For us, riding the metro in Paris was a pleasure and a necessity. One of our main activities in Paris was going to be taking French classes. So, I was looking for language schools while I was looking for apartments, but the quality of the school trumped the commute. With those considerations in mind, we both think my choice was correct for our apartment, school, and our commute.
One of the most wonderful things about Paris is the metro. In under 30 minutes, You can pretty much get within a few blocks of anywhere you could possibly want to go. Since we planned to go every day to a French language school on the other side of town, we knew we needed metro tickets.
From a bit of research, we learned we could buy individual tickets, a weekly pass, or a monthly pass. The monthly pass started on the first of the month and cost about 80€ and the weekly pass was 30€. That said, even though the pass was a bit pricey, with the pass we didn’t have to think about our trips and we could go wherever we wanted. In order to get the weekly or monthly pass, you have to get a Navigo card at one of the ticket offices. The Navigo card requires a picture, like a passport photo. Since a whole bunch of things in France require a photo, there are photo booths all over the place, so no problem there.
Our Commute to School
Our apartment was between two metro stations. The closer station was only on line 10. The further station had lines 6, 8 and 10. From these lines, we could get anywhere in Paris and some places outside with only one “correspondence” or change of train. So each weekday, we took line 10 to line 7 to go to school and back, provided we weren’t going somewhere else after school. Our commute took 30 minutes each way but, as we are retired, we don’t care so much about speed anymore.
One other cool thing we discovered about Google Maps is that it told about delays and closures on the various metro lines in real-time. That information allowed us to pick different routes if necessary.
French Language School FAYLI
About three years ago during one of our stays in Nice, we attended language school from 9 a.m. until noon. Neither of us particularly liked the learning approach of that school as it was very writing-focused. Our goal has always been to improve our speaking and comprehension. So for the language school in Paris, we were definitely looking for a different type of school. We also weren’t really interested in going for three hours per day.
The school I selected was located near the Bastille, nowhere near our apartment. However, there were a few things that stood out. First, the class was only 90 minutes long. Second, it was very focused on conversation and we did in fact usually spend 90 minutes talking. Just having that much time to speak and listen to others really seemed to get our minds used to the language.
Before we started at the school, they wanted us to do a language test. That was reasonable but there was just no way that I could do that over the phone. So we made our first visit to the school on the first Wednesday that we were in town to take the conversation test and then attend one of their field trips.
Each week on Wednesday, the school offered a field trip to a place near school, usually a museum. But this first week a group of seven of us took the metro, one stop to BHV. Bazar d’Hotel de Ville (BHV) is a large, expensive department store but it was great to know it was there and get a taste for French furnishings.
Other Students and What We Learned
We found it interesting to get to know the other students in our classes. Most of them were in their 20’s, living and working abroad in Paris. There were usually between 4 and 7 people in a class and we enjoyed listening to their stories and experiences. There were also a number of retired people who cycled through the class during their fairly short visit to Paris.
Fayli (French As You Like It) was a unique school in my experience and it suited our lifestyle really well. We would go to the gym in the morning, come back, get dressed, and take the metro to school for an 11 a.m. start. We finished at 12:30, which was just in time for lunch.
I can say that my French has greatly improved as a result of school. My pronunciation, speaking, and comprehension are much better than before. But, I’m still having trouble memorizing the vocabulary. I think Mike’s French improved more than mine, particularly his ability to speak but comprehension is still a challenge for him. The school was a little bit expensive (195€ per person per week) to us, but we were very happy with our time there.
What other language would you like to learn?