7.6 Travel Wise! (Part 1) Language Lesson
7.6 Travel Wise! (Part 1)
Language & Culture Lessons
We're on the move! Our destination: Paris. In this Grammar lesson we'll divulge all the great things to do there, plus we'll
uncover the differences in regional dialects. So get your bags together, it's time to get on board avions, en trains et
voitures, "planes, trains and automobiles".
In this Lesson we will talk about what you might do when you go to France, (or to a French speaking country). We
would like you to get a feel for the type of circumstances frequently encountered by travelers.
Perhaps you have a work agenda or want to visit friends or family, perhaps you are interested in France’s fabulous
history, the richness of its environment, or perhaps you want to be able to savor luxurious French food and wine.
You will come across regional differences in pronunciation, different emphasis on vowel sounds, and varying
degrees of pitch and speed of language. You can listen to some differences in sounds in this Lesson.
When you are traveling you will no doubt be drawn to seek out the experiences you most favor and which motivate
you. Whatever your experience of French speaking countries, use this Lesson to get travel wise!
Slang, Casual and Formal French
Let’s look at the parallels and differences between colloquial/slang French, the familiar approach, and more formal
The three examples below illustrate three ways of addressing a shopkeeper about buying some shoes. Notice what
happens to pronunciation, types of words, adjectives and spaces between words, in particular.
A typical dialogue at the market is also included below, so that you can get a further idea of what colloquial/slang
French sounds like!
Bonjour Monsieur ! Alors voilà, il me faut une paire de Good morning Sir! So, I need a pair of brown leather
chaussures en cuir brun. En avez-vous ?
shoes. Do you have some?
Salut Denis, il me faut des nouveaux souliers. En as-tu
reçu de sympas dernièrement, en brun ?
Hi Denis, I need new shoes for myself, did you get some
nice ones in recently, in brown?
Bon, euh, 'y a des pompes là que j' voudrais essayer,
ouais, là bas, ouais
Hi, I'd like to try those shoes, yep, those over there, yeah
Du Marchandage, A Hard Bargain!
Salut, c'est en solde, ça ?
Hi, is that on sale?
Non, pas normalement, mais on peut toujours voir...
No, not normally, but we can always see...
Dis, Suzanne, t'as le fric ?
Hey, Suzanne, got some cash?
T'es toujours fauché, et tu me tapes toujours !
You're always broke and you're always sponging!
Écoutes, c'est un bon plan qu'il me fait, alors tu me
passes des sous ?
Listen, it's a good deal, so will you give me the cash?
T'achètes quoi de toute façon ?
What 'you buying anyway?
Des pompes ! Ces fringues sont branchées ! Allez !
They're cool shoes! This is good gear! Come on!
A Window on Regional Differences
It’s important to note that each region will have its own variety of colloquialisms and accents. The greatest difference
in accent and idioms is noticeable between the northern regions of France and anything south of Limoges.
You may already be aware of the subtleties between some of the great popular French singers like Edith Piaf, Gilbert
Becaud, Jacques Brel, or Georges Moustaki. In French literature, the work of writers like Marcel Pagnol explored the
poetic quality of the southern French accent, whilst Proust wrote about melancholy and the texture of life. Some of
the great classic French actors have captured this beautifully in mid-20th century cinema; Fernandel, Charles Trenet
and Yves Montand to name a few.
There are more than 20 regional dialects and variations on standard French, from Lou Provencal in Provence to
Català around Perpignan, the official Basque language in northern Spain and across the French Pyrenées, to the
dialects used in Brittany and Normandy.
As well as regional differences there exist a considerable number of patois and variations spoken in Canada,
Louisiana, Haiti, New Caledonia, The Caribbean and parts of the African continent, including the islands of La
Réunion and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and parts of North Africa, notably Algeria and Tunisia.
On the Road
The best way of getting around in France depends on your preference and your budget.
The extensive « réseau d’autoroute », “motorway network”, has toll gates distributed throughout the main national
arterial routes. This can be quite a costly way of getting around, and some people prefer to enjoy the excellent service
provided by the SNCF, the French national railway, including the TGV, which stands for « Train Grande Vitesse »,
“High Speed Train”.
Motorists can also use a combination of train and drive options to over 6,000 destinations covered by the SNCF. The
most sophisticated drive and ride option is the one going across to England through the Channel via the Euro Tunnel
on the “Euro Star” train. Let’s look at the following ways of talking about travel when you’re on the road.
En Route !
Je voudrais un billet train-auto aller-retour pour Paris
Nord s'il vous plaît.
I would like one return drive-and-ride ticket for Paris
North station please.
Il me faut un billet train-vélo pour Perpignan, aller
simple s'il vous plaît.
I need a single bike-and-ride ticket for Perpignan, please.
Pour combien de personnes vous avez dit ?
For how many people did you say?
Il nous faut deux billets train-hôtel pour Carcassonne s'ilWe need two train-hotel tickets to Carcassonne please.
Et combien de personnes voyagent-elles ?
And how many people are traveling?
Je voudrais un billet train-couchette aller-retour pour
Bordeaux s'il vous plaît.
I would like a sleeper return ticket to Bordeaux please
Un aller simple
One way, single ticket/fare
Un tarif, Un billet
C'est pour deux personnes ?
Is it for two people?
Je voudrais acheter trois places aller-retour.
I would like to buy 3 return tickets.
Je voudrais aller aux Invalides s'il vous plaît.
I would like to go to Les Invalides, please.
Le musée Beaubourg s'il vous plaît.
To Beaubourg museum please.
Ça prend combien de temps ?
How long does it take?
La croisée dure combien de temps ?
How long is the crossing?
C'est combien pour un aller-retour pour Limoges ?
How much is a return ticket to Limoges?
Je préfère voyager la nuit.
I prefer to travel at night.
L'aller-retour pour Nice c'est combien ?
A return ticket for Nice, how much is that?
Paris is a shopper's dream! From window-shopping at the great couturiers to bargain hunting at gigantic flea markets;
Paris has it all. Two Parisian institutions are essential for success on any clothes shopping missions: Printemps and
the Galeries Lafayettes department stores. These two stores stock big international brand names in clothing, as well as
shoes, jewellery, handbags and lingerie.
When you are in smaller cities, visit the local boutiques for a taste of local style. The prices at these stores are often
slightly more expensive, but you're supporting local business and often their clothing is generally of a much higher
quality than large stores.
If you're the kind of person that loves getting lost in a good book store, visit the booksellers along the banks of the
river Seine in the Saint-Michel quarter. All genres of writing can be found there, often in many languages.
Perhaps you prefer the market scene? Most cities and towns have a Saturday market where local produce, art and
craft is sold. Just wandering through these markets can be a lovely experience, and if you feel like trying out your
spoken French this is truly a perfect place to do so!
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