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French Exit

French Exit

to the perfect etiquette

How to elegantly say goodbye to a party
which is still in progress? In a French way.

If you are the Federal Chancellor, the Swiss Foreign Minister or the President of the ECB, leaving a celebration early is not a problem. On the contrary — everyone is happy that you made time for the event in your busy calendar and everyone fully understands that You now rush to the next appointment.

Under the watchful eyes of all the other guests, the host hurries with the most important guest to their waiting vehicle and many a person breathes a sigh of relief that the celebration can now continue in a relaxed manner with less security.

Otherwise, exactly the opposite applies: If you have to leave a party early, whether because the babysitter is waiting at home, you don’t feel quite well or you want to catch the last train home, you should arrange your early departure from the party as unnoticed as possible.

Saying goodbye to the host with a big gesture is irritating for the host and all other guests and interrupts the beautiful flow of a party that has often been planned and prepared months in advance with a lot of thought and effort.

This is how you say goodbye in an elegant French way and will continue to be invited:

What is a French Exit?

The French-style recommendation, also known in America as Irish Goodbye or politically correct LPE – Low Profile Exit, describes the early farewell to a party, if possible in such a way that the host and the majority of the guests do not notice it.

When is the French Exit inappropriate?

Saying goodbye unobserved is only possible at a private celebration where at least 10-12 other guests are present and the guests are standing together in changing groups or spread out over the room and/or the garden. At a private or business seated meal, a French farewell is extremely impolite and considered an affront.

Of course, everyone will understand if you receive the news during the meal that a complete fire engine from the fire brigade is at home in front of your house.

For all other reasons, there is only one option: Talk to the host about it when you invite them and cancel because they can’t stay until dessert.

If the host does not want to give up your shortened participation, he will allocate you an appropriate place at the table that does not leave a big gap, and at the beginning of the meal he will draw the attention of the remaining guests to the fact that you will be leaving early for an important reason.

When the time has come, a short farewell to the guests who are sitting in the immediate vicinity and a brief eye contact with the host, who nods at you understandingly, is sufficient.

Particularly important for the French Exit

A letter, thank you card, or gift after the party shows style—at a French exit, these gestures are even more important as a sign of respect for the host. State the reason why you said goodbye early, because attentive hosts usually noticed that you left earlier without a formal goodbye, unless it was a very large, unmanageable celebration.

Praise for the wonderful festival, which you didn’t want to interrupt in its flow with your premature farewell, makes every host happy. Ideally, you should mention what you particularly liked and will remember about this invitation and in this way express your appreciation for having been invited.

accomplices among the guests

If you know another guest of the celebration well, you can ask him to take over your farewell greetings to the hosts when he says goodbye. So the host does not have to worry about not seeing you at the end of the party and already knows the reason for your early departure.

See Also

Skilful planning in advance of the French Exit

If you know before the festival starts that you are going to commend yourself the French way, ideally you should show up very early in the festival. This gives you the opportunity to speak at length with the host or hosts before all other guests arrive and want to be greeted.

Rounds at the party to talk to as many guests as possible are best done as early as possible. If you have any wardrobe or even luggage with you, you should make sure when you arrive at the cloakroom that you can quickly access it later so that you can leave without a long delay that might attract attention.

The exceptions

With these tips, people will continue to invite you, even if you have left early. No Rules Without Exceptions: Should you be at the Queen or

be invited to a despot, forget the French Exit. Otherwise it will certainly have been your last invitation there.

If you are wondering why one speaks of a French-style farewell at all, the roots of this idiom go back to the 18th century. In England they phrased “French leave” – France countered in the literature with “Nous ne pouvons pas parti à l’anglaise” (We can’t go the English way). Found in “In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust. In German usage, the French way of saying goodbye has prevailed. Long before Brexit.

Figure: Palais Royal Paris | 2001 | Guenter Siever Photography

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