countries that speak French
French is the 5th most spoken language in the world, however, it was not commonly used in France until after the French Revolution. Source: AFP

Like Spanish, there are many countries that speak French.

Originating from France, it is a mixture of different languages brought into the country by conquerors and settlers.

Latin, brought by the Roman Empire, is the foundation of the language, along with the Gaulish language from the Gauls. Frankish, a West Germanic language spoken from the 5th to 9th century, also played a crucial role in shaping French’s foundation. 

The widespread use of the French language started with French colonisation in the 16th century. From the Americas, Caribbean, India, and Africa, different corners of the world began to be influenced by this language.

Today, 29 countries speak French as an official language, and 13 use it as a sole language. The remaining 16 countries have one or more official languages besides French. 24 countries, such as the UK, Algeria, and Morocco, use French as a non-official language.

According to the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, there are approximately 321 million French speakers, 61.8% of whom live in Africa, and it’s the fifth most widely spoken language globally.

With the French language spreading globally, universities started offering French language degree programmes.

In South Korea, universities like Seoul National University, Yonsei University, and Kongju National University offer degrees in French. The same goes for the New Zealand universities on the other side of the world, such as the University of Auckland, the University of Canterbury, and the University of Otago.

But beyond this, the French language wasn’t the only thing that saw renewed interest and attention. 

French culture, couture, cuisine, and architecture have made their mark worldwide.

People’s love for the Eiffel Tower, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, and croissants has brought in millions of travellers. The Statista Research Department found that France received 100 million travellers in 2023, the highest number since 2010.


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That number is expected to increase in 2024 as France hosts the Olympics in its capital city of Paris. Amadeus found that “the demand for flights to the French capital has surged, reaching 33% higher compared to the same period last year.”

However, when in France, will visitors have a hard time conversing with locals? Will ordering food be a hassle? Would it be worth it for the travellers to learn at least some words or phrases in French?

There are rumours that the French are rude to those who don’t speak French.

However, that isn’t the case.

A Reddit user mentions that “French people, by and large, are delighted when a foreigner speaks their language. Much like if you had someone try to speak your language. Sometimes, the French are quick to give a puzzled look, which might be immediately discouraging. But that’s just how they look when processing thoughts.”

The expressions may cause travellers to think the French are rude or discouraging when conversing in French. However, learning the language will benefit those travelling to the country, and the efforts will be well-spent, as France is not the only country that speaks French.

Travellers who learn French will easily navigate and converse in these countries.

Countries that speak French other than France


Morocco, an Arabic coastal country in the north of Africa, was not a colony but more of a protectorate by the French from 1912 to 1956. 

The country is home to 13.4 million French speakers. The French language was taught in schools during colonial times and even today. Although Morocco is one of the countries that speak French, the language is not officially recognised. The country’s official languages are Arabic and Standard Moroccan Berber, while French is considered a second language, along with English and Spanish.

countries that speak French

French is a dominant language in media and education. However, English is the prime medium used in public schools. Source: AFP


Mauritius was first colonised by the Dutch before the French took over in 1715. Although it’s no longer a French colony, Mauritius is one of the few countries that speak French.

French has blended into Mauritian life over the centuries despite the country having no official language. Currently, 72.63% of its people speak French. The language is taught in schools and is often used in official documents. French has even become a foundation in one of the local languages, Mauritian Creole, which derives from French and a combination of African and Indian languages. 


Although not a French colony, Lebanon was one of the two Middle Eastern countries under French military administration for over 26 years after World War II. Over the years, the local Lebanese have adopted French as a second language.

The language was taught in schools during the French mandate, and even “French-medium” schools were formed. Currently, 40% of its citizens are French speakers, and the language is frequently used for education, business, and diplomacy.

countries that speak French

A decrease in the number of French language speakers in Vietnam has been seen over the years as it’s no longer compulsory for students to learn in school. Source: AFP


Vietnam’s iconic baguette sandwich, the bánh iì, is a remnant of the French Indochina colonial rule from the 1800s to 1954. The sandwich was not the only thing left behind; French architecture and language left a mark on the Vietnamese.  

The French language has influenced the creation of some Vietnamese words, such as coffee, which is café in French and cà phe in Vietnamese. Despite being one of the few countries that speaks French, it is not an official language, and there are currently 693,000 speakers, representing only 1% of the population. However, some schools still teach it as a foreign language. 


Luxembourg is a small country in northwestern Europe surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany. In 1795, France conquered Luxembourg and made it part of its own country.

Luxembourg started as a Romanic and Germanic country, with Walloon and Lëtzebuergesch as its primary languages. However, after French colonisation, the country evolved into a country with German and French as its primary languages. Luxembourg is now one of the countries that speak French as an official language, with 98% of the population speaking French

countries that speak French

Wallonia, the region of Belgium that is closest to France, is where French is mostly spoken. Source: AFP


Along with Luxembourg, Belgium was also invaded and made a part of France by Napolean France in 1795.

From its occupation till the 1930s, the French made it compulsory for most Belgian nationals to learn French in secondary and higher education. French is the second most spoken language in the country and is one of the three official languages of Belgium, along with Flemish and German. Approximately 40% of the country’s population speaks French


It is no surprise that Canada made it to the list of countries that speak French. In the early 17th century, the French first migrated to Canada and settled in what is now known as Montreal and Quebec. 

Over the years, the French settlements grew, and French is now one of the two most spoken languages in the country, with over 22% (10.7 million) of the Canadian population able to converse in it. 84.1% of the 10.7 million are from Quebec, making it the city with the most French speakers in the country. The language is now one of Canada’s two official languages, along with English. 

countries that speak French

Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the last piece of French territory in North America. Source: AFP

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Located to the south of Canada’s Newfoundland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon are a group of French territory islands.

These islands were claimed by Jacques Cartier, the French-Breton maritime explorer for France, in 1536 after being discovered by the Portuguese. After over 400 years of war and political issues, France finally resettled on the island, bringing their language with them. Now, 5,815 of its inhabitants speak French and adhere to European French customs and traditions.


Made up of roughly 80 islands, Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was colonised by France and the UK during the 18th century. The two countries ruled together from 1906 until Vanuatu’s independence in 1980.

Even after leaving Vanuatu, the French have left several cultural marks on the country, one of them being the French language. Vanuatu is on the list of countries that speak French, which is one of the official languages, along with Bislama and English. Approximately 31% of its population speaks French.

countries that speak French

Wallis and Futuna have three official languages: French, Wallisian, and Futunan. Source: AFP

Wallis and Futuna

First claimed as a French protectorate, then a colony, then a French overseas territory in 1961, the Wallis and Futuna Islands is one of the few countries that speak French.

French is one of Wallis and Futuna’s three official languages, and over 11,558 of its population speak it as a first language and two other local languages. Classes are taught in French for primary school students ages six to 11.