Parlez-vous français? (Do you speak French?)

Shortly after I moved to France, I complained to Henri Bérenger (then friend, now my better half) that the French spoke too fast. His dead-on reply was, no, they did not…I just did not understand. 

One Sunday some weeks later, I was coming out of my church (The American Cathedral) and walking down Avenue George V when a bunch of schoolboys ran up to me and asked me something in French. I did not have a clue as to what they said, so I answered simply, “Je ne parle pas français,” which means I do not speak French…in French. Rather an oxymoron when you think about it.

As I turned and continued on my way, I heard one of them say, “What’d she say?” “I don’t know. She spoke too fast.”

The American Cathedral in Paris
Photo © 2001 Ann James Massey

I whirled around and walked back to them talking in an exaggerated drawl, “Hi, I’m from Texas. Can I help you?”

Turns out they were American schoolboys trying out their schoolboy French on me.  I didn’t understand them; they didn’t understand me.

They just wanted to know where the McDonald’s was on the Champs Élysées.

Arc de Triomphe
Photo © 2022 Ann James Massey
McDonald’s on the Champs Élysées
Photo © 2022 Ann James Massey

©2022 Ann James Massey, SWA, CPSA, UKCPS, AAPL

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