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France facts: Good manners are compulsory in one town hall

The French - well let's be honest Parisians - have something of an international reputation for being rude, but one French town values manners so much that is has made them compulsory.

France facts: Good manners are compulsory in one town hall

If you are visiting the mairie in the small town of Lhéraule in the Picardie area of northern France you had better watch your Ps and Qs.

You can legally be ejected from the premises if you fail to greet staff politely with a bonjour and say please and thank you during your exchange.

This ruling was apparently introduced in 2012 after a member of the public was curt and disrespectful to an employee of the town hall. 

“Users of the town hall of Lhéraule are required to comply with social norms of politeness and courtesy (…), in particular to greet those present when entering the premises”, according to article 1 of the decree.
“In the event of a manifest and deliberate failure to comply with this requirement, the person will be urged to leave the premises or to report back to the premises under the conditions defined in Article 1”, Article 2 states.
The exceptions to the rules of polite greetings are during cases of civil emergency, election days or during a wedding.
And if you want more explanation of why bonjour is crucial when walking into an office, a doctor's waiting room, a lift and many other situations, click here.

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France Facts. There is a place in France called Misery

Most people we know in France are pretty happy to be here, but some 137 people can truly be said to be living in Misery.

France Facts. There is a place in France called Misery
The village probably loves company. Photo: Google Maps

In the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area of northern France there is a small village which proudly bears the name of Misery.

Home to approximately 137 people it looks a pleasant enough place and not too miserable.

For the French inhabitants its name would have a slightly different meaning, but still negative – in French misère does have a sense of misery about it, but also means poverty or destitution. So in Victor Hugo's 1862 classic Les Misérables, the characters are generally poverty stricken (although I don't remember a lot of laughs in the book either).

Perhaps influenced by this, the inhabitants of Misery in 2019 decided that for official purposes their commune would merge with a neighbouring one, so they know officially live in the commune of Marchélepot-Misery, which sounds a whole lot cheerier.

For more of the best place names in France, including the villages of Anus, Stains and Dole – click here.