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shotgun etiquette

December 1, 2007

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.

comments (5)

1. Posted by pierre l on December 1, 2007 3:32 PM

The bit about hand-delivered reminded me of an article I read in the US Consumer Reports magazine many year ago. They were talking about scam-offers arriving in envelopes that seem to be from the taxman: 'hand-delivered by a government employee' (actually the postman).

2. Posted by donald on December 1, 2007 3:35 PM

Ryanair would probably be delighted if you could get your gun through customs. As you have to have the Gun and Ammunition in seperate bags. Therefore they would getting double the baggage fee.

As for a invite to lunch. what is wrong with the traditional bottle of wine. They can always use it for cooking.

3. Posted by Malika on December 1, 2007 5:08 PM

it probably means to get a friend to drop the note off the same day, as opposed to you appering at the door with it.

4. Posted by Elinor on December 2, 2007 8:42 PM

I think it all depends on how well you know the hosts. If they are good friends, even a bunch of chyrsanths would be taken in the right spirit.

5. Posted by Susie on December 6, 2007 9:39 PM

At last I see an opening for a business in the area: Mobile medieval minstrels on motos bearing remerciements and baskets of bananas to bewildered French friends. Madrigals and mandolins an optional extra.

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