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French Etiquette! "Bonjour Madame or Bonjour Monsieur!

French Etiquette! "Bonjour Madame or Bonjour Monsieur!

Apr 27th, 2015, 03:20 PM
  #21  
 
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And it was indeed a favour, due to the totally different concept of shops in various countries. A small shop in France is the owner's private domain. It is a privilege for them to let you enter. If you don't like the system, you obviously go elsewhere, but these people often have the best stuff, and they know it. It's not all that different from the high end jewellers who require that you ring the buzzer to be allowed entry.
kerouac is online now  
Apr 27th, 2015, 03:26 PM
  #22  
 
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Oh, but it is! I mean, if the door isn't locked, and there's no sign, honestly, it's absurd to repel browsers on principle. If they are rude and don't greet you I can understand giving the cold shoulder, but the rest is hubris. Sorry! My American-ness is showing, I guess.
NewbE is offline  
Apr 27th, 2015, 03:46 PM
  #23  
 
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not just your american-ness, NewbE. it irritates the hell out of me too, when people who are offering a service behave as if they are doing YOU a favour. but it is not just in France that shop-assistants behave towards customers as if they were something nasty they just found on the bottom of their shoe - remember the scene in Pretty Woman?
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Apr 27th, 2015, 07:49 PM
  #24  
 
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It is like sale help in expensive stores whose haughtiness is bestowed by breathing the same air as the wealthy.
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Apr 27th, 2015, 08:02 PM
  #25  
 
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True, true. You're right, annhig: the French do not have a monopoly on hauteur!
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Apr 27th, 2015, 11:20 PM
  #26  
 
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nukesafe - when you enter a store and just want to look around, you greet the salesperson as stated above, who will then usually ask,
"Je peux vous aider, Madame (or) Monsieur?"

The correct response would be,
"Non merci, Madame (or) Monsieur. Je veux regarder, s'il vous plait."

Then, the salesperson will usually say,
"Bien sur, Madame (or) Monsieur. Si je peux vous aider, n'hesitez pas." - then will go back to whatever he/she was doing.

If the salesperson doesn't say anything but stares at you when you enter, just say,
"Bonjour, je peux regarder?"
If they aren't going to be formally polite, you don't have to be, either.

If you want help after that, just raise your hand and ask, "Madame (or) Monsieur, s'il vous plait?"

If clothing is hanging on racks, it's fine to touch it. If it's folded, and you need to rummage around for your size, it's better to ask for help, so nobody has to refold everything.

You should not touch wine bottles or food unless someone gives you permission. The obvious exception would be in a supermarket.

I don't shop in expensive stores, but if I did, I wouldn't touch anything.
manouche is offline  
Apr 28th, 2015, 12:32 AM
  #27  
 
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Thank you Manouche. Exactly what I wanted to know. Thought it would be something like that, but I feel better armed having it from an expert.
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Apr 28th, 2015, 12:50 AM
  #28  
 
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but now according to a French friend who is visiting it is perfectly OK to just say "Bonjour" - leaving out the madame or monsieur - a bit easier for the tourists and this lady says now satisfies the protocol

Yes it may be but do you have to say something exactly like Bonjour Madame and not just bonjour - that is the point - now just a hi or bonjour is fine - no more need for the madame or monsieur (and what are the mademoiselles?)

pro-tip: languages change

I think the mademoiselles went the same way that the Fräulein did.
sparkchaser is offline  
Apr 28th, 2015, 08:39 AM
  #29  
 
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"Mademoiselle" is normally reserved for females who are obviously teenagers. These days, it can be difficult to tell - especially if they're all dressed up for a night on the town.

Anyone younger than about 10 years old is referred to as "la petite mademoiselle".

My 70-year-old sister is usually referred to as "Mademoiselle" or "Ma Belle" when she visits the outdoor markets in Paris, though that is probably because the vendors want to flatter her into buying a lot more than she could possibly eat.
manouche is offline  
Apr 28th, 2015, 09:13 AM
  #30  
 
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Isn't that the French equivalent of calling an older woman "young lady", as happens so disconcertingly often in the US these days? God, I hate that! I can't believe the people who say this don't realize that they are actually being rude.
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Apr 28th, 2015, 09:52 AM
  #31  
 
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I don't usually do this in the U.S., and this post reminds me that I can practice by greeting the cashier at the supermarket and the clerk at the deli, so that I will be used to doing it when I enter a store in Europe. Also the guy who is often working in the produce department when I choose fruits and veggies.

I generally chat with the cashier/server/produce guy and am friendly. I have been told by the workers at Safeway that they like me because I'm friendly.

It shouldn't be too difficult to form the habit of greeting the employee/s when I enter the shop.
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Apr 28th, 2015, 09:59 AM
  #32  
 
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At 69, I love it when someone calls me miss. My very old French lessons, however, suggested that to call a grown woman, 'mademoiselle' was slightly offensive. Am I mis-remembering?
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Apr 28th, 2015, 10:21 AM
  #33  
 
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Actresses, even if they are 100 years old, are traditionally called "Mademoiselle" in France. This can surprise some foreigners if they watch an awards ceremony and know that an actress has been married 3 or 4 times. And a nun is called "Madame" by anybody who has no desire to use the religious protocol term "Ma soeur."
kerouac is online now  
Apr 28th, 2015, 10:32 AM
  #34  
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Mademoiselle Briggete Bardot! Can't believe the original for my age female media sexpot is 81 years young!
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 28th, 2015, 11:20 AM
  #35  
 
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In my neighborhood I am called Dude, Chief, Boss, Papi, and Yo.
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Apr 28th, 2015, 11:22 AM
  #36  
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I'd wager the best baguette en Paris that you are also called other things!
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 28th, 2015, 11:28 AM
  #37  
 
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And that is what passes for wit around here.
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Apr 28th, 2015, 12:04 PM
  #38  
 
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I'm waiting for the discussion on the distinction between "une femme d'un certain âge" and "une femme d'un âge certain."
DonTopaz is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 12:35 AM
  #39  
 
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Another little piece of etiquette in France that I only recently stumbled on:

In restaurants and cafes in the regional areas, it is polite to not only greet the staff, but also everyone else you walk past as you go to a table.

And there was me, thinking that everyone must either know everyone else in these little places, or all be regular customers at that particular eatery!

It also took me a long time to wake up to the fact that if you go somewhere just wanting a coffee, DON'T sit at any of those tables that are set with cutlery etc - they are reserved for those wanting to eat a full meal. Di
di2315 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2015, 01:00 AM
  #40  
 
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In restaurants and cafes in the regional areas, it is polite to not only greet the staff, but also everyone else you walk past as you go to a table.

I run into this in the smaller Bierstube and Biergartens in Franconia.
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