Need to speak French?

May 25th, 2007, 05:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 36
Need to speak French?

Hi all,
1)We're (family of 4) going to Paris for a week in July 07 and plan to drive down to Lourdes afterwards. As I understand it,the drive takes about 8 hours, and so I wondered if anyone would recommend a particular town to stay the night, not more than a couple of hours from Lourdes.Don't suppose we could visit a vineyard,maybe?Or maybe a flea market?We driving out of Paris on a Saturday.
2)Do we really need to be able to speak in French to make our way around Paris and elsewhere in France? If so, please can someone recommend a good French phrase book?
Thanks a lot in advance. I really think this is such a great website!
jbf1 is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
In visiting any country it behooves you to learn the politenesses (please, thank you, excuse me, good morning and evening with approrpiate appelations). If you can learn a little bit more - esp if you're driving (like times, directions, where is, when, how many etc) it will be very helpful.

In Paris and tourist heavy areas you can get by with English and the above. The further into the country/small towns you go the better it will be to know a little more.

We always carry a small Berlitz menu reader (since that can be the most difficult to decipher - due to the sometimes poetic descriptions of dishes) but you may want a little larger version to help you at the gas stations, etc.

In any case, a few please and thank yous and sign language can work wonders - in case you find yourself where no one knows any english (which would be quite a rarity).
nytraveler is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,661
Well, there are probably a few million people who visit France every year who don't speak French and I'm sure most of them don't die on the spot, so of course you don't NEED to. And of course you can't learn an entire language between now and July, but you should at least familiarize yourself with some basic phrases and pronounciation. Check out for pronounciation.

And do remember that in France it is very important always to greet people with Bonjour, Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle, and always to say s'il vous plaît and merci when appropriate and when leaving say Au Revoir, Madame/Monsieur, Mademoiselle - even if everything else you say is in English.

But really, in Paris and Lourdes there will be scads of English speakers.
What route are you taking from Paris to Lourdes?
StCirq is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:57 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 60
Learning some French will make everyone more comfortable. My hubby learned about 40-50 words for our last trip to Paris.

He learned using a Rosetta Stone interactive CD showing pictures, pronouncing the word and showing the word. He felt this was an easier way to learn the language.

We use the same book that was recommended.

bashawdi is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 06:31 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 309
Three years ago I bought the Pimsleur's CD (introductory about 28 bucks). Very basic and you learn by repetition. I played it in my car on the way to work and back for a month, and I felt very comfortable with basic phrases.

Funny story: I went into a shop that sold soaps and kitchen products. Said hello, introduced myself, asked if anyone understood English and explained that I did not speak French very well (all in French as I had learned on the CD). Here's the amusing part...the CD puts great emphasis on learning the correct pronunciation, so apparently I was doing a pretty good job. The shopkeeper, full of smiles, told me that I spoke French beautifully and that I should...and the rest of her words came out as blah blah blah because I couldn't understand a thing. Well, you guessed it. My basic French lessons on the CD were comprised of only a handful of words, and even though I must have spoken them correctly, once I got through the first ten phrases, I was totally lost.

I was so pleased and flustered at the same time that I dropped my purse, spilled out all of the contents, turned bright red, and after plunking down the correct amount of Euros for my purchase, walked out of the shop feeling like the biggest geek in Paris.

Anyway, moral of the story. Pimsleur's is a great teaching tool, but it reminds me of the old joke about the guy visiting america who only knows two words: apple pie and coffee. Longing for something else to order, his friend teaches him to say the word "cheeseburger". Next time he enters the restaurant he bravely orders a cheeseburger. The waitress asks, "American or Swiss?" He gambles on "Swhish". "Well done or medium?" He guesses "meedeeum". "Cole Slaw or Fries?"

After a few seconds of frustration he answers, "Apple pie and coffee."
Dottee is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 07:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 326
Cute, Dottee. I like it. Again, if you don't know a word, don't sweat. It is not the end of the world. Enjoy your trip.
georgiegirl is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 09:24 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 12,015
My only advice is to learn the French for "car rental return." Knowing that phrase would have saved us about an hour of driving around Charles DeGaulle Airport trying to figure out where to take the car. (It's "voiture de location," or something similar. The trip was about 8 years ago, so I've forgotten the exact term. But "voiture de location" is close.)
Pegontheroad is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 05:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,705
My question is why you want to visit Lourdes, which is one of the ugliest places I have ever been to - full of stores and other establishments designed to take advantage of (rip off) tourists. Lots of other nice things in the area, but having been there once I would certainly never go again. But maybe this is your once.
Carlux is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 07:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 36
I should have said that I can churn out the basic please and thank you's,good morning and other greetings in the proper high and lilting voice. Thereafter, I have a vocabulary of about 30 words remembered from my "French made simple" orange and black book, from about 20 years ago.Linking them together into a sentence however is not possible! So when we went to Boulogne for a couple of days last year, I was this grinning,gestulating idiot whenever I tried to communicate with the locals!Which wasn't too bad, but I've been told that the Pariessiens are less forgiving..if anyone is offended, I really don't intend to offend!
Anyway, I will purchase one of the language tools recommended.Thanks.
Dottee, that's a funny story, sounds like something I may have done...don't worry, I think that's what holds us back from learning thru practising...the fear of making fools of ourselves. I think it's just as well to just plough on as best one can!I just tell my other half that I'll never meet that person again,so it doesn't matter how silly they think me..the liberation of being in a foreign country...!
Right,route to Lourdes...which do you recommend?We'd just like to make it there as quickly as poss.
Why Lourdes? Well because we're Catholics and would like to visit the Our Lady shrine and bath there.Although I've been there for a 4 day pilgimage 15 or so years ago,I went with a tour group and in fact met more Irish people than French! Anyway, my boys are keen to go as they've been studying it in school, and we'd like to go too. Also, my father in law and his wife lives in Nice, and so we wondered if it might make it easier to get together somewhere there rather than Paris as we don't want to go to Nice.
jbf1 is offline  
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