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Cultural Differences in France

Despite many similarities, there are significant cultural differences between France and the anglophone countries. This list covers the differences most important to remember:

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  • Uncertainty: Uncertainty and ambiguity aren’t well tolerated in French society, and many French try to minimize risks and uncertainty by controlling details;
  • Politeness: Courtesy and politeness are extremely important in French culture. You can gain the trust of the French by following expected standards of politeness;
  • Formality and hierarchy: French society is more hierarchical than Anglophone societies, and this should be respected and reflected in your communications, by using formal language;
  • Heritage and the English language: the French are proud of their culture, heritage and language. Begin your communications in French using the « right » phrases before asking the homeowners if he speaks English;
  • Context: The French assume they hold common knowledge, understanding and norms with others. Therefore the responsibility to learn and follow cultural « rules » falls to you…;
  • Directness: While still being polite, the French don’t hesitate to be direct when something isn’t to their liking. This directness can often be interpreted as rudeness.

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