You can tell your standing with your business partner and how important your collaboration is to them by how they host you in their country. That means that if you are the host, make every effort to ensure that your French guests will feel at home. This can be done by providing amenities such as sending a driver to the airport or choosing an upscale yet not overly expensive hotel. When sharing a meal, place the person most important to you to your right. This is how you can show your appreciation to them and prepare the ground for fruitful discussions.
Going out for meals
When it comes to choosing a restaurant, you don’t have to choose a French restaurant to impress your guest. On the contrary, you should choose a high standard restaurant that offers regional cuisine. Don’t select a menu ahead of time; French people like to look at the menu and order something they have chosen themselves. However, you may want to set seating arrangements in advance to encourage good conversation.
Leisure and cultural program
It’s quite a feat to figure out how much care your French guests will want during their visit. They will be pleased if you take time to spend a full day with them, which will also include the evening after work. However, if the French delegation is there for several days, they won’t expect you to stage fireworks every evening and be there for them around the clock. They would, however, like some information on what they can do to pass the time in a city that is foreign to them. Go ahead and put together a cultural program with some tips for evening events. Asking in advance how your guests would like to spend their free time is certainly a good idea and will make planning easier for you.
Relationships are of great importance in France. Getting to know each other personally is therefore high on the agenda during a visit. Don’t just talk about working together, but chat about personal matters as well. Feel free to say that you enjoy sailing in your free time or that you like to travel to wherever. Talk about yourself, about which football team you support or that you love the theatre. You can even talk about having a family. But don’t get too personal, a marriage crisis or problems with your children have no place in this type of conversation. As a rule, you might say that you can have personal conversations as long as they don’t get too private.
If you have known your French business partners for a while, it is perfectly okay to invite them to your home. But don’t take this as an obligation. In France, private invitations to business partners are rarely issued. On the other hand, French people also don’t expect to be invited into the sanctity of your home. Just use your intuition to gauge if your relationship is close enough.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to private invitations: Never talk about money since this is considered to be a major faux pax. Also, gifts are rather unusual in the French business world and will be viewed rather suspiciously.