Map of French accents: which do you prefer?

From the major division between north and south to the departments split in two - everywhere has one

Four-way split image of Perpignan, Strasbourg, Nîmes and Saint-Malo with map of French accents in the middle
The streets of (clockwise from top-left) Perpignan, Strasbourg, Nîmes and Saint-Malo all echo with a different flavour of French

Everywhere in France has its own flavour of French: from the major division between north and south, to the difference between one town and another in the same department. We look at where these divisions are and the differences between them.

People making their best efforts to speak French may be dismayed when the locals observe “vous avez un petit accent” (you have a bit of an accent), but should take heart: the locals repeat this same phrase to people from other regions of France.

The most noticeable difference in accents is between the northern and and southern halves of the country, between the langue d’oil and the langue d’oc - a division that has its basis in the historical line between French and Occitan.

The name of this division comes from the respective words for yes in these language groups - oil (like oui in modern French) and òc.

While relatively few people speak the historic regional languages today, the linguistic divisions still persist, not just in accent, but also in vocabulary and customs.

Read more: Seven words and phrases from the south of France 

The accents of France

The various accents of France largely stem from the old languages and dialects

Chti / Picard

The Picard dialect of the langue d'oïl gave rise to this distinctive accent of modern French, which earned its modern name Ch’ti in World War One. 

The anecdote goes that soldiers from other regions of France heard the locals saying C’est toi with a heavy Picard accent: “ch’es’ti

Since then, people who speak with the accent are commonly referred to as Ch’tis, giving rise to the famous film ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis’.

Read more: Six classic French films to improve your language skills 


This langue d'oïl that was once the language of English kings has faded into various local forms of patois, or local dialects that persist to this day in rural areas.

The channel islands each lay claim to some dialect of their own, including Jèrriais on Jersey, Guernésiais on Guernsey and Sercquiais on Sark.

Curiously, just like a French speaker from the south of France, modern Normans pronounce the words café and secret with the same last syllable - a detail perhaps indiscernible to foreign ears.


With little over 10,000 speakers, the Breton language, from the Celtic language family, is considered to be in danger of disappearing according to Unesco.

The region’s accent is almost indiscernible to foreign ears. However, native French-speakers from other regions observe that Bretons tend to raise their intonation at the ends of sentences and speak quickly.


This is the ‘Paris accent’, widely (some would argue wrongly) considered to be the ‘correct’ French accent.

It is of course a langue d'oïl, but has noticeably clear r’s (known to linguists as rhoticity), than other French accents. You can hear this in the way Parisians say the last r in "manger" (to eat) and "parler" (to speak).


This langue d’oc is still taught in schools and has undergone something of a revival in recent decades.

It can be divided into several regional dialects, including Provençal, Languedocien and arguably Gascon. 

The accent that accompanies these dialects is noticeable to foreign ears, sometimes nasal, often fast flowing and always musical.

One of the most obvious differences is the letter ‘s’ and the end of words, which is often dropped from standard French, but pronounced pronounced ‘moinss’ with emphasis on the “s” in Provençal.


This is a langue d’oc from the south-west, although it has few speakers today.

The accent that has derived from the old language is noticeable even to ears for its musical and sometimes jarring intonations. 

When former prime minister Jean Castex, famous for his thick gascon accent, was teased on social media, many leapt to his defence, calling out the ‘snobbism’ of Parisians and their glottophobia - or fear of accents.