10 Expressions to Learn Before Your Next Business Trip to France

If you are due to set foot in a French société (company) or about to embark on an important business voyage to France, you will need to navigate the particular subculture of language and expressions that lie ahead of you.  Understanding the French business environment can be a challenge and especially if you go unprepared, leaving an elephant in the room and a widening gap for mutual negotiations.

French Business Meeting

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Here are some expressions you would be wise to learn before heading out:

1. Greetings

When walking into a business meeting where your French colleagues sit around a table about to start discussing important matters, the best way to greet them would be to say “Bonjour à tous” (“Hello everyone”). However, there are always variations, depending on to whom you are speaking. For example,  if you are addressing a lawyer, you would say “Bonjour maître”  and in some cases you might need to add the status of their qualification (Bonjour docteur for a doctorate qualification).

2. Meeting someone

If you are due to meet a business counterpart and you have scheduled the meeting, approach the secretary and say “J’ai rendez-vous avec … à…” (I have a meeting with … at….). If you have not arranged the meeting in advance but need to catch them before you leave, say “Serait-il possible de voir Monsieur/Madame?” (“Would it possible to see Mr. or Mrs?”).

3. On the phone

When you are in town for business and wish to arrange a meeting on the phone, just ask “Quand seriez-vous disponible?” (“What time would you be available?’).

4. Asking for information

When a colleague in a meeting tells you about a particular project that you want to hear more about, ask them to “Envoyez-moi plus d’informations” (Send me more information).

5. To stay informed

If you wish to keep updated about a particular project, kindly request your colleagues to “Tenez-moi au courant”.

6. Contracts

If you are signing a multi-paged document, it is likely you will be asked to “Parapher chaque page” (¨Initial each page”) and then “signer” (“sign”) the final page to ensure that you have acknowledged the content of each.

7. Planning ahead

If you would like further contact but are unable to arrange a meeting on the spot, “Prenez contact avec mon assistant/e” (Contact my assistant) is a good way to plan future meetings.

8. Making time

If you have gaps in your schedule and would like to squeeze in extra meetings, just tell your colleague “Je suis disponible jusqu’ à…” (“I am available until…”).

9. Going out

If you have a spare moment in between meetings, you might want to invite your business colleague to lunch “Parlons en pendant le dejeuner” (“Let’s talk about it over lunch”).

10. Business deals

After a deal has gone through and upon agreement, if you wish to celebrate, throw in a supportive “À notre collaboration!” (“To our partnership!”) as you raise your well-deserved glass.

Still feeling overwhelmed thinking about what your deals will be like abroad? Take a moment, have a tête-à-tête with one of our native teachers, and contact us for more information! Make a good impression on your business colleagues in France before you bid adieu from wherever you are and check out our tailor-made French language courses that will surely come in handy.