Two-day seminar on French etiquette, “Fine manners with Countess Marie de Tilly”

On 14 and 15 March 2012 the International School of Etiquette (ISE), with the support of Maison Dellos, gathered guests for the regular training session in social etiquette. Together with Countess Marie de Tilly—a representative of an ancient noble family, recognized expert in the field of social ethics and protocol, and founder of the French Touch Atelier of Ethics—ISE invited young women to plunge into the world of refined manners in the framework of a basic course in French ethics.

The first day of the seminar was spent in the refined atmosphere of the Parade Hall of Turandot Restaurant and was dedicated to the norms of behavior in high society circles. Countess de Tilly led participants on the procedure to introduce guests to each other—the young women easily remembered the basic rule of introductions, “a woman is not presented,” meaning that only a man can introduce himself first. If that did not happen, according to the rules of French etiquette, a young woman must decline to relate with that gentleman. Participants were especially interested in the information that a man may not kiss the hand of an unmarried maiden, either in a social location or outdoors. The only exceptions to that rule are the hunt and weddings—upon leaving the church, it is imperative to kiss the hand of the former fiancée and new wife! Nevertheless, to the question of how one should respond in the situation of a man, trying to be gallant, in spite of everything tries to kiss your hand, Countess de Tilly advised the young women to be guided by the golden rule of etiquette, “behave so as not to hurt the feelings of the other person”—indeed it is just in that way that a lady will show herself to be truly elegant and refined.

There were some surprises and discussion on the subject of dress code. The young women learned to their surprise that there exists no such concept as “white tie” in French etiquette, while an indication of a “black tie” dress code in an invitation means that the lady should choose a floor-length dress, and the gentleman should exclusively be in a jacket. But not all standards of etiquette remain so unshakeable—many of them have been subject to change under the influence of modern trends. One of the confirmations of that, right from the mouth of the Countess, was a real gift for all of the young women who were attentively following fashion trends—in contrast to English etiquette, French etiquette does not forbid wearing massive adornments during the daytime. Countess de Tilly gave the “green light” to long earrings, which are so popular these days! Let us recall that according to English etiquette a lady should not wear that type of adornment before 17:00.

On the second day of the seminar the guests moved to the Casta Diva Restaurant, where they learn the rules of serving and seating guests at a reception, as well as dinner etiquette. The young ladies were able to solidify the newly learned knowledge that same day at dinner, which was put together based on a menu from the Élysées Castle and served in the Gobelins Hall of the Turandot Restaurant. In this gala atmosphere they received international certificates, after which they were given a possibility to ask any remaining questions of Countess de Tilly and share impressions with each other on the seminar just ended.  

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