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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

Listening Comprehension

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 :)

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