Advanced search

Paris - Will it matter we dont speak French!!!!

(28 Posts)
clottedcreamteawithscone Tue 23-Jun-15 12:01:49

We can get the Eurostar very, very cheap due to hubbys work. We would like to take our DS age 10 to Paris to experience the eurostar/journey and also to a city such as Paris to see the sites etc... probably 3 nights in all.

Shamefully we dont speak any French - I only remember from my time at school when I tool O level's!!! Hubby knows nothing and DS has only studied last few years.

So how will be fair????? Im worried about stuff like getting off Eurostar and being able to get to the hotel etc...

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Tue 23-Jun-15 12:05:15

Most Parisians speak English, but it would be rude to not at least try to speak French, so make sure you learn the basics.

Theas18 Tue 23-Jun-15 12:08:21

of course it wont matter a bit.

Embarrassingly must people in France speak better English that we speak french as a generalisation .

juneau Tue 23-Jun-15 12:09:35

If you studied French at school you do know the basics, even if you've forgotten them. There are lots of online tutorials in basic French (and other languages), so how about downloading a few podcasts before you go away? It will boost your confidence, remind you of the basic phrases and help to smooth your way on your trip. Yes, many Parisians speak some English (particularly those with jobs that bring them into contact with tourists), but even a few words will endear you to the natives and make them more likely to want to help you. You should be able to get away with surprisingly little French, but 'Bonjour', 'Merci', etc is just polite.

NashvilleQueen Tue 23-Jun-15 12:11:02

There's a free app called duolingo which will give you a few basics. It would be nice if you could at least manage pleases, thank yous etc etc. I fine people are very forgiving of the English and especially when we at least make a bit of an effort.

Socalled Tue 23-Jun-15 12:11:14

English is widely spoken, but Paris is a big, busy impatient city like London, and you'll find things easier and more pleasant if you can muster some basic French for shop purchases, restaurants, etc. And being able to pronounce street names and the name of your hotel so that you can be understood if asking for directions or getting a taxi.

I should say that the Eurostar journey itself in terms of landscape is incredibly dull, though, especially at the French end.

museumum Tue 23-Jun-15 12:11:45

I don't speak any French (I do speak Spanish and German) and I found no problems at all getting around etc but some Parisians are quite unfriendly if you don't speak good French. You just have to shrug it off. We can't learn all the languages. I use some basic phrases from a phrase book and apologise when using English and have always been fine.

clottedcreamteawithscone Tue 23-Jun-15 12:12:02

ok Im feeling better already it will be great for my DS to also have a go I think.

Next job - where on earth do we stay, want to do the Eiffel Tower and sites but want to be nearby

WhyIRayLiotta Tue 23-Jun-15 12:12:03

It won't matter. - but get the basics down - hello / please and thank you and how to say 'I would like...'
I only have school French - but I love Paris and I've always found that as long as you make an effort people will be lovely. I almost always get answered politely in English when I ask in French blush which is just as well, as I probably wouldn't understand it anyway!
I've heard (but never experienced) that the French can be precious about their language and will expect people to make an effort.

I love it there - massively jealous! envy

Lweji Tue 23-Jun-15 12:13:35

If you force yourself to speak it and listen to it, it will come to you.

I'd brush up on basic expressions and just go.

WhyIRayLiotta Tue 23-Jun-15 12:14:31

YY to nashvillequeen duo lingo is a great wee app and got me back up to slow speed.

Re hotels - completely depends on your budget. Paris is expensive - but the metro is cheap and reliable so you could opt to stay a little further out - say Montmartre - and travel in. You'd get more for your money that way.

clottedcreamteawithscone Tue 23-Jun-15 12:27:16

Im a little nervous for our first trip so want to stay central so we can walk perhaps??? We are hardly paying anything for eurostar so can perhaps afford a more central hotel

Socalled Tue 23-Jun-15 12:35:02

Public transport is cheap, good and easy to use - especially the Metro, so you don't need to stay centrally. What is your budget?

clottedcreamteawithscone Tue 23-Jun-15 12:44:01

probabaly �500 for 2-3's the lingo Im worried about so as a first timer want to stay central so we can walk to places ... next time Im sure I will be braver!

Allalonenow Tue 23-Jun-15 12:58:08

Have a look at the BBC website, there is a language section with very short courses on languages for holidays, you could do them together with your son.
Also it might help you to jot down the French names of some of the food/meals that you all like, so you can spot them on a menu.

museumum Tue 23-Jun-15 13:01:12

Paris hotels are expensive. And cheaper Paris hotels are nasty.

So look to pay at least what you would in London for a similar hotel.

In your situation is probably use and look for a brand name hotel I recognised.

Socalled Tue 23-Jun-15 15:23:03

But you dont need to speak French to use the Metro, OP - only to be able to read, the same as on the tube! In fact, it's more straightforward - all the lines are numbered (and colour-coded, but people refer to them by their number) and the direction is indicated by the end station either end of the line, so you take, say, line number 4 in the direction of Porte d'Orleans, same as you would take the Piccadilly line in the direction of Cockfosters. Free paper metro naps at every station, and the ticket machines work in English.

Agreed that cheaper Paris hotels are awful. I stay with friends always, so no idea about anywhere decent. What about Air BnB? When are you going? Student accommodation might be a possibility.

PrincessOfChina Tue 23-Jun-15 15:28:45

We stayed here last summer. It was excellent and very central.

I'm not certain on cost - we paid about £900 for Eurostar for three and three nights in a triple room.

Lj8893 Tue 23-Jun-15 15:34:13

Lots of people travel all over the world without knowing any of the languages......Thailand for example is a very popular destination and it's very doubtful many of its tourists speak any Thai!

You will be fine op smile

yakari Tue 23-Jun-15 15:38:26

I have to confess a Parisian taxi driver at the Euro Star made me cry because he refused to understand my crap French. In hindsight I realise the hotel I wanted was too close, it was a crap fare compared to the other tourists. Like London cabbies being asked to go to to a Heathrow hotel.
So my personal tip have maps and hotel names printed out.
Having said that Paris is a great walking city all be it expensive but stay central and save the cost, time and hassle of travelling in.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 23-Jun-15 15:39:32

No, it doesn't matter at all and apparently they are an unforgiving nation and whilst people from other nations will help you and accommodate your lack of language skills, the French won't. They prefer you to speak English, apparently because of not understanding your attempts due to French dialect.

Magicalmrmistofeles Tue 23-Jun-15 15:44:49

Mostly when I speak in French they answer in englishgrin

kateecass Tue 23-Jun-15 15:45:35

We survived with bad french! Guy at ticket counter when we got off Eurostar didn't understand us properly but we still managed to buy 4 carnets of metro tickets!!

We stayed off Rue Montorguiel which is a fab area for restaurants, shops, bakeries. Walkable to the Louvre, Pompidou, Seine, Notre Dame. We even walked to the Eiffel Tower! We stayed in a really old AirBnB place which was great but about 100 steps.

holmessweetholmes Tue 23-Jun-15 19:04:27

You will be fine. Most Parisians will speak at least some English. And in any case, it would be a bit restrictive to only be able to travel to countries whose language you speak!

I'm not sure I even agree that it's rude not to learn some of the language (and I'm an MFL teacher!). I went on a cruise around the Baltic once, visiting about 7 different countries. I certainly didn't learn a bit of all the languages!

specialsubject Wed 24-Jun-15 09:33:46

I can stumble along in French, enough to get basic needs and be polite. In my experience no French tourist industry person will speak French back at you, they reply in English. BUT the people in the smaller shops on the back streets or smaller towns WILL reply in French, and will slow down so you can understand.

you can learn the basics (as you can in any language) and take a phrase book for the rest.

thank you
hello (which you always say on entering a French shop)
do you speak English?

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: