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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
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 7:20
  • Your initial address should be to "Mesdames, Messieurs" if you close it with "veuillez agréer, Mesdames, Messieurs. blabla". There is no problem with "l'expression de mes salutations les meilleures", "les plus cordiales", nor with "de mes sincères salutations". "De mes sincères salutations distinguées" is NO NO unless you wish to pass for a Marshovian peasant, in which case you would begin with "Très honorés Mesdames et Messieurs". The real blunder would be "l'expression de ma meilleure considération", which is unbearably condescending. Commented Jul 10 at 14:31
  • Oh and, as @SergeBallesta remarked: this is for snail mail, not e-mail. Commented Jul 10 at 14:34

2 Answers 2

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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.)

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  • 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
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 1:50
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I am now a rather old man, but IMHO there is a strong difference of context. When using email, or any other electronic exchange system like SMS, I only use Cordialement, even if I am not specially familiar with the recipient of the message.

But on a true letter, especially if it is intended to be sent as a true paper sheet, I would use the more formal Veuillez agréer.... In this context I would feel that Cordialement, is a bit too familiar, and I could only use it for someone that I see as a friend. Litterally someone with which I could be cordial and never to reach an administration for example.

But as already said, I am now over 60...

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