Where do you find engaging French conversation in Vancouver? All over the place.
Tonight, I visited a weekly meeting at Vancouver’s , 1551 West 7th Street (Le Centre Culturel Francophone). As I arrived, under glaring fluorescent lights, ten people were seated around small tables in the midst of a French-language library. The ambiance was more bookstore than lounge.
Although the cultural center is attached to a French bistro, (see it compete in La Vie Vancouver’s ), they either did not have coffee or were not able to serve it in the library area.
Despite the lighting and lack of warm beverages, the company was superb.
I was welcomed instantly by Ted, a retiree and repeat customer, who spoke fluent French although he only started learning five years ago.
Throughout the evening, the number of people grew to twenty – only two were actually francophone, the rest were French language enthusiasts of all stripes.
Milan, a Serbian-Canadian who speaks 4 languages, explained to me there are a number of venues and occasions over a given month where French is the language of choice.
He said he preferred some of the other meeting spots to the cultural center – places where you could purchase coffee or something to eat.
The cultural center’s Wednesday night meetings run from 7 pm until 9 pm, when the die-hards go to a nearby McDonald’s to keep the party going.
What do people discuss at these meetings? Like any conversation, that depends on those attending. As a newcomer, most of the initial conversations I had with the other members were focused on how we each came to speak french. By the end, we were discussing attitudes towards life, religion, love, and the end of the world.
The reasons for attending such a soiree are one of two – either to improve an existing level of french, or to keep up skill in a language not commonly spoken in this city.
As there are events that occur throughout every month, I thought it would be easier to keep track of them using a Google Calendar, see below. All the events listed are free of charge, but it is appropriate to purchase food or drink when the events take place in restaurants.