Basic Etiquette – Trés important!

There are three things that you must practice - always say bonjour until mid-afternoon and then say bon soir, say au revoir, and shake hands always. French etiquette has many layers of subtlety and if you can walk into a shop, look the proprietor in the eye and say 'Bonjour' when you enter and 'Au revoir' when you leave you’ve already progressed. Observe how service improves for you. A French man once told us that it’s a competition of etiquette education as to who can begin these salutations first - the proprietor or the customer. More subtlety!

Even if you’ve met someone the day before and shaken hands, do it again…and again whenever you meet. If in doubt about what to do, imagine that you are in someone’s home. A French person’s home is everywhere, even an elevator - Bonjour! Au revoir!

Etiquette is just about being kind and considerate. 

Kissing on the cheek - it gets complicated. Men and women practice this daily when meeting and leaving. Men will kiss each other only when they are good friends or family members. Parisians kiss four times or three or two, nothing intimate just cheek brushing. Bordelaise twice or….well you’ll find out.

Dress Code

In Bordeaux, dressing goes with what is appropriate for your particular venue and you will soon pick up how to dress up that outfit with just the right scarf. French women these days are even more minimalist in their approach to fashion; simple, elegant, and comfortable. You will not see a lot of jewelry or makeup on the chique. The point is to be unique with a stamp of your own - la scarf, tiny ear rings, perfume, no purse, fabulous purse etc.  Men dress casually and simply with the best they can afford including great shoes and a scarf is always dashing. Phone ahead for the dress codes at special restaurants but if not possible, keep it simple.


Smoking is prohibited in all restaurants, clubs and pubs and public transport including trains.