French Lessons for Tourists in Paris
- February 20, 2016
- Posted by: Caroline
- Category: French Lessons
My private French lessons for tourists in Paris can help you:
- Learn to speak confidently with sales persons, hotel staff and other locals
- Handle everyday situations, such as buying groceries or medicine at the pharmacy
- Improve your ability to understand spoken French
- See Paris through the eyes of a local
- Practice your French in concrete, daily situations inside and outside the classroom with a native French teacher
These French lessons in Paris are scheduled at your convenience. A private French tutor to your hotel or short-term housing for a minimum of 2 hours per appointment.
You can even make the city of Paris your classroom! Walking all over the city while learning French and discovering the Parisian way of life is an efficient approach to improve your language skills: vocabulary, understanding, speaking, and accuracy. Through various language and culture activities, you will learn about the different and distinctive neighborhoods of Paris, meet locals, and absorb unique Parisian history.
In addition, if you choose, you may mix a formal French lesson with an informal session out and about in Paris. These French classes in Paris can take place at the location of your choosing: at the market, while doing shopping on the Champs-Elysées, visiting Le Marais, Montmartre or St Germain-des-prés, or even in front of the Arc de triomphe or your favorite sculpture at the Louvre. After all, if you’re going to take French lessons in Paris, what better way to learn than in real-life settings?
A French course in Paris while walking along the streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Odéon and the Latin Quarter
To many first-time visitors, the Latin Quarter of Paris can be a big disappointment. Countless books have led them to believe that the area is somehow the quintessence of Paris, and they come with their heads stuffed with expat writers – Orwell, Hemingway, Henry Miller – only to find a touristy jam of bad restaurants and uninspiring shops. Granted, many of the narrow, crooked streets (like the Marais, the Latin Quarter of Paris was another part of the City largely untouched by Haussmann) are charming, and there are some real architectural glories, especially ecclesiastical ones; but the crowds can make the experience of seeing them dispiriting.
Like the Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is another area that no longer quite lives up to its legend: these days, it’s more sartorial than Sartrian. In the middle third of the 20th century the area was prime arts and intellectual territory, a place known as much for its high jinks as its lofty thinking: the haunt of Picasso, Giacometti, Camus, Prévert and, bien sûr, French philosophers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir; the hotspot of the Paris jazz boom after World War II; and the heart of the Paris book trade. This is where the cliché of café terrace intellectualizing was coined, but nowadays most of the local patrons of the Café de Flore and the Deux Magots are in the fashion business, and couturiers have largely replaced publishers. Never mind: it’s a smart and attractive part of the city to wander around in, and also has some very good restaurants.
The Latin Quarter
In 1968 the area around the Sorbonne, the great seat of learning founded by Robert de Sorbon in 1253, was the centre of the student uprisings that shook the country. Nowadays, accommodation here is too expensive for most students, and the book shops that previously dominated the area are gradually being taken over by fashion houses.
The most important museum in the Latin Quarter is the Musée National du Moyen Age, most renowned for its spectacular The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle. Further evidence of the city’s Roman past can be seen on the rue Monge, site of the Arènes de Lutèce, an amphitheatre where gladiators once fought, though now a setting for summer concerts. Other key sights include the Panthéon, where the great and the good of the French nation are buried, and architect Jean Nouvel’s Institut du Monde Arabe, home to a collection of treasures from the Islamic Arab world. Nearby is the Great Mosque of Paris.
Adjacent to the Latin Quarter is Saint-Germain-des-Prés, at the heart of which is Eglise St-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris. The surrounding streets were once the essence of café society, but the crowd has changed from poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud and writers Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus to fashion gurus Karl Lagerfeld and Sonia Rykiel. This is reflected in the local shops, where Armani, not Aristotle, is now the lingua franca.
The changing face of the quartier is the subject of heated debate, and in 1997 an association was formed to preserve its intellectual credibility. The group was led by chanteuse Juliette Gréco and also, rather ironically, Karl Lagerfeld and Rykiel. For a real sense of the charm of St-Germain explore the quaint little place Furstenberg, where the painter Eugène Delacroix’s studio can be visited. The artist moved here in 1857 when he began painting the murals in the church, St Sulpice, close by. South of St Sulpice is the Jardin du Luxembourg, where children play with sand and float boats. There is also a gallery for major art exhibitions in the former Orangerie. You may also visit the Rodin Museum, dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It has two sites, at the Hôtel Biron in Paris, and just outside Paris at Rodin’s old home, the Villa des Brillants in Meudon.
In the side streets around the traffic-congested Odéon crossroads you can find many cinemas, some showing films all day and all night. Down one little street, rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, is Le Procope (at No. 13), which purports to be the oldest café in the city. Nearby is place de l’Odéon, dominated by the Neoclassical Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe.
Explore the famous writer’s Left Bank haunts
You don’t have to have read ‘A Moveable Feast’ or ‘The Sun Also Rises’ to get a feel for what life was like when Hemingway and his Lost Generation of expat friends (Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Henry Miller, F Scott Fitzgerald and composer extraordinaire Cole Porter) ‘occupied’ post WWI Paris. The markets Papa Hem frequented, the cafés he drank, wrote and argued in, and the bookshops he haunted are all largely still around. Even his old apartments at 39 rue Descartes (5e) and 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine (5th arrondissement) can be admired (from the outside) thanks to commemorative plaques on the walls. Follow these suggestions and you can soak up the ’20s spirit, in the style of Hemingway, in one lazy afternoon’s stroll.
Marché Mouffetard: This ‘wonderful, narrow crowded market street’ (rue Mouffetard), as Hemingway described it in ‘A Moveable Feast’, still sports bright and bustling stalls of fruit and veg in its lower stretches (its upper extremities largely harbour student bars and touristy shops), making it one of the city’s loveliest street markets. Many grocers – also hawking charcuterie, patés, seafood, cheeses and sticky patisseries – only select organic and fair-trade goods, so calories aside, you’re in for a guilt-free food shopping trip. On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday mornings, Mouffetard’s stalls run into the Marché Monge (on place Monge), renowned for yet more excellent food, especially fresh bread.
Contact Caroline to plan your next French lessons for tourists in Paris