Expand Your Horizons
Journey to French-Speaking Countries across the Globe
Where would you like to go on a last minute summer get-away to a French-speaking destination? No, we don’t mean just which location in France – we mean which place on this planet! Often the extent of the French-speaking, or Francophone, world is overlooked by those who are embarking on the journey of French language learning. But, just as fine-tuning your French is a journey of discovery, so is unearthing the hidden attractions of the huge, diverse array of countries where French is an official language.
There is a noticeable lull in France over August, as we explained in our previous article, which can offer an ideal moment for those living there to fit in a summer trip: maybe to visit relatives in other parts of France, or in French-speaking Canada, Martinique, or Switzerland. Some might head off for a complete change to where there is an entirely different language – perhaps Brighton to learn English!
But where will you go as an aspiring French language learner for your late summer break? Which is your dream French-speaking destination?
We have singled out eight places to visit below….Enjoy your journey!
Liège is less frequently visited than some Belgian towns, but has a lot to offer. It is the cultural centre the Wallonie region – Francophone Belgium – and is within very easy reach of Brussels, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Situated in the River Meuze valley, it has an industrial past and possesses Europe’s third largest river port. As well as having a lively commercial centre, it is also known as a ‘City of Art’. Wander around the charming Christmas markets, visit the House of Ironworks and Industry and have fun at the August folklore festivities.
In total, it is estimated that 3 million people live in the metropolis of Montréal, in Canada. This makes it the Québec province’s largest city and the country’s second largest – but also ranks it after Paris in the world in terms of the number of Frenchspeaking inhabitants. Recognised as a UNESCO City of Design, Montréal is creative, chic and cosmopolitan. It is packed with museums and you can marvel at the neo-gothic Notre-Dame Basilica and enjoy the famous International Jazz Festival and Just for Laughs comedy festival.
Saint-Malo in Brittany, France, owes its name to the welsh monk, Mac Low, who was bishop in the region during the 6th century AD. The walled city has a castle and cathedral and became a very important trading port for merchants and sailors in the 17th and 18th centuries, which brought great wealth to Saint-Malo. Why not take a look at the Fort National; the Musée d’Histoire de la Ville, based in the castle; the Grand Aquarium Saint-Malo; or try sea kayaking in the bay of Saint-Malo?
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a very small constitutional monarchy, with Luxembourg city as its capital. The country, nestled at a point of intersection, brings together Luxembourgish, German and French speakers. With a history of iron and steel production, the city’s international banking sector now thrives, and the European Investment Bank and European Court of Justice are based there. Come to Luxembourg to see the Grand-Ducal Palace, the National Mining Museum, Vianden Castle, or to ride along the cycle path des Trois Rivières.
Martinique’s land area is just over 1,000 square kilometres, making it small enough for visitors to explore several fascinating places in one stay. Monuments to Martinique’s past can be found all across this volcanic island, whose heritage extends from pre-Columbian times. The landscape varies from mountains and rainforest in the north to white, sandy beaches in the south. You can discover Le monastère Sainte-Marie des Anges in Bout-Bois, the Fabrique de Manioc et de Cassaves in Lorrain and the stunning Plage des Salines in Sainte-Anne.
The tiny Principality of Monaco, forming part of the Mediterranean coastal stretch known as the French Riviera, boasts one of the world’s most opulent holiday resorts at Monte-Carlo. Here, you can wend your way from the beach, and the spectacle of dazzling, bobbing white yachts, to the world-famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. This renowned casino also contains a theatre.
Seychelles, La Digue Island
Off the East coast of Africa, in the Seychelles archipelago, lies La Digue Island – not far by ferry from the Seychelles’ second largest island, Praslin. On La Digue, most people still get about by bicycle and ox-cart and the island offers a wonderful chance to relax. For the more active, you can ride horses, take a scenic guided tour, or embark on a catamaran excursion.
Lausanne, a university city on the edge of Lac Léman in French Switzerland, is laced with winding shopping streets and parks; above it rises a magnificent gothic cathedral. It is a hub of learning and culture, and has been the seat of the International Olympic Committee since 1914. An attractive spot to do business, it is also an appealing holiday destination. You can stroll along the tree-lined Ouchy promenade, conquer the lake on pedaolos and admire the city from hillside panoramic viewpoints.