The act of saying cheers in France is serious business. There are subtle rules built on years of tradition that turn a simple act into a cherished ritual.
First, you must wait for everyone to be served. Then, you raise your drink and say cheers while being sure to clink glasses with everyone at the table. This seems easy enough.
However, here’s where it gets hard. While clinking, it’s extremely important that you 1) do not cross someone else’s arm to clink another person’s glass, 2) look everyone in the eye when your glasses meet, and 3) acknowledge everyone in the group whether it’s an actual cheers or a head nod from across the table.
Sound stressful? It kind of is! No worries though because the French have no problem correcting your behavior so you end up learning pretty quick. Plus, practice makes perfect, non? Just in case you need another excuse for wine time (wink wink).
Now that we’ve gone over how to cheers in France, let’s go over the French words you say. You can always use santé, a vôtre santé, or à la vôtre. These expressions basically wish the other person good health and are regularly used.
However, being a laidback Californian gal, I prefer to use the more casual chin-chin, which is sometimes spelled tchin-tchin. It is pronounced cheen cheen, which is kinda cute in my book. Perhaps it’s a repetition thing because I also love the word boui-boui. Je ne sais pas…
Above all, I love the chin-chin because it means one thing: Drinks are present and it’s time to celebrate. So, next time you raise a glass, do it the French way with a casual chin-chin!