• Leah Wong

Learning French: better late than never?

I'm now just a month away from leaving France for at least two years. I've got my removal company booked, return drive planned, and admin sorted (mostly). Leaving behind my view of the Alps will be hard, and all the produce here. Each time I go to the village market, I know it's going to be one of the last times. And I'm trying to cram in everywhere I want to visit before I go.


Of course, visiting all these restaurants means telephone bookings. I'd always been nervous of speaking French on the phone. My French just isn't good enough and it's harder to understand tone and context over the phone. But I bit the bullet and have been calling restaurants. I'm finding it easier than I thought I would, and am feeling proud of myself. And then in the restaurants, I'm finding myself speaking more, especially given my OH has a negligible level of French.


We went to a wine sale last week. Not all of the producers spoke English (understandably!) so I had to get my limited French skills out again. I even found myself interpreting for another visitor! That's the first time that's ever happened (and probably the last).


I've found myself having to use my French for other reasons too. Our new kitten needed her vaccinations, and our foster kittens needed homes and vet treatment. Needless to say, my GCSE French didn't give me the vocab I needed for cat adoption but I managed to work it out.


Some of the lovely kittens that have gone to their (French) forever homes


Another thing the GCSE failed to teach me was how to deal with electricity companies. In fact, school lessons left out French bureaucracy all together. I've never met a country that has such strict rules that make so little sense. But that's all by the bye. France is trying to move people over to smart meters. Not only did I have to beg the smart meter engineer not to turn off my electricity while I was in the middle of Zoom interviews, but I then had to call up to rebook an appointment, all in French.


Of course I've made mistakes along the way. I think I told the maitre d' last night that I was a reservation, not that I had a reservation. But the end goal was the same. I got Peking duck.


Peking Duck takes hours to prepare so it's a real treat when done properly


It's just a shame that I'm learning all this vocabulary and becoming more confident with my French right before we leave. I'll use it as an excuse to come back to France when we're allowed to travel again. There's no way I can stay away from France for good. I'm not entirely sure how I'll go back to British tomatoes after this!

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