Can I Speak English in Québec City?

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

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 French language tips 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.

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