Learning French? 27 Amazing things you can do when you are fluent
Disclaimer: I am not trying to pick a fight with other countries or regions of France. However I might have drafted this article during l’apéro.
1. Work at top international organizations:
UNO, Council of Europe, European Space Agency, International Olympic Committee, NATO, Médecin sans frontières and many more, who have French as their only, or one of their few official languages.
2. Travel the world
French is, together with English, the only language spoken on all continents. Except Antarctica. Maybe. Depending on whether or not there are currently some French explorers there - Do you really want to travel to Antarctica?
Don’t tell me you don’t know what l’apéro is. L’apéritif, or in its beloved short form, l’apéro, is a French habit, which you can’t escape if you go to France. At about 6 PM meaning after work and before dinner, the French typically get together with a bunch of friend, to have an (alcoholic) drink (or five) and some snacks, ranging from just peanuts to enough petit-fours to make a full meal. It is quite common for French people to invite their friends or colleagues for l’apéro, but not for dinner. The concept of “apéro” culminates in the “apéritif dinatoire”, which is officially an apéro but comes with so much food that you can totally forget about eating afterwards. Also, afterwards it might be 2 AM. If you have very good French friends.
A universally recognized fact is that the best wine of the world is from Burgundy (which coincidally also happens to be where I’m from). Specifically the best white wine and the best red wine. We don’t do weird colours in Burgundy. (Other regions of France also produce decent wines of different colours.)
France produces about a thousand different types of cheese. Yes, you read that right. It’s faster to catch all existing pokemons than try every type of French cheese. So you’ll better start now. Also when you French is fluent, you can:
6. Pronounce correctly “Camembert”, “Saint Félictien” and “Munster”
- and this is really swag.
7. Pronounce correctly “Saint Emilion” and “Romanée-Conti”
- and probably convince everyone that you can afford such expensive wine.
8. Communicate with the French.
Even the old ones. You’ll get to travel to unknown places where no living soul speaks English, and if you’re really nice, the old French speaking living souls might let you try Saint-Emilion.
9. Also you can visit villages like this.
That’s where my grand-parents used to live.
The French keep a list of “Les 100 plus beaux villages de France”, containing 99 other such cute villages.
10. Visit 28 more countries
If ever you get fed up with wine, cheese and cute villages (I can’t understand you, but whatever), there are 28 other countries who have French as an official language. And 57 countries belonging to the International Organization of La Francophonie. It’s the organization of the countries where French is the first or an official language, where a significant part of the population speaks French or who have a notable affiliation to France or its culture. That’s right, we totally have an organization celebrating our language and culture around the world.
11. Understand French Culture
Once you’re soaked in wine, you can start understanding French culture including totally esoteric stuffs such as:
a) Charlie Hebdo’s sense of humor
b) The concepts of Universalisme or Laïcité
c) Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism. And many more.
12. Read French Literature
In case you are not drunk, you can read really nice French literature, ranging from World-wide famous Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, to less known but also very enjoyable Le diable au Corps, by Raymont Radiguet. France has won more Nobel Prizes in Literature than any other country, with 16 laureates in total. And a big part of the best French literature was actually written before the prize even existed.
13. For example, enjoy this piece of poetry:
Dame souris trotte
Noire dans le gris du soir,
Dame souris trotte
Grise dans le noir.
It’s by Paul Verlaine, a French poet who is totally not gay (only his evil Spanish twin “Pablo de Herlanes” is). I learnt it at school when I was about eight years old and only years later discovered that it is included in Parallèlement, a poetry book containing also erotic poems. About women. Did I mention that he is not gay?
14. Many more awesome poets
Else we have many other awesome poets you can read, not all of which died due to sexually transmitted diseases and/or drug use (but the best ones did).
15. More weird French culture
You will be able to understand the stakes of the battle of Hernani which happened in.. a theatre. Specifically it opposed the romantics to the classics who argued over very serious topics such as, is it acceptable for a theatre play to be set partially in Spain and partially in the Holy Roman Empire? Victor Hugo thought so and thought it was relevant to have his friends throw tomatoes and other vegetables at their opponents during the play. Same Victor Hugo later became a very respected politician and wrote a book about how to be a grandfather. We don’t know if he trained his two grand-children in the art of tomato-throwing.
16. Enjoy French culture at home
Enjoy French culture and media from the comfort of your home. Check out websites such as TV5 Monde, France 24, or my list of the best French speaking youtube channels for a start.
17. Work various jobs
If you have time between l’apéro and growing your culture, you can work in many areas. According to Bloomberg, French is the most useful language for business after English and Mandarin.
18. Do business in Africa
Specifically, you can do business in the booming economies in Africa. That’s where the majority of French speakers live nowadays.
Or if you like Africa but dislike business, you can volunteer with or work for one of the many NGOs who use French as their official language. Not restricted to Africa of course, French is spoken on all continents, remember?
20. Fashion & luxury
If you dislike both business and NGO work, say hello to fashion and luxury. France and specifically Paris is allegedly a absolute top place for La belle vie: with brands such as Chanel, and Dior, amazing jewels and perfume, champagne and excellent food.
21. Food is culture
Did I mention food? So far, France is the only country whose gastronomic meal is listed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. If that’s not a good reason to try it, I don’t know what is.
22. Study in France
In between meals you can study in France. We have very good universities, which are free or have a very affordable tuition.
23. Fun history trivia
If you choose history you might end up understanding the whole fuss with the French Revolution and why we like to write “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” and hang this blue-white-red flag everywhere. Heck! You might even understand where our anthem the Marseillaise comes from and what the author (who wanted to “water the fields with impure blood”, according to the lyrics) was so pissed at.
24. Support local languages
Careful though, don’t adopt the old-fashioned idea that French is the language of Freedom and hence the only one worthy of being spoken in France (and the world!). Instead, support our lovely endangered regional languages and dialects such as Breton, Occitan or Basque. Or Bourguignon-morvandiau. Yes it’s a language.
25. Pain au chocolat or chocolatine?
While you’re taking care of linguistic matters, participate in the pain au chocolat vs chocolatine controversy. What is the name of this? ➤
The French disagree. They even made a map of the controversy.
26. Impress your date
Take your date to a French restaurant and impress them with your awesome skills. Impress your date by ordering in French, pronouncing the names of the wine correctly, and knowing French pick up lines. Impress your date.
27. French guys/girls are hot
Also, according to my wife, French guys are hot. And it’s totally possible to impress them with you awesome French skills and your cute foreign accent - like she does ;)
About the author
Angel Pretot is a French learning coach. He helps English speakers from all over the world learn French fast and become fluent. You can work with him one-on-one (online via skype or a similar software) or join a global community of French learners in his group program the French Fluency Accelerator.