Chapitre 1 – Rencontre Dans Un Train

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Story

Click the audio bars below to listen to the slow, normal and street French recording of this first chapter of French Today's free French audiobook.

Slow Speed

Normal Speed

Street French Speed

Nous sommes dans l’Eurostar de Londres à Paris. Une jeune fille blonde entre dans le compartiment.

We are in the Eurostar from London to Paris. A young blond girl enters the train car.

Mary

Excusez-moi : est-ce que c’est la voiture 8 ?

Excuse-me: is this the car number 8?

Pierre

Oui, c’est la voiture 8.

Yes, it’s car number 8.

Mary

Merci. Et c’est la place 42B ?

Thank you. And this is seat 42B?

Pierre

Oui, regardez, le numéro est ici, sur le dossier du siège. Ce n’est pas très facile à voir !

Yes, look, the number is here, on the back of the seat. It’s not very easy to see.

Mary

Mais pourquoi est-ce qu’ il y a deux numéros ?

But why are there two numbers?

Pierre

Je ne sais pas. Mais je sais que c’est le numéro allumé qui compte.

I don’t know. But I know it’s the lit number that counts.

Mary

D’accord, merci.

OK, thanks.

Mary place sa valise un peu plus loin, sur une platforme pour mettre les valises, et puis elle retourne à sa place. Sa place est à côté de la fenêtre, donc elle doit déranger son voisin.

Mary places her suitcase a bit farther, on a platform to put away suitcases, and then goes back to her seat. Her seat is by the window, so she has to bother her seat mate.

Mary

Excusez-moi de vous déranger une nouvelle fois.

Excuse me for bothering you once more.

Pierre

Mais pas du tout, c’est normal. Euh... On peut peut être se tutoyer ? Je m’appelle Pierre, et toi ?

Not at all, it’s all right. Well... maybe we could use “tu” to talk to each other? My name is Pierre, what’s yours?

Mary

Moi, c’est Mary. Excuse-moi, je suis anglaise et je ne sais pas vraiment quand je dois dire “tu” ou “vous”.

I’m Mary. I’m sorry, I’m English and don’t really know why I must say “tu” or “vous”.

Pierre

Non, non, c’est normal. C’est une bonne idée de vouvoyer au début. Mais entre jeunes, on dit “tu” plus facilement.

No, no, it’s normal. It’s a good idea to say “vous” at the beginning. But among a younger crowd, we say “tu” more easily.

Mary

D’accord, je comprends, merci.

Ok, I understand, thank you.

Pierre

Donc tu es anglaise. Ton français est vraiment excellent ! Tu n’as aucun accent !

So you’re English. Your French is really excellent! You have no accent!

Mary

Tu es gentil, mais je triche un peu. En fait, je suis bilingue. Ma mère est anglaise, et mon père est français.

You’re kind, but I’m kind of cheating. In fact, I am bilingual. My mother is English, and my dad is French.

Pierre

Ah oui ? C’est génial ! Et tu parles français avec ton père et anglais avec ta mère ?

Really? That’s great! And you speak French with your dad and English with your mum?

Mary

Exactement !

Exactly!

Questions and Answers

Q&A Audio

Time for you to practice your French. If you are a total beginner, this may be too hard at this point. You need to study the basis first! I suggest you start studying French with my downloadable audiobook À Moi Paris Level 1 - The Beginnings.

If you’ve had some French before, then make sure you answer to these questions out-loud to get over your fear of speaking. Doing it in your head won’t help! Use the pause button to have more time to answer if you need to..

You will notice that the questions sometime feature the street French way of speaking, such as “tu habites où ça ?“ versus “où habites-tu ?”... That may be a bit new to you too! It’s all explained in my audiobooks.

1. D’où vient le train ?

Where does the train come from?

Il vient de Londres.

It’s coming from London.

2. Et il va où-ça ?

And where does it go?

Il va à Paris.

It goes to Paris.

3. Mary est blonde ou brune ?

Is Mary a blond or a brunette?

Elle est blonde.

She is a blond.

4. C’est la voiture numéro combien ?

What is the car number?

C’est la voiture numéro huit.

It’s the number 8 car.

5. Où se trouve le numéro du siège ?

Where is the seat number located?

Il est sur le dossier du siège.

It’s on the back of the seat.

6. Est-ce que c’est facile à voir ?

Is it easy to see ?

Non.

No it isn’t.

7. Où est-ce que Mary place sa valise ?

Where does Mary put her suitcase ?

Elle place sa valise sur une platforme un peu plus loin.

She places her suitcase on a platform a bit further.

8. Pourquoi doit-elle déranger son voisin ?

Why does she have to bother her neighbor?

Parce qu’elle est assise à côté de la fenêtre.

Because she is seating by the window.

9. Pourquoi est-ce que Mary peut tutoyer Pierre ?

Why can Mary say ‘tu’ to Pierre ?

Parce qu’ils sont jeunes.

Because they are young.

10. Pourquoi le français de Mary est-il excellent ?

Why is Mary’s French excellent?

Parce que son père est français et elle est bilingue.

Because her father is French and she is bilingual.

Study Guide: Spoken French Versus Written French

Study Guide Audio

You may have been a bit surprised when you first listen to the story part of this audiobook: it probably didn’t sound like the French you studied in school.

The reason is that French is a fast evolving language, and unfortunately, traditional methods teach traditional French, and teach you to pronounce French just like you write it. And this is so wrong!

Nowadays, everybody talking French applies some glidings to the French language. On top of elision and liaisons (two grammatical terms I will explain below) modern glidings are so strong that spoken French ends up being something most foreigners have a very difficult time with.

I will apply “medium” glidings, meaning that I won’t go full “teenage suburb” on you, nor will I talk like a book. I am going to teach you to speak like a real French person does, so make sure you always study with the audio and pay attention to the way I “jam” the words together.

1. What is “an Elision”

Elision happens when a few very common short words (je, le, de, ne, que, se, ce, me, te and la) are followed by a vowel or an h.

To avoid a clash of vowels (which is hard on the jaws), the short word will then drop its final vowel and replace it in writing with an apostrophe. In pronunciation, the remaining consonant sound will become the first sound of the following word.

You will see, this happen A LOT, and it’s very important you master this to sound French.

Example: L’Eurostar, c’est, ce n’est pas, d’accord, je m’appelle etc...

2. What is a “liaison”?

A liaison occurs when a silent consonant (like the t of “c’est”) is followed by a vowel or a mute H (like the word “une”).

In a liaison, the silent letter becomes the first sound of the following word, so here the silent “t” of “c’est” will become the first sound of “une”, making it sound like “tune”.

Most consonants keep their sound in liaison, except for S that makes a liaison sound in Z, X becomes Z, and D becomes T.

Listen carefully to the audio, and liaisons will become obvious to you!

3. What is a gliding?

A gliding is what happens in modern French, when we glide over some letters, kind of like “gotta go” instead of “I have got to go” in American English. It’s very common nowadays in French, and reinforces the difference between spoken and written French.

The use of glidings differ among people: it’s a question of context, age, social class, region, personal preference. Some people glide a lot, others enunciate more, but EVERY French person applies some glidings, so it is essential that you get accustom to understanding glided words, even if you choose not to say them this way yourself (and therefore be more conservative in the way you speak French).

You will note that many letters, or even words glide so much that they often disappear. It is the case of many short words ending in “e”: the “ne” of the negative, of the preposition “de”, the article or pronoun “le”, even the subject pronoun “je” which becomes as kind of “ch” sound: “je ne sais pas” becomes “chaypa” in totally glided modern French.

A good example of this spoken vs. written French difference is the phrase “it’s not nice out, there is no sun”

When it is in written form, the phase is: “Il ne fait pas beau, il n’y a pas de soleil”
When it is spoken by a native Parisian to another it sounds like: “y fait pas beau, ya pad soleil”. And this is not an exaggeration nor specific to a teenager or hipster way to speak, this is how anybody engaging in small talk will say it.

It needs some getting use to, but thanks to my realistic audio novels, this won’t be a problem for you!

4. The French alphabet

Pay close attention to the audio, in particular to the letter “J” and “G” which are quite confusing!

The French alphabet is the same as the English one and it also has 26 letters.

However, we have 6 vowels: a, e, i, o, u and y (which is always a vowel in French!)

A, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.

  • Unlike English pronunciation, French pronunciation follows simple rules, and knowing them will make things much easier. I strongly recommend you study French pronunciation with the audio lesson I’ve written and recorded, it will give you a head start on your French studies.
    Secrets of French Pronunciation

You will also note some differences between the recording speeds : the faster you speak, the more glidings there will be. So in the slow recordings, I enunciate much more and in the normal ones, I glide much more, even more so in the street French recording of the whole story.

Train to repeat the slow and normal recordings, and train to understand the street French one. You dont’ need to speak as fast as this, but eventually you need to be able to understand French people at that speed.