Other Languages

What Languages Are Spoken in France

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: June 5, 2018
What Languages Are Spoken in France

In France we can find a wide variety of civilizations, cultures and different languages: some are new, others have been rooted deeply for centuries in France. What languages do these people speak? In addition to the French language, there are many other languages spoken in France that enrich the country and make it one of the most multicultural in the world.

At OneHowTo we'll reveal what languages are spoken in France so that you will understand the reality of this country whose language is one of the most widely spoken around the world.

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  1. Official language: French
  2. Non-official languages
  3. Conclusion

Official language: French

French is the official language of France though there are many other languages that are spoken across the country. However, there is only one official language recognized by the state: French.

Of Latin provenance, French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. An estimated 300 million people have French as their mother tongue or as a second language. It is also an official language in other countries such as Congo, Canada, Madagascar, Belgium, Senegal, Seychelles Switzerland, Haiti, Luxembourg and Monaco.

Non-official languages

Although not recognized as official languages, there are a variety of languages spoken in France in addition to French.

Southern France

In southern France there are five different languages:

  • Occitan: This language has a Romance origin, and has been spoken for centuries across what is known as the Occitan region, which includes mainly parts of Languedoc-Rousillon, Midi Pyrenées and parts of Aquitaine. There are several dialects that have come from Occitan, one of the most widely spoken being Provençal and Gascon. Sadly, due to centuries of poor language heritage policies, it is said that only 600.000 people currently speak the language in France. Occitan is also spoken in the Catalan region of Vall d'Aran, where it is still an official language. Provençal is sometimes also referred to as a language in itself due to the differences with Occitan.
  • Catalan: Due to the fact that certain parts of the south-east were under Catalan territory before the 17th century's Pyrenees treaty, you can still hear certain people speak Catalan in villages of the Houte-Cerdagne,Vallespir and Conflent regions; as well as the city of Perpignan.
  • Bonifacien: In southern Corsica, in the city of Bonifacio, this Italo-Romance languace can still be heard among the elder.
  • Corsican: In the island of Corsica, the Italo-Romanic language is spoken in this island and northern Sardinia. It is said to have its origin in the Tuscan dialect.
  • Basque: In the area known as the French Basque Country, many villages still speak this language of unknown origin, as do their Spanish counterparts.

Northeast France

  • Alsatian: In the Rhine Valley, the language people speak is Alsatian, which is similar to the German language.
  • Low-Franconian: In the north, near Dunkirk they speak Dutch-Flemish owing to its proximity to the Netherlands.

Western France

  • Breton: In western France the language spoken is Breton, a language of Celtic origin. It is spoken across Brittany and was brought by British migrants during the middle ages. This language is now a Language in danger according to UNESCO.

Overseas France

Due to France's colonization past, there are several islands that are still under French territory that have their own languages apart from French.

For example, Creole is spoken in Guadaloupe, Martinique and French Guyana. Indian Ocean islands speak Bantu, while Austronesian languages are spoken in islands across Oceania.

However, as these languages are not spoken in the actual French country, they are not normally considered languages spoken in France.

What Languages Are Spoken in France - Non-official languages
Image: france.com


So, if you want to know what languages are spoken in France bear in mind that, although only French is officially recognized, there are a variety of peoples and cultures that still use their native languages in France. In addition to French, there are nine non-official languages of France, making a total of 10 languages spoken in France, though there are many dialects and other languages spoken across its territory.

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What Languages Are Spoken in France