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How French is Vanuatu?

Manly, Australia
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33 posts
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How French is Vanuatu?

Hi Everyone, my family (wife, myself, two kids [aged 13 and 11]) are planning a trip to Vanuatu this September and want to know about the French influence on Vanuatu. We originally had our minds set on New Caledonia as my two children both learn French and have been for about 7/5 years. However due to extra cost and not as much to experience we turned our heads in the direction of Vanuatu. My son and daughter are a bit unsure of Vanuatu as they knew New Caledonia was a French territory and had a very 'French' approach to life. How French is Vamuatu now? Is it still the majority language? Are everyone Francophones? Or has Vanuatu lost an entirely French heritage?

Cheers, George

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

In my past seven visits to Vanuatu, I have seen little French written or spoken in Port Vila. However, I understand that Alliance France has an open lunch meeting on Fridays. There are a few "rues" but that's about all I have seen.

However, in our last trip to Tanna, we visited a local village, our guides were fluent in French, English and Bislama.

I have found New Caledonia, a pretty ordinary place. While it may have a French Heritage - it is not more than an old nickle mining town. They even sell powdered wine in Noumea. Not very French.

Bonsoir.

Newcastle, Australia
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2. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

There is a French population in Port Vila but generally French language and culture is not widely used. It is nothing like New Caledonia, that's for sure. If you are purposeful you will be able to mingle with French-speaking people, go to French restaurants etc, it will just take some planning

Australia
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for Port Vila, Vanuatu
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3. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Hi George,

Vanuatu has never had an "entirely French heritage" to lose as it was an English and French condominium administratively until 1980 when it became a Republic. There has always been a combo of these 2 cultures and strong ni-van kustom but as far as tourism goes English is more widely spoken in Port Vila. French culture in the Pacific islands is very different to that in France itself of course and I wouldn't say any of them have a particularly French approach to life due to the locals pride in their own culture/kustom.

There are many streets with French names in central PV, French Schools, French restaurants and cafes (as well as plenty of other nationalities). As Graham says, many speak French, English, Bislama and their own local dialects so your kids would still get a chance to practice if they engage with locals. They may even be able to pick up some books in French including second hand ones donated to help fund Sam's Animal Rescue at Jills Cafe.

There are lots of kid friendly activities to do in Vanuatu so I am sure they will love it!

Manly, Australia
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33 posts
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4. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Thanks everyone who has helped me, we are all booked and ready to go. My kids are very excited and are revising for any 'Frenchness' they might encounter.

vanuatu
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320 posts
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5. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Hi

Try Erakor village, the second biggest on the island, outside of the local Bislama, Erakor is primarlly frankophone. A bit of a novelty speaking french with local Ni- vanuatu.

Cheers

Port Vila, Vanuatu
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244 posts
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6. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

You could also check out the Petanque (spelling?) area behind Nambawan cafe - a very French pastime!

8 posts
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7. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Hi George,

I was born in Vanuatu and French! :) While the French influence in Vanuatu may not be so obvious because as indicated previously most people speak English and most tourists come from Australia and New Zealand, it is there! The Alliance Francaise, located downtown just behind the main street is definitely a place you can drop by and say hi, they organise "conversation coffees" or something alike where French and English people meet and exchange in French or English, I don't know if they are for adults or kids and how they work exactly but I know the person who organises that and I could ask her if you're interested.

Either way, I hope you enjoy your holiday in Port Vila!

Valerie.

Westchester County...
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8. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Hi George,

Would you mind reporting back on your trip? I'm wondering if Vanuatu might be a good destination for a French course for my teen daughter. It looks lovely.

Manly, Australia
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33 posts
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9. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Hi, my Vanuatu experience was amazing however French culture was so blended with the other cultures that it was very hard to find anything French. In Port Vila there are many french signs but the only place I went to where French was official was Erakor. People in the major towns were speaking English to each other. From my experience I wouldn't reccommemd Vanuatu for a course but it is a beautiful place where it isn't too hard to speak some French to the friendly locals.

Paris, France
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10. Re: How French is Vanuatu?

Even though I speak english je poursuivrai en français. J'ai du mal à vous suivre, vous êtes nostalgiques de la guerre de cent ans ? Pourtant la guerre linguistique est largement favorable à l'anglais, voulez vous éradiquer complétement la langue française ? Dans ce cas, pour les dix dernières années, vous avez perdu car le français progresse selon les chiffres de l'ONU. Cela me ravit et vous chagrine, je vous présente mes excuses, désolé...