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Savoir-Flair! the companion to French or Foe? -- the only books that tell you how to deal with the French.
Savoir-Flair! 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French

Savoir-Flair!   211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French.

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Tip of the Day:

Enjoying being a woman in France    Read an article based on Chapter 13 of Savoir-Flair:
   Enjoying being a woman in France;
   Enjoying being a man meeting French Women.

Why are Americans and other foreigners intimidated by the French? For just one reason: France is different!

Which three words of French unlock a warm welcome?

What should you expect...
     in French taxis?
     in café restrooms?

What is the code for getting great customer service?

What is all the fuss about food and French restaurants?

Do you know...
     how to charm French waiters?
     how to entertain business contacts?
     how to intrigue French women and French men?

How do young people greet each other when meeting for the first time? Answer: They kiss! This is the land of love...

Think of France as a new game, with rules that you need to know, just the same as if you wanted to learn how to play tennis or chess.

Savoir-Flair is for travelers who are curious about the customs of a very old culture of warriors and artists, monks and scientists, that has given us Pasteur and the movies, Monet and Napoleon, Versailles and the Concorde supersonic and Yves Saint-Laurent... the great chefs, venerated like movie stars -- and Mont Saint-Michel...

Travelers tell their tales of generous French help and the automatic French response: "It's nothing. C'est normal!"

Table of Contents:
All the chapters start with the word "Enjoying..."

First part: Enjoying the first 24 hours in Paris.
    Arrival strategies at airports and hotels.
Bathroom customs, crossing streets, asking directions.
The minimum words of French politeness for a warm welcome.

Second part:
Enjoying the the local scene.
    The Métro, driving and cycling in Paris, customer service and dogs.
Being young in Paris!
At the movies, marketing, shopping.
Enjoying being a woman in France. *
Enjoying being a man meeting French Women. *
* Read an article adapted from this section.

Third part:
Enjoying eating out in France.
    Enjoying cafés and restaurants; choose the one for you.
French chefs, French delicacies.
How to get a wonderful meal from French waiters.
Where and how to entertain business contacts.
The etiquette of business entertaining.

Fourth part: Circulating around the French provinces.
    Handling the trains, driving regulations, bicycle tours.
Picking a certain village for renting or buying.

Conclusion: Take your time. Special wonders of French people.

Key features:

  • little known French habits and rules, their cultural context and real travelers' tales
  • like Platt's previous book, it is entertaining and funny as well as enlightening
  • illustrations

Sample of text: Tips 133 and 134

Croissants must be fresh to be good, and cafés don't want to have any left over, so, often, they run out. Sometimes, a waiter will go down the street and get one for you from the closest boulangerie. If not, you can suggest very politely that you'll go and get one yourself. Do it in sign language if your French isn't up to it.

In Paris, sitting at a table in a café usually doubles the bill. Stand at the counter if you're short on cash. If you're alone, it might be more fun anyway. You can join in the bartender's conversation with the habitués. In rural France, the price is usually the same, whether sitting or standing.

Another sample of text: Tip 146

Like New York taxis, Paris taxi drivers often don't know their streets perfectly, even if they're French. Or they're tired and confused at the end of the day, and take you by what is clearly not a direct route. It doesn't necessarily mean they're out to gyp you.

Recently, I took one from the Gare Montparnasse to my apartment on the rue de Bellechasse. At the Boulevard des Invalides I suggested he turn left, but he said firmly that his way was better, via the rue de Grenelle. I thought, well, he sounds so definite... but as he drove along, I realized that his route was really way out of the way. I said so. But he said, "Mais non, Madame, I am a Parisian and I know the way." Finally, I insisted he turn left onto the Boulevard Raspail. Which he then did. At our door, I asked for a receipt.

He shook his head. "C'est gratuit, Madame. Je me suis trompé." (It's free, Madame. I made a mistake.)



© Polly Platt. 2000-2011.
French illustration by: Géraldine Guinard