7 Countries To Practice Your French (That Aren’t France)
Parlez-vous francais? The best place to practice one’s French speaking skills is of course France, but this isn’t the only country where you’ll find native speakers. French happens to be the official language of 29 nationalities and is widely spoken in many other countries too. Here are just 7 of the best places that aren’t France where you can practice your language skills, as well as several reasons why each of them worth a visit.
Belgium has multiple official languages including French, Flemish, Dutch and even German. There are around 4 million French speakers located mainly in the Wallonia region.
Wallonia is full of historic sites making it a great region for those that love exploring the past. You’ll find many WW1 and WW2 memorials and museums here and there are many battlefield tours. Town such as Dinant are also steeped in history – a popular attraction being the city’s citadel built in the 1800s.
The region is also renowned for its great food. Its home to many Belgian chocolatiers and beer breweries and is also home to specialities such as the Liege Waffle and Ardennes ham. It’s the perfect region for tasting Belgium’s finest food.
Native French speakers can also be found throughout the rest of Belgium including Brussels and Bruges, so don’t feel you can’t visit these iconic cities to test your French too – most people will speak Flemish here as their first language, but French is often a secondary language.
Like Belgium, Switzerland is divided into many languages. French is one of the most common and is spoken predominantly in the west of the country.
Geneva is the biggest city in this French-speaking part. Here you can paddleboard across Lake Geneva and climb the neighbouring Alps before spending a relaxing meal in one of the city’s many restaurants.
Switzerland’s French speaking part is also home to many ski resorts for those looking for an active adventure. Other popular activities in the region include paragliding and mountain biking.
Visitors should be warned that Switzerland is notoriously expensive. Fortunately, there are many natural sights here that you can enjoy for free from the country’s snow-capped mountains to the green forests and crystal-clear lakes.
Arabic may be the main official language of Morocco, but French is as commonly spoken throughout the country. In many of the country’s cities, it’s the language of the taxi drivers and street vendors. Its dialect can make it a little harder to understand, but much of the vocabulary is still the same.
There are countless places to visit in Morocco from Casablanca to Fes, but Marrakech is perhaps the country’s most exciting city for tourists. Here you can visit the beautiful Majorelle Garden, marvel at the incredible mosques and go shopping in the souks. For a luxurious getaway, you could can rent a villa in Marrakech and enjoy your own private pool and waited staff. If you’re travelling on a budget, there are lots of cheap hostels suitable for backpackers.
For those that want to get away from the hustle and bustle meanwhile, Morocco has miles of desert to explore. There are various trips that you can take out into the desert via bus, quadbike or camel. You can also visit the Atlas Mountains and explore the ancient city of Ait-Ben-Haddou (which is appeared on screen in everything from Gladiator to Game of Thrones).
French is not an official language of Tunisia per se, but most inhabitants speak it due to the country’s colonial roots. It’s still taught in schools alongside Arabic and tends to be the language used in business within the country.
Like its cousin Morocco, this North African country also has a lot of cultural sites. Its home to the historic city of Carthage and the buzzing Medina of Sousse. Star Wars fans will meanwhile appreciate Djerba Island from which the scenes from Mos Eisley were filmed.
Tunisia is also a great beach destination for those looking for a lazier holiday. It has beautiful white sands, water parks and some luxurious hotels. Its unfortunate brushes with terrorism have unfortunately caused tourism to these resorts to fall, however this has resulted in cheap rates for those that aren’t put off (the security has also been drastically improved since).
There’s one region of Canada that speaks predominantly French and that is Quebec. This is a great place for travellers to test their French.
Quebec is one of Canada’s most popular provinces for tourism. Here you’ll find Quebec City – which is often described as a taste of Europe in North America due to its narrow streets and historic buildings dating back to the 1600s (it’s also home to the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel). Montreal is another popular city in the province renowned for its ice skating and Bohemian feel. Both cities are great for a short break.
There are also many natural wonders to explore in Quebec including Montmorency Falls and Lefleche cave. Hiking is popular in the province and there are many places to go camping. Canada can get very cold in the winter, so outdoor adventures may be best planned for the summer.
For a taste of the Caribbean, you could also try the French speaking islands of Guadeloupe. Whilst Haiti may be the more obvious choice, Guadeloupe’s population speak a purer version of French compared to Haiti’s creole, which is easier for Secondary French speakers to pick up.
Many people visit Guadeloupe simply to relax on the beaches, however there are also many natural wonders to explore from caves to volcanoes. It also has a rich culinary heritage and is a major importer for spices and rum (which are definitely worth trying whilst on the archipelago).
These islands in the Indian Ocean are also French speaking. This could be a great chance to relax on white sands with a cocktail and practice your language skills.
Like Guadeloupe, most people visit the Seychelles purely to relax. However, there are still active adventures to be had. One of the Seychelles biggest highlights is its marine biodiversity and it’s a great place to go diving or snorkelling. Turtles are also popular here and if you come in February you’re likely to see them hatching on the beach.