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  1. #1

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    French language, culture and other nuances

    IMHO, a visitor to another country that speaks another language than what you speak, should at LEAST learn some basic phrases.

    I was kind of scared going to France, because I knew how to say nothing in French other than "Is the cat a flower?" "No, the cat is a domestic animal." Not very helpful in regular everyday discussions.

    So I bought one of those cd's with a booklet to help teach me the basics about 2 months before I left. I didn't think I was learning anything from it, until I got there and it's amazing what the mind retains.

    What I would do is, I would ask a person, like a waiter or clerk in a store (in French) if they spoke English. 99% of the time they would say "a little bit" and would actually end up speaking English very well.

    I would always say the usual quotes, like bon jour, merci, all those. In fact by a few days in it was like old hat!

    So if you go, don't be afraid. Really, it's not that bad!

  2. #2

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    People often associate the French as being snotty, or having attitudes.

    Well, all I know is, when I went there, the people couldn't have BEEN nicer and more accomodating.

    There was ONE instance when an older man wouldn't point us in the right direction when we asked "Which way is the Louvre", but that literally was the only time.

    You have to expect cultural differences to exist. Escpecially when you visit a foreign country (obviously). Just because they may look like Americans, doesn't mean they ACT like them.

    So don't go to France with an attitude of "oh they'll just end up being snotty" and have that attitude for them to throw back at you. Because generally that's often the case when Americans say the French are snotty. It probably started when the American was snotty to them first.

  3. #3

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    Glad you had a good expeerience in France.My sister went there as part of her European cruise for her honeymoon and did not find the locals to be as accomidating. When they went into the stores or resturaunts and asked if they spoke english- they were ignored. Yes- they new a few phrases, but it made ordereing at a resturaunt impossible. Luckily there was one nice man that was able to assist, but he did so only after painful tries on my BIL and sisters end. I guess everyone's experiences would be different
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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    I went to France in 2004. I found locals to be very helpful and kind to me and a little rude to some of the others traveling with me.

    The difference?

    I took French in high school and made while I'm not fluent, I made attempts to speak their language. My friends just assumed someone wherever they were would speak English. I think when traveling, especially as an American, this makes all the difference. If you show that you are trying to learn even a little bit of their language and culture, people are much more receptive.

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    That's just it. I think they really appreciate visitors attempting to speak French to them. Then they tell us they speak English so we won't butcher their beautiful language any further

    And I have heard that in areas not in big cities, it's much more difficult to find Englis speaking folks. Then again right here in the U.S., that happens. Have you been to Boston? :

  6. #6

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    I've yet to go to France, but it is truly on the docent for 2010 for my 40th. I do speak some French and, quite recently, at the French Pavilion (on my birthday, too), word got around to all the wait staff. They came and spoke to me in French and were proud that I was taking the time to speak to them. They mentioned very few Americans in the States use their foreign language skills.

    I was sorta like, "well, why would they?" But I believe they were saying that Americans tend towards English--nothing profound or bad.

    Through the French I've known and colleagues, I've never known them to be the stereotypes we've been fed or the villains our government, for a time, wished them to be.

    I look forward to visiting Paris and, yes, Disneyland there. Many friends tease me, wanting to know why I would want to see something so USA overseas--but Disney is international, I believe, and having that moment to contrast (like one would do going to something also 'Western' like McDonald's) is as imperative as seeing the Louvre.

    Tell us more about France, mon ami! J'ai voudrais tous ecoute! (I'd like to hear more, I believe I said, maybe?)

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    It is fun to go to places like McD's, and KFC and such overseas (although I didn't in France, I did in the UK), just to see how different, or the same they are. DLP is the same for me too. And it is a fun place to go.

    Now I know this is MiceChat and all, and we're all fans of Disney. But IMHO, one, MAYBE two days at the DLP is sufficient, especially if you've never been to France. There's so much more to see and do than to spend all your time in Disneyland. It's worth it to go to, just see the real France too.

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    I don't know if this was strictly a DLParis thing or if it happens in other place in France, but when we ordered our lunch combo at the Pinocchio restaurant , it comes with dessert and no drink. So you get a burger, fries and a dessert (mine was a lemon tart). It was wacky! But it was cool.

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    I would *love* to go to France. I don't remember much of my high-school French, but with a trip like that waiting, I'd brush up real quick. I'm working on reading the French newspapers online, because I'd like to have more vocabulary than I do, but time has been short lately.
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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    I probably should have pointed out...yeah, we're going to do Paris for a few days with D-land tagged onto the end of it, as if a finale. I didn't study French to not see the City of Lights.

    I already know a day at the Louvre (Tigs is an artist/photographer), Tour Effiel, cafes, Varseilles (sic), boulangeries, Pere Lachaise, pataissaires, Ile de la Citie et Notre Dame, restaurant and, yes, more eating.

    Sorry, raised by New Yorkers and the ethnic food is second nature. I can read menus in, like, a gazillion languages. I'm ready to eat.

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    Roo

    PS: Any place that has a dessert as part of the combo is probably going to be high up on my list, for some reason. Tell us more!
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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    YES! You have to go to a cafe. Just pick one, sit outside, order a drink and sit. Relax, People watch. We did that one afternoon for about 2 hours, it was awesome!

    Remember, when you get a table at a restaurant in France, you have that table until you leave. I mean you have that here to some extent, but the staff there doesn't make you feel like you have to get out as soon as you are done eating. Your bill is brought to you ONLY when you ask for it. And because wait staff usually have that position as a career, they are more than likely going to know exactly what they are doing, as opposed to the guy here who works at Chilis after school until he becomes a real estate broker. The French take their dining very seriously.

    Also, get a crepe from a street vendor. SO GOOD!!

  12. #12

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    Quote Originally Posted by Olympicnut View Post
    Remember, when you get a table at a restaurant in France, you have that table until you leave. I mean you have that here to some extent, but the staff there doesn't make you feel like you have to get out as soon as you are done eating. Your bill is brought to you ONLY when you ask for it.
    I have a question, pick me! Okay, so if you sit at a table, do you pay more for your food? In Italy, if you want to sit at a cafe, it costs more, but you are basically renting the table. Otherwise you walk up to the counter, down your espresso and leave with your pastry. There's no walking around with a coffee cup like we do here.
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  13. #13

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    Well I'm not sure! I know with regular restaurants you don't pay more. I don't remember paying extra because we sat at the cafe outside. I'm going to go with no, you aren't renting the table.

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    This was me in 1995. I had just passed the bar and wanted to visit Europe on my own for the first time - so I picked London and Paris - and I travelled to Paris via the newly opened chunnel train. I was in the train station getting ready to go to France having a panic attack - "wait, I don't speak the language!", and "what if they are rude!".

    So I bought a pocket Berlitz book and read it on the train over there. Just making the effort, with my bad accent and poor grammar, made all the difference in the world. People couldn't be nicer, and I had heard some horror stories. And I felt all cosmopolitan and stuff speaking bad French.

    I had some of the best food and some of the best times that trip by myself. What really said it all was when I went into a pharmacy store and the lady in front of me in line, an American, said really loud, "DO YOU HAVE ANY TANNING CREAM?". The man pretended not to understand any English.

    I got up there, took a deep breath, and said in broken French, do you have razors? The pharmacist immediately broke into almost perfect English, came out from behind the counter, and showed me the six brands of razors they had.

    They make the effort if you make the effort, and France is worth it -- it's a beautiful country. (As Lance Armstrong said - "France is my second favorite country - after Texas".)

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    Re: French language, culture and other nuances

    The french love you if you speak french (even bad french), I went last summer with some classmates from my french class. I had had 3 years of french and taught french, but my french is still nowhere near great, but we were treated wonderfully because we tried really hard to speak their language.
    When we were at le tour eiffel the man running the elevator was talking to us, saying how well we spoke and how great it was that we were american speaking french. I dont think anyone was ever rude to us. And ocasionally we would see people being "dumb americans" who didnt know a lick of french and were being stubborn about it and we realized thats why the french dont like most americans.
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