I’ve been thinking about inviting our French neighbours round for a drink, or aperitif. So I thought, better just check if there is any etiquette involved. I wouldn’t want to offend them…especially as we’re English and haven’t been here too long. Oh boy…am I glad I did…as with everything else, french etiquette can be a minefield.
First of all, if you’re inviting them for drinks/aperitif, (sometimes shortened to l’apéro), a meal won’t be expected, but it’s common practice to serve nibbles. Generally, being invited for an aperitif means guests only stay for an hour – two maximum. You also need to give a formal invitation – if you just say “come round sometime this afternoon”, they probably won’t come as you haven’t specified a time. The French like to know an exact time…and then they’ll arrive about 15 minutes late, as it’s French etiquette to be late!
Shake hands and the toast
When the guests arrive, and when they leave, it’s normal practice to shake hands and, when you know them better, you can also kiss on both cheeks. In some areas of France, three or four kisses are the norm, but one is a definite no-no. It is considered rude, except with young children, where one kiss is normal.
When serving drinks, glasses should only be filled three-quarters full, and the host should propose a toast; everyone then clinks glasses saying “Santé”, (good health). An aperitif is normally sipped slowly and stops at two drinks.
Well, I’m glad I read up on the etiquette….I’m sure that this is a general guide, but forums on the internet tend to generally agree with most of the ‘rules’. Right…better get some invitations sorted!