How to make friends in France

I’m having a hard time believing that it has only been 3 weeks since I left the States because it truly feels like an eternity. However, there are a few things that remind me time and again that I’ve only just arrived in France. Yes, the obvious language barrier, but more importantly the fact that aside from a handful of acquaintances, and my roommate, Ashley, I hardly know a soul.  I haven’t experienced a transition such as this since starting my freshman year of college, and I’ve had to start from scratch in the friend department.

I’ve been on the prowl for friends. Specifically ones that speak French, but really, any nationality will do. The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is that you must not wait for people to approach you… because they are not going to. Seriously, the French are some of the most lovely people once you get to know them, but their icy façade can be intimidating. Second, smile a lot because this confuses the French. They will immediately know you are not from here, perhaps upping your chances of a pity conversation or a chance for the French to practice their very poor foreign language skills. I don’t mean this as an attack on the French but truly, the pride they hold for their national identity is conveyed through their language. They take incredible measures to protect its sanctity. For more on this (in French) see: The Académie Française. For the vast majority of you who are reading this and do not speak French click here. Third, when in doubt ask for a cigarette. Even if you don’t smoke, it’s a sure fire way to start a conversation with someone (pun intended). Because French people smoke like chimneys, you will not have a problem with this approach. Once you’ve started a conversation expect to be asked where you are from. This is inevitable if you butcher the French language as I often do, but also because your accent is intriguing and obviously not French. Numerous times I’ve been asked if I’m from England. This pleases me, because  it means I am not speaking with an American accent… I’m hoping that I’ll start getting asked if I’m from Spain soon. This means I am progressing. After divulging your nationality expect a slew of questions but listen carefully, because if somewhere mid-thought someone expresses the desire to speak English or travel to America you must pounce. Here is where you lock it down. Suggest doing a language exchange, then, and this is key, take their number. This way you can harass them into hanging out with you, showing you their favorite bars and restaurants, and introducing you to MORE of their friends.

I’ve had a few successes with this approach so far, and I look forward to testing it out on more people, specifically cute French guys. I’ll keep you updated on the growth of my friend circle.

3xBisous (muah, muah, muah) as they do here in the south,


5 thoughts on “How to make friends in France

  1. Paula Botwinick says:

    I love you Lizzie, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in this blog. You inspire me, you reassure me, you make me smile.

  2. Peigi says:

    Shall I send you a carton of Marlboro cigarettes, Lizzie? You’d be destined to make a wide circle of at least 120 friends and acquaintances. Prowl on, my sweet girl.



  3. Betsy Austin says:

    Salut Lizzie! J’adore tout ce que tu as dit à propos des français et leur manque de chaleur extérieure. Ça a toujours été comme ça. Quand j’habitais la France (au Moyen Age:), j’ai reçu UNE seule invitation pour aller manger chez une amie de l’école…et ça c’était au cours de 3 ans! Par contre, comme tu as dit, une fois qu’on se fait une amie, c’est pour la vie, comme mon amie Marie Pierre, qui habite Nice….Donc, patience, ma chère.
    Puis cette histoire d’accent…et bien si tu fais un grand effort, ils t’apprécient comme tout. Je n’oublierai jamais une histoire que Chip Steel m’a raconté: pendant sa “freshman year”, il est allé à Paris pour spring break avec 3 copains. Seul lui parlait français, mais rouillé. Il se souvenait de tous les “petits mots” qu’on avait fait en français II, comme “bof”, “ben”, euh”….et il les disait à Paris, pas plus, et tout le monde le prenait pour un français!!
    Puis j’ai écrit une dissertation quand j’étais à UVM: Pourquoi les français sont tellement “snob” vis-à vis leur langue et leur accent. Ma réponse justement c’était l’existence depuis 1635 de l’Académie Française, une institution quasi public avec des membres qui viennent de tous les coins de la société, ce qui n’existe nul part à part la France.
    Juste pour te dire que tout ce que tu écris m’intéresse. Et je suis heureuse de pouvoir dire que Cassandra va revenir à la maison après 2 1/2 semaines à l’hôpital. Quel cauchemar, la pauvre. Mais elle est prête pour l’avenir et toute la réeducation qu’elle doit faire. Et personne ne peut dire comment ni quand elle a attrappé cette horrible infection dans son genou:(
    Bon, va manger un bon pain au chocolat pour moi, ou plutôt prend un bon verre de vin rouge:) chin chin, Betsy

  4. lizguerra says:


    Ça me plaît beaucoup que tu lis mon blog régulièrement! Au sujet de la langue française, j’ai pris un cours à USF qui a été appelé “Paris biographie d’une ville.” J’ai écrit une rédaction sur la langue française et comment il évolue. Mais spécifiquement, comment les enfants issus de l’immigration ont cherché un “troisième espace” dans lequel ils peuvent exprimer une identité différente que l’identité française dominante…voilà la langue vernaculaire. Donc, ta thèse est quelque chose qui m’intéresse beaucoup!

    Et je suis si heureuse d’entendre que Cassandra est en train d’améliorer..dieu merci!

    Bisous 🙂

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