Do you need to speak or understand French to Visit Quebec City ?
Visit Quebec is asked countless times: Do you need to speak or understand French to Visit Quebec City ? Or whether visitors will need to speak or
understand French while visiting Quebec City? The answer, of course, is certainly not.
Quebec is an officially French-speaking province in largely English-speaking Canada, and
anyone employed in a public contact role in the tourism industry must be fully, if not
fluently bilingual. This general rule also applies to virtually any random resident of Quebec
(or Montreal) whom you might meet on the street to ask directions, because, it is rare to
come across anyone living in Old Quebec who is not.
If you took French in high school or college, you’ll likely be surprised at how familiar it
becomes, and so easily, and how quickly your French vocabulary returns; by the end of
your visit, you may have a hard time not initiating short conversations en français, yourself.
French signage is everywhere and, of course, you’ll have no trouble finding someone to
speak French with. The Quebecois are a notoriously friendly clan, and always seem to enjoy
this as much as the visitors do.
The following is a brief glossary of terms that will be ALL YOU’LL NEED, AND MORE, that you
might find useful in navigating into the city, and within it, followed by a few words you’ll
certainly overhear, and that you might want to try, even if you’ve never studied French.
– Autoroute (interstate highway, as in Autoroute 20 or Autoroute 40, two principal highway
routes, along the south and north shore respectively, into Quebec City);
– Pont (bridge as in Pont Pierre Laporte, the Pierre Laporte Bridge);
– Porte (gate, as in the Port St. Louis, the St. Louis Gate, one of three leading through the
wall, into the Old City);
– Musée (Museum, as in the Musée de la Civilisation, the Civilization Museum);
– Rue (street, not capitalized in French) as in rue St. Jean, St John Street, the spine of the
– Vieux (old as in Vieux Quebec, or Old Quebec).
While in the Old City:
– Bonjour (good morning; good day) pronounced, bone zhoor’
– Bonsoir (good evening) pronounced, bone swar’
– Bonne nuit (good night); pronounced, bone new ee’
– S’il vous plait (please, literally, if it pleases you); pronounced, see voo play’
– Excusez-mois (pardon me, excuse me) pronounced, excuse ay mwa’
– A bientôt (see you soon) pronounced, ah bee en’ toe
– Au revoir (goodbye, farewell, an expression of good wishes when someone leaves).
You can also read more here about how to learn more frenchcanadian.
A small effort is always rewarded generously by your local hosts. It’s also a bit of fun an is part of the travel experience when you visit Quebec.