International Gift Giving Etiquette - France

GIFT GIVING IN FRANCE* - Gift Giving Etiquette


Selecting and presenting an appropriate business gift

  • Be aware that displays of warmth and generosity between business associates are not the norm in French business culture. Giving presents is acceptable here, but exercise discretion.
  • Gifts are expected for social events, especially as thank-yous after a dinner party.
  • Don't be overly concerned about whether your gift is too expensive or inexpensive: select something you think the recipient will appreciate.
  • Esoteric books and music are often valued as gifts. Make sure, however, that you are reasonably acquainted with the recipient's interests and tastes before making this kind of gift purchase.
  • Good gift selections can also include coffee table books about your home country, or anything that reflects the interests of your hosts and is representative of your country.
  • French business etiquette dictates that you don’t include your business card with a gift.


  • If you are invited to a French home, consider it a rare honor. Bring flowers, quality chocolates or liqueur to the host, and present your gift before the entertaining proceeds.
  • If you decide to bring flowers, remember that chrysanthemums are for funerals, red roses for lovers. A gift of carnations can often be interpreted as a sign of bad will. Moreover, ensure that the bouquet is in odd numbers, in accordance with the old European tradition.
  • Don't bring a gift of wine, since the host usually prefers to make the evening's selection. The only possible exception can be a special French dessert wine or high-quality liqueur.
  • If you have been guest at a dinner party or similar social gathering in a home, ensure that you send a thank-you note to your hosts the next day. Preferably, your note should be handwritten and delivered by messenger. Sending flowers or a basket of fruit is another thoughtful gesture.
  • Holiday cards can be appropriate, particularly as an expression of thanks to your business associates. The practice in France is to send New Year's greetings and this can occur during the whole month of January but not later.

*Contal, Maurice.  France Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.  Executive Planet.  29 July 2004  <>.

Above:  The flag of France











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