How to ask French people to slow down when they speak

Talking too fast? Photo: mediamolecule

Géraldine Lepère of Comme une Française shares her tips on how newcomers to Grenoble can get their French interlocuteurs to speak more slowly.


Whether you’ve been in Grenoble for weeks (months? years?) or moving soon, you know the French spoken in the street is way faster than the one from your French lessons CDs.

But, it’s not because you’re an expat not speaking French fluently that you should let important information pass you by.

Think about a paediatrician’s recommendation for your son. Or your daughter’s teacher’s speech at the end of the semester. Or just an answer to your “Où est la gare s’il vous plaît ?“…

What to do when French speak too fast?

Ask them to slow down!


Learn three phrases to ask French people to slow down when they speak.

Tip: Feel free to write this phrases down and add them to your wallet!

1. Slow down

Vous pouvez parler moins vite s’il vous plaît ?

Can you please slow down?

This is a very basic way to ask people to slow down. From experience, asking “Pardon?” will only leave you with the same phrases repeated louder!

If you are a little bit more advanced in French, you can go for,

Vous pourriez parler moins vite s’il vous plaît ?

or even,

Pourriez-vous parler moins vite s’il vous plaît ?

2. Repeat please

Vous pouvez répéter s’il vous plaît ?

Can you repeat please?

If you missed an important piece of information in the phrase but the speed seems ok, you ask the French person to repeat.

3. Write it down please

Vous pouvez me l’écrire s’il vous plaît ?

Can you write it down please?

Here’s the best way to get reliable information: Always carry a notebook and a pen and ask people to write down addresses, medical references and timetables for you.

This is crucial for such important information. You’ll have it written down, clear on paper.

Next time a French person speaks to fast, choose one of these phrases!


Géraldine Lepère is the creator of to help expat women integrate in France.

And online French video lessons for expats working in France.