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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    PBP riders - how's your French?

    For those of you going to the PBP, how are the French studies coming along?

    I've taken a year and a half of it, but still don't feel completely fluent, especially since I haven't used it in the past 8 months. I've started reviewing.

    Just a few words to get you started ...

    une baguette
    le fromage
    le jambon

    That's lunch! And your on-bicycle snack.

  2. #2
    cycles per second Gonzo Bob's Avatar
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    At PBP 2003, I didn't know much French and didn't really need to. But near the end at one of the last controls (Mortagne Au Perche I think), I was exhausted and shuffling from the building out to my bike to get going again and this young boy starts talking to me in French. I couldn't understand what he said so I said, "Je ne parle pas francais," and I could tell by his tone that he replied with something like, "You do, too!"

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You can get by without too much, but the French people appreciate it if we make an effort to speak French, even if we don't do it very well.

    Also, if you're planning to spend any extra time in France outside the PBP, it comes in handy.

    My problem is that I can read it, and understand it spoken relatively well, but I have trouble actually speaking it conversationally.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gonzo Bob View Post
    At PBP 2003, I didn't know much French and didn't really need to. But near the end at one of the last controls (Mortagne Au Perche I think), I was exhausted and shuffling from the building out to my bike to get going again and this young boy starts talking to me in French. I couldn't understand what he said so I said, "Je ne parle pas francais," and I could tell by his tone that he replied with something like, "You do, too!"
    I got "je ne parle pas francais" and "je parle francais mal" down pat. The Dummies book on French and the Dummies book on French Phrases have both helped me out. At least I will know something. Sometimes I struggle with English (yes, my native language). I can't wait to get fatigued and try out my French. Hopefully it won't be for anything important.

    My wife and I will be in France for almost 10 days before the event. Plenty of time to realize that I should have studied more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    For those of you going to the PBP, how are the French studies coming along?

    I've taken a year and a half of it, but still don't feel completely fluent, especially since I haven't used it in the past 8 months. I've started reviewing.

    Just a few words to get you started ...

    une baguette
    le fromage
    le jambon

    That's lunch! And your on-bicycle snack.
    also, add on "Je voudrais" (I would like) to the beginning of those words and "s'il vous plait" to the end, of course.

    So, "Je voudrais une verre du l'eau, s'il vous plait." is your equivalent for "I would like a glass of water, please."

    also, when your senses have taken most of their leave, you can always fall back on the point-and-ask method -- "Je voudrais un de ceux-là, s'il vous plaît." which is "I would like one of those, please."

  6. #6
    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    There is a nice little article in the current issue of "Bicycle Quarterly," entitled "Six Words of French," designed to help you make your way through PBP. Those six words are:

    Bonjour, Monsieur/Madame Good day, Sir/Madam (author says ALWAYS start your interaction with this greeting.)

    S'il vous plait Use this phrase (Please) early and often.

    Merci beaucoup (Thank you very much)

    Au revoir (Goodbye)

    The author writes:

    "With these four phrases you can get around quite well. If you want to buy bread, enter a bakery, say 'Bonjour Madame," point to the bread and say 'S'il vous plait." Hand over the some money, say, "Merci beacoup" as you receive the bread and leave the shop with a cheery, 'Au revoir."

    For a two-minute lesson for the true beginner I think this is quite good and will make you a more welcome visitor.
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Travis View Post
    There is a nice little article in the current issue of "Bicycle Quarterly," entitled "Six Words of French," designed to help you make your way through PBP. Those six words are:

    Bonjour, Monsieur/Madame Good day, Sir/Madam (author says ALWAYS start your interaction with this greeting.)

    S'il vous plait Use this phrase (Please) early and often.

    Merci beaucoup (Thank you very much)

    Au revoir (Goodbye)

    The author writes:

    "With these four phrases you can get around quite well. If you want to buy bread, enter a bakery, say 'Bonjour Madame," point to the bread and say 'S'il vous plait." Hand over the some money, say, "Merci beacoup" as you receive the bread and leave the shop with a cheery, 'Au revoir."

    For a two-minute lesson for the true beginner I think this is quite good and will make you a more welcome visitor.
    +1!!

    And I'll also add ... don't shout. People who do not speak English are not hard of hearing.

    In 2003, I ended up in a dinner line-up behind a guy who just kept getting louder and louder asking for the same item (which wasn't directly in front of him) in English until he was yelling. There were vats of potatoes and scrambled eggs and everything in front of him, but he wanted une baguette au jambon et fromage. He was waving his arms and yelling about a "cheese sandwich" or something like that. The girl kept pointing at the various foods in front of us but he would shake his head and yell at her again. He seemed furious, and she was obviously quite frustrated.

    Finally I tapped him on the arm and said, "Say, je voudrais une baguette au jambon et fromage, s'il vous plait." He stared at me for a moment, then repeated that to the girl, and moments later he had exactly what he wanted.

    Last time I brought a tiny pocket dictionary to France (but not on the PBP itself) and that was invaluable. I would wade into a conversation with someone, and then hang up on a word, so I'd whip my dictionary out and point to the word, the person would express understanding, and I'd continue with what I was saying.

    And speaking of which, I NEED that dictionary when it comes to asking where the train is. For some reason the word "la gare" (station - like train station) and the word "la guerre" (war) sound identical to me. In 2003, I made the mistake of getting lost in Calais and wandering around asking where the war was!! :LOL:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    And speaking of which, I NEED that dictionary when it comes to asking where the train is. For some reason the word "la gare" (station - like train station) and the word "la guerre" (war) sound identical to me. In 2003, I made the mistake of getting lost in Calais and wandering around asking where the war was!! :LOL:
    According to my French professor that is a very common problem for we English speakers.
    Pronounce gare like car and guerre like care but with a soft g, more like a gh.

    Où est la guerre?!? Preferably no where.

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    Ha! The only things I can remember are the insults. In French, German, Italian, and Flemish. Be happy to share, if you think it'll be helpful...

  10. #10
    Senior Member gpelpel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post
    "Je voudrais une verre du l'eau, s'il vous plait." is your equivalent for "I would like a glass of water, please."
    That one may get you having to repeat the phrase many times and people around laughing.
    What about "Je voudrais un verre d'eau, s'il vous plait."? Or, even better after a long ride: "Je voudrais une bouteille d'eau, s'il vous plait." (for a bottle of water).

    Have a great trip in Western France. You won't ride very far from my home town in Brittany: Rennes.

  11. #11
    Your scars reveal you tallard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword View Post

    Je voudrais une verre du l'eau, s'il vous plait." is your equivalent for "I would like a glass of water, please."
    Careful, you mislead

    Je voudrais un verre d'eau s'il vous plaît is the proper language.

  12. #12
    Chocolate and nap Michelangelo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    For those of you going to the PBP, how are the French studies coming along?

    I've taken a year and a half of it, but still don't feel completely fluent, especially since I haven't used it in the past 8 months. I've started reviewing.

    Just a few words to get you started ...

    une baguette
    le fromage
    le jambon

    That's lunch! And your on-bicycle snack.
    Remember to ask for:

    The soup and omelet at Villene la Juhel ("Soupe et Omelette s'il vous plait")

    The rice cake at the road crossing La Tannière (shortly after Ambrières les 2 vallées and Gorron, before Le Lauroux) ("Gâteau de riz s'il vous plait, je vous enverrai une carte de l'Iowa à mon retour aux USA") "Rice cake please, I will send you a postcard from Iowa (replace by your place) when I return to the USA"

    A galette (it is like a crèpe, but made with mostly brown flour, and salted) with one egg at the galettière shop at Romagné (right side, a few km after exiting Fougères) ("Une galette avec un oeuf s'il vous plait") "one galette with an egg please"

    Ham with mashed potato at the Auberge St Hubert at St Martin des Prés, the highest passage 23 km after Loudeac in the hilly terrain you will find there ("jambon avec purée s'il vous plait") "ham and mashed potato please"

    The best, always: "une assiette de soupe s'il vous plait": "a plateful of soup please"

    Sure I forgot many, but this, taken from the top of my head, may help those of us who enjoy eating (remember, this is France, after all)

    HTH
    --
    Michelangelo (Dont break your bones, nap instead)
    L'Abeille de Rueil

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    A couple others you'll hear out there while you're riding ....

    Droit (pronounced approx. drwa) = right
    Gauche (pronounced approx. go-sh) = left

    These terms are used to indicate that riders are coming up on your gauche, or that you need to turn droit, or whatever.

  14. #14
    crusty jbrians's Avatar
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    hey there Machka...I guess by now you've out-grown the tapes!
    Around and around we go!

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrians View Post
    hey there Machka...I guess by now you've out-grown the tapes!
    I'm using them as a review tool!

    I've also got a "Learn to Speak French" CD, but it is really basic ... Bonjour ... Salut ... Comment ça va ... Ca va bien ... etc.

    I'm also watching the French TV station. They are a little fast for me most of the time, but when they slow down a bit, I can understand quite a bit of what they are saying.

  16. #16
    crusty jbrians's Avatar
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    If you want to try your skills at "fast french" rent the movie "Bon Cop, Bad Cop"
    Around and around we go!

  17. #17
    40 something and counting forensicchemist's Avatar
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    Don't normally post in this section but the title was interesting....I just had to read....

    may I suggest: "Ou est la salle de bain?" If I remember correctly (and its been many many years) it translates to "where is the bathroom?"

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallard View Post
    Careful, you mislead

    Je voudrais un verre d'eau s'il vous plaît is the proper language.
    thanks for the correction ... having just returned from a weekend in Montreal, I've been reminded several times over that I still need to work on my French, and there's only so much that one can excuse to sleep deprivation and fatigue.

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