Business Etiquette & Culture in France
Top Tips for Doing Business in France
TJC Global understands that being fluent in a language also means being fluent in the subtleties and intricacies of the culture and business etiquette associated with it. To ensure that no embarrassing misunderstandings occur in a professional context, all our translators and interpreters are experts in the business culture and etiquette associated with the languages they work with. Read on to find out our top tips for doing business in France.
If you require translation or interpreting assistance of any kind in France or anywhere else, please use the FREE QUOTE SYSTEM on the right-hand side of the page or contact us.
What form/s of interpretation can TJC Global provide?
Looking for translation or interpreting assistance ?
What to do next?
With population of around 1.8 million, Paris is the capital city of France. The city is famous for its rich musical history, with musical prodigies including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg having worked there.
The city remains a centre for culture, and is home to world-class theatre, opera, classical music and fine arts, and performances are regular. The city is also famous for holding grand nineteenth century style balls in its many beautiful palaces – over 200 take place annually.
The city is also home to a number of prestigious museums and art galleries. These range from Imperial Treasury, which houses the imperial jewels of Habsburg dynasty, to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which displays the works of old masters.
Paris is become known as the City of Dreams because of its connection to the first psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, who lived there for most of his life. The city’s influence upon Freud’s work has been noted.
The French Language
French is an official language in 33 countries across the globe. By this measure, it is second only to English (an official language in 45 countries). There are also many countries across the globe where French is not actually an official language but plays an important role in the commercial and cultural life of the people.
The French language is a Romance language. Like Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Romanian, French is a descendant of Latin – the language of the Roman Empire. It is spoken by 90 million as a first language, and 190 million as a second language. Written French uses the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet plus five diacritics: the circumflex accent “â”, acute accent “é”, grave accent “è”, diaeresis “ë” and cedilla “ç”. Within France, there are also various dialects and regional languages spoken by smaller communities.
Useful French Phrases
If you do not speak French, it is polite to apologise for this, but also to try to learn a few key phrases in advance of your trip. Some useful business terms which may come up in business correspondence, or in the course of a meeting, are as follows:
- Corporate name = Nom de société
- The articles of association = L’acte d’association
- The articles of partnership = Le contrat d’association
- The by-laws = Les règlements intérieurs
- Subsidiary = Filiale
- Branch = Division
- Limited liability company = Société à responsabilité limitée (SARL)
- Open end investment company = Société d’investissement à capital variable (SICAV)
- Close end investment company = Société d’investissement à capital fixe (SICAF)
- Manager, managing director, assistant manager, personnel manager, sales manager: Cadre, directeur, sous-directeur, directeur du personnel, directeur des ventes.
- Finance department, legal department, accounting department: Département financier, département juridique, département comptable
French Business Etiquette
When meeting someone, the handshake is a generally acknowledged from of greeting, as well as kissing the person lightly on both cheeks. First names are used for family and close friends, so wait until you are invited before addressing a new acquaintance by their first name. Madame is a basic term of courtesy for women, and monsieur formen.
If giving a gift, be careful when selection – flowers such as lilies and chrysanthemums are now used because of their connotations to funerals, and when choosing wine, make sure you find a good quality bottle. When dining, do not arrive late, and obey the continental table manners of holding the fork and knife in left and right hands respectively. It is polite not to start eating before the hostess has said ‘bon appetit’.
- Working Hours
Appointments for business meetings are essential, and should be made well in advance. Working hours are generally between 8.30 or 9 and 6 and 7, with two hours or more for lunch break. French workers have five weeks holiday in a year, and at least 3 are taken during the month of August, which should be avoided for business purposes as the whole country tends to come to a standstill.
- Business Dress
Dress conservatively – men in dark suits, women in elegantly cut suits or a smart, formal dress. Make sure that you maintain eye-contact as this builds respect and trust between parties.
- During the Meeting
Business etiquette requires formality and courtesy. If you do not speak the language, it is polite to apologise for this, and to try to learn a few key phrases. It is wise not to appear overly friendly, as the French tend to separate the work from the social aspects of their life, and trust is gained through appropriate, direct and formal behaviour. Business tends to be hierarchical, and skills in debating and keen-minded analysis will be respected, with any mutual decisions or finalised documents being produced in a formal layout.
Locations we cover in France
Fields our French interpreters cover
TJC Global provides specialist interpreting and translation services in a wide array of specialist fields. Whatever your requirement, we can find the right linguist to assist you. If your industry or project-type is not listed here, please contact us directly with your enquiry.
Our language specialists utilise their knowledge of subject-specific terminology to deliver precise, unambiguous translations whatever the context – enabling you to communicate effectively with the rest of the world. We are also able to adapt to almost any type of project.
Our arbitration interpreters can assist those seeking an alternative to litigation. Read more…
At TJC Global, we have a network of French certified conference interpreters for multi-national conferences of all natures. Read more…
We can provide specialist deposition interpreters for witness testimonials as are common in the US and Canada. Read more…
We cover a variety of legal material and documents including, but not limited to: letters, legal documents, contracts, summonses, evidentiary documents, statements, patents and more.
Our medical interpreters are closely acquainted with medical terminology ensuring they deliver informed, precise and efficient interpreting in this highly specialised sector.
Our French medical translators are all native speakers of your target language and often hold a degree or certificate in the medical sciences.
TJC Global’s specialist linguists provide a precise, efficient and professional tribunal interpreting service, ensuring that language barriers do not impede the exchange of crucial information.
Our professional linguists have many years’ experience translating patents from various fields and are familiar with the technical terminology used in technical patent specifications.
What forms of interpreter services can TJC Global provide?
Video/videoconference interpreting: (also Video Remote Interpreting is available) TJC provides language interpreting services to support events such as business discussions, conferences, legal/court/arbitration/litigation, and other online business interactions in the industry during these challenging times.
Participants can communicate via video, or voice calls using laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. These can be recorded should you wish to take minutes. Our professionally qualified interpreters can join your online virtual meeting, event, or proceeding, for example, and interpret remotely in the language pairing you require to facilitate smooth communication between all parties.
Telephone/teleconference interpreting is a practical way to bridge any language barriers. The interpreter is either located remotely (away from either party) or is with one of the parties. In both cases, they deliver interpreting services through telephone conferencing.
Telephone interpretation is helpful for clients who cannot travel to their counterparts’ countries but still wish, for example, to hold business discussions or communicate progress updates. At TJC Global, we are pleased to provide professionally qualified interpreters in almost any selected language combination.
Simultaneous interpreting (also available with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI))
is used for international conferences, critical business discussions, seminars & symposiums. In this case, two to three interpreters are usually situated in a booth, away from the audience, and take turns to interpret at high speed, changing over every 15-20 minutes to avoid fatigue.
The interpreters use headsets to listen to the speaker’s message and repeat it immediately (practically “simultaneously”) in the target language to benefit relevant audience members.
Consecutive interpreting (also available with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI)) is the most common type. It is used for business discussions, negotiations, contract exchanges, commercial, legal and technical meetings, medical or court hearings, or onsite inspections. The interpreter listens to the speaker, often making notes, and later delivers the meaning in the target language.
The interpreter may wait until a pause or the end, at which point they deliver a translation relatively quickly. Consecutive interpreting may also be used at conferences for panel discussions, Q&A sessions or private discussions between parties – at a stand or elsewhere.
Looking for translation or interpreting assistance ?
TJC Global provides specialist interpreting and translation services in various specialist fields. Whatever your requirement, we can find the right linguist to assist you. If your industry or project type is not listed here, please contact us directly with your enquiry.
Our language specialists utilise their knowledge of subject-specific terminology to deliver precise, unambiguous translations, whatever the context – enabling you to communicate effectively with the rest of the world. We are also able to adapt to almost any type of project.
What to do next?
Please use the Quick Quote system above for a quote for interpreting, translation services or a related enquiry.
If you would like more information about our language services, please contact us.