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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Frugal in France: French Lessons

Bonjour encore. We had intended our vacation to be a foray into relaxation, with lots of reading, writing, and walking. It turned into a much more intense time, owing partly to our generous hosts, who set up several meetings with REAL FRENCH people for us, and partly due to the fact that it was cheaper to rent a car for a week than for two days. So we added a trip to the Loire Valley.

A lot of the wonderfulness of our trip is thanks to Mr FS (aka Mr French Speaker) for his excellent French. All I have to say is STUDY YOUR LANGUAGES. Contrary to popular belief, not many French people outside of tourist centers know English very well. One French person told us that the French have an "orgeuil" about their language. And so consequently, my efforts at French have been met with patience and appreciation. Really, everyone has been cheering me on, as I struggle to get to the end--or even to the middle--of my sentence. Usually, I turn to Mr. FS for aid.

Because of Mr. FS's French, we had an invite to a family dinner with friends of our hosts. We also spent two days in Brittany with other friends of our hosts. While that invitation pre-dated anyone's knowledge of Mr. FS's proficiency, we had several meals en famille, one of which included a discussion of France's connection with the slave trade. Very intellectual.

Mr FS meets with admiration everywhere he goes. Apparently, his accent is hard to place and several French people have asked if he is Spanish! Every word you can attempt in the language of your country of choice will increase your experiences exponentially.

Even though I have been a tag along on this trip, I did manage to come out with a pretty good sentence in week 2. In fact, my jaw dropped when I got to the end. Hope this is correct. Speaking of Miss Em, my organized daughter, I said, "Elle fait ce qu'on doit faire." Even if there are mistakes, I think that's pretty good after almost 40 years since my last French lesson.

OOPS! I detect a bit of orgueil there!


Marcela said...

The French love someone who loves France and their language, and in my experience, they are extra nice to those who do. What are you doing for Bastille Day? Last year I was in Paris...ahh...

Joan said...

It's true what Marcela says, and this is why I feel far more accepted by the French than I did when we lived in England (I was born and raised in the US). Lord knows, even after all these years I still have trouble with my le's and la's!

Shelley said...

I suppose we've not been out in the sticks much in France, because Bill often gets frustrated when he wants to practice his French and they cut him off to show him their English. Maybe he's butchering it and they can't bear to hear, I don't know. He hestitates a bit but he sounds good to me, but what do I know. I ended up in Spanish classes in grade school and only took a single year of French in junior high school. I never imagined actually going to France in my lifetime.

I have found that the French can be fairly snooty, but even a brief attempt at speaking their language and they thaw immediately. I worked with a lady who travelled very widely. She made a point of learning a dozen of the words used for courtesy in the language of the place she went and she seemed to get the red carpet everywhere. I don't see me ever mastering another language, mainly because I'm too lazy and it is hard work, but I should definitely put more effort into those courtesy phrases.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Marcela--What does one do for Bastille Day? We will be in our little town--no car. I think we will wander over to the park.

@Joan--At a dinner, the 16 year old son of the host corrected his dad on a gender issue! A tense moment for all.

Marcela said...

I have no idea what they do outside Paris. We went to see the parade to Champs Elysées, it was pouring rain but it was great! I watched it on TV for many years (yes, I'm that much of a Francophile ;) so it was great to be there.It was also the first time that African countries that had been former colonies were invited to participate and, having lived in Cote d'Ivoire, it was moving to see it.
In the evening there were fireworks at the Eiffel tower.
Maybe check with the Mairie?

Duchesse said...

Do you mean "She does as one must do?" If so, you have said it, bravo!

(People often think Le Duc is Swiss.)

Sounds like you are having a blissful, exciting, delicious time!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Marcela-We ended up watching the fireworks from our backyard. The parades in Paris--which we saw on tv-looked amazing.

@Shelley-This was my first trip to the countryside and i LOVE it here.

@Duchesse-She does what needs to be done! Yes! Blissful is right.

FB @ said...

I am speaking French far better and more fluent than Portuguese here.. although now I'm trying to learn Portuguese so I should really make the effort, rather than fall back on French..