I’d like to say that my French is rusty after 19 years since my last visit to France but you can’t lose something that you never really had outside of a dictionary. I don’t recall the Parisians being all that fond of English speaking foreigners (although I am happy to be proved wrong this time) so I thought that I should revisit the French language.
Last trip I sat with a little English/French dictionary under the table while I read and translated menus to ensure that I didn’t end up inadvertently ordering snails! It took a while to order but it did the job. Not that the menu always made sense anyway e.g. the Roaster, which I assume was a chicken, maybe roasted? Or maybe it was a rooster, who knows.
The other times that the dictionary would get a good workout would be when we were on the road and I was trying to translate road signs in time to obey them (luckily I wasn’t driving at the same time) e.g. what the hell is a ‘ronds-points’? It’s a roundabout and you had better be braced for going around it anti-clockwise rather than clock-wise. Our biggest ‘ronds-points’ effort was driving up the Champs Elysee, around the Arc de Triomphe and back down the Champs Elysee! Navigating 8 lanes of traffic with 12 avenues of incoming traffic (once you are on the roundabout, the incoming traffic has right away which is the complete reverse to any other roundabout rules) while travelling in the opposite direction to what you are used to … it was a miracle that we entered from the Champs Elysee and somehow made our way back onto it with just one circle. We also heard that all car insurances were null and void which doesn’t surprise me.
Gauche and droit (left and right) were also very handy driving language to know.
Well, this time around we have Google Translate on our mobile devices. What a wonderful invention. Type your word or phrase in English hit the Go button. Voile – your French word or phrase is displayed for you! Of course as I have no idea how to pronounce it, they also provide a beautiful little speaker button and a lady with a lovely French accent says it for you. Then the challenge is to repeat it. My first translation request was in preparation for the cafes – a black coffee please, with hot milk on the side – un café noir s’il vous plaît, avec du lait chaud sur le côté. I suspect that I will end up drinking un café noir s’il vous plaît!
So far I’ve kept up my 12 000 steps per day. Like a marathon runner, I don’t want to peak too soon, so that might do as a daily target until I go. Unless my pedometer surprises me again.