For Americans, it is customary to arrive on time for a dinner party. It is proper etiquette. If a party starts at 4:00, it is expected that you will show up at 4:00. If you arrive late, it is considered rude and the host may be offended.
While that is the custom in America, it is not the custom around the world. In fact, in France, arriving on time to a dinner party is considered rude. The proper etiquette is to actually arrive around 15 minutes late to the party.
If you arrive on time or early for a dinner party in France, the host will likely still be in the middle of preparing for the party. This is the custom in France and without an understanding of French culture, you may find yourself in a difficult situation, as the host may consider your arrival rude.
Whether you are visiting France or moving there permanently, taking the time to learn about French customs is very important. The most efficient way to learn about French culture is to do it while you learn French. You should consider French classes that incorporate cultural lessons into the curriculum, which will allow you to understand how to use the language and to navigate French society. This will ensure you not only understand the language completely but will also gain confidence in being able to participate and engage with French people.