Etiquette

The French may come across as formal and reserved characters at first, but barriers are soon dropped after initial meetings. Cannes, with its presiding holiday atmosphere, sees the locals more accustomed to dealing with foreigners and consequently formalities and reservations are less apparent.

If meeting a local for the first time, a handshake is an appropriate form of greeting. In less formal circumstances kissing cheeks is considered a more suitable form of greeting. Titles are generally used until individuals suggest that it’s appropriate to drop them and use first names only.

Aberrant and outlandish behaviour are not likely to go down well in Cannes, especially if it’s alcohol-fuelled. Visitors are advised to maintain a sensible attitude towards drinking during their stay and to avoid loud or uncivilised displays of behaviour.

Dining Etiquette

If dining at the home of a local, punctuality is extremely important so avoid a tardy arrival and be sure to call ahead if you are going to be late for any reason. On arrival you may present your host or hostess with any gifts you have brought with you – it’s usual to bring flowers, chocolates or wine, but ensure any wine you bring is of high quality as the French know a good bottle from a bad one and the latter could cause insult.

At the dinner table, manners are continental, hence the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right. Utensils laid crossed on the plate indicate you have not finished eating, while those laid parallel across the right portion of the plate indicates you have finished.

You should not start eating until the host or hostess indicates its time; this is generally marked by ‘bon appétit’, meaning ‘good appetite’. Eating everything on your plate is the polite way to suggest that you were given enough food and that it was of a good standard.