You arrive in Paris, full of excitement and energy, yet slightly daunted by the task of making French friends. Despite being something which seems to come naturally when abroad, it is difficult, especially in a big city, to know where to start. So what do you do?
There are, of course, many ways; meeting people at work, in class, joining clubs, even striking up conversation with people in the same apartment block. However, speaking French with people who speak good English, or who are foreign and have a better knowledge of English, can become strained. Really wanting the friendship to blossom and communication to be as easy as possible, French practice becomes less of a priority.
So why not try Franglish?
You sign up online for a bar of your choice (spread out around central Paris). Paying upon arrival (only €8 for students (€12 if not), the price includes a drink, and so really, given Parisian prices, it’s a bargain!), you’re paired with a French speaker, speaking for 7 minutes in each language before moving on to a new ‘partner’ (using this term sparingly to erase the dating connotation!).
When I was first told about this by an English friend, I have to admit I was a little skeptical. The concept did seem rather like speed-dating, something which I’ve never really delved into. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the Year Abroad and embracing new things, I signed up and went along.
As soon as I reached Le Mécanobar, I instantly knew I’d made the right choice. Having the opportunity to speak French conversationally whilst getting to know other people was a great way to improve spoken language as well as helping others with theirs. On my first visit (I went back – definitely a good sign!), I met artists, students, bankers… a whole range of people, all with really interesting stories. The effective structure coupled with the relaxed atmosphere makes language the focus, and, after a few visits, you can easily form new friendships.
So, if you’re looking for another way to practice your French, to make new friends, or even just to try something new – definitely give it a go. Nothing to lose… just a lot to gain.
(PS… they’re also run in London now – great for topping up your French when back in England!)