How To Be French 101

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Becoming More French.

Dreaming of that natural sophisticated class that the French exude?  Always wanted to know how to be French? Wanting that certain “Je ne sais quoi”?  Look no further, it’s GGG to the rescue!  Let’s deep dive into what you need to do to dress, sound and act like a real Frenchie…

Part 1 – Sound like a Frenchie

It’s not that simple, ask a question to a Frenchie and you might get a weird combination of facial expression, gestures, and/or grunts as a response.  Take a study of these gestures for example:

and these…

Pfft, bof, bahhh…

Choose your favorite weird noise or filler words from GGG’s quick pick list below, or get more tips from Diane at “Oui in France – The Strange Noises French People Make” with accompanying audio (plus she also has a great online Francophile store – perfect for the upcoming holidays).

Another very important step in sounding French is learning some basic slang words.  Learn French with Pascal does a great job (with Pascal’s delicious French accent) of teaching some basics, nothing too outrageous or rude:

10 slang words isn’t nearly enough, so here’s part 2 for you to study:

Your almost there…

We all have heard of the French reputation for being lazy (or efficient?), well that sometimes includes the spoken word.  Why pronounce the entire word when you can just shorten it???  Pick of few of these to sprinkle into your conversation to sound even just that much more French!  You can find a complete French Apocopes and Word Expressions Dictionary at Dico.com.

Now string it all together to really sound like a Frenchie…or just fake it until you make it:

Part 2 – Dress like a Frenchie

Next, you need to dress and act the part…

French women drink a lot of black coffee and smoke a lot (not advisable!).  They wear striped blue shirts and an occasional beret.  They love to wear scarves.  They also love matching underwear and red lipstick.  They are imperfect, vague, argumentative and full of paradoxes.

Remember: Being fashionably French is owning your particular sense of style, whatever that might be!

World of Wanderlust advises these 10 tips on “How to be a Parisian”

  • Play it cool
  • Don’t try to be perfect
  • Master your outfits
  • Black, Grey, White are your new favorite “colors”
  • Be independent
  • Find your signature Scent
  • Never commit a Faux Pas
  • Be well versed in French Classics
  • Wear less make up, the right way
  • Eat Croissants (and drink champagne!)

World of Wanderlust - How to be Parisian - How to be French

My Little Paris sums it up hilariously with these 40 tips on Parisian Women

  1. Drink your coffee sitting down, and out of an actual cup.
  2. Insist that you have ‘almost no money left’ when your friends invite you to a cocktail bar. Propose wine at yours.
  3. Drink so much wine you spend the equivalent of 11 cocktails online.
  4. Always carry a packet of tissues in your bag.
  5. Moisturize obsessively.
  6. Spend a sixth of your income on scented candles.
  7. Order rosé in March like the brazen, un-tameable woman that you are.
  8. Make the last item on your grocery list a gigantic bouquet of flowers.
  9. Learn how to express at least five different emotions using only one swear word. Putain. Putain! Putaaaaain.
  10. Be suspicious of: politicians, dating apps, supermarket bread, overly-smiley people, any orange cheese that isn’t Mimolette.
  11. Always assume people want your opinion.
  12. Ensure that at least 85% of what you say is accompanied by hand gestures.
  13. Shoot an emphatic look of horror at any person who asks to meet for dinner before 8pm.
  14. Have a favorite chef.
  15. And a favorite film director.
  16. Drink expensive wine alone as proof that you’re a carefree bon vivant who’d rather be alone than settle for mediocre company (as opposed to just incredibly single.)
  17. Learn how to ride a bike in a dress without flashing anyone.
  18. Spend a few hours every weekend wandering through a new neighborhood without any specific purpose in mind.
  19. Take three days to respond to people who write to you.
  20. Don’t apologize for the delayed response.
  21. Go to a museum to look at “art”, by which we mean “handsome men with sensitive souls and a great collection of Merino wool sweaters that they regularly dry clean because they have both the sense and income to do so.”
  22. Spend 73 euros on houseplants and kill 50 euros worth of them within the month.
  23. Wear a plain white t-shirt and jeans with an absurdly expensive perfume.
  24. Question both the credibility and intellect of people who wear ballet flats.
  25. Devote an irrational amount of attention to keeping your nails perfectly oval-shaped.
  26. Notice the smallest details, and comment on them.
  27. Compliment other women and mean it.
  28. In summer, carry a small bottle of facial mist with you and spritz yourself in public with wild, sensual abandon.
  29. Cultivate an astounding topographical knowledge of all rooftop bars within a two-mile radius of your neighborhood.
  30. Dress up, buy a newspaper, and go read it outdoors where everyone can see.
  31. Even if you don’t smoke, carry a lighter around so you have an excuse to chat up attractive, cigarette-smoking strangers.
  32. En route home from yoga class (right after you pick up groceries from the organic co-op) stop at the tabac for a pack of light cigarettes, because #healthyliving #lifeisshort #sergegainsbourglife.
  33. Insist that you “just don’t understand” people who actually queue up for hours just to get a table at that trendy new place that refuses to take reservations.
  34. Send your unemployed best friend to get in the line at 5pm. (Love you, Chloé!!)
  35. Plan your commute based on which Metro line has the hottest dudes (lines 1, 8, and 12).
  36. Go to your grandma for love advice.
  37. Wear matching underwear.
  38. Convince yourself that it’s your “natural sense of curiosity” that compels you to watch your neighbors through their windows, and not just the fact that you’re nosy AF.
  39. Maintain that you are a romantic and an idealist but also realistic, modern, and highly practical, and so that is why you finally decided to just swallow your pride and download Tinder, and anyway you shouldn’t have to justify yourself to anyone, and also your friend Marie met her boyfriend on an app and they’re practically engaged, so, ta gueule.
  40. Buy a striped shirt.

French Beauty Secrets Revealed

And don’t forget although beauty isn’t skin deep, the French are also known for their beautiful skin!  Check out GGG’s tips: “French Beauty Secrets Revealed” for the inside scoop on how to take care of your skin like a Frenchie.

Part 3 – Listen to music like a Frenchie

Truth be told, the French have very eclectic taste in music.  They do however love their classics though, including Renaud, Jean Ferrat, Serge Gainsbourg, George Brassens, and Jacques Brel among many others.  Recently in France Channel M6 surveyed France’s population (old and young) to learn their all time favorite song (watch the recorded show here).  Here is my slightly adulterated Itunes Playlist compilation which includes a surprising blend of classics and current music:  Les 50 chansons préférées des français playlist Itunes

French music, is an acquired taste some might say…
Bonus points if you blare the music out of your 2CV stereo.

LOL!  Forgive me all the above stereotypes…but I bet you snickered and nodded your head at least once!!!  Find out what French Stereotype you are by taking Leapfrog’s survey:  “What French Stereotype Are You?”

Still need more help?

Need more help in becoming just a little bit more French?  Check out the online course by french native Virginie at “FrenchTruly.com” (no affiliation).  She’s lived abroad for 14 years (Seattle, London, and Italy) before recently returning to France.  If anyone can help you become a little bit more French (after GGG of course), it’s Virginie!

Happy Travels,
-Girl Gone Gallic

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  12 comments for “How To Be French 101

  1. bonjouradventure
    November 11, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    This is brilliant! I loved the list from My Little Paris. I need to start taking metro lines 1, 8 and 12 more often! LOL!

    • December 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      I do love the metro line 1…actually I just love the metro. It’s the heartbeat of the city.

    • December 8, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      I definitely had fun writing it! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  2. November 7, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    An impressive amount of research there – must surely be close to the definitive guide! Where before they were bewildered, expats can now set about it with method – very reassuring.

  3. November 6, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Great fun GGG! It made me smile on the first rainy day we’ve had in months! Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

  4. November 5, 2017 at 7:14 am

    What a great post! You made me smile and laugh until I had tears running down my face. All very tongue in cheek, of course….

  5. emilycommander
    November 3, 2017 at 4:31 am

    I was with you until the music part… I will never become THAT French! #AllAboutFrance

  6. Diane Oui In France
    November 1, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Such a fun post, Evelyn, and thank you for the mention!!

    • November 3, 2017 at 4:11 am

      Thanks Diane. Hopefully readers will take the opportunity to check out your wonderful blog – too much fun!

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