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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.

 

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About France

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 MozartJoseph HaydnLudwig van BeethovenFranz SchubertJohannes BrahmsGustav 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.

Paris boasts a rich architectural landscape with styles ranging from classicist buildings to modern architecture. The influence of Art Nouveau can also be seen in Paris. 

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. 

Click for more information about our France Language Services.


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.

Portuguese arbitration interpretersFrench Arbitration Interpreters 

Our arbitration interpreters can assist those seeking an alternative to litigation. Read more...

 

Business Translation, Business InterpretingFrench Business Meeting Interpreters 

Our French business meeting interpreters can assist you at negotiations, discussions and collaborations. Read more...

Conference interpretersFrench Conference Interpreters 

At TJC Global, we have a network of French certified conference interpreters for multi-national conferences of all natures. Read more...

French Court Interpreters 

Our French court interpreters are familiar with the format, conventions, procedures and requirements of court interpreting. Read more...

French Deposition Interpreters 

We can provide specialist deposition interpreters for witness testimonials as are common in the US and Canada. Read more...

Portuguese litigation interpretersFrench Legal Interpreters 

TJC Global's French legal interpreters can cover court cases, hearings, tribunals. Read more...

Japanese legal interpretersFrench Legal Translation 

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.

Japanese medical interpretersFrench Medical Interpreting 

Our medical interpreters are closely acquainted with medical terminology ensuring they deliver informed, precise and efficient interpreting in this highly specialised sector.

French Medical Translation 

Our French medical translators are all native speakers of your target language and often hold a degree or certificate in the medical sciences.

Japanese engineering interpretersFrench Technical Translation 

Our technical interpreters can cover assignments in a broad range of industries; including aerospace, motoring, manufacturing and civil engineering. Read more...

Portuguese tribunals interpretersFrench Tribunal Interpreters 

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. 

French Patent Translation 

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 form/s of interpretation can TJC Global provide?

Video / videoconference interpreting for virtual meetings or legal procedures. TJC offers video remote interpreting services globally. Participants can communicate with each other using smartphones, tablets or computers in the form of voice calls or video calls; the latter allowing participants to simultaneously share visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations. By participating in your video conference, our professionally qualified interpreters can interpret remotely in order to facilitate smooth communication between all parties in the language pairing you require.

 

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 useful for clients who cannot travel to their counterparts' country, but still wish, for example, to hold business discussions or to communicate progress updates.  At TJC Global, we are very happy to provide you with professionally qualified interpreters around the world in almost any selected language combinations.

Simultaneous interpreting (also available with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI))

is used for international conferences, critical business discussions, seminars & symposiums. In this case, there are usually two to three interpreters situated in a booth, away from the audience, who take turns to interpret at high speed, changing over every 15-20 minutes to avoid fatigue.

The interpreters use headsets to listen to the message of the speaker and repeat it immediately (practically "simultaneously") in the target language for the benefit of relevant audience members.

Consecutive interpreting (also available with Video Remote Interpretation (VRI)) is the most common type of interpreting. It is used for business discussions, negotiations, contract exchanges, commercial, legal, technical discussions, medical or court hearings or on site inspections. The interpreter listens to the speaker, often making notes, and delivers the meaning in the target language afterwards. 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 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.

What to do next? 

For a quote for interpretation and translation services, please use the Quick Quote system on the right of the page

If you would like more information about our language services, please contact us.

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