Not only does France have its secrets and hidden beauty, the French language is a journey in itself, where you can get lost even more easily as you try to solve its mysteries.

Some examples of these mysteries come to my mind:

'X' or 'S' for plurals and names?

For instance the famous Loire Valley “castles” is quite difficult to write correctly. Indeed, the French word “château” is written with a “^” (i.e. accent circonflexe) on the first “a“, which is a reminder of the former “s” that used to exist in old French, where château was written “castel” - very similar to the modern English word.

The plural of the word “château” takes an “x” instead of an “s”, which is usually added to regular plurals. The same applies to the word “plateau”: we talk about the rugged limestone plateau of the Perigord region.

Some names also always take a final “x”, while others don’t. Bordeaux ends in “x”, but Chenonceau castle (the famous one almost crossing the Cher river) doesn’t.
It reminds me of a motto we used to learn at school to know which words ending in “ou” would take a “x” in plural form:

si vous mangez des choux à genoux sur des cailloux avec vos bijoux et vos joujoux vous deviendrez des hiboux plein de poux!

This roughly translates as: “if you eat cabbage whilst kneeling on rocks with your jewelry and toys, you will turn into an owl full of lice!”. (This also demonstrates the complexity of English plurals, I believe!)

'du' or 'de la'?

There are many things to say about the Loire Valley: we write “la vallée de la Loire”, and not “la vallée du Loire”. Indeed “Loire” is a feminine noun, and “de” before a feminine noun remains “de”. On the contrary, “de” before a masculine noun becomes “du”: we write “les châteaux du Périgord”, and not “les châteaux de le Périgord”.

Fun facts about the spelling of French regions

  • The Loire is the longest river in France. It originates in Massif Central and ends up in St Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, close to Nantes where we live. Therefore when we speak about la Loire, we're talking about the whole river. When we speak aboutla vallée de la Loire”, we mean the Loire Valley region, where you can find the famous châteaux, roughly between Orléans and Angers, with Touraine and Tours in between.
  • Ah the French Riviera… there is only one thing to say about it in French: the correct way to write it is “la Côte d’Azur”. Any other way is wrong (people can be very imaginative when it comes to spelling this region!): "cote a zur", "cote azur", "cote de azur", "cote d’azure", "cote da zur", "cot de azur", "cote de zur": all wonderfully creative but unfortunately incorrect spellings!
  • Close to the French Riviera is Provence and its hilltop villages. Provence is written with an “e”, and not an “a” as I have sometimes seen it written (Provance - incorrect!)
  • Another French peculiarity is the “ç” (we call it 'c cédilla' in French). You'll see it in the adjective “provençal”: enjoy a typical provençal meal! This “cédille” means the sound of the consonant 'c' will be [s] instead of [k]. So we don't say /provenkal/ but /provensal/.

Stay tuned, more of these language specificities to come in the blog in the near future!!! We also include plenty of French language tips in the France Just For You travel guidebook that we write for every tour!

France Just For You

Experts in self-drive tours in France

Travelers Reviews

5.0
Naomi
You may already know from other reviews that "France Just for You" will create an itinerary based on your interests and time frame, booking attractions and lodgings, arranging a car, and providing a detailed guide book with historical and cultural information, and suggestions for things to see and do with your unscheduled time. The whole service is …
Robert
Everything you need and things you didn’t know you needed. Emilie is very kind, a good soul. And don’t you want the people who handle your holidays to radiate happiness? A happy itinerary = a lovely journey!
Kelly
My husband and I just returned from a 9 day trip to Burgundy and Provence. We had fairly high expectations based on all the reviews we had read about France Just For You. I must say, the trip far exceeded those expectations and was such a memorable experience. The B&Bs recommended were right in line with what we were hoping and the hosts were …
Naomi
My boyfriend and I spent a week in Paris last month and we decided that we would do a couple of day-tours outside of the city during our trip. We really wanted to avoid the typical tour-bus day-tour and the crowds that come along with these kinds of tours – we wanted something more personalized that would allow us to go at our own pace. I found the …
Linda & Michael
When we received our packet, I was amazed with all the info. Emilie put into it for our trip. We needed more time in the day for places on our daily agenda that we did not get a chance to visit. We will just have to return and finish them on the next trip to the Loire. Flo and Phil's, Les Bournais was a charming place with wonderful accommodations …
Tracey & Sandra
Without a doubt one of the best vacations my friend and I have ever taken! We keep raving to all about how authentic the trip was. Not only was every aspect of this trip gorgeous from the grape vineyards to the lavender fields to the mountainous towns and cathedrals, but the details were second to none. Emilie and Laura provided my friend and I …

What are you looking for?