In this video, I show you the top 3 things you need to master in French if you’re going to France. Yes just 3!
Before travelling to France, dedicate some time to learning about French language and customs
before you travel. Today I’ve compiled a list of 3 things you should learn before going to France:
First priority: Learn some numbers
Learning numbers can open so many doors for you; not knowing them may close those same doors.
Having a basic understanding of numbers will help you in your day-to-day life in France.
Think about your shopping interactions: you’ll want to know how to talk about quantities, and pricing.
Learning numbers will also help you to talk about time – helpful in catching trains or making reservations. People are likely to give you the time, in French, using the 24hr method. This means that instead of saying 4pm or 6pm they will say seize heures or dix-huit heures.
Second priority: Learn to spell
Now, nobody is going to ask you to stand up on the Metro and sing the French alphabet! But it is still important to learn.
Think about the bookings you’ve already made, or are going to make on your trip. Hotels, tickets to a show, renting a bike, going to a museum or theatre. They’ll be using your French name, which may have a slightly different pronunciation than your English name.
Learn how to pronounce and spell your name correctly.
Learning the alphabet will also come in handy if you ever get lost! Many French place names are quite difficult to pronounce, so being able to spell them will help people to understand you.
This is especially useful when you are talking to a taxi driver, trying to find your hotel or get to the right Metro station.
Like in English, French uses lots and lots of acronyms. Being able to spell and pronounce these will
help people to understand where you want to go. For example, the train from Paris to the south of France is simply known as the TGV.
Third priority: Learn the local custom
Lastly, let’s talk about learning the local customs. Do these things, and you’ll be welcomed warmly.
When you enter a shop, you should treat it like you’ve entered the shopkeeper’s home or personal
space. Acknowledge them. Remember to say hello, goodbye and thank you (bonjour, au revoir, merci).
All over France, people practice la bise with people they know. You may be familiar with this type of greeting from movies or TV, where characters will kiss each other’s cheeks.
Different places will practice a different number of bise – for example, in Paris it’s usually four, but in southern France it’s often only two. Follow the locals, and you can’t go wrong.
To finish, remember your manners at mealtimes.
Before starting a meal, acknowledge your peers and say Bon Appetit and before drinking remember to say santé and clink your glass with others whilst looking at them in the eyes.
There you have it!
If you can practice a few basic sayings or learn to spell the names and locations you’re travelling to, you’ll find the French community only too happy to help you. A little bit of practice goes a long way.
Need help with your French practice to learn these or a few more things?
Book some lessons with our friendly French tutors today.