Understanding Spoken French: La Provence & Filler Words

Understanding real everyday spoken French can be difficult. Especially with filler words!

These little words like Euh” (= hum) or Ouais” (= yeah) sprinkle any conversation with a French person. If you don’t know about them, you might get stuck on them – spending time and mental energy trying to understand them, and missing the parts of sentences that actually mean anything.

Today, let’s see how French people use filler words in everyday conversation. With actual examples, while talking about a great (some say Nice!) French French region: la Provence (= Normandy.)

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1. Understanding Spoken French: Provence presentation

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

La Provence est globalement le Sud-Est de la France.
La Provence is roughly the whole South-Eastern France.

C’est la région des champs de lavande et du chant des cigales, des collines de garrigue au soleil et autres merveilles du Sud. Ce qui donne de très belles balades à faire dans la nature et dans les petits villages.
It’s the area of lavender fields and singing cicadas, scrubland hills under the sun and other Southern wonders. Which makes for beautiful hikes in nature and around the small villages.

On peut aussi aller en ville, pour voir par exemple les fontaines d’Aix-en-Provence, visiter Avignon et son Palais des Papes, ou aller vibrer à Marseille.
You can also visit the city, to see for instance the fountains in Aix-en-Provence, the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, or to thrill in Marseille.

Il y a aussi la Côte d’Azur ! Avec le village de Saint-Tropez, le chic de Monaco, les paillettes de Cannes… et aussi simplement les plages et la mer.
And there’s also the French Riviera! With the town of Saint-Tropez, the chic of Monaco, the glitter of Cannes… and simply the beach and the sea.

En fin de compte, la Provence, ce sont des paysages, un accent bien particulier, une culture méditerranéenne et beaucoup de soleil.
Finally, Provence is also made of its peculiar landscapes, its specific accent, its Mediterranean culture and a lot of sunlight.

2. Understanding Spoken French: Filler Words & Expressions

How much did you understand the “correct French” text above?
Everything? Even on the first time, with only the French subtitles in the video?
That’s great!

Unfortunately, that’s not how French people talk in everyday life.
For instance, everyday spoken French is not as clear-cut. In real speech, there’s a lot of filler words.

Such as:

  • Euh (= hum, whenever we’re looking for a word)
  • Eh bien (= well)
  • Hein (= “Am I right?” / “What did you say?” / “Oh, OK”)

Or informal grammar:

  • En gros (= basically)
  • Tout ce qui est… (= everything that’s like… [+ noun])
  • Et pis (informal for et puis = and also, and then)
  • …Et tout (= and all that)

Or some expressions that aren’t colloquial, but that we still use more than necessary in spoken French:

  • Alors (= so / then)
  • Du coup (= “hence”)
  • En fait (= actually)
  • Au fait (= by the way)

Or asking questions now and then, to check if you understand or agree:

  • Tu vois ? (= You see?)
  • Tu sais ? (= You know?)
  • Tu connais ? (= You know about that?)

Some informal expressions are flatly incorrect, too:

  • Au final (= incorrect French for en fin de compte / tout compte fait / en somme / finalement = finally / in sum / when all is said and done )
  • Using Juste (= fair, precisely) to mean simplement (= simply) or vraiment (= really, truly), by Anglicism.

3. Understanding Spoken French: “Spoken French” reading

Listen to the “spoken French” reading about Provence. Can you catch all the filler words and expressions, as well as the other signs of informal spoken French? Watch it again until you understand everything!

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

La Provence c’est, euh, en gros tout le Sud-Est de la France.

Alors c’est la région de tout ce qui est champs de lavande et chant des cigales, euh, les collines de garrigue au soleil et tout, tu vois ? Du coup ça fait des très belles balades dans la nature et puis dans les petits villages.

Au fait, on peut aussi aller en ville pour voir, genre, les fontaines d’Aix-en-Provence, euh, ou visiter Avignon et son Palais des Papes, ou aller vibrer à Marseille.

Ah et sinon, il y a aussi la Côte d’Azur ! Avec le village de Saint-Tropez, (tu connais ?), euh, le chic de Monaco, les paillettes de Cannes, et pis aussi juste des plages et la mer, en fait.

Donc au final, la Provence, c’est des paysages, un accent bien particulier, une culture méditerranéenne et beaucoup de soleil.

Congrats! 🎉🎉🎉

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

Which other French régions would you like to visit? Answer in the comments below!

Understanding Spoken French:

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


→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂

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Join the conversation!

  • Merci Geraldine 🙂
    Quelle jolie série d’article sur les régions de France.
    As-tu penser à faire un article sur la Lorraine : pays de Jeanne d’Arc et de la mirabelle ?

  • J’adore cet serie là. Au fait, it was lovely to learn about Provence in the challenge over the summer, but adding the more colloquial language brings it to a whole other level. Merci!

  • You are amazing! What beautiful, beautiful French you speak! Merci for speaking slowly as well so we are truly able to hear the pronunciation of each word that you speak like music! Merci beaucoup! J’apprececie dos lemons video.

  • Merci pour ça, Geraldine. Tres utile et instructif, comme d’hab. J’attends vos vidéos avec impatience chaque semaine!

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