THANKS to the internet you can work on learning French before you even set foot in the country.
A basic proficiency in the language will go a long way towards helping you get by day-to-day but will ensure you feel part of the community.
There are a number of websites that allow you to slowly build up your knowledge of French and if you put the time in you could well surprise yourself once arriving in France.
One of the most extensive sites is the US-based About.com site that has everything from the basics, such as counting and asking questions.
But the site uses the interactivity of the internet to provide lessons in common French gestures that uses photographs to make things clear. And there are audio files that you can listen along to.
A UK-based site that is will worth spending some time on is the realfrench.net website that is run by Manchester Metropolitan University.
An original feature of the site is a set of vocab-teaching games and activities, including flashcards, hangman, crosswords, and wordsearch.
But there are also plenty of opportunities for people who already have a strong grounding in French, as there is an advanced-level section.
And if you are really determined to learn French before heading over, then the Alliance Francaise run courses in centres around the world.