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I started the letter with: À l’attention du XXX,

and I would like to finish it with: Veuillez agréer, Mesdames et Messieurs, ma .... ainsi que mes salutations les meilleures.

Is it too friendly to use mes salutations les meilleures in a letter to a university? Should I stick with the cold Cordialement that shows to affection and no appreciation for the time they took to read my letter?

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    Honestly I don't think this matters anymore nowadays, except maybe in some specific context (maybe university is one of them?). 99% of the time in any formal context I just write 'Meilleures salutations,'. In English I always write 'Best regards', the same way. I only get more formal when I need some favor from any form of authority (government, insurance companies, etc). – Tim Aug 26 '17 at 7:20
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"Mes salutations les meilleures" makes sense, but it's so rare (if it is used at all) that I've never read such a formulation in 30 years of existence. The most common form would be "Mes salutations distinguées" or "Mes sincères salutations" or even "Mes sincères salutations distinguées."

You have to bear in mind that when you are using this kind of long and idiomatic sentences, it is always a formal, highly polite language. There's no way it could be interpreted as too friendly.

"Cordialement" is not really colder, it's just what we say nowadays not to sound too pompous. Mainly because the other expressions I've cited above have been used for so many years as THE way to end a mail in periods which required a much more formatted language that we think of them as unnaturally elaborated formulas that sound a bit hypocritical when you are only asking for, or exchanging, some basic information with an administration (or with someone you've never met, or a superior.)

  • Also, in all my correspondence with French university administrators and profs, the most common sign-off from them is "Cordialement" or "Bien cordialement". – Luke Sawczak Aug 26 '17 at 1:50

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