Archive for December, 2013

5 Cultural Differences You Should Know when Dating a Frenchman

Posted on December 26th, 2013 by Jonah Arellano in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Whether you’re currently seeing a Frenchman, or have one in mind (you sly girl), you may start finding you have more and more miscommunications as time goes on. Even if your man comes from a country associated with romance and love, that doesn’t mean he loves learning about other dating cultures. Luckily you do; otherwise you wouldn’t be here, right? So if you find yourself having a hard time understanding his culture’s idea of “l’amour”, not to worry, I’m here to help.


Cultural difference 1: Attraction

french dating flirtingWhile I usually don’t subscribe to most stereotypes, there are always a few that are true enough to merit their labels. Here’s one: the French are flirts. Is this true of all of them? No, probably not, but as a country France is pretty flirty. Playful—but always polite—conversations can be had between friends, between strangers, and even between married men and women with people who aren’t their significant other (gasp!). In other cultures this may raise a few eyebrows, and tempers, but in France it’s just a conversation, there’s no strings attached.


This flirtatious nature may be why French women are known to be aloof, and why French men can be so persistent; courtship is a chase. What this means for you:

  •          If you’re a straightforward person, this doesn’t mean you have to start playing games. Just don’t make things too easy on him.
  •          If you find yourself being pursued by a Frenchman you aren’t interested in, try to be as clear as possible when turning him down. He might think you’re just playing hard to get and try harder if you don’t.


Cultural difference 2: Dating, or Lack Thereof

The French don’t date, they relationship. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the most concise way I can think to put it. While in the US and the UK “dating” is seen as a series of meetings that adheres to certain rules and protocols—waiting the proper amount of time before calling someone, arranging a date, wait appropriate number of dates before initiating appropriate amount of intimacy—before the time comes to have the boyfriend/girlfriend talk, the French tend to have a more laid back attitude. They don’t always prearrange dates; expect to get a few last minute calls asking for your company. Their dates aren’t always one-on-one; expect a good amount of those calls I mentioned (especially at first) to include the company of some friends. What this means for you:

  •         Toss out your preconceived notions of what an “official date” is, and try to go with the flow.
  •         You may need to start looking at least halfway presentable at all times if you plan to accept last minute invitations regularly without starting from scratch when you get ready. (truthfully, I’d probably forgo this one. No one comes between me and my pajamas when I find some stay-at-home down time. I’d just try to be really fast fixing myself up.)


Cultural difference 3: Kissing and “The Talk”

I mentioned before that French people don’t generally have “the talk” where the prospective couple decides if they want to be exclusive, so how do you know if you and your Parisian paramour are BF and GF? If you’ve kissed: congratulations! You’re in a relationship.

 french dating kiss



In the UK and US it’s not uncommon to date a couple of people at the same time and get to know them before you decide if you want to pursue a serious relationship with one of them and get rid of the rest. Or not—hey, I don’t judge. During this “get to know you” period, you may kiss one or more of your suitors just to test the waters or move things past the “just friends” label. This doesn’t really happen in French dating culture. If, during your courtship, you kiss on the lips it’s taken as a non-verbal agreement that you’re attracted to each other and are in a relationship. Unless you’re in a one night kind of relationship, this automatically translates to exclusivity. Whether or not either of you abides by that is another argument entirely. What this means for you:

  •          You may find yourself in a relationship without knowing it. I knew a girl whose “good friend” thought they had been exclusive for a month. If you plan on sticking to dating casually, keep that information to yourself.
  •          Don’t feel the need to label and dissect things; try to go with the flow. You’ll know he’s really serious if he introduces you to his family.


Keep in mind:

Culture isn’t always an excuse. Don’t accept all behaviors just because you think it might be a cultural difference. If something makes you uncomfortable or you aren’t really sure where you stand, speak up. In any relationship communication is key.

Make communicating easier by learning a bit of French. It’s easy, just contact us and we’ll be glad to get you the information you need to get started.

7 French Conversation Starters

Posted on December 20th, 2013 by Jonah Arellano in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Imagine the discomfort of being stuck in a conversation with absolutely nothing to say. Now imagine how much worse it would be if that conversation were in a foreign language. Pretty bad, right? If you find yourself trying to communicate with someone in French, don’t let uncomfortable silences stretch out long enough for an onlooker to sing the French equivalent of “awkward” in a high pitch and make things worse. Instead, try using one of these conversation starters to get the dialogue moving in the right direction.


conversation starters


1.       Que faites vous dans la vie? What do you do for a living? 


2.       Quelle est la meilleure chose qui vous soit arrive cette semaine? What is the best thing that happened to you during the past week? 


3.       Où êtes-vous partis pour la derniere fois en vacances? Where did you last go on holiday?


4.       Avez-vous des freres et soeurs? Do you have any brothers or sisters?


5.       Quel est votre film prefere? What is your favorite film?


6.       Quel est le dernier livre que vous ayez lu? What was the last book you read? 


7.       Quel a ete le moment le plus embarrassant pour vous? What is your most embarrassing moment? 


These should be enough to get the discussion started, but what should you say when it comes back to your turn to speak? Hopefully you already know a little French to begin with, but if you just need a refresher on follow up questions, here are a few key words:

 conversation starters3

Qui? Who?

Qu’est-ce que? What?

Où? Where?

Quand? When?

•Pourquoi? Why?

Comment? How?

Combien? How much?

Quel/Quelle? (m. and f.) Which?


If the conversation is going too quickly for you to understand, or the subject matter takes a complicated turn, there are a few phrases that will serve any conversationalist—and tourist—well. Just be sure to say them with a smile on your face and keep your inflection light; you don’t want to offend your new friend, do you?

conversation starters4 

Je suis désolé/désolée.  I am sorry.

Pardon/Excusez-moi. Excuse me.

Je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.

Je ne sais pas. I don’t know.


You don’t have to be witty or flirty—though both of those would greatly help—all you have to do is be sincere and the people around you will respond accordingly. It wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit of French either. If you’re building your language skills from the ground up, feel free to Contact Us for information on French language classes available to you.

4 Tips for French-Style Parenting

Posted on December 17th, 2013 by Jonah Arellano in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Are you an expat who’s expecting? Or do you want to raise your children in a way that appeals to your Francophile sensibilities? There’s been quite a bit of media attention over the last few years regarding French child rearing; apparently French children, more often than not, are well behaved and patient. But how do they manage to do it?


1.)    Happy Parents = Happy Parenting

While other parts of the world have adopted the habit of over-parenting, the French try to keep a balance. French parents typically compartmentalize their parenting persona. What this means is that in addition to caring for their children, they realize the importance of “grown up time” and make it a point to spend some time pursuing their own interests instead of focusing solely on their children. This isn’t to say that kids with parents like me aren’t happy or well adjusted. I can objectively say that my daughter, while having the energy of a nuclear french parenting parkpower plant, is well behaved (most of the time) and a smiling ray of sunshine. I, on the other hand, am usually pretty run down by the end of the day.  As a mother, and an admitted “helicopter parent” with a propensity to hover, I can really get behind the French on this one.


2.)    If Parents can Have Some Alone Time, So can Kids

A big part of being able to carve out some time for yourself is encouraging your children to play by themselves. Sometimes parents can be made to feel guilty for letting their child play alone, but think of it as fostering independence—the French do. The next time you’re on a play date at the park, let the children play while you have a relaxing adult conversation watching from afar; there’s no reason to constantly chase your child around when they are perfectly content to play on their own. Unless, of course, your child is heading towards the park’s exit without you, in which case: GO, MAN, GO!


3.)    Teach a Lesson in Patience

 The common belief among the mommies I know is that whether your child has any patience is completely a matter of luck. While this may or may not be true, French parenting philosophy places a lot of importance in teaching a child the act of waiting. It starts at an early age by not picking up a baby the minute they start crying, allowing the baby tofrench parenting nap learn how to fall back to sleep on its own, and continues into the toddler years by adhering to meal and nap schedules.


If I’m being completely honest—I don’t really have a reason not to be—my daughter isn’t on any kind of schedule. At all. I’ve tried repeatedly to get her to wake up and go to bed at more reasonable hours, and the phrase “meal time” doesn’t really mean anything to her; she prefers to graze all day. While I can see the appeal of teaching patience, my daughter’s schooling in that particular subject will have to make use of a different lesson plan. But that’s the point, isn’t it? No one parenting philosophy is going to be right for every child, but looking at the way other parents do things can give you both perspective and inspiration.


The last tip isn’t necessarily French, more like a universal rule for parenting:


4.)    Do what works best for you, your baby and your family.

 french parenting kiss

What other ways are you trying to bring French culture into your life and parenting style? Why not learn French and teach it to your child? For information on lessons you can the professionals at Easy French here. And if you need more incentive, visit our “Why Learn French” page for all the possible incentives for you and your child.




What Not to Do in France: 7 Mistakes Tourists Make

Posted on December 12th, 2013 by Jonah Arellano in Uncategorized | No Comments »

You’ve been saving money, doing research, and waiting excitedly for your first trip to France; don’t let all that preparation go to waste by committing a first-timer faux pas. Truthfully, even if you don’t plan your trip perfectly, or even if those plans go awry, chances are good that you’ll love your trip anyway. That being said, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do everything in your power to make this trip as easygoing as possible. Make sure you don’t succumb to the mistakes of the tourists who came before you, you’re smarter than that. Read on for tips on how to avoid committing one of the seven sins of tourism.

things not to do 21.)    Don’t be stingy with time.

Try to allow as much time as your budget allows for your trip. If possible, try to be creatively frugal in other areas of your trip (see number 3) in order to extend your stay. The average hotel stay for a foreigner in the city of lights is 2-3 nights, that’s hardly enough to get familiar with the area; don’t leave wishing you’d stayed longer.

2.)    Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

It’s a pretty common mistake to try and see as much as you possibly can. Don’t. If you keep your itinerary jam-packed you’ll run the risk of whiplash from how quickly you go from place to place. No matter how many days you have, try to only plan for a few “big” activities a day, that way you’ll have time to move things around if you need to, or just relax and take in your surroundings instead of worrying over your next event so much you can’t enjoy the current one.

3.)    Don’t overspend.

The fact of the matter is: every tourist destination is going to be more expensive simply because it can be. Don’t fall prey to unfair pricing on everyday things—like bottled water—at gift shops, instead head to the local grocery stores and markets to stock up on things that would otherwise cost you an arm and a leg. You can save a fortune by purchasing your sight-seeing snacks ahead of time, or packing a homemade lunch every now and then instead of eating out all the time. The same goes for things like sunscreen, try to buy it where the locals shop. As for transport, instead of using costly cab services, try using cheaper public transportation options like the bus or metro system.

things not to do 34.)    Don’t look like a tourist.

The Eiffel Tower alone sees over 24million tourists every year, add to that the tourists visiting other attractions, and locals who sight see as well, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the amount of money moving in and out of the tourist hot spots. What this means is that along with all the happy foreigners there to see the sights, there will be even happier pickpockets roaming around looking for easy targets. Don’t be one of them. Try to dress as inconspicuously as possible. A good rule of thumb is to pretend you’ll be visiting an older relative, nice but understated. If you plan on carrying a bag with you opt for a messenger style instead of a backpack. And if you’re taking lots of commemorative photos, put your camera away when it isn’t in use.

5.)    Don’t act like a tourist.

The easiest way to misunderstand people is to prejudge them. I’m sure you’ve heard the adage about assuming things, so don’t assume that people in France will speak English. If you need help learning a bit of French, then feel free to Contact Us for information on lessons. Also, it’d be to your benefit to learn a bit about the culture; don’t assume all the same rules apply there. French people have a way of doing things that may seem strange or awkward to you, but if you want locals to react favorably towards you then you should learn the local customs, like saying hello and goodbye to shopkeepers among other things.

 6.)    Don’t feel obligated.  

That is, don’t feel obligated to do things you don’t want to do. If art isn’t your thing, then don’t feel like you HAVE TO visit the Louvre just because it’s what everyone else does. Guess what you aren’t everyone one else, so go see and do whatever inspired your trip in the first place! So if you’d rather see the Paris Sewers Museum instead of the Eiffel Tower, don’t sweat it, no matter where you decide not to go you’ll be granting peoples wishes for one less person in line.

 things not to do 47.)    Don’t forget to relax.

The most common mistake made by tourists is also the worst one. Too often people get too caught up in all the logistics of their trips and forget to take it all in. Make some time in your itinerary to slow down and take a stroll in an area that isn’t so overrun with tourists, or sit and people watch as you get a “feel” for the rhythms of the area. Breathe deeply and say to yourself, “I’m really here!”

If you want to get a better understanding of the French language before you go, visit us at Easy French for information on classes in your area.

Hospitable Hostels in 4 French Cities

Posted on December 6th, 2013 by Jonah Arellano in Uncategorized | No Comments »

If you tell someone you’re going to France they’ll instantly light up. Suddenly you will be bombarded with questions about where you’ll be staying and what you’ll be seeing. “Oh, you’ll fall in love!” they’ll exclaim as their eyes glaze over imagining all the picnics to be had under the Eiffel Tower. As soon as you mention you’rehostels going to be staying at a hostel, the best you’ll likely hear (at least this was my experience) is warnings about staying safe and tips on not getting communicable diseases from dirty linens.


Sure hostels have had a bad reputation in the past as being dodgy lodgings, but nowadays that isn’t always the case. Whether you’re looking to stay in the City of Lights or off the beaten track, you’ll be able to find clean lodgings and friendly service at a hostel price point. Don’’t believe me? Check out these lodgings from around France.



  • Le Village Hostel: Located in the heart of the historic Montmartre district, Le Village Hostel boasts a close proximity to some of Paris’ top attractions, including the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge. It’s received many favorable reviews online for its cleanliness, helpful staff members, and rustic décor.
    • Services and Amenities include: Free breakfast, internet connection, cafes and reading areas, luggage storage, souvenir shop, and kitchen.


  • St. Christopher’s Paris Hostel: If you’re looking for a more authentic experience in Paris, it’d be better to stay somewhere off the beaten track. Often praised for its cleanliness and atmosphere, St. Christopher’s is located on the Bassin de la Villette, an artificial lake in the northeastern part of Paris that was constructed at the start of the 19th century.
    •  Services and Amenities include: Free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, full bar and restaurant, bike rental service, tour booking services, and pub crawls



  • Villa Saint Exupery: Converted from a Carmelite monastery, the Villa Saint Exupery has held on to its old world charm with stone flooring and a chapel-turned-communal-area with its original stained glass windows intact.
    • Services and Amenities include: café, gym, free Wi-Fi, and laundry services



  • Hello Marseille Hostel: Centrally located in the “Vieux Port” area of Marseille, this newcomer to the hostel scene is a renovated 19th century Haussmanian building, complete with a high molded roof. It has been favorably rated for its staff, cleanliness, and value, among other things. Luckily this place has bicycles for hire because the beach is just a 2 minute ride away.
    •  Services and Amenities include: bicycle rental service, kitchen, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi.



  • Hotel Victoria Lyon Perrache Confluence: it’s no wonder this hotel has such incredibly high online ratings for its staff and atmosphere, it’s family owned. Located in the heart Lyon, this hotel offers two star rooms for the weary and budget conscious traveler.
    • Services and Amenities include: Free internet access, luggage storage, parking, and housekeeping.


why spend all your travel money on lodging when there are so many souvenirs just waiting for you to save them from their from their lonely existence and deliver them your grateful friends and family? Or better yet, use all the money you’ll be saving on extending your stay, or taking language lessons.


Have you stayed at a hostel before? If so, what was your experience like?

Naming your Baby with French Flair

Posted on December 4th, 2013 by Jonah Arellano in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Whether you’re an expatriate, a soon-to-be expat, or just a Francophile looking for a baby name, you’ve come to the right place. Now more than ever parents are taking their baby name searches to international heights, and with France’s reputation for chic timelessness, it’s no wonder French names are so popular. Give your baby the gift of foreign flair by naming them in the style of the French.

 My beautiful picture

Traditionally, children in France were given names from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, like Marie for “Mary” or Jean-Baptiste for “John the Baptist”. Names compounded with a hyphen like this are also common, with the two names functioning as one single entity.


Just like everything else, baby names are subject to the ebb and flow of fashion trends, with some names being popular for some years and others being deemed past their prime. Take the name Germaine for example, a once popular name that has been relegated to middle name status since the 1970s because it’s now associated with the idea of an elderly woman. Though, in recent decades it has become common to use first names of foreign origin, such as Enzo or Anthony for boys and Jessica or Sonia for little girls. So, the names from your country that may seem drab to you might be fashionable in France. Go figure!


Here is a list of some of the most popular names being used in France for bouncing baby boys and girls.


Names for Boysbaby names3

  • Lucas
  • Enzo
  • Nathan
  • Mathis
  • Louis
  • Raphaël
  • Gabriel
  • Yanis
  • Hugo
  • Thomas


baby names2


Names for Girls

  • Emma
  • Léa
  • Clara
  • Chloé
  • Inès
  • Jade
  • Manon
  • Sarah
  • Lola
  • Camille


Yes, the name you choose for your child will stay with them forever (in most cases), but it doesn’t define them. A child doesn’t behave better, or develop a more outgoing personality, or get better marks in school because of their name; those things come from how well you do as a parent. My personal opinion is: if you’re scouring the internet trying to find a name worthy of your little one, then you will likely carry that same proactive attitude into parenting. Keep up the good work!


If you plan on giving your child a French name, then why not teach them the French language as well?  Contact us for information on language courses near you.