Adrian Leeds Nouvellettre®
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How Good is Your French?

Meme for Prep My Future


As I wrote in an earlier Nouvellettre®, I am finally applying for French citizenship…after almost three decades in France. One of the requirements (now) is to pass a French test.

Since January 3, 2022, the TEF Residence and Naturalization have disappeared and have been replaced by a single TEF Integration, Residence and Nationality test. For all procedures related to citizenship, residency (10-year card) or naturalization in France, this test must be taken.

The Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF) is a language certification from the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI Paris) intended for people over 16 years old, whose mother tongue is not French and who wish to have their level of French certified, for one reason or another. After taking the test, the certificate of results is valid for two years.

The tests are graded from 0 to 699 points. The listening and reading comprehension and lexicon and structure tests are multiple choice for which a correct answer is worth one point. A wrong answer or no answer is worth 0 points. The oral and written expression tests are evaluated by two separate examiners. The candidate receives a summary of his or her scores for each test and the associated CEFR levels (from A1 to C2) on his or her certificate of results.

The French test score levels

To pass, I must score betweenat least 300 and 399 points, or a B1 level. Basically, that’s a 50% positive score, which shouldn’t be too hard…or so I thought.

The Local, in an article this past year, describes the test results as: “able to handle day-to-day matters that arise in school, work or leisure. A B1 candidate should be able to get by while traveling in an area where only French is spoken, and should be able to describe events and justify things like opinions, plans, or even ambitions. You are not required to be able to speak perfect, error-free French, only to be able to make yourself understood and understand any replies you are given.”

That sounded easy enough, so I scheduled the test with the Alliance Française de Paris for mid-March immediately upon my return from the U.S. Then, panic set in when I realized how little time there was to prepare for it. I wrote the Alliance Française claiming that I had a mandatory medical intervention that week (white lie, as it’s the week after) and asked to move the date back.

Bonne chance! In order to postpone it, I must send a document attesting to my absence for good reason: “Absence due to force majeure (illness, transport strike, death of a parent, etc.): the candidate can benefit from a postponement of his/her exam to the next session by sending a written request to [email protected] accompanied by a stamped and signed supporting document within a maximum of 24 hours after the first missed exam (written or oral). If the document is considered valid, the deferral will be granted only once. In the event of a new absence at the deferral session, regardless of the reason, the exam registration fee will be permanently lost.”

Okay…it seemed I must suck it up and prepare for the test on March 10th. That’s when I signed up with—an online course to get me up to speed. Sleepless nights were spent trying to figure out when any of this was happening amidst my already insane work and travel schedule. Determined to work it in somehow, Saturday I went to lunch with my laptop and started to take the preparatory course tests.

OMG! One hour later and even using DEEPL to translate (cheating), too many questions were still beyond my comprehension. It turns out my level of written French comprehension is barely passing, even with the help of DEEPL! Ugh.

Meme for a French test, wondering what is the gender for a washing machine

This has me seriously concerned that if I don’t pass, I’ll have to start the process all over again. So, why after 28+ years in France is my French so pathetic?

That’s easy to answer: no effort; little use; no incentive to learn. On top of that, DEEPL came along—a brilliant and very easy-to-use online translator. You just select the text, press control + CC and it translates the text to English (or any language you want) in seconds at a very high-quality level. Who needs to know a language when DEEPL can do it all for you? It’s very spoiling, to say the least. Plus the more I know, the more I realize how little I know! French is not “du gâteau!” (a piece of cake!).

Other than high school French classes, I have no formal training in French. Classroom settings are not my forté, so I avoided taking courses like the plague. To learn French, I started and ran a French-English conversation group for 20 years (“Parler Parlor”), so that got me speaking, but did nothing for written comprehension or writing. Meanwhile, just about everything I do is in English—these Nouvellettres®, for example, and all of our clients are Anglophone. Even the documents we deal with, all real estate related, are boiler-plate legal docs that almost translate themselves. We know them inside-out, so why did I need to worry about my level of French? I didn’t…until now!

So, what’s my plan? Well, postponement still seemed like the right thing to do, so I went to the trouble of sending the letter to postpone the test by one month with a copy of the actual medical intervention schedule (no lies), and meanwhile will hire a live private teacher to get my level up to snuff in time. This is not only good for passing the test, but good for ameliorating my level of French, too! That wouldn’t be a bad idea after all these years of just getting by, would it?

Help! Do you have a French teacher/tutor you recommend?

I’d love to hear all about them. Please send me your recommendations ASAP by emailing me.



Thank you for your feedback on the Fractional Ownership properties from last week’s Nouvellettre®.  So many of you took the time, wrote-in and shared your ideas! we are most appreciative. Your comments have been greatly helpful in determining ways we can satisfy your wants and desires better when it comes to this type of property ownership and more specifically, the two properties about which we questioned: La Villa Plaisance (not yet in existences) and Le Jardin de la Promenade.

Stay tuned for information about both of these properties, as we take your advice! Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning more about Fractional Ownership, visit our website.


Our most recent House Hunters International episode, “Champagne Tastes in Epernay, France“—with American diplomat Krisi Hayden (and lots of champagne), will air for the first time next weekend!

Adrian Leeds with Kristi Hayden in episode of House Hunters International

After years of working abroad, a US diplomat is ready to plant roots in Epernay, the heart of French wine country. She’s looking for a place with plenty of French charm, but modest purse strings may put a squeeze on finding the property of her dreams.

Air times: Sunday, February 19th at 10:31 p.m. EST/9:31 p.m. CST and Monday, February 20th at 2:31 a.m. EST/1:31 a.m. CST.

Adrian Leeds with Kristi Hayden in episode of House Hunters International

To watch from outside the US, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)*, then you can stream it from their site.

For more information, visit HGTV.

*Sign up with Express VPN (my favorite) by clicking here.

Meme for Express VPN services


Poster for Nice Carnival 2023

I’m headed to Nice later this week and looking forward to a weekend of carnival events in both Nice for the Carnaval de Nice and Menton for the annual Fête du Citron. The festivities began this past Saturday afternoon kicked off by “La Grande Parade du 150ème Anniversaire”—the first parade celebrating the 150th anniversary of the carnival.

Parade float in Nice Carnival, by Patty Sadauskas

Photo by Patty Sadauskas

Patty Sadauskas had a head start and shared some of her photos with us from Saturday’s parade. I’ll have plenty more next week…so stay tuned!

Parade float in Nice Carnival, by Patty Sadauskas

Parade float in Nice Carnival, by Patty Sadauskas

Happy Almost Valentine’s Day!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds for Valentine's DayAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Last Tuesday I participated in the 2023 US Expat Finance Conference by speaking for one hour on a Zoom webinar about “Buying Real Estate and Getting a Mortgage as a US Expat.”

As it turns out, I won the vote for “Top Talk!” (Hope you don’t mind a bit of a boast?)

The webinar was recorded so you can watch my talk here, as well as the others, free of charge, here.

Have fun learning from the experts!

P.P.S. I will not be writing my usual Nouvellettres® the week I will be traveling to Los Angeles and Maui from February 26 to March 6th. Instead, you will have the pleasure of reading some of our most special past issues. Upon my return, you’ll have a full report of time spent on the other side of the planet…to include whale watching, snorkeling, hiking in the rainforest and volcanic craters, and a host of other activities France doesn’t offer, but Hawaii does!


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