Some notes on French culture and behavior
In many situations the Americans and the French react in similar ways.
However, in certain situations their behavior is different. Every morning, for instance, French children greet their parents not only by saying "bonjour," but also by kissing them.
Whenever French people meet, they shake hands, even if they meet more than once during the day. Teenagers, especially boys, also shake hands. Girls often greet one another with a kiss on each cheek.
On the whole, the relationships between adults and teenagers are much more formal in France than in the United States.
It is, for instance, perfectly proper for American students to greet their teacher with "Good morning" or "Hi." French students, however, do not greet their teachers with a simple "Bonjour" and would not think of using the informal "Salut."
To a teacher it is customary to say "Bonjour, Monsieur" (or "Bonjour, Madame" or "Bonjour, Mademoiselle").
You may have noted that the French do not use the last name when greeting a person. They say, "Bonjour, Madame," whereas English-speaking people would say "Hello, Mrs. Jones" or "Hello, Mrs. Smith."
These are just some facts I got from my grandmother (my mom helped also helped me write it) about the customs of the French people.
I hope they helped or you enjoyed them; please don't downvote, because I have done nothing wrong. :)
Erica Isabelle Harley
"Whenever French people meet, they shake hands, even if they meet more than once during the day. Teenagers, especially boys, also shake hands. Girls often greet one another with a kiss on each cheek."
I've never heard about shaking hands many times per day.
And about kisses, it can be on only one cheek, on each cheek, 3 kisses, 4... But of course, we shake hands of women we don't know.
"Bonjour" alone is more common than "Bonjour Monsieur/Madame" for a teacher, I think.
I've never seen several greetings the same day either, be it handshakes or kisses. The number of kisses on the cheeks depends on your location, in Paris we do two. "Bonjour Monsieur" is more formal than just "Bonjour" : it means "Good morning, sir". You could also greet a person with his or her name : "Bonjour, Monsieur Dupont".
Men greet women with a handshake in formal occasions (at work) and with kisses on the cheeks in non-formal occasions, even if you are just being introduced and didn't know the person before. Close male friends will also greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. To kiss someone on the cheek is "faire la bise (à quelqu'un)".
Other than that, we don't hug much, only really close people (family members, boyfriend/girlfriend, your bestest friend).
Tres charment ,votre discorde. May I advise you that when one is down voted , it is not because something wrong was done…It because someone disliked or disagreed with what was written. Tant pis! If you learn NOT to take that sort of thing personally, you can enjoy life much more. Thanks for the enjoyable discussion.
I don't think there is any discord here. Erica brought up some interesting and valid points, to which Romain & I added some precisions. Sorry if that sounded (or rather, read) a bit dry, that was never my intention. Also social behavior depends on localization, age, social groups ... It's no surprise we would have different experiences.
De rien! :) I hope to visit France one day, so I'm researching a lot of stuff to help me.
I'm currently an exchange student in France, and I've mostly gotten used to the cheek kissing and handshaking (though there were some awkward kissing incidents at first!)
Recently, I'm finding that they will say "ça va?" directly before the kissing, and I'm not entirely sure what the protocol is on that. I've been responding after the kissing is complete, but are you expected to respond quickly in between kisses?
It seems like a silly question, but I just wanted to make sure