Eiffel Tower

How to Conduct a Meeting During Business Travel to France

Bonjour! France, one of the world’s most romantic cultures, full of passion, beauty and intelligence. The culinary cuisine, picturesque scenery and artistic heritage make France one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. PGi Meetings Expert Amelie David shares her meetings experience to make your next trip – business or personal – fruitful and successful.

Q: How do you greet and say goodbye to a colleague or client?

A: Say “Bonjour” and give him or her two kisses between males and females. Sometimes, two male colleagues can give each other a kiss, too, if they are friends. Sometimes you give one kiss, sometimes two, sometime you shake hands. To say goodbye, you do the same.Confusing French tradition!

Q: Where do business meetings usually take place?

A: Normally in the office or virtual meeting, but it could be in a restaurant, too.

Q: What are some small talk topics to start the meeting? And what topics should be avoided?

A: The news is definitely a good topic, any big events happening at the moment.
Food is a big one, too (what you ate yesterday, new restaurant, what you will eat later). You definitely have to avoid politics and money talk.

Q: What are the best times to request meetings?

A: Between 9 to 12:00 or 14:00 to 18:00, but not at lunch time

Q: How should I schedule a meeting in France? And what do I need to supply before the meeting?

A: Phone first if possible, and then send outlook invite. You do not need to send an agenda.

Q: Should I schedule a lunch or dinner meeting? What is the etiquette for sharing a meal?

A: It is not that you should, you HAVE TO take meals with business associates! You make the reservation at around 12:30. Etiquette: don’t get one client and three colleagues. It has to be balanced. If your client wants wine, you have to drink with him (you could say no if you are sick or something, but otherwise it would be rude). Be careful with religious beliefs (with the meat being pork, for example).

Q: At the meeting, what should I provide and prepare?

A: Business cards and your laptop. If you organize the meeting in the morning, you could bring breakfast (pain au chocolat, croissant) and offer coffee.

Q: How long should the meetings be?

A: Not more than 20 minutes, after the concentration capacity decreases minutes after minute. Small talk: 15%.

Q: What can I do to encourage collaborative discussion during the meeting?

A: To encourage collaborative discussion during the meeting I use examples, ask questions about the organization structure of the company.

Q: What should I wear to meetings?

A: Business outfit, nothing too provocative or casual. You can be fashionable but not extravagant.

Q: What should I do after the meeting?

A: Send the minutes in a thank you email.

Q: What else should visitors to your country know?

They would need to know about the hello kisses (it always funny to see how surprised people can be with that). Other things to know: we start quite late – finish late, too – and take lot of time to eat.

One thing to do is to have breakfast in a small Parisian bistro coffee + croissant (can be done with client or colleague).

Jokes are very much appreciated, but don’t make jokes about French people or French food or France, for some reason we don’t find that funny!

Have more questions about the meetings do’s and don’ts in France?

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times