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Learning to Parle - Parte Un

January 04, 2020

Is it a requirement to speak French when in Paris? No, its not but it is important that you know a little of French. Make a little time and effort to learn 5 or more words, it wouldn't hurt you anyway. Isn't cool that you speak another language apart from English?

From DuoLingo to Babbel to a host of countless other apps, it’s never been easier to get a few words of essential language skills when you need it the most. Yes, the world is getting smaller and in just about every European capital city, you can get by with English. Despite what you may heard or what you may think, Paris is no exception to the rule. Well, with this is mind, there is an all important question that every tourist or visitor to Paris must ask?


Is it really necessary to speak French in Paris?


Well, this is a heavy question but truthfully, all things considered, the answer is probably no, it isn’t. Just think about all the guided tours in English, international staff in hotels and hostels and information in English in almost all the important sites (although, a lady did yell at me for speaking directly in English while I visited the Louvre). Now, I can imagine some French people or indeed any non-native English speaker, yelling at the computer screen in utter disagreement. But think about it, if you go abroad and the country doesn’t speak your language and you don’t speak the local language, isn’t it a bit instinctive of you to use in English? Isn't it. Come on.........


There have been countless books, articles and papers written about the dominance of English in the world, and although they are disputed theories, it is kind of true. But that’s not exactly what this post is about. This is about you, the English speaker, on your journey through the French capital and understanding what kind of experience you can expect.


Of the countries of Western Europe, France has an entirely unfair reputation when it comes to using their native language and also speaking English. I can’t count the amount of thing I’ve heard about the French like “oh they can understanding English perfectly, but they will never use it. They don’t like speaking it”. Or, “you have to speak in French, otherwise they are very rude to you”.


These sentences are popular stereotypes and like many stereotypes they are entirely untrue and unfair. However, for this writer, it would be short-sighted to replace one massive generalisation with another one and respond by saying that everyone is absolutely delightful. They aren’t. Although I don’t know how cheery I would be if someone waltzed into my shop in London and launched into Russian ( for example ) and expected me to understand.