DuoTrip to Paris - impressions
So... I'm back.
To start with, I'll begin with the city. It's marvelous, the famous landmarks are really impressive, but even the minor ones are charming. You can take a walk to the Eiffel Tower through tiny streets and feel the spirit of Paris with its restaurants at every corner. In the afternoon I was suprsised that almost every cafe was full and people just sat and chat. I've taken about a thousand unforgetable photos, but even without them, I'd remember the trip for a long time...
That was for Paris in general. As far as French language and its native speakers are concerned I was surprised. I heard that they might not be very helpful and don't speak English at all. That's not true. You can easily find out on the street who's French native speaker and who's not and they offered me their help at least several times (without my asking). I just stopped by to make sure that I'm on the right way and one guy offered my his help and guidance to the place I was going to. It was nice. I was alone so I had to take either selfies or ask someone else to take me a photo (I generally asked other tourists). I was twice asked if I would like to have my photo taken by them... What a nice surprise, not to ask a fellow-camera-man to take a picture of me!
Finally, my French. I knew form the beginning that my accent and pronunciation skills were quite qood and haven't had any problems with them at all. My weakest point was the listening and understanding. I used to travel many times by metro and listened to their conversation, AND... I could hardly distinguish what did they say. At least I heard it in natural environment, it was their common talk, but I could only get single words out of it. It was one flow of neverending words which appeared to me as just one long one, but I suspected it was going to be like that.
I always started speaking in French, just as some of you suggested. Some expressions I knew very well, so I pronunced them correctly and then all of a sudden my interlocutor speaks so fast that they only thing I could say was "Je ne comprends pas". Only then did they realize that I was a foreigner and my French wasn't as good as they thought, so they: 1) Explained it to me in simplier words, more slowly and I got the message, I was still trying to speak French; 2) Switched to English, and I either switched as well or understood the message and tried to answer it in my simple French. I welcomed the both ways, so I didn't speak only French there.
There were situations when I didn't know what they were saying, or I didn't know how to ask in French and we couldn't communicate in English as well. I remember the situation on the first day at the airport train station. The automat accepted only coins or paycard and I had only banknotes. I went to Relay shop to ask for a change. I tried in French and she probably didn't understand what i was saying, so I switched to English, but still without a result. I had to ask some airport staff and they told me what to do. Generally, it is true that the elderly in French don't know English at all, so You'd better say it right in French. Small shop owners also have difficulties in English.
I had simple conversations, sometimes I tried to say something more difficult and saw that it wasn't said correctly, but still they understood what I meant. In the hostel where I was staying nobody in my room spoke French (even a bit), so we spoke English. There were many Brits and other English native speakers so I could practise my English as well (It's not my mother tongue, and to understand a Brit speaking fast is also challenging). They congratulated me on my English speaking skills. It was nice to hear that! The hostel staff spoke English very well, so if I had to switch to English it was all OK. I tried to talk to them in French and they knew I'm the beginner and let me pracise on them.
I wonder if you, got to the end of my post. It took more than I expected. If you have any questions, do not hesitate and ask me. I will share my experience.
My impressions? Go to Paris even if you don't know French very well. Don't get discouraged. You will love your stay and have an opportunity to find out more about France, its culture and language. It's worth it.
I just remebered one of the expressions that I haven't had on Duo but still understood it: It was "vas y". So if you ask me whether you shall, go my answer is - VAS Y!!!
Ça va bien! Well done. I like that you approached your trip with reasonable expectations and maintained a good attitude throughout. You spoke French as much as you could, but didn't give up or become discouraged when you couldn't understand absolutely everything everyone was saying. This is a very good way to start. You first have very simple conversations, then little by little, you can say and understand more and more.
p.s. Change is called "monnaie" in French. I once knew a French-speaking guy who went into a store to ask for some change by saying "Give me the monnaie." At first, they thought he was trying to rob them! It probably didn't help that he looked a bit like some character from some 1930s gangster movie. However, he was eventually able to explain and got his change.
Haha! That's a nice story. I later learned about "monnaie" but at that time i had no idea how to get coins... By the way, isn't "monnaie" pronunced the same as the painter Claude "Monet"? That would be also a nice movie scene for a comedy, let's say a robber wants some money and says "give me the monnaie" and someone gives his Monet's painting!
to avoid any confusion, I just add that the nice expression "vas-y" has nothing to do with "ça va bien", despite it is the same verb "aller"; "Vas-y" means go ahead and "ça va bien" is a possible answer to "comment allez-vous ?", meaning that you are fine.
I may be going to Paris this summer so this was incredibly helpful, merci beaucoup et bien joué pour toi courage! :-)
De rien. Si tu as questions, je vous offre aider. I don't know if it's correct but you must know what i mean. Good luck on your trip as well!
Although I haven't been recently, I've been to Paris six times. So, feel free to ask me any questions, and I can try to help.
Wow, such beautiful impressions! I also love Paris, although I only had seen photos and read books about it, but those books left such a big impression on me that I had a feeling like I have actually been in Paris :) It's one of my favourite cities and I'll definitely visit it someday, so it's really nice to hear that someone liked it very much :) Thank you for sharing this with us :)
The places are as impressive as in the pictures or even more! I wish you see them in near future. Good luck!
Paris seems amazing! I wish I could visit sometime. Which places did you visit? Also, somewhere I heard that in France, they barely use "nous", I heard that they use "on" instead. For example, "On est ici." instead of "Nous sommes ici." to say "We are here."
Yes I knew about this informal "On" and it is true, i heard it a lot. Which places? I've spent there five days, 4 of which on sightseeing from morning till evening. Eiffel Towel, Arc de Triumph, Champs Elysees, Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge and Notre Dame on the top of my list.
The impressions are beautiful. My father lived in Paris. Ive never been there but i wish i could. You are like he 50th person telling me how wonderfull paris is. thanks for sharing. :-D
Thanks for sharing! I also am very impressed with your excellent English :). I would love to visit France, and especially Paris. someday.
Merci :) I know it might sound unbelievable but it doesn't take much to go wherever you want! I know money is the factor and for me it always is, but you can buy a cheap ticket and that's it. I chose the internaltional airport CDG, and didn't think whether I would find anyone to go with me. If I had found one, it would have been even worse for me as we would have been speaking in Polish every time and I wouldn't have immersed in French as I had done. If you skip visiting museums you will find your stay really cheap and still be impressed by the city! I wish you go there soon!
Thank you! Right now it isn't really feasible because of money and my schedule, but I'll have to keep your advice in mind about the price of travel :).
Félicitations ! Je trouve ça très courageux de voyager seul dans un pays étranger. I loved this post because everything you said is true and very motivating for people learning French or even another language. Keep up the good work and never lose this positive attitude of yours :-)
Edit: you mentioned English is not your native language. Where are you from then?
Thanks a lot ;) It might seem courageous but if I had gone there with someone else i wouldn't have learnt as much as I did. Of course you need to be prepared for many inforeseen events (Me, I wasn't much). There were some warning signs about the pickpockets in every Metro or even in the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so you need to have eyes in the back of your head. Travelling alone makes you more open towards the others and you can make new friendships. I'm from Poland, have studied English and love to learn French by means of English!
Excellent read! I'm going to Paris next week, to visit my girlfriend (who is from Bordeaux) - do you have any suggestions of where to visit?
Hi. I'm glad you liked it. Probably she knows the most important places and so on, but if I were you and wanted to suggest someplace, I'd go for a picnic on Champs de Mars. It's a long square of green in front of the Eiffel Tower. In the evening there are many people relaxing there on blankets having some wine and looking at the tower highlited by millions of lights! She should like it! You could also try a boat trip on Seine as well! Good luck on your trip!
Merci ! Aussi c'était impressive d'apprendre que ta première langue n'est pas anglais. Vous l'écrivez très bien :)
Et je vais essayer le Champs de Mars... Sorry my French is failing me here! I'm going to go off on my own every so often, because she's in law school and will have lectures. Il me tarde !