Today I was at a meeting of French and American dignitaries to discuss French/American cultural activities. Just my cup of thé!
The American organizers asked the ranking French diplomatic officer to sit at the head of the large conference table. "Non, non," he demurred, "we will sit across the table from each other."
So the French delegation was on one side, the Americans on the other. "L'océan Atlantique au milieu!" I joked.
As we were settling in, I mentioned to my French colleagues how seating arrangements can vary so much culturally between France and the U.S. "For example, the rule that in France a woman always sits on the banquette in a restaurant, and the man..." Before I could finish they all nodded appreciatively. "In the U.S., that doesn't exist," I said.
"Ah," said monsieur, "Alors, that is because there aren't banquettes in the U.S.?"
"Si, si, il y a des banquettes," I said. "Mais il n'y a pas de règle."