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LingoMap: Being a young person in a French speaking society

21 January 2018

Bonjour à tous! Ça va ? This is my first blog post for the Routes into Languages LingoMap blog.

I am a third year Law and French student at Cardiff University, and I am currently on my year abroad studying law at the Faculté de droit (Law School) at  l’université de Nantes. As part of my studies in Nantes, I must attend des cours magistraux (lectures) et des travaux dirigés (tutorials). This means I also have to passer mes examens just as a French law student would. The first couple of my blogs will be on the theme of being a young person in a French-speaking society.

La faculté de droit à Nantes (and yes,that is a lecture theatre with grass on the roof)

I like to think I’m the perfect person to write a blog on being a young person in a French-speaking society, for what I hope are pretty obvious reasons. I moved to Nantes on the 1st September, so as of the writing of this blog I’ve been living in France for almost 4 months.

Nantes is a multicultural city located in the west of France in the Loire-Atlantique département of France. Thanks to the university and its partnership with the Erasmus scheme, and the city’s world-renowned business school (Ecole centrale Audencia), the city attracts a number of students from all over the world. Last term I was lucky enough to meet other students from such varied countries as la Romanie (Romania), l’Espagne (Spain), la Norvège (Norway), la Colombie (Colombia) et l’Inde (India).

Of course, studying in France is also the perfect opportunity to practise my French with other native speakers, and Nantes offers the perfect opportunity to socialise with other students from various parts of France or even other pays francophones. This variety gives me the opportunity to learn different regional slangs and colloquialisms, such as the crazy verlan, where the syllables of a word are swapped around to create an entirely different word e.g. une femme becomes une meuf. The word verlan is itself an example, coming from the word l’envers (reverse).

Nantes have a relatively successful football team, called FC Nantes. They are also known as Les Canaris or Les jaunes et verts as they play in a green and yellow kit. As football is one of my passions, I have been to several home games at the Stade de la Beaujoire. The stadium is well-known amongst french football fans for its tribune Loire, an all standing terrace, with the fans who populate it being known as la brigade Loire. These fans are famous throughout France for their loyalty and fervent support, with the terrace singing and swaying as one for the whole 90 minutes.

Qui ne saute pas n’est pas Nantais, hey!

(He who does not jump is not from Nantes, hey!)

As for other pastimes in Nantes, the city offers plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. The city offers almost any sort of cuisine you can think of, from la cuisine italienne to vietnamienne to japonaise. And of course the city also offers plenty of french staples, with plenty of crêperies and bistros lining the streets. There are also all the usual brand and big-name shops you would expect in a major city, as well as plenty of boutiques and hidden-gems to discover.

Le Passage Pomeraye est une belle galerie marchande au centre-ville de Nantes.

As a city with a student population, Nantes offers plenty of pubs, bars and clubs. You might be surprised to learn that I have counted at least 6 Irish pubs in Nantes since I arrived, and the locals seem crazy for them! One of them, John McByrne’s, hosts regular quiz and karaoke nights, and the fact that the locals don’t always know the words to the songs does not stop them getting up on that stage and singing their hearts out let me tell you!

Despite the many clubs and bars in Nantes, the french drinking culture is very different to that back home. French students don’t tend to go out clubbing as much as their British counterparts, and the French have an altogether more laid back approach to alcohol. You will often find people sat outside one of the many bars lining the streets enjoying une demi on their lunch break. I can also confirm that as per the stereotypes the French do love leurs vins et leurs fromages, et tout le monde fume!

Between November and January, Nantes also hosts un marché de Noël, with the city centre filled with wooden stalls offering all manner of homemade or boutique items, foods and drinks. I would highly recommend paying it a visit if you ever happen to be in Nantes over the Christmas period, if only for the amazing food and drink on offer!

The Christmas market was the perfect way to celebrate the end of exams


Et voilà, mon premier blog ! J’espère que vous l’avez bien-aimé.

A bientôt,



Key vocabulary:

passer mes examens = to sit my exams

les pays francophones = French speaking countries

Les Canaris = The Canaries

Une galerie marchande = a shopping arcade

Une demi = a half-pint (of beer)