Learn simple french savoir faire – French politeness

Elvis Elvis

When you learn French, pay immediate attention to french savoir-faire, simple everyday, French courtesy – you will find that it really pays off!

Remember: you are not just trying to speak French. You are trying to make the grade as a sophisticated non-French adult, a socially acceptable person, who speaks French, who has come to learn French in France and french savoir-faire can really help you – and, best of all, it is easy to get started!

Learning french savoir-faire, ‘polite’ French expressions is an absolute priority in my view. Not to do so, is to lay yourself open to a charge of boorishness. We wouldn’t want that, would we? And, besides, learning polite French is dead easy.

Let’s take a look at the basics – that will bring you far

As in the Southern States of the US, the French like a little formality. Just as politeness there demands that a lady’s always addressed as ‘Mam’, so, in french savoir-faire, all ladies are addressed as ‘Madame’. Always greet a French person correctly. Use his/her name or title. Yes, I hear you saying that you don’t know their name. But, you don’t need to. This is how you get around it, just as any French person does. Simply say:

Bonjour, Monsieur
Bonjour, Madame
Bonjour Mademoiselle
Bonjour, Messieurs
Bonjour Mesdames

Learn simple french savoir faire   French politeness


This is a most important form of french savoir-faire. As you say it, stand erect. Look at the person you address. Offer your outstretched, right hand to shake hands.

Take a little time over the whole process; polish your french savoir-faire skills – it is a sound investment. Most worthwhile.

Not too difficulty, you will agree but this makes a huge difference. Now, you are beginning to fit in socially, not skulking in some corner wondering if you will ever get in the swim in this exciting new culture.

Once you have ‘passed yourself’ socially (and, you will agree, it was not difficult) you can relax. Nothing more is immediately expected of you. Relax. Listen attentively to what French people are saying. (Everyone loves a good listener!). You are now soaking up loads of great authentic French painlessly. Relax: enjoy this new experience.

Step 2 in your french Savoir-faire

NEVER forget to say ‘thank-you’ in French.

But, remember, not just ‘thank-you’ – merci but make sure you say, with due formality:

‘Merci, Monsieur!

Merci, Madame!

Merci, Monsiur l’Agent (to the traffic police when you get a traffic fine!)

Merci, Mon Officier (to a handsome Army Officer)

Merci, Monsieur le Juge (to the Judge in Court if you fall foul of the law – you wouldn’t, would you?)

EVERYONE has a title in France: use it! (And equally, never use the family name nor address a youngish lady as Mademoiselle – a BIG no-no.

A final tip: avoid French slang until you have settled in

French people seem to use endless French slang. You will hear it on all sides. But, beware: this is a real mine-field and you can easily get out of your depth. Play safe until you are well settled in. By then, you will have terrific French and be a master of French savoir-faire and so will be able to take chances.