Essential French for Conscientious Travelers: First Impressions

Welcome to the second installment in my language series, Essential French for Conscientious Travelers! This series of posts highlights the vital words and phrases needed by any traveler in France, as well as the different social contexts in which the words and phrases should be used. These insights are all based on my personal experiences as a traveler and second language learner in Paris, and I can assure you: a little bit of language knowledge will take you far! As I shared in the first installment of this series, you absolutely don’t need to be fluent to feel comfortable, connect with the culture, […]

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Essential French for Conscientious Travelers: The Basics

I am excited to invite you to track with me through this new series, Essential French for Conscientious Travelers, which — you guessed it! — will focus specifically on vital French words and phrases AND the ever-interesting social contexts in which it’s appropriate to use them. My inspiration for writing? The handful of friends and family members who will (starting this coming weekend!) be joining Chris and me and Gay Paris and who, save for one or two, have never engaged with the French language in their life. I thought I’d offer them a hand! Of course, I realize that not everyone is […]

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Pucker Up: Navigating La Bise Française

La bise, or faire la bise, is what the French call the cheek kisses that accompany a friendly greeting or farewell. Where Americans would shake hands or hug, the French use la bise as a polite gesture, an acknowledgement of recognition, affection, and camaraderie. It is a vastly important component of French social etiquette, taught to children alongside “please” and “thank you” and “cover your mouth when you cough.” Different regions of France teach different iterations of la bise: most of the country, including Paris, uses 2 kisses (one on each cheek), while other regions use 3 and even 4! La bise is a fine art, to be sure. There’s […]

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