Don’t Let Your Lack of French Skills Keep You From Exploring Québec City

Pamela Macnaughtan, amoureuse de Québec
Pamela MacNaughtan
Updated on February 13, 2024
English

Wondering if they speak English in Québec City? One of the common misconceptions about visiting Québec City is that you need to speak French or if you do not speak French, everyone will be rude to you. This, thankfully, is complete fiction. Québec City is proud of its French heritage, as it should be, and while there have been strenuous relationships between the French and the English in the past but those days are over. Today, English visitors are welcomed with open arms. Of course, as with any destination you visit, there are cultural things to consider.

Try to Learn A Few French Words

Try to learn a couple French words before you arrive. You do not need to take a French course or learn a lot of phrases. Many locals working in the old city will speak English, but learning a few French words is always helpful. Here are a couple everyone should know:

  • Hello - Bonjour
  • Thank You - Merci
  • I don't speak French - Je ne parle pas français
  • How much? – Combien?
  • Do you speak English? - Parlez-vous anglais?

English is Widely Spoken in Tourist Areas

The service is bilingual in the majority of tourist places. While most of the locals working in the tourism industry in neighbourhoods like Old Québec, Petit-Champlain, and Vieux-Port will speak English; locals in other neighbourhoods may not speak English as well (or at all). Do not panic. Think of it as visiting another country where you do not speak the language: use the words suggested above, smile, and speak kindly. If you are making an effort to communicate, they will make an effort as well.

Locals Truly Do Their Best to Help

As an anglophone who has moved to Québec City -and still struggles to learn French- I can personally attest to the kindness of the locals and the ease of life in this historic French-speaking city. When I go out, I always use the above words, smile, and dish out extra charm; and I have never had a bad encounter. In fact, there have been several instances when I have struggled to practice speaking French and a local has excitedly told me they can speak English.

Don't allow a possible language barrier to keep you from exploring a new city or country, including a charming and historic city like Québec City. Neighbourhoods that are popular with tourists will always have locals that can speak English. And if you’re outside a popular neighbourhood and struggling with the language, crack open the Google translate app on your phone and get ready to bond over each other’s language challenges.

Explore the French Canadian Culture

Every moment spent exploring Quebec City is an opportunity to live an authentic cultural change. This city welcomes us with open arms to enjoy an unforgettable experience while discovering its vibrant culture.


Pamela Macnaughtan, amoureuse de Québec
Pamela MacNaughtan

Travel writer and photographer, Pamela has a deep love of all things Québec City. She is an anglophone from Ontario who prefers living in Québec. An avid city explorer and chocolat chaud connoisseur, Pamela accentuates the finest experiences in the city.

You'll Also Like

  • Two hikers walk in the snow at the foot of an icy waterfall, near Québec City.
    Ecotourism in Québec City: Places to Go & Things to Do
    Read
  • The Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, illuminated in the evening, at Place-Royale, in the Petit-Champlain district, in winter.
    14 Historic Places That Bring Québec City's Key Moments to Life
    Read
  • Three friends are snowshoeing on the snow-capped Plains of Abraham and heading towards the historic Martello Tower.
    How to Embrace Responsible Travel in Old Québec
    Read
  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac - Château Frontenac in winter with the river
    The Best Eco-Friendly Hotels in Québec City
    Read
  • A Native American dancer performs a traditional dance inside the longhouse in Wendake, near Québec City.
    The Best Experiences to Discover the Indigenous Culture
    Read
  • Vue de la porte Saint-Jean en hiver
    12 Historical Gems in Old Québec You Should Not Miss
    Read
  • Le Monastère des Augustines - Self-service at the Vivoir
    Vegetarian Restaurants in Québec City
    Read
  • Couple dans un spa
    Switching to Slow Travel Mode in Québec City
    Read