Survival French with Todd Newman, Episode 30


Being in a foreign country where you don't speak the language well can be a challenge for anyone, but in France it doesn't have to be. Yes, you heard me! There is no good reason to have a hard time in France just because you don't speak French.

What's the Secret to Getting Along in France without Speaking the Language?

What's the secret? There's only one thing you need to know: You must learn a at least TWO expressions in French and you must use them every single time! Is that too much to ask? I hope not!

Most Important Word in Survival French: Bonjour!

The most important word for survival French is "Bonjour". Second word is "Au revoir". You see, French people are not really stuck up, but we are sticklers for niceties and politeness. Start with Bonjour and you've won us over!

"Excuse-me" Is Not Enough!

This may take a little getting use to if you're from a country where a simple "Excuse me" is enough, but in France you can say "excusez-moi" all day long, the polite word we're looking for "bonjour".

You Can Learn What You Need by the Time You're Done Listening to This Episode

Todd's list only contains around 20 total. You can probably master those by the time you're done listening to the podcast.

We discuss those magic words and more on today's show with Todd Newman, author of the wonderful blog Newmans of Leguevin. You will find the complete list of "magic words" under Show Notes.

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French Culture

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Claire Charmasson Armstrongsharon Recent comment authors
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Bonjour Annie. I had the good fortune to be able to speak simple French everyday that I was in Paris for a month including some day trips out of town. I spoke only basic French and hardly ever needed to ask if they spoke English. I figured darn if I was going miss out on practicing my French. I had repeated French for Travelers and beginning French two to three times before the trip barely knowing passé composé! I was lucky no one switched to English on me with me speaking my fractured French. People were very friendly and accepting.… Read more »

Claire Charmasson Armstrong
Claire Charmasson Armstrong

I’ve noticed that the term “menu” now refers to fixed price meals (not the plat du jour) that allow you a choice between two or three entrees or a choice of three of four or five courses. For travelers on a budget, this is something worth watching for. We have enjoyed a number of these meals both in Paris and around the country.