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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Etiquette Question: France

I had big plans: posts about my frugal vacation. And they may happen, but my feet hurt and I hate this tiny keyboard. (Also, I fell flat on my face my first day in Paris!) Many thanks for your continued reading and comments. I will reply!

Meanwhile, I have another etiquette question. Our hosts are very counter-cultural. All they care about--besides travel--is books. They are not huge drinkers--one drinks almost not at all. Sooooo, we may have to relinquish the idea of leaving some pricey bottle as thanks.

Are gift certificates totally tacky in France? We were thinking of a card to fnac or the local bookstore. And if a gift card is OK, what should the amount be?

merci beaucoup!


FB @ said...

Could you possibly figure out what book they'd really like and then buy it for them? :)

If not, I say giving a GC is the next best thing and very sweet!

Duchesse said...

Do not give a gift card, it will be viewed as crass.
1. Go to the best chocolatier and buy a big box.
2. If they have a garden, give them something to plant like a rosebush- or a beautiful plant for the house.
3. Take them to a very good restaurant for dinner.

Even if people are not "huge drinkers" a bottle of good oldarmagnac, cognac or an eau-de-vie , something special and fine, is usually appreciated.

Vivienne said...

Or buy them a book that you know if very very new, and make SURE it's "exchangable". That acknowledges their love of reading but gives them some flexibility.

Anonymous said...

I have not been to Europe, but I think I would rather go to the store and get a recommendation than give a gift certificate unless you know them well enough to know it would be appreciated. I think there is still a certain amount of taboo surrounding talking about money.

The things that occur to me:
1. if you don't know what kind of book, you could browse Amazon for some useful reference work or get something from Editions Larousse.

2. ask the florist for help if you get plants/flowers, as I believe that the "language of flowers" is different in Europe

3. art or pottery of some sort?

4. I am trying to think of some kind of decadent travel accessory... that's a challenge. Silk may be appropriate. Or some sort of riff on your Lamy standby: what about "grownup" pens, or pencils that won't leak on an airplane? Just don't pretend they're from Mont Blanc. (;

5. something from your area--and if they travel it could be something that will make them think it would be a cool place to visit--whether it is a book about Louisiana, pecans, pralines... ???

6. I would very much go quality over quantity. Two very, very good chocolates instead of twenty "just" really good chocolates.

Shelley said...

Right or wrong, we generally take something as a 'host gift' along with us when visiting people. Sometimes it's a book, a special coffee mug or egg coddler (v. British but increasingly difficult to find). This last trip I had stamps commemorating (sp?) Will's and Kate's wedding matted and framed.

What about a travel book? Subscription to Lonely Planet magazine?

I keep thinking Tish Jett over at
would know the answers to these questions...

Joan said...

Listen to Duchesse, she's spot on.

And even if your hosts don't drink it themselves, a good bottle is always nice to have on hand, to be taken out and shared with company.

Marcela said...

I'm with Duchesse, great recommendations.