Work culture in France
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
The work culture in France can be quite different from the work culture here in the US. I hear so many myths about French productivity, work ethic and vacation time you might be surprised by what you actually encounter if you plan to work or do business in France. Here are a few aspects you might not expect along with vocabulary to help you write/read a French résumé, and of course some slang to help you eavesdrop in French hallways ;)
Also if you are interested in an American's take on the French lunch break, I've added an NPR podcast below that I found interesting!
Greetings - Se dire bonjour
Co-workers greet each other personally with saying Bonjour and a handshake, possibly with a bise if they know each other well.
Attire - La tenue de travail
Unless you work for a start-up, attire is usually formal at the office: suits, ties, dresses with understated makeup and jewelry.
Work hours - les heures de travail
Contrary to the myth of 35-hour week, most employees don’t leave work early and many workers don’t count their hours. A typical day starts between 9 and 10am. Leaving before 6:30pm is often frowned upon.
Lunch Break - Pause déjeuner
Employees take a 1-2 hour break and leave the office. Employers must provide a food option with either a subsidized canteen or food vouchers for restaurants.
Bureaucracy & hierarchy - la bureaucratie et hiérarchie
The French workplace is very hierarchical, from the way employees refer to their superior to decision-making. The layers of bureaucracy to get things done is mind numbing.
Vocabulary for your French résumé - Vocabulaire pour votre CV
Professional objective - Projet professionnel
Prénom = First Name
Nom de famille = Last Name
Adresse = Address
Numéro de téléphone = Phone number
Adresse e-mail = Email
Nationalité = Nationality
Marié(e)/divorcé(e)/veuf(ve) = Marital status
Âge = Age
Photo = Picture
Educational Experience - Etudes
Formation = Education
L'université = University
Matière principale/spécialité = Major
Matière secondaire = Minor
Note moyenne = GPA
Recherche = Research
En cours = On going (for time range: Septembre 2019 - en cours)
Professional Experience - Expérience professionnelle
Stage chez = Internship at
Puces = Bullet points
Compétence = Skill
Responsable de = Manager of
Superviser = To supervise
Technological, Linguistic aptitudes & pastimes
Compétences techniques = Technological aptitudes
Connaissances informatiques = Computer skills
Logiciels = Software
Langues = Languages
Centres d'intérêts = Interests
Loisirs = Hobbies
Bénévolat = Volunteering
Slang for work - L'argot du travail
Curious about some colloquial words used to talk about work? Here is some vocabulary for your casual conversations with friends :)
Une boîte = une entreprise, a company
Un boulot/un taf = un travail, a job
Taffer/bosser = travailler, to work
Pogner la job (Québec) = mal travailler, not doing a good job
La thune (France) = l'argent, money
Des piasses (Québec) = l'argent, money
Se faire lourder (France) = se faire renvoyer, to get fired
Se faire slacker (Québec) = se faire renvoyer, to get fired
Can you catch any of the new vocabulary in Stromae's song?
Wonder about an American's take on the French lunch break?
Listen to this NPR episode about the French law that forbids eating lunch at your desk and an American living in France's take on it. This one made me smile :)
Need French lessons for business?
Do you work or plan to work for a French company or in a French speaking country? We teach French for business! Click here to sign up for our online lessons.
Want to practice your French and learn more about the French culture?
Sign up for our online lessons or join us on our immersion retreats!