One of the pleasures of living in France is reading the free magazines distributed for (and by) les anglais. I do not know what kind of Brit they are aimed at (presumably those who left their brain behind in the UK) but the advice often makes for hilarious reading. One recent article on hunting for example, sternly warned anyone wishing to transport firearms to France that 'the firearm and the ammunition will have to travel in the hold.' A shock no doubt, for those who imagined that (for an extra charge obviously) Ryanair would allow you to stow a shotgun in the overhead locker!
Another, under the headline 'French Etiquette' offered advice for those 'fortunate enough to be invited to a French home' for dinner:
...'ensure that you send a thank-you note or a basket of fruit to your hosts the next day. Preferably, your note should be handwritten and delivered by messenger.'
Since not many French villages boast a motorcyle courier service, I am intrigued as to what kind of messenger the author has in mind? Someone in medieval garb or a minstrel's outfit - possibly with bells on their toes and a funny hat? Or perhaps a horseback messenger bearing a wax-sealed parchment?
I mentioned this to a French friend and she started to laugh. She had also read the magazine in question and was equally intrigued by the 'hand delivered note.' As for the basket of fruit: 'people might think that you had gone a bit mad if you did that,' she said. 'And you probably wouldn't be invited again.'
There was one piece of advice however, that she did agreed with, which was never to take your hosts chrysanthemums (a flower associated with funerals) or yellow flowers (yellow apparently is the colour of the cuckolded in France).
It has inspired me to compile my own guide to French etiquette, which I will post very soon.