Episode 11 – The real French etiquette in shops

Bonjour à tous,

Welcome to the eleventh episode of the French Blabla podcast where we will cover tips to increase your fluency while boosting your way of learning. This episode is once again inspired by one of my advanced student who told me a story of an embarrassing situation she experienced in a shop in Paris. She was shocked that nobody told her about that. Today we’re going to study together the real French manners when you go to shops so that you don’t have to experience what my student did. Stay tuned!

In this Episode

  • A common French attitude
  • Learn the real French etiquette
  • Stop saying “je voudrais”
  • Some listening practice
Real french etiquette

I’ve put the video to start at 2’06 because that’s where he starts talking about the importance of saying “bonjour”.

“Pareil, quand un mec te dit bonjour, ça veut pas toujours dire bonjour. Parfois ça veut dire “je suis plus poli que toi”.
Quand tu demandes un renseignement :

Excusez-moi, le rayon surgelés s’il vous plaît ?
Bonjour !
[ah je suis pas tout seul]
Et même  si tu commences par “bonjour !”, on peut t’avoir (you can get tricked):
Bonjour, le rayon surgelés s’il vous plaît ?
Bonsoir !
Toutes les formules de politesse on peut les traduire ! Toutes !”


Share your anecdotes in the comment section

Have something like that ever happened to you? Have you ever found yourself in a situation you didn’t understand? How did you react? If you have some embarrassing or funny stories to share, I’ll be delighted to read them. I’ll be waiting for you in the comment section.


  1. http://theses.univ-lyon2.fr/documents/lyon2/2002/trinh_dt/pdfAmont/trinh_dt_chapitre6.pdf

Music by bensound.com

7 thoughts on “Episode 11 – The real French etiquette in shops

  1. guitar107 says:

    Bonjour Caroline, très intéressant !
    Quand j’étais en Belgique, je disait “Bonjour, je voudrais… Merci, au revoir”. Pas de problèmes.
    Mais quand j’étais en Allemagne, j’oubliais toujours le “au revoir (auf Wiedersehen)”

    The shop keeper usually looked annoyed and then said very loudly “auf Wiedersehen” (in a mocking way). La troisième fois où je suis allé au magasin, je m’ai rappellé de dire “auf Wiedersehen”. 😀

    Bonne journée.

  2. Jennine says:

    Bonjour Caroline, thank you so much for this lesson!

    I was recently in Paris and I credit your advice about shopping etiquette for the warm response I received in shops across the city. I never started a conversation without saying “Bonjour” and I always ended with “Merci. Passe une bonne journée. Au revoir.”

    Despite my mediocre french, les Parisiens responded to me in french and were charming and helpful. It was wonderful!

    • Caro says:

      Coucou Jennine,
      So happy to hear your feedback, thanks for your sweet comment. I’m really glad that you used the advice I gave and that you got to spend a wonderful time in Paris with my fellow country people.

  3. Kerry Campion says:

    This is so weird for me, I live in Spain with my Spanish husband but I’m Irish and I love the Spanish “manners”
    At the dinner table we always for example use the imperative with “porfa” and it’s so funny when we have french people come to dinner and they use super polite language when speaking in Spanish. In shops we almost never use the formal pronoun (usted) and to order for example a coffee we just say “un café con leche por favor” I specifically looked for a lesson like this because I don’t want to sound rude when we go off to France this week hehe 🙂

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