Paris Problems: Using French in the City of Lights

Emma Lofthus is a student at Luther College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Emma is currently studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.


Living and studying in Paris isn’t always as perfect as it sounds. Being a 4-month student and being a week-long tourist are different worlds. We have such horrible #parisproblems here, like: The pastries are too good and bakeries are everywhere. There’s too many people on the Champs-Elysées. What museum should I visit: Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, or Centre Pompidou? The Paris National Opera only has concerts/operas every other week. Sometimes I have to wait 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes for the métro. My once-a-week class actually has homework for next week.

These are obviously jokes. They’re the kind of “issues” that would make me slap myself for even thinking they’re a problem! But there are some challenges that are real and have taken getting used to.

One common stereotype of the French (especially Parisians) is they don’t like to speak French to you if they hear you have an English or American accent. I find this quite challenging!

Let’s say that I walk into un patisserie and I order un éclair au café (a coffee-flavored cream-filled pastry, one of my favorites!) in French: “s’il vous plaît, je voudrais un éclair au café.” They sometimes hear my accent and ask in return, “is that all?” and then tell me, “two euros please.”

But I just continue to speak the little things in French, to show that French is what I’m here to learn, and I want to practice in every situation! It’s imperative to continue speaking and practicing your French! people won’t always respond in French, but sometimes it works.

2 thoughts

  1. I agree that practising at every opportunity is useful, even for A-level. I gave this tip in my own blog actually. It definitely seems like it must be irritating to enter a shop speaking correct French, only to be responded to in English!

Leave a Reply