How I Was Able To Get The Most Out Of My Trip To France

I've always had a serious case of wanderlust. Although I'm a French film buff - and my walls are covered with photos of Paris - I'd never been. So I finally planned a trip for the Fall where I'd bum around France when the sightseers were gone.

I'd wander through the old haunts of my favorite French writers, discover quaint, unknown cafes, maybe mix with cute locals... But there was only one problem with this perfect Parisian fantasy: all I recalled from middle school French was . . . Je t'aime.

Hopeless romantic, I know.

Clearly, I needed French lessons. But I work a ton, so I couldn't commit to a full-time online course. And I definitely didn't have the time (or money) to hire a tutor. So I did a search and quickly zoned in on Rosetta Stone's award-winning mobile app.

Wow, it had so many innovative features. It had better reviews than the language-learning apps I'd tried in the past, so I gave it a download.

Instead of rote memorization and tedious lessons, Rosetta Stone's dynamic 10-minute interactive sessions focus on real-world conversational skills. I listened to the app during my commute, over lunch, at the gym - My dream was to be mistaken for a local.

Rosetta Stone's TruAccent™ speech engine came to the rescue with an ingenious feature to help me with my pronunciation. It allows you to compare your voice to native and non-native speakers, and get real-time feedback to help you refine your accent.

For instance: the first time I tried to pronounce je suis , I butchered it, and it sounded more like "Cheez Whiz", so a red icon appeared, letting me know that my pronunciation was way off! I gave it another try, "Jay Swiss" - yellow….I was getting closer….; "Juh Swee" - green!

Not to brag, but I've acquired quite a flair for French.

The first stop on my trip was Deauville. I kicked back for three weeks at a charming guest house on the Normandy Coast. The hotelkeepers live in the house with their two children and one night the kids and I baked Pain de Campagne. How memorable - biting into sourdough bread warm from the oven, drenched in melted country butter.

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T he family barely spoke English, so Rosetta Stone's Dynamic Immersion® method really prepared me. I learned to listen to native speakers, pick up new phrases and perfect pronunciation. This type of hands-on learning really helped me learn faster because my brain is better able to make connections between what I'm seeing and hearing.

And at the local markets - what a feast of color. With Rosetta Stone's Seek & Speak feature, I was able to keep learning as I enjoyed the fresh produce. The cool feature allows you to capture images and turn everyday items, like fruits and veg, into conversational practice.

As my time in Deauville wound down, I strolled along the Normandy Coast taking in the wide expanse of sky. I hugged my thick sweater, bracing myself against the salty Autumn air. Confident in my French, I was ready for Paris.

Save the best for last - Always.

When I stepped off the train, the grandeur of Paris hit me. So many gorgeous people living their lives, going about their day. And I'm a part of it. I stash my luggage and head out into the streets. I spy a delightful sign for Au Chat Bleu, Chocolatier and pick up a box of chocolates with teeny blue cats.

Unsure about what to do next, I pause outside the shop and this suave Frenchman starts talking to me. "See that bank?" He points across the street. "That's where Marcel's Proust wrote In Search of Lost Time."

"Would you like a chocolate?" I say, laughing because I suddenly realize I've been speaking French. And thanks to Rosetta Stone's brilliant app I sound pretty good!

Paris, je t'aime.

We rambled along the Boulevard Haussmann, chatting about music, college, and chocolate - in search of a quiet café where all our future conversations started..

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