Explore Normandy: Slowing Down Fast Spoken French

Understanding real everyday spoken French is really hard. And often, the French grammar you learned at school doesn’t help!

For instance, instead of asking this (formally correct!) question:
N’aimes-tu pas la tarte aux pommes ? (= Don’t you like apple pie?)

We would say:
T’aimes pas la tarte aux pommes ?

Today, let’s see how French people bend the rules of grammar in everyday conversation. And I’ll show that while talking about a beautiful French region by the sea: la Normandie (= Normandy.)

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1. Understanding Spoken French: Normandy presentation

Here’s a simple text about Normandy, in “correct” French. Watch the video to hear me read it aloud. Before reading the translation below, what can you understand?

La Normandie est une région au nord-ouest de la France, au bord de la Manche. On peut y manger des huîtres, ou visiter les stations balnéaires comme Deauville, Honfleur et bien d’autres.
Normandy is a region in north-western France, on the shore of the English Channel. There you can eat oysters, or visit seaside resort towns such as Deauville, Honfleur and many others.

Il n’y a pas que du littoral : la Normandie a aussi un terroir incroyable. Avec des bons fromages, comme le camembert, et des pommes pour le cidre. Et si tu n’aimes pas le cidre, tu peux essayer le calvados !
The coastline is not the only thing: Normandy also has an incredible “terroir.” With great cheese like camembert, and apples for ciders. And if you don’t like cider, try out the cider brandy “calvados” !

Il y a également les plages du Débarquement, bien sûr. Ou le jardin de Monet à Giverny. Et le mont Saint-Michel, surtout, un site incontournable !
There are also the beaches of the Normandy Landing, of course. Or the garden of Monet in Giverny. And the “mont Saint-Michel,” a site you can’t miss!

Extra mile: Le terroir
Le terroir is a good local land – supported by local farmers, and with traditional know-how to turn the harvest (in grain, cattle, dairy, grapes…) into excellent products. Like local cheese, meat, wines and more.

It’s a fuzzy concept, a cultural pride… and a marketing tool for les produits du terroir (= products from “le terroir” / artisanal products.) See also les Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) (French label) / les Appellations d’Origine Protégées (AOP) (label for the European Union) : these labels are a certification that a given product really comes from its terroir.

For instance, if you buy a Camembert de Normandie AOP, you know that this cheese follows specific rules: made with raw milk from a specific part of Normandy and a specific breed of cows raised in the fields, and following specific methods of cheese-making.

And in the end, AOP / AOC products are delicious.

2. Understanding Spoken French: Informal Grammar

Let’s get back to our text about Normandy. In real life, French people would never talk like that. For instance, they tend to use a lot more informal grammar!

Such as:
La répétition (= repetition): a subject is repeated as a pronoun.
For example, instead of the correct La Normandie est… (= Normandy is…), we say: La Normandie, c’est… (= Normandy, it’s…)

Tu vois ? (= You see?), and other informal filler questions in the middle of a sentence (with tu).

→ Informal expressions, like:

  • Genre (informal) = Par exemple
  • Et tout ça (informal) = Et tout le reste / Et tout cela / Et caetera = And everything else, and all that jazz.
  • Après, ya aussi (informal) = Cela dit, il y a aussi… = Then you also have

→ Impersonal pronoun “il” disappears:
Faut pas croire que ya que… (informal) = Il ne faut pas croire qu’il n’y a que… (= You shouldn’t believe that there’s only…)

Dropping the “ne” in negative sentences, and no verb-subject inversion in questions.
For instance, using the short and direct T’aimes pas le cidre ? (informal, and cutting a letter in “tu”) – instead of N’aimes tu pas le cidre? (= Don’t you like cider?) or Si tu n’aimes pas le cidre… (= If you don’t like cider…)

→ Plain errors, such as Faut que tu le voyes ! = You need to see it.
Don’t repeat this mistake! It’s not chill and informal, it’s just wrong – and sometimes French people slip up and make that mistake. The correct conjugation is “Il faut que tu le voies”, with a silent “-es” in “voies.” (Or better yet: Tu dois le voir. = You have to see it!)

OK! Now you’re ready to try and understand my fast spoken French version.

3. Understanding Spoken French: “Spoken French” reading

Listen to the “spoken French” reading about Normandy. Where do you hear informal French? Watch it again until you understand everything!

You can check out the full-written text as well:

La Normandie, c’est une région au nord-ouest de la France, au bord de la Manche. Tu peux manger des huîtres, ou voir les stations balnéaires genre Deauville, Honfleur et tout ça.

Faut pas croire que ya que du littoral : la Normandie, ils ont aussi un super terroir. Avec des bons fromages, comme le camembert, tu sais ? Et des pommes pour le cidre. T’aimes pas le cidre ? Essaye le calvados !

Après, ya aussi les plages du Débarquement, bien sûr. Ou le jardin de Monet à Giverny. Et le mont Saint-Michel, surtout, faut que tu le voyes !

Congrats! 🎉🎉🎉

You’re now one step further into understanding real everyday spoken French!

Get more practice with further free lessons for you:

Understanding Spoken French:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

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Join the conversation!

  • You said not to use voyes, and instead use the proper form of the subjunctive voies, or even better, just use le voir. I am confused.

    • Bonjour,

      Indeed, the form of the subjunctive would be “que tu voies” and not, “*que tu voyes”.
      There are instances when you may be able to avoid the subjunctive altogether by using an infinitive : “il te faut le voir” in lieu of “il faut que tu le voies”.

      I hope this helps.

      Merci et bonne journée,

      Comme Une Française Team

  • This really really helps: the formal and then the informal. Seeing the text of informal, hearing it spoken in real time. Listening again and again trains the ear.

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