Well, Bread!

In our parts people mostly say 'pahn'.

Maybe it's not an issue of accent or dialect but rules of politesse. I am told it's not enough to say simply 'bonjour'. You need to add madame or monsieur, or same in plural if there are both.

Whilst home hunting in France, my wife and I borrowed a friend's house for a few weeks and visited the nearest town for our supplies, on several occasions. Once we had parked outside the poste office and on returning , a woman was standing there looking rather angrily at our car. "What's this?" she said pointing to the number plate. "You're from Paris?"

"No Madam, this is our hire car, we're English"

"Oh! Are you here on holiday?" she enquired with a smile. We then engaged in a long conversation on the best house, the best agent to help us and her cousin had a house for sale nearby and we should definately go to see it!

I certainly agree that locals here in the Monts d'Arree in Brittany often scoff at Parisian accents. It's true that each small area has it's own accent and that applies to Breton as well as to French. I have often asked locals to explain "Eh bah ouier" and they can't understand my question! I just get on with it, and carry on with the best French I can muster. I don't however like it when especially in Paris you ask a question in what is possibly not brilliant French, but get the reply in absolutely terrible English. I was in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago and had forgotten that their number system is different to the French one but I managed to conceal my ignorance and to work it out in my head immediately. Maybe my language skills are improving!

Shirley - me again. I knew the owner of La Gavroche and impressed as many ex-lady friends as possible by taking them there. My trade off was taking the Michael out of Michel Sr's English and boy does he do some howlers, Michel Jr grew up in London and Silvano's English is pretty good. But I did some howlers too. There were cutlets of biche and I asked for "the bitch"... Really, we just have to laff all round, everywhere. When I go back to England to visit my sister and friends I drop in some incomprehensible French often enough and one problem I have always had because of my first seven years speaking principally German is that is somebody has to wake me quickly I respond in that language... think about the ambulance crews who picked me up recently, given two of them know me because they also meet children at the primary school where mine are!

try asking for paracetamol in the pharmacy. if you dont get the emphasis in the right place... you are done for!

Alone? No.

Must be difficult to confront such difficulties on a daily basis. I really want to say "get over it."

Love the story Shirley. I cringe now remembering a few years ago when I said "je suis enceinte" meaning "i was full" and couldn't finish the main course!

Take it from me with my experience of a valley with a total population of about 300 in the three communities plus farmers dotted about, that where I was at the top of the valley had a different dialect to the next place down and the one at the end of the valley, oh no comment. Then the isolated shepherads and farmers were considered different. My ropey mish-mash of European Spanish and Peruvian Castellano were considered as posh as anything they had ever heard there! Now why should France and whether you speak what Nick calls Région Parisien matter because with a bit of luck you're always going to get them back. Example this week in hospital when I went for a test. Technician putting bits and pieces on me asked if I spoke French before any other question or offering information. I pertly replied that I speak four languages confidently and a few more with effort, would she like to choose? She then got on with her job and explained in normal language what she was doing which is all I require ever. At the same time, even I chuckle when I hear somebody from another part of France asking for a 'pain au chocolat' given that the 'au' is hardly ever used in anything hereabouts.

And there I was thinking that we had been "accepted" here in the village, because Rose in the boulangerie has our order ready every morning. Now I'm wondering if it was to avoid listening to me struggling with "pain de compagne", et aussi une amandine et une croissant. Slightly easier down here in Aude, as it's more likely to be "pang" and "vang rouge".

Nick, the accents down here are all different from each other too - I can't stand going north into the auvergne, they eat half of the vowels that "should" be pronounced...! As for Orléans - purest french according to the "experts" but it's not my french ;-)

Just putting another perspective on it - I had foreign housemates (three french and one italian) in Londong for 6 months while we were all doing teacher training. we used to go out together etcc and the stick they all got was incredible at times, usually people just taking the p1ss out of their accents, sometimes worse. In short, I think it's something you may come across anywhere. Friends from Aurillac took great delight in moking my OH's and kids' southern/aveyronnais accents when they came round to dinner, they weren't being rude but couldn't believe how strong they are compared to their far more PR accents (husband's from Orléans too...!)

Yes guys, regional accents. Also noticing more and more whenever someone from south of Orleans is interviewed on the news they suddenly become Toulousainnggg, pronouncing all words that end with an n sound with the ng sound, as if to distinguish themselves from RP. Take that as you will Received Pronounciation or Région Parisien

Yes, Andrew got it. Like here 5 is cenq and 100 is cent (but without being 'sont') and then the people who use a lot of Occitain so that the 'complet' I buy at the boulangerie might be a 'granero'.

I also slip into Suisse-Romande/Belgique on purpose as use septante, octante and novante just to mess people about. After all quatre-vingt quinze when you can say novante-cinq is so much more convenient. Oc speakers do not mind, its those who think their French is 'pure' and that I am obviously unable to use their language then ask if I would prefer English and I ask them which dialect they would prefer (in French) I am usually the one able to walk away grinning ear to ear.

Nice one Nick, there's far worse, I'm sitting in front os a group of chinese students who still talking about eating a cadeau and giving someone a gâteau. French friends who now live in the Vienne get really funny looks because of their strong aveyronnais accents and people can't understand when they spell things out "m" commes out "emme" and the people say is that "m" "e" etc. they also can't create havoc with 5 and 100, when they say 100 with our local accent, the people up their think they're saying 5. Rather like Johnny Summerton's post about the vent in teh south, he thought the bloke was talking about vin...! yes it happens to french too, we went west looking at businesses in the lot et garonne and the agent had a dig at our accents, yes he took the p1ss out of my odd part aveyronnais part belgian accent too which I took as a compliment!

Next time I'll go with the local "Un pain" and leave it at that.

Then you get the plethora of choice - there are nearly as many types of / bread and baguette as there are cheeses. Perhaps that's the plan, in order to winkle out who is really French and who is nearly French.

"Oh cherie, did you notice during les fromages, he ate his Camembert with a croq' graine." - a social faux pas of the highest order.

There's a darn stranger in town!

Brill, we have a delivery bakery who is great and the main bakery we use in town the man who nearly always deals with me and I have been known to buy each other a beer on the square nearby as one does when alone and recognising somebody. Everywhere else I live with the suspicion I might be Martian, Venusian or the like!

I laughed the whole way through that post, so yes I can relate to that! Very funny, thanks Nick.