The spectacular beach of Grand Anse on the island of La Digue, Seychelles Français : La plage magnifique de Grand Anse sur l’île de La Digue, Seychelles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In my recent posts on Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Romanian I discussed where in the world you were likely to hear them spoken. For some reason, je ne sais pas pourquoi (I don’t know why), I did not do the same for French (apart from saying they speak it in France, d’oh!). So to make up for that omission, here we will take a quick look at other places where you can practise your French and hopefully be understood by the natives. On most of the countries mentioned I have included a link to their entry in Wikipedia so that you can find out more about them if you want (I love armchair travelling), and that is why they appear in a light blue type.
All in all, according to Wikipedia, there are 29 countries where France is listed as an official language. The most obvious ones are those that border France, such as Belgium, Switzerland and Monaco, but you can go much further afield than that.
Château Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You will also hear French spoken in Quebec and other parts of Canada, of course, although if you have ever seen any French-Canadian films you will notice that sometimes the accent and the slang can sound odd if you are not used to it. But as the French say, vive la différence. Montreal and Quebec City are high up on the list of cities I want to visit, and the English-speaking parts of Canada are not bad either! Vancouver, for example, often features in the lists of the top 10 most livable cities in the world. If you fancy an island holiday then Seychelles, Reunion La Réunion or New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie) would be among the places to head for, although they are a bit out of the way, but worth getting to. Just look up Isle of Pines in New Caledonia on Google images, for example, and you will be met with a beautiful array of alluring scenes. If you are in the Caribbean, make the island of Guadeloupe a port of call. It, too, is an overseas region of France. Mauritius was once ruled by the French, so that’s another possibility.
A house dating from French colonial time in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
France also had many colonies in Africa – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia up in North Africa; Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) and Cameroon (République du Cameroun) in West and Equatorial Africa, to name just a few – although how widely French is spoken in its former colonies can vary from country to country and the political attitudes towards France. Many former colonies have had to go through wars of independence. One of the best films I have seen on the French colonial wars was Intimate Enemies, (L’Ennemi intime), made in 2007. Although it dealt with events in Algeria, the African scenes were apparently filmed in Morocco, and the mountain and valley scenery was stunning. I know southern Africa quite well, having lived in a number of countries there. Africa is a remarkably beautiful continent, but it seems to get a raw deal from the tourist industry. I suppose it is regarded as a bit rough and raw by the so-called “civilised world”, but often the rough and the raw can provide the most rewarding tourist experiences. Follow your sense of adventure and give exotic Africa a go!
French colonial architecture in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In South-East Asia, Vietnam and Cambodia were once part of what was known as French Indochina. Vietnam has become a trendy tourist destination nowadays and its capital, Hanoi, is known for its French colonial architecture. Probably they make nice croissants there too! But in Asia, as in many parts of Africa, the French withdrawal from the colonies was often not a happy one and in Asia the conflict was particularly traumatic. By now, though, I should imagine that bygones have been allowed to be bygones. Oublions le passé, as the French say (Let’s forget the past).
So, there you have it, there are a lot of tantalising places in the world to choose from. Happy travelling, or bon voyage. And if there is no possibility of going to any of these places, you can always give your good old local Alliance Française a go. What would we do without them?
I have a plug-in that helps find pictures and images that I can use that have already been cleared for general use without contravening copyrights. I was looking for a map of the Francophone world and have included what it offered below, but for the life of me I could not blow it up to a decent size to make it more readable. You will have to use a magnifying glass. Sorry about that – pardon, excusez-moi, je suis désolé.
Till next time, à bientôt, Bernardo 🙂
A map of the whole French Empire, In dark green, the first colonial empire, in light green the second colonial empire. Une carte de tout l’Empire Français, En vert foncé, le 1er Empire colonial. En vert clair, le 2eme Empire colonial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)