France

 

France has been the world’s most popular tourist destination for over twenty years (81.9 million in 2007) and it’s geographically one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Its cities contain some of the greatest treasures in Europe, its countryside is prosperous and well-tended and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions, like Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sport resorts of the French Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy. The country is renowned for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.

Talk

French (français) is the official language of France, although there are regional variations in pronunciation and local words. For example, throughout France the word for yes, oui, said “we”, but you will often hear the slang form “ouais”, said “waay.” It’s similar to the English language usage of “Yeah” instead of “Yes”. See also: French phrasebook

The French are generally attached to politeness (some might say excessively) and will react coolly to strangers that forget it. You might be surprised to see that you are greeted by other customers when you walk into a restaurant or shop. Return the courtesy and address your hellos/goodbyes to everyone when you enter or leave small shops and cafes. It is, for the French, very impolite to start a conversation with a stranger (even a shopkeeper or client) without at least a polite word like “bonjour”. For this reason, starting the conversation with at least a few basic French phrases, or some equivalent polite form in English, goes a long way to convince them to try and help you.

  • “Excusez-moi Monsieur/Madame”: Excuse me (ex-COO-zay-mwah mih-SYOOR/muh-DAM)
  • “S’il vous plaît Monsieur/Madame” : Please (SEEL-voo-PLAY)
  • “Merci Monsieur/Madame” : Thank you (mare-SEE)
  • “Au revoir Monsieur/Madame” : Good Bye (Ore-vwar)

As France is a very multicultural society, many African languages, Arabic, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese or Cambodian could be spoken.

(source: Wikitravel)

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