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How to Communicate with the French

Our Tips for Starting Conversations When in Parisians

If you’re traveling to Paris, do make an effort to speak French, at least a few key phrases. Most Parisians speak some English, so they'll likely switch to accommodate you when they realize you're not from France. And don’t worry about your accent, just try your best - the locals are sure to appreciate it.

Oh, the French. How can they be intellectually superior, impeccably dressed, talented chefs, and still be so friendly and open to us mere mortals all at the same time? Ok, I may be stereotyping a bit and being a little sarcastic too, but I’d like to share a few tips and tricks on communicating with the French so you can avoid unpleasant encounters during your trip to Paris!

First, if you’re traveling to Paris, make an effort to speak French, even though most Parisians speak (some) English. Don’t worry about your accent, just try your best and your efforts will be met with a considerate answer, possibly in your own language as an effort on their part. Next, mind your manners and be polite! Before asking for directions from a stranger, or for a different size of shirt at a store, always greet the person with a ‘Bonjour’ first. Wait for them to respond back and then ask your question. 

And s’il vous plaît, don’t forget to thank them with a ‘merci beaucoup‘ afterward! Lastly, be careful with ‘vous‘ and ‘tu’, in English we only use ‘you’ to address someone, but in French ‘vous‘ should be used when addressing someone you’re not friends with yet – unless they say you can ‘me tutoyer.’ If so, congrats, you’ve passed the first barrier!

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