As a popular holiday destination, Bora Bora is frequented by tourists from all over the globe. The locals speak English well, so communication won’t be a problem during your stay, especially if you stay in the tourist areas. But of course, learning a few basic phrases in French could work to your advantage. It doesn’t only show that you’re interested in their unique culture, but the simple gesture of trying to learn a foreign language is a plausible sign of your respect to the native folks.
You don’t really need to take formal lessons in French to be able to achieve this. You can simply grab a small tourist handbook on Bora Bora and flip to the pages that show the most commonly used French words for saying please and thank you, greetings as well as asking for directions. This would be a great way to pass the time as you wait for your boarding call. Or you could do this while you’re on the plane. It would also be a practical means of evading boredom during the flight.
Introducing Yourself and Starting Small Talk In French
It’s alright for total strangers to make small talk without making formal introductions. But if you want to make your vacation more special, making friends with strangers would do wonders to your trip. The natives of Tahiti are known for their friendly smiles and warm hospitality to tourists. And it would be very hard not be friends with some people that you meet along the way.
To be friendly, you need to know how to introduce yourself properly. And there is no better way to say it than using the following French lines:
- My name is _______. – Je m’appelle ______ (zhuh mah-pell ______)
There are also common greetings that you can use during the different times of the day:
- Hi – Salut (sa-loo)
- Good day – Bonjour (bon-jshor)
- Good evening – Bonsoir (bon-swah)
- Goodnight – Bonne nuit (bun-nwee)
Asking for Directions in French
More often than not, Tahitians would go out of their way to give directions to tourists who appear to be lost. But if you find yourself in a situation wherein you need to ask a native how to locate a certain tourist spot or restaurant, you must learn the following phrases which could surely save you from getting lost and wasting hours wandering.
Where is the _______ ? – Où se trouve _____ ? (oo stroov _____)
- Airport – l’aéroport ? (lah-ay-roh-POR?)
- Bus station? – la gare routière ? (lah gahr roo-TYEHR?)
- Train station? – la gare ? (lah gahr?)
- Town Center? – le centre-ville ? (luh sahng-truh-VEEL?)
- _____ Hotel? – l’hôtel _____ ? (loh-TEL)
And here are the other useful French words for directions:
- North – nord (nohr)
- South – sud (suud)
- East – est (est)
- West – ouest (west)
- Right / turn right – droite (DRWAHT) / tournez à droite. (toor-nay ah DRWAHT)
- Left / turn left – gaude (GAWSH) / tournez à gauche. (toor-nay ah GAWSH)
- Straight ahead – en face (ahng fahs)
- Street – rue (ruu)
Ordering Food Items on the Menu in French
Another advantage you will get from learning a handful of basic phrases is when you order food items on the menu. Knowing the basic words could help avoid the surprises (or disappointment) when your plates are already served on the table. Just imagine how it would ruin your day if you expect something lavish (because of a fascinating label on the menu) but only end up with something that you are allergic to.
To prevent incidents in restaurants, knowing the following food items and their equivalent French words would be highly advantageous:
- Bread – du Pain
- Cheese – fromage
- Fish – le poisson
- Ham – le jambon
- Duck – le canard
- Chicken – le poulet
- Turkey – la dinde
- Pork – le porc
- Roast beef – le rosbif
- Rabbit – le lapin
- Snails – les escargots
- Coffee with milk – café au lait
- Pineapple – ananas
- Apple – pomme
- Peach – pêche
- Strawberry – fraise
- Papaya – papaye
- Lemon – citron
- Banana – banane
- Watermelon – pastèque
Establish Rapport with Bora Bora Locals
Try saying bonjour, merci and au revoir. It would definitely bring out a smile on the face of the person you are talking to. Speaking French, even just a few words or phrases, has already been proven effective if you truly want to establish rapport with the Polynesians. You may even find it amazing how speaking French could instantly win you a new friend in a foreign land.
Learning French may seem quite a difficult to someone who is not very familiar with the language. If you feel that way, don’t take it too seriously. Knowing the wonderful and fun nature of the people in Bora Bora, they might even offer to teach you more French words as you try to speak in their native tongue.