One very important word of advice when visiting France. Always greet them with Bonjour or Bon soir depending on what time of the day it is. Even if they greet you in English always reply in French. We were advised this by our Cruise Director, and we learnt first hand what happens if you don’t.
Went down to breakfast on the Saturday and we were greeted by the hostess with “hello”, so we all said hello. We were then taken to a very awkward table to get into and out of.
From the next morning we always said Bonjour and service was so much better. Out shopping, getting a taxi, buying a wine or coffee, always use the French greeting with a smile. They love that you are making an attempt at their language.
Even when Muriel rang our room we always said Bonjour just in case it was the front desk.
So when to say them.
Bonjour – Hello or Good Morning. To not use this is regarded as impolite and you may get a look of disdain. Use this greeting when in a formal or informal situation. Greeting the front desk of a hotel, the person who is taking your order for coffee. Doing this will get you great service and we 3 sisters can vouch for that.-
Bonsoir – Hello or Good Evening. Use this greeting once the sun sets, or after 6pm in the summer.
Salut! – Hi – To be used when you know the person well, a colleague or friend. The T is silent, unless there is an e after the T. I would still use Bonjour even with close friends.
Au revoir! – Goodbye. We used this a lot on leaving shops, cafes, taxis.
Salut! – Bye – Yes, can be used as hello and goodbye! It is informal so i would only use when you really know the person.