Learn Some French Before You Decide to Travel to Paris

The life goal of 99% of Sagittarius is travelling around the world, I am not an exception. Instead of joining any organised tours, I always have driven by my free spirit. Therefore, I always travel by myself unless the places that I cannot go by myself.

I used to believe that I could travel almost all around the world except China the moment when I found I can communicate with people by using English while I was in Nepal, the very first country I have been visited in my life. However, the truth slapped my face when I paid my visit to Paris.

Paris metro station © Tian Lan

I have to clarify that Paris could be a very international city: the metro broadcast in 4 or more languages when Line 1 stopped at the Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre station, I was surprised to hear that since back to London, seems only Marylebone train station will broadcast in Chinese for Bicester Village stop. Franklin D. Roosevelt displayed 4 foreign names of the station which including Japanese, Chinese, Russian (correct me if I am wrong) and Arabic.

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Paris Metro Line 8 © Tian Lan

However, at the same time, Line 8 does not even broadcast the stops’ names and you have to manually turn the handle to open the door in order to get on or off the train for Line 12. I am definitely not complaining about all of these, instead, I love this kind of feeling that to just like a local wandering around and treat this place like I have been here forever. Whereas all of these experience indeed enlightened me, I bet purely tourists will never come across my experience.

Nevertheless, learning some basic French is definitely necessary, it will be a lie if I say I don’t recognise any French, of course, my French vocabulary is not only ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’; still, French is neither my first language or my second, not even my third. And one thing I forgot to learn is ‘exit’ in French.

Inside of Paris metro station © Tian Lan
Inside of Paris metro station © Tian Lan

Though this might be one of the simplest words in the dictionary; regrettably, it is not in my French vocabulary. When I got off the metro by myself once, I totally lost. Where is the hell of the EXIT?! Eventually, I realised that ‘sortie’ means ‘exit’; and there is no English at all. I think I will never forget this French word, ever.

I might able to read French menu and recognise the words that similar to English; however, my speaking French sucks. I have been warned that French are too proud to learn English, I still would like to give a try.

The price tags in the stores are all digital price tags © Tian Lan
The price tags in the stores are all digital price tags © Tian Lan

While I am wandering around the city, I visited a convenience store located at a relatively quiet street. But when I stand in front of the shelf, I cannot really tell the which price tags belongs to which, so I reached to a shop staff. Not surprising, the staff blab in French to reply. I can tell that he tried to say ‘I don’t speak English’.

Anyway, I am not that kind of person who is shy to express themselves, then pay a future for a bottle of water. So I point at the bottle of water, then point at the price tags. Fortunately, the staff is a nice guy who follows me then points out the price tag for me. Sort it!

I kind of enjoy that people try to speak French with me rather than English or Chinese, I like the feeling to be treated as a local instead of a tourist (though French might just too proud to say English). Anyway, I have been asked questions in French for three times during my short stay, proud of myself, I managed to answer two of them in mix English and French, plus my gestures by half guessing and half understand.

Nevertheless, language is part of the culture and history of a nation, learning some French if you travel to Paris not only able you to communicate with the locals but also know more about the city.


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