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Planning International Business Travel: Paris, France

Planning corporate travel abroad in Paris, France can be stressful and quite challenging. International flights, transportation, hotel bookings, meetings, and cultural adjustment can all lead to one big fiasco if not planned appropriately. With the help of Executive Class Travel, here are some key tips to help your Paris international business travel, and business negotiations, move as smoothly as possible.

Navigating Paris, France

When heading to Paris, you’ll likely be landing at Charles de Gaulle or Orly, Paris’s major international airports. To ensure a reliable ride for your employees, book and schedule your ground transportation ahead of time through GroundLink.

GroundLink provides ON TIME EVERY TIME® airport pickup from each of the major French airports to Paris, as well as black car service throughout the entire city whether you’re heading to your next business meeting, out to eat or back to your hotel. Other transportation options include the Paris Metro, Paris’s subway system.

French Business Etiquette

The last thing you need is a failed meeting due to a misunderstanding of proper business etiquette. Here are a few things to remember on French business etiquette:

Greeting: Greet in French

Before greeting, first, make sure you arrive on time. Set up your meetings and transportation a few weeks ahead to avoid any surprises. Surprises are frowned upon in France, so don’t show up to someone’s home or business unannounced.

Upon arrival, it’s imperative to greet your French colleagues in French with a simple “Bonjour” followed by their last name, monsieur, or madame. It’s impolite to start by speaking in English so make sure you understand these phrases:

  • Bonjour monsieur – “Good day sir.”
  • Monsieur – “Mr.”
  • Madame – “Ms.”
  • Bonsoir – “Good evening.”
  • Au revoir – “Goodbye.”
  • Parlez-vous Anglais? – “Do you speak English?”

When greeting, you are expected to offer a light handshake. Men are supposed only to initiate a handshake; but women may sometimes initiate a kiss on the cheek in return.

Exchanging Business Cards & Gifts

When exchanging business cards, one should always be given to the secretary or assistant. With gifts, avoid giving them in your first meeting. In your following meeting, acceptable gifts include flowers, cakes or baskets; remember to provide an odd number of flowers and avoid giving 13.

Keep your gifts professional – not personal. In France, it’s essential to keep business, and personal lives separate so avoid gifts like jewelry that are too personal. Also, avoid gifts that present your company logo or promote yourself or company.

Business Lunches & Table Manners

When meeting at a restaurant or luncheon, remember to display proper table manners. In France, a few things to remember are never holding your hands below the table or leave food on your plate.

Expect Discussion – Not Decision Making

Our last piece of advice is vital. Business meetings in Paris are held for discussion so don’t expect an immediate decision at the end of each meeting. Instead, respect your colleagues throughout each session without expecting a final decision.

Follow these tips on French business etiquette during your next trip to Paris, and you’ll likely get the decision you’re looking for.

If you’re headed to Paris, GroundLink is more than happy to handle all of your airport pickup and ground travel requirements

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