Conversation is an art in Paris, and what better way to get your high-school French up to speed? There are French-English conversation groups for all levels, both formal and informal. Check the free magazines FUSAC (France-USA Contacts, a free magazine published twice monthly, www.fusac.org) or the free monthly Paris Voice ( www.parisvoice.com ) for regular listings. Some groups are very structured around improving your French (and for the French, their English). Others are more of a social gathering where you can chat and meet people without any pressure.
Michael and Véronique host the (tel 01 43 25 86 55) conversation group in their own home Saturday evenings from 7pm to 10pm with snacks, tea, soft drinks and free-form conversation. The first half of the evening is conversation in any language (usually English), then Michael signals when everyone has to start speaking only French. €10 donation requested. Call to reserve a spot and get directions. Michael and Véronique also host the Thursday night picnics on the Left Bank end of the Pont des Arts footbridge from spring through early fall. There’s no need to call ahead, but everyone should bring something to drink and snacks (cups and a bottle opener will win you brownie points). Call Michael if you have any questions, tel 01 43 25 86 55.
Parler Parlor (tel 01 40 27 97 59 or 01 44 19 76 61 http://www.parlerparlor.com) offers free-form conversation in French and English four times a week at a local language school. Hostess Adrian Leeds creates groups balancing Anglophones and Francophones to speak 45 minutes in French and 45 minutes in English. The first session is free, then from €10 per session.
Established in 1957 to give foreigners access to French conversation partners, the Cercle International de l’ARC is a volunteer association that seeks to provide an “open door” to French culture and language. Their slogan is “une porte d’amitié ouverte aux ètrangers.” Additionally, the group organizes evening presentations, weekend walking tours and short day-trips from Paris. The meeting room is located in a basement behind St. Germain de Prés at 5, rue de l’Abbaye, 6th. Once the 10 Euro annual fee is paid, students are welcome to join any of 5 or 6 conversation tables where French native speakers act as moderators. Mostly retired Parisians, the moderators will correct if requested, explain expressions, and encourage conversation. Students of all ages, nationalities, and language levels are welcome. The Cercle is open Monday through Friday from 14:00 to 19:00. Students are free to stay 20 minutes or 3 hours. There are no fixed appointments. For more info tel: 01 45 44 45 66 or email firstname.lastname@example.org