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Language

Kent, England
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7 posts
5 reviews
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Language

I speak extremely little French, usually just enough to get by when visiting Calais for shopping, but am travelling to Nice early next year for a short cheap break. The hotel we are staying at is mutlilingual, but please advise whether I will be able to enjoy the City with limited French language.

Norfolk, United...
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282 posts
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1. Re: Language

You will. My French is limited to (failed) 'O' level standard, nearly forty years ago. I can get by.

We had a few surprises - several supermarket assistants, mainly the younger ones, who kindly spoke English when they heard my pathetic efforts and, conversely, the information desk assistant at Gare Nice Ville who spoke not a word of English.

A modicum of French is extremely useful, and our experience would not have been as good had we not been able to speak a little.

Nice
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52 reviews
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2. Re: Language

Always make an attempt to speak french but you can easily get by with politeness and a handful of words - bonjour monsieur/madame [always say when entering shops, speaking to bus driver etc]

merci, , Pardon [sorry] , s'il vous plaît, au revoir, oui , non

and not forgetting je voudrais [i would like]

UK
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3,265 posts
154 reviews
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3. Re: Language

You will certainly enjoy your stay in Nice even with limited command of French. Still, an improvement in your use of French prior to your trip will enhance your experience of the city.

At the very least, do greet everyone you meet with a "Bonjour", "Bonsoir" as appropriate, particularly when entering shops, cafés and restaurants.

Get something like the Michel Thomas CD course and you will be confidently speaking better French in no time.

London
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1,653 posts
6 reviews
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4. Re: Language

There are (too) many British tourists in Nice and English is spoken most places. The only places that didn't were public transport - it surprised us that no-one spoke English at the only places we really needed help: the train and bus stations. I too failed my exams, but it's amazing how ones old school French comes back to you when necessary.

The restaurants offer menus in English and it was actually hard to find anyone to practise our French on.

Have a wonderful trip

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer
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3,147 posts
13 reviews
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5. Re: Language

Just a repeat recommendation for Michel Thomas's courses - the beginner, the advanced and the vocabulary developer are all absolutely a gem - his method simply works. You'll be striking up conversation with pensioners at French bus stops in no time, complaining about the government or whatever.

Another echo - I really cringe when on the bus and another "tourist" marches on and immediately starts barking questions in English like they were addressing the tourist information desk. These guys just drive the bus. Politely state your destination, give them your one euro fare (not a twenty euro note - he's not a change machine either) thank him (Merci) validate the ticket in the slot machine if its a credt-card shaped one, and thats it.

You don't need anything special in the way of language skills - its all about culture and respect. They call it "La Politesse" - public politeness and civility. You will have a good day and make theirs good too. Culture and attitude, not linguistics. You'll get the hang in no time

Cheers!

UK
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3,265 posts
154 reviews
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6. Re: Language

Bonjour NiceLife,

Well said.

The French still practice the art of civilisation, something Anglophones seem to have forgotten!

Kent, England
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5 reviews
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7. Re: Language

Thanks for replies. I pride myself in being polite and always use the basic, merci, bonjour etc. I am feeling much more confident that I will enjoy the trip and will endeavour to learn a few basic phrases before I go. In my experience, if you make an effort you will get treated with more respect.

Nice
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12,655 posts
52 reviews
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8. Re: Language

floridaisgreat - my parents visit us in Nice regularly and they never have any problems despite their lack of French.

Additionally French people who DO speak English often have problems understanding my parents because of their Scottish accents.

But my parents are unfailingly polite, smile , mime and even draw things if communication is really difficult and they seem to enjoy the challenge even when they have 4 French speakers at their disposal as translators.

You will have a great time

London
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1,653 posts
6 reviews
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9. Re: Language

We also consider ourselves to be polite and always say bonjour, merci etc but the French are even more polite, as has been suggested above, and say bonjour madame et monsieur etc; we try to be extra polite by remembering to address the French adding a title to what we say, even though it feels a bit unnatural.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer
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3,147 posts
13 reviews
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10. Re: Language

Good advice here as always, but a final thought. Your politeness to the bus driver need not necessarily extend to your fellow passengers, who are your deadly rival to get on the bus and for a seat. Getting on the bus is an "every man for himself" business in France. Being first in the queue counts for nothing when the bus pulls in and people surge forward. Unless you particularly enjoy standing swaying for forty minutes to Monaco, expertise in hand to hand combat is a distinct advantage.

Cheers!