Learn French - How To Ask For Directions and Never Get Lost
France’s cities are often full of history, and the ancient neighborhood the streets are only rarely perpendicular and have a lot of small streets. Some of the nice cities to visit are old and build with a Middle-Age dating street plan. « Les petites rues » (small streets) « serpentent » (wind) and cross each other. Some bigger Town, like Bordeaux, still have a medieval part well conserved. It’s nice place to visit, except you may lose your path more easily. Actually, the following will also help you to find your way in a rush between La Tour Eiffel and Le Louvre.
Asking your way in the street asks for some basic understanding of French. The Right is « La Droite », and the left is « La Gauche ». For example, if you are advised « de prendre la première à droite puis la deuxième à gauche », you’ll have to take the first road on your right then the second on your left. « Tout droit » is straight in front of you, while « revenir en arrière » means you have to go back on your path. Up is “en haut”, and down is “en bas”. So if you need to go up one floor, “vous montez d’un étage”, while if you go dow one floor, “vous déscendez d’un étage”. One of the difficulty is generally to make your destination and your starting point clear, so no one send you back on your track by mistake. To do so, say “Je viens de” (I come from) to state “votre point de depart” and then “Je voudrais aller à” (I want to go to) to precise the place you are looking for.
Transportation in France is easy and safe, but quite expensive. You can choose to use a lot of different transport types. You can go for a car, but don’t forget that in France “ils conduisent” (they drive) on the right side of the road). There is another type of transport, very popular in France, “le vélo” (biking). Acutally, in a lot of big towns, “la mairie” (the municipal council) “loue des vélos” (rent bikes) for almost no fees. Sometimes, les vélos are “en libre service” (free access) in the street at some designated points. If you are not used to road signs, and you don’t find the designated track for bikes, ask “Où est la piste cyclable?” (where is the track?). It’s forbidden to ride on « les trottoirs » (the sidewalk) and you could receive « une amende » (a fine) for doing it.
The trains are usually well indicated with English signs. But it’s always good to have a basic knowledge if you want to go offtrack, or if you find yourself in a small « gare » (train station).You have to find “le quai d’embarquement” (the platform). Then, you’ll have to find “la voiture” (the wagon) and “votre place” (your seat). If you don’t understand the informations on your ticker, you can ask to the staff in “l’accueil” (reception desk) of the train station.
The taxis are safe and clean. But assure you to take a real official taxi. There is no official taxi without the sign on the roof of the car. “Les taxis clandestins” are illegal. You won’t risk any legal pursuit by using them, but first you are at risk to see the police come in force and stop the car to arrest the driver. And then you won’t be protected by your insurance in the case of an “accident de circulation”. These illegal taxis generally offer attractive prices, letting you even negotiate “le prix de la course” (the fare of the journey). Official taxis don’t do that and have all fares written in a visible and clear manner. French authorities have seriously increased their effort to stop this crime since a young tourist was raped and killed by a “taxi clandestin”. So be aware and stay safe far of these fake taxis.
If you are in “une grande ville” (a big town), you’ll also have “le métro” (subway), les bus and le tramway to transport within or in the near suburbs. There are generally not English speaking friendly, but are easy to use and full of people who will help you.