Guide to Business Travel Etiquette – France |

About France

France is the largest country in Western Europe, slightly smaller than Texas. France is between the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea; bordering Italy and Spain. 58 million people live in France, about 4.5 million of them foreigners.


French is the primary language spoken in France. If you plan to travel to France, it is strongly recommended that you learn the basics of the language. Your effort will be noticed and appreciated. If you can’t speak French, begin by saying. “Please excuse me for bothering you, but I do not speak French” – “Excusez-moi, s’il vous plait, de vous deranger, mais je ne parle pas francais.”

Business Dress

The French are very conscientious of their appearance and view dress as a reflection of social status and success. Because of this, be sure to wear well-tailored, stylish clothing. Dark, conservative clothing is most appropriate – avoid bright colors or flashy accessories.

Business Hours

Most businesses in France operate from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, with a lunch hour lasting up to two hours. Many executives or those in senior positions will stay at the office until 7:00 or 8:00 pm.


There are 11 public holidays in France. In 2007, they are:

January 1st – New Year’s Day

April 9th – Easter Monday

May 1st – Labour Day

May 8th- 1945 Victory Day

May 17th – Ascension

May 28th – Whit Monday

July 14th – Bastile Day

August 15th – Assumption

November 1st – All Saints’ Day

November 11th – Remembrance Day

December 25th – Christmas Day

Most French employees get five weeks of vacation and many will take up to three weeks of this in July or August.

Conversations and Behavior

The most important aspect of French behavior is the emphasis on courtesy and formality. When meeting someone, it is customary to shake their hand. But, handshakes in France are light and quick – a strong handshake is considered aggressive. Good posture is important to the French – so be sure to stand up straight.

Do not address a business associate by their first name unless invited to do so. The basic courtesy title for women is ‘Madame’ and is ‘Monsieur’ for men. ‘Mademoiselle’ is considered old-fashioned and should be avoided.

Sometimes, the French will introduce themselves using the last name followed by their first name. This can be confusing if they both sound like first names. It is fine to ask for clarification if needed.

When engaging in conversation avoid topics related to individual political views or other personal matters. Stick to topics such as sports, art, music and food. Be prepared to discuss your own countries history and political system.

There are many common gestures and behaviors that are considered offensive in France. Be sure to avoid the following:

- Chewing gum in public

- Putting your hand in your pockets while in public

- Slapping an open palm over a closed fist

- Snapping fingers

- The OK symbol (forming a circle with the thumb and forefinger) actually means zero or useless in France. Use the thumbs up instead.

5 Reasons to Get Business Travel Insurance |

Whether it is a brief visit to another part of the country or a week long trip abroad, business trips to visit critical clients and other important companies are a vital part of keeping any business running successfully; and for every trip, you’ll need some kind of business travel insurance. If you only have to travel every once in a while, single trip cover may be sufficient, but if you travel many times each year you’ll want to invest in some annual business travel insurance. Either way, there’s no excuse to scrimp: here are five situations when the small cost of insurance could save you a lot of hassle…

The other company cancels the meeting at the last minute…

An ordinary holiday can be cancelled for all kinds of reasons, but for a business trip there are even more factors that can lead to a meeting being cancelled or rescheduled, leaving you or your company to foot a significant cancellation bill. Business travel insurance will cover cancellation as standard, so even if things change at the last minute, your costs will be covered.

You fall on or before the trip…

If you fall ill on or just before a crucial business trip and there is no-one to replace you, the consequences for your company could be catastrophic. Most good business travel insurance packages will cover the cost of replacing you with a work colleague (including their flights and accommodation) so that the trip can be concluded successfully in your absence.

Some vital equipment is lost or stolen…

Whether it is a PDA filled with important information on it or an expensive laptop with a crucial presentation, most business trips can revolve around a vital piece of equipment – if it is lost or stolen, it can hurt your wallet and ruin the business trip. Annual business travel insurance will provide you with year round cover for business equipment that is lost or stolen while you are away (and in most cases, they will pay for a courier delivery of the new item.) Of course, the data may be irreplaceable, so make sure that you back up any critical information on a USB stick.

Business travel is excluded from your existing insurance…

Many people assume that they have cover for business in the annual travel insurance they already have, but this often isn’t the case. Many travel insurance policies are for holidays only and have exclusions for business travel. Read the small print carefully, and make sure you get full travel insurance for business trips if you aren’t covered.

You need to be hospitalised after an accident…

Whether it is just a cracked rib or something much more serious, medical care abroad while you are uninsured is no laughing matter. With so many business trips to America (which can have medical costs running into thousands of pounds) it really pays to have some decent business travel insurance. As outlined above, many standard travel insurance policies exclude business trips, so make sure you get the right kind of cover and avoid the threat of massive medical costs.