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There is more to France than Paris. If the names such as Bordeaux, Strasbourg or Marseille don't mean anything to you, then you'd better read on. And even if they do, you should read on too :-) You won't regret it.
Learning French (through) Geography
A little bit of knowledge of the geography of the country where your target language is spoken may tremendously change the way you interact in that language.
The more you know the better, but let's start with something really simple but really essential at the same time.
Knowing the most important cities will influence not only your knowledge but may also improve your conversations in French.
Even the simple exchange: – D’où viens-tu ? – Je viens de Bordeaux may either lead to a much more developped conversation or just end up in a simple – Ah, d’accord…
You will certainly feel much less alienated and overwhelmed by the language because you will know better what the people are talking about.
Only a couple of days ago I heard a French man making fun of a poor foreign girl because she didn't know well the basic georgraphy of France (she didn't know what and where the French départment of Gers is).
Of course, that's an extreme example but the truth is that the more you know about the country (its history, culture and geography) the easier it is to learn that language and feel at ease with it.
This is what you need to do in order to truely master the language. The famous german polyglot Emil Krebs (1867-1930) is said to have used this kind of approach in his language learning.
10 Most Important Cities in France
In general, the most populated cities are the most important. But not always.
There are several different reasons why some cities are more important than other, even if they are not bigger, although it is rather rare.
To give you an example: I'm sure that all of you have heard of Cannes but less of Nantes….
Different sources will give the names in slightly different order.
I have decided to choose the biggest but also the most famous ones, so there are chances that you might have heard or read something about this or the other particular French city.
The 10 most important French cities that you need to know are:
Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Montpellier, Bordeaux, Lille
The best way to remeber things is practice. Try to place the names of the French cities you saw above into the right spots on the map of France. You may either do it by "trail and error" method, starting first with the things you know best, or first have a look at a map of France ( la carte de la France) then come back here and try to do the exercise on your own. Good luck !