La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, Gallic habits to films. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences or adding your email to the sign-up box in this article.
Whether you live in France or you’re far away but dreaming of your next visit, keeping up your French listening skills can be a challenge. For pros and beginners alike, all non-native French speakers can think of a moment when they found themselves staring blankly at a person jabbering at them in impossibly fast French.
I can think of several times when I have found myself in a group of French speakers, spaced out for only a moment, and lost the entire thread of the conversation. It can be a bit awkward trying to figure out the mood of the new topic based on everyone else’s facial expressions. Tuning into podcasts is a great, judgment-free way to practice your French listening skills.
We’ve compiled a list for every level of French speaker, and if you aren’t quite ready to dive into French-only listening, we’ve put together a few English-language podcasts that any francophile would love.
And though podcasts can offer a bit of escapism from everyday life, they unfortunately don’t compare to a real holiday. As an American in France, I often struggle with homesickness during the fall (j’assume that I miss pumpkin-flavoured everything). And while I will stand firmly in my belief that Asheville, North Carolina has the best fall leaves, I must admit that there are several breathtaking places to visit across France during autumn. If you are thinking of planning a trip, or just want to peruse some pretty destinations and day-dream, the guide below has exactly what you’re looking for:
If you can’t get away from home any time soon, maybe you can take a shorter trip…to a nearby French restaurant. According to readers of The Local, steak-frites is one of the most ‘over-rated’ dishes in France. Ordering an over-priced steak can be quite disappointing, both for your taste buds and your wallet.
While there are undoubtedly some French restaurants that sell badly-cooked steaks, one of the best ways to ensure that your steak is not ‘over-rated’ is to know how to properly order it.
But if you tend to lean more toward sucré than salé, then you might prefer snack-time in France to dinner-time. The goûter is a cultural staple. When I was working as a nanny for a French family, I learned quickly that nutella-based products are the name-of-the-snack-game and, most importantly, not to mess with French children’s precious snack hour.
The tradition of eating sugar-y snacks during the late-afternoon actually dates back quite a long time in France. The Local tried to figure out just why it’s so important.
After you’ve finished your goûter, should you say bonjour or bonsoir? This is the age-old question that all foreigners ask themselves when out on the streets in France during the late-afternoon to early-evening timeframe.
You might walk into a store, confidently say bonjour (because the sun is still out!) and get a bonsoir back. Confidence-ruined. Well, it turns out even the French can’t tell you when to switch your day-time greeting to a nighttime one.
And finally, if you have been guessing bonjour and bonsoir correctly recently, then you might be feeling pretty French. Maybe you went for the bises instead of a hug, or managed to order the perfect steak? You can check our list of ‘nine signs you’re becoming French’ to see how along you are on your journey toward Frenchness.
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