard time believing in other social and professional circles that these rules apply. I would think blue collar (the trades) would be less prim and proper. Au revoir 😉

  30. Hello there,
    I just would like to start by saying that I love your videos! They are so informative and they will help so much when I travel to france. I am going soon end of September and I'm hoping to make friends during my travels which will be short. Is it appropriate for a woman to sort of ask french people she meets for contact info to stay in touch? I'm Mexican but raised in America and I'm very friendly and outgoing. After watching your videos I'm a little confused about how I should act. Thank you in advance 🙂

  31. If I put a carrot between my teeth and point to my face, saying "bisu bisu," Would I get a kiss?
    That's how mes préféres cowgirls at Ànes Victories do it.
    They teach their donkeys to give a 'bise."

  32. what are the French filler words in conversation. in english, specially in the US, and Canada, we use "like," a whole lot

  33. I completely understand what you mean when you mentioned starting an email with a first name. I feel threatened too even though I grew up in the USA. I always use "Hello" or "Hi" first. With the friendship scale, does that also apply to messaging on social media? I'm currently using a language learning app and am afraid I may be perceived as too friendly.

  34. I just came across your videos recently and they are really helping me understand French culture better.I am friends with a French family and your videos have helped me a lot. Im very close with one of them and have had a few awkward moments with him.These videos are great for helping me understand.Thanks

  35. Actually,  many Americans dread the hug as well.   So we make it quick, and its an A frame hug,  no full body contact.

  36. I didn't know about the hug! A French man I know started off by doing the kisses and now he hugs because I always do that!!!

  37. Comme un brésilien qui a vécu en France, je trouve que les français sourient très peu. La sourire est discrète, rare et presque timide.

  38. OMG! I will probably scare everyone in France. I smile way too often, specially when I see pastries and chocolate!

  39. it seems that the french are weird people obligate the world to babysit them, but we don't care we need normal people who apperciate smile not skeptical childish people

  40. I did the hug with a new friend. Yes, they did freeze. In fact, that person still avoids me. 🙁
    I still forget to greet people in shops, and say au revoir on the way out. They think you're crazy if you do that in England.

  41. Salut Geralidine ! Comment Ca va ? Your lectures are awesome. I am learning alot of French Language from you.

  42. Thank you very much Geraldine you are very helpful I learnt lot of things about France and French people habits(majeda)

  43. I live in the United States, and people have always pressured me to smile more. But I think it's insincere to smile all the time. In fact, the people who do smile frequently tend to be dishonest and manipulative. As for hugs, I used to hug a lot, but nowadays, it's too easily mistaken for sexual harassment. Best to just offer a handshake.

  44. Just dont do anything in France and you will be fine. They dont like other cultures and buy crap in the mistaken belief that they have purchased antiques.

  45. Cou cou Geraldine……. there are really only a few words in English that start with silent H: hour, honest, honor, heir, herb. I notice you are consistent in saying honest with a real h, it sounds cute, but not correct. Oh, and THANKS for your videos, I learn so much from you.

  46. Easy, just announce that the Nazis have returned to Paris to blow up the Eiffel Tower this time.  What a joke French are…absolutely no guts, no honor.   Sold the Jews to the Nazis to cash money during WWII.

  47. In Paris the American tourists are visible & obvious from miles away as they were the only people smiling & looking happy.

  48. When I was visiting Rennes there were people in the downtown who were offering "free hugs" which I thought was REALLY strange in France, because I know they aren't huggers!

  49. Salut Géraldine ! Je ne peux pas oublier la première fois que j'ai rencontré la sœur de mon beau frère : j' étais très contente de la connaître finalement en personne et je voulais lui donner un" hug" mais elle seulement me a donné la bise. J'étais assez surprise, étonnée parce que cette accueil ( ma première séjour à Paris !) semblait trop froid mais après j'ai compris que il s'agissait d'une question culturelle, comme tu dis et aussi personnel parce qu'elle est très timide. Voilà, c'est mon annecdote! À la prochaine, bonne semaine à tous.

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