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Study in France: Five Things to Know

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Guest post: Sophie Dord

Thinking of studying in France? Sophie Dord, author of the Lyon Student Handbook 2013, shares some insider insights on life in France to help international students avoid confusion...

1. French Greetings (the French kiss)

No, not THAT kind of French kiss! In France, the “bise” or kiss is a common greeting between two people who know each other well – a way of saying hello by kissing each other on both cheeks. Depending on the person and their origin, there may be just one kiss, two or possibly even three...

When you do not know the person well, a handshake will do. But remember to make sure you have eye contact while shaking the person’s hand.

2. Tipping in France

Service is included when you take a drink at the bar, a meal in a restaurant, when you take a taxi or go to the hairdresser’s. However, if you are particularly satisfied with the service, you can leave a bit of change for your server. If you do this, do not leave small yellow change but at least one euro.

3. French cuisine

In France, a large meal includes an entrée (starter), a main course (typically meat or fish served with vegetables and/or starch), salad, cheese or dairy product and dessert. Water is automatically served and wine sometimes. The inevitable baguette will accompany the meal. Lunch is eaten between noon and 1:30, followed by a coffee. Dinner is usually eaten around 7:30-8pm.

4. French etiquette at meals

Never sit before the hostess is seated. Do not serve yourself until you are asked to and ask the hostess to serve herself first. Never start eating your meal until the hostess has started.
Always keep your hands on the table and not on your knees, and never put your elbows on the table. If you use your bread to finish the sauce on your plate, use your fork to hold the bread. Do not cut your salad with a fork.

If you serve yourself a drink, always offer to serve everyone else first and yourself last. If you want some bread, pass the breadbasket around the table and then serve yourself last. Offer to help with the cleanup afterwards, as this is always appreciated.

5. Living costs in France

Approximate prices for common foods are:

One baguette 0.80
A coffee  €1-2
1 camembert  €2
1 croissant is 
1 kg of pasta 1
1 kg of potatoes 1.20 
1 kg of rice 1.90
1 litre of milk 1.20
6 eggs 1.50
A university restaurant meal is about 3.05
A fast-food meal is 
A restaurant meal is 10-20
A sandwich 3-5

Sophie Dord is the author of the Lyon Student Handbook 2013, published by Lyon Expat Services.

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1 Comment

Hai, I like to continue my higher education in France univeristies. I consult with http://www.preston.in/study-in-france/ to choose the course and the universities and also for visa process. They are very helpful, but I have a doubt in getting scholarship. Is there any difficulties for the international students in getting scholarships to study in France.