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Making Nice in Martinique
Martinique is a polite society. Doors will open to you and you will win the favor of the Martinicans if you demonstrate proper French manners. Preface questions, particularly if asking directions, with Bonjour or Bonsoir, followed by Excusez-moi. Even friends greet each other with a bonjour rather than the equivalent of hi or hello. When finished, say, "Merci beaucoup. Bonne journée" ("Thank you very much. Have a good day") or "Bonne nuit" ("Good night"). Bone up on your French, and bring your phrase book with you, please (s' il vous plait, or when written, s.v.p.)
You will likely be introduced as Madame Smith rather than mademoiselle, even if you are single, if you are over 30. When introduced say, "Enchanté" ("Enchanted"). Nice, no?
Do not call someone by their first name, especially someone who is older, until they tell you to. When they call you by your Christian name, you have carte blanche. U.S. southerners will have no difficulty remembering to say, "Merci, madame" (not ma'am) and "No merci, monsieur." When and if you are speaking French, use the formal vous for you, not the familiar tu.
The French islanders will kiss each other on both cheeks if they know the other person and often if they do not. If they realize that you are not French, they will most likely extend their hand for a handshake. And yes, the older gentlemen still kiss a lady's hand, although it will likely be a mock kiss, not touching skin.
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