French lifestyle

Rules of politness and code of conduct

France is the country of human rights and freedom of expression. The art of French living is internationally renowned and unique.

There are some basic rules to introduce yourself when greeting someone. In particular, it is important to look at your interlocutor straight in the eyes and greet them with a “hello” (“bonjour”), hello Sir” (“bonjour Monsieur”) if it is a man or “hello Madam/Miss” (“bonjour Madame / Mademoiselle”) if it is a woman and depending on their age. In France, it is also a habit of greeting someone with “la bise”. Yet, this is not applicable in every situation. “La bise” is usually reserved for your relatives and friends. Provided you do not know your interlocutor, a handshake will be more appropriate. You should also say “vous” to people you meet for the first time or barely know and “tu” to people closer to you. Other basic politeness rules should be followed, such as saying “thank you” (“merci”), “please” (“s’il vous plaît”) and “goodbye” (“au revoir”) when applicable.

Fine dining is also very present in the French way of life. The meal itself and the shared convivial moment that comes with it are equally important. Time and attention should be payed to meals, same as offering guests a warm welcome, decorating a room and a table, finding the perfect food and wine pairings. French cooking is distinguished by its refinement and creativity.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when invited to share a meal in France: remember to thank your host for the invitation when you arrive, it is well seen to bring a small gift such as a bottle of wine, cheese, a dessert or flowers (only for a woman), waiting for everyone to be served before starting to eat, participate in the conversation without monopolizing the discussion nor cutting someone off.

Find out more below about rules of politeness in France to apply in your daily life.

Festivals and traditions

The French Riviera has a rich cultural history and organizes traditional as well as more contemporary events all year long. Among the most popular annual events happening in the region are the Nice Carnival, one of the largest carnivals in the world taking place each winter, the “Fête des Mimosas”, “Fête du Citron”, as well as summer music festivals starting from mid-July, such as the Nice Jazz Festival, the Jazz à Juan Festival and the “Nuits du Sud” in Vence.

Gastronomy

The traditional cuisine of Nice, also known as “cuisine nissarde”, is Mediterranean inspired. This type of cooking is a transition from Provence to Italy. There are more than 200 original dishes. A lot of them are made with local products such as Mesclun. Nice’s cuisine is rich and varied, and largely uses vegetables, olive oil and fish (anchovies, sardines and sea bream mainly).

The most famous local specialties include :

  • The niçoise salad : made with mesclun, tomatoes, olives and anchovies.
  • The « socca » : pancake made with chickpea flour served hot.
  • The « pissaladière » : bread dough filled with onions, anchovies and black olives
  • The « pan bagnat » : sandwich with tuna, olives and crudités, drizzled with olive oil.
  • The « tourte de blette » : made with blettes. Can be served as a salted dish or as a sweet dessert
  • The « farcis niçois » : made with vegetables (zucchinis, tomatoes, onions, pepper) and filled with stuffing. Can be served hot or cold.