You may think you do not know French but in reality, you do more than you could imagine. A lot of English words take their roots into French roots as much as Latin roots. Some words are borrowed directly from the French repertoire, others are similar but use an American spelling and pronunciation and finally some expressions are coming straight from the French culture and lifestyle.
Let Me Be Your Guide Today for a Little “Voyage” in Paris
Close your eyes and visualize …
You wake up in a nice hotel in the st arrondissement (district) of Paris around 8 am. It is a cozy hotel near Le Louvre recommended by your friends Bob and Cathy, many years ago! You are finally here, in the heart of Paris, ready to spend a day in TÊTE à TÊTE (1) with your lover and discover what the city of light has to offer.
You get ready and step out to enjoy breakfast in the most traditional French manner possible: a CROISSANT(2) and other pastries accompanied by a CAFÉ AU LAIT(3). Your first trip of the day is leading you to the “Rue de Rivoli”. It is a well-known commercial street full of BOUTIQUES(4), crossing Paris from east to west, built by Napoleon in the 1800. You let your mind wander around and get inspired by the Leading PRÊT-A-PORTER(5) brands. After a couple of hours, it is time for a lunch break.
You decide to head over the area of “Saint Germain Des Près” passing by the “Notre Dame Cathedral”. You find this great BRASSERIE(6) which looks typically French, red velvet DÉCOR (7), relaxing and welcoming AMBIANCE(8). The MENU DU JOUR(9) is offering a steak/French fries as usual, freshly made and always on point. The waiter invited you to sit at the TERRASSE(10) with the chairs turned toward the street, you indulge in the french national sport : people watching.
This woman catches your eye, she looks elegant and simple at the same time, riding her bike. She has a JE NE SAIS QUOI(11) that makes her look French. Would she look as French if she was in New York ? Maybe …
For a PROMENADE DIGESTIVE(12) you make your way toward The Luxembourg Gardens, they hide a beautiful botanical and architectural patrimony. They were acquired and arranged over time by Marie of Médicis in 1614 where she loved spending time.
Finally, it is time to see the Eiffel Tower in person, that sounds a little CLICHÉ (13) but it’s a must see, you are in Paris after all!
Walking through the city was such a delight, revealing monuments after monuments, your eyes do not know where to look anymore, you are overwhelmed and a JOIE DE VIVRE(14) fulfills your heart. This day will be one of your best SOUVENIR(15).
Hopefully, this story made you travel for a couple minutes. Did you notice the French words used :
English Words That Have Latin Roots and Therefore, Are Similar to French
(7)Décor : Decor, decoration
(8)Ambiance : mood, atmosphere
(10)Terrasse : terrace, patio
(12)Promenade Digestive : a walk that will help you digest.
Note: the words in this list are written in French, with accents and French spelling, but they are very similar to the American spelling. Use a French pronunciation and voila!, they will sound French.
The French words that are actually French (and let’s straighten up the meaning of it!)
(2)Croissant: a French pastry in the form of a crescent moon. We also use it to describe a crescent moon!
(3)Café au lait: coffee with milk, usually half coffee and half milk
(4)Boutique: a small shop
(6)Brasserie: small, informal and popular restaurant that serves beer, wine as well as simple food.
(15)Souvenir: a memory. French use this word as much for an object than for a moment in life they will remember forever.
(1)Tête-à-tête: head to head, one on one discussion/time.
(5)Prêt-à-porter: ready to wear.
(9) Menu du jour: Menu of the day, a presentation of the meals is fresh made and offered for the day.
(11)Je ne sais quoi: I don’t know what, describes that little something, indescribable, that makes a person more charming than the others.
13)Cliché: picture/shot, a stereotype
(14)Joie de vivre: joy of living, feeling of enjoying life
Note: in this section, you will find the literal translation followed by the general meaning of the word.