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CYESQ Feb 20th, 2012 01:38 AM

Correct greetings in Paris
I understand that it is considered rude to walk into a shop in France and say simply, "bonjour," that one is supposed to say "bonjour madam or mademoiselle." If you are not sure whether the shop keeper is single or married, which is the more proper greeting?

Are there any other etiquette gaffes to avoid? Thanks

Ackislander Feb 20th, 2012 02:16 AM

Mademoiselle, or monsieur as appropriate, I believe.

Be sure to say something polite when you leave as well: you will hear 'au revoir" or "bonne journee" or often both. But I don't remember anyone adding the "madamoiselle".

Don't touch the merchandise except maybe durable goods in a place like a hardware or book store.

tarquin Feb 20th, 2012 02:58 AM

This is news to me. I think a pleasant bonjour or bonsoir is perfectly acceptable, although in some cases you might naturally add madame or monsieur.

FrenchMystiqueTours Feb 20th, 2012 03:01 AM

Simply saying "bonjour" without adding monsieur or madame/mademoiselle is fine. That way there's no awkward situation in confusing a madame with a mademoiselle. When you leave either "au revoir" or "bonne journée"/"bonne soirée" is fine. Smile and make eye contact too.

Pvoyageuse Feb 20th, 2012 03:03 AM

It is one of Fodor's urban legends. Saying "bonjour" is perfectly acceptable.

colduphere Feb 20th, 2012 03:46 AM

Où sont les journaux américains? ... will also break the ice.

Aduchamp1 Feb 20th, 2012 04:14 AM

How about

Yo Mama, quoi de neuf?

cocofromdijon Feb 20th, 2012 04:39 AM

<Yo Mama, quoi de neuf?> Ca gaze!

gwan Feb 20th, 2012 05:16 AM

For me, it's not so much single or married, it's the feeling I must be looking OLD when people "madame" me :( On the other hand, some women object to "mademoiselle" for feminist reasons. So yeah, while I find French people usually do say "madame/monsieur/mademoiselle", you're fine not doing it. I hardly ever do, and no-one's run me out of town yet. And it's "bonsoir" at night, if you remember.

Christina Feb 20th, 2012 05:33 AM

I wonder who makes up these rules that the OP cites. Never heard of that, and that would make a lot of French people rude since that is what they do (often say only bonjour). Madame is normal if you are not obviously pretty young, it doesn't mean you "look old." The use of Mme and Mlle in French is kind of clumsy because they don't have a good use of something similar to Ms, although Madame pretty much is used that way for women past the age of 35 or so, I think.

gwan Feb 20th, 2012 05:38 AM

"Madame is normal if you are not obviously pretty young" - exactly... I've lived in France for a few years now, and definitely over that time the number of people calling me Madame has increased and the number calling me Mademoiselle has decreased. Hence it makes me feel old.

colduphere Feb 20th, 2012 05:46 AM

What would you say if you were uncertain if the person was a Madame or a Monsieur? This happens in Canada.

Bianca_P Feb 20th, 2012 05:57 AM

Calling someone mademoiselle usually means you are trying to flirt with them or to patronise them. As long as they're visibly over 18, Madame is the standard. But even then you don't NEED to add monsieur/madame...a simple bonjour will do.

Pvoyageuse Feb 20th, 2012 05:58 AM

"The use of Mme and Mlle in French is kind of clumsy "

It might be clumsy for foreigners but it is not for native speakers.

bilboburgler Feb 20th, 2012 06:02 AM

Bonjour Toutes does for me if there ae many

Pvoyageuse Feb 20th, 2012 06:24 AM

"Bonjour Toutes does for me if there ae many"

Might do it for you but not for other people, especially if there are men. They'll feel excluded :-))
"Toutes" = feminine plural.
Why try to make simple things complicated? Use "bonjour" with a smile, that's all.

cocofromdijon Feb 20th, 2012 06:47 AM

May I also add there is "à" right after bonjour, like in "bonjour à tous"

basingstoke2 Feb 20th, 2012 06:48 AM

<<Yo Mama, quoi de neuf?>>

An incomplete greeting. It should be "Yo Mama, quoi de neuf homey?" That has the added advantage of eliminating any age and gender uncertainty.

PatrickLondon Feb 20th, 2012 06:53 AM

>>What would you say if you were uncertain if the person was a Madame or a Monsieur? This happens in Canada.<<

Is that why you say "Eh?" all the time?

suze Feb 20th, 2012 06:57 AM

I agree a plain old 'bonjour' is fine. Especially if you aren't sure if madan or mademoiselle would be correct.

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