Today we’re heading to Belgrade to meet our French coach: Frédéric Charrier. This is a very special moment for us because, just a few months ago, Frédéric was working with us in Lyon at SpeakPlus! He is now living in Belgrade and gives us the best advice for an unforgettable stay in the Serbian capital.
Can you describe Belgrade in a few words?
Belgrade is a big city and a shining metropolis ever since it was the capital of Yugoslavia. Belgrade is a bit like the Balkans : a passionate place! Somehow, there’s something special and magical about this city that makes you want to stay ! That’s what I felt in 2008, when I was a student here. And here I am back once more!
What are the places you must see in Belgrade?
You can visit your way around Belgrade during a long weekend.. First, you should stroll up the main street, Mihailo Street, until you reach the entrance of the Kalemagdan Park. The park is great for afternoon walks and its fortress will give you a great view on the Sava River.
You can also make a little detour and take Skadarlija Street, which is in the heart of the bohemian quarter. You can stop and enjoy a “goulas u lepinji” (Goulash served in a round bread), the specialty of a bakery right next to the fountain.
Then you should head to Vracar (vratchar), the bourgeois quarter of the city. There, you can visit the small, but excellent Nikola Tesla Museum. Tesla was a genius that made a lot of discoveries and created an international measuring unit (the Tesla). In Vracar you will also find lots of coffee shops and restaurants, as well as the Kalénich Market.
But your journey wouldn’t be complete if you left Belgrade without visiting the Museum of Yugoslav History. This museum holds great exhibitions and also houses Josip Broz Tito’s memorial centre (he was a statesman serving his country for over four decades!).
Any tips to share with us?
The best advice I can give is this one: experience local food. The cuisine isn’t really specific to Serbia, it’s mostly Balkan cuisine with a strong Turkish influence. You need to try:
- The pljeskavica : the Serbian hamburger;
- The sarma : roll of fermented cabbage stuffed with meat and rice;
- The pitas and burek : sort of puff pastry parcel with meat, cheese or spinach;
- The kajmak : something between cottage cheese and cream;
- The prebranac : my favorite! A mix of white beans and onions stewed for hours and baked in the oven. Exquisite!
Do you know any great bars or restaurants in Belgrade?
A lot of restaurants (called “kafana“) serve traditional dishes. You can go to the oldest restaurant of Belgrade, located on Kralja Petra Street in a house of Ottoman architecture. You can also go to Mornar: the Serbian Montmartre filled with traditional musicians. If you are looking for revisited traditional food, go to Mala fabrika ukusa.
As the night goes on, feel free to enjoy the many great bars Belgrade has to offer. The city has many secret bars hidden inside courtyards. For those who like to hangout and dance, go to Cetinjska Street! Many clubs and bars recently opened in an old brewery. You can also head to Novi Beograd, on the other side of the Sava to have fun on the barges (splavovi in Serbian).
As for transportation, there are a lot of buses and trains and taking a taxi won’t cost you much. One last thing: in Serbia you have to tip your waiter! Tips are expected to be around 10% of the bill.
Which languages do you need to speak in Belgrade?
It isn’t very hard to be understood in Belgrade or in any other big Serbian cities. If you speak English, you’ll be fine! Serbian are rather good with languages and speak English pretty well. I would still advise you to learn a few Serbian words, the locals love it!
As for me, I know the basics and I manage to understand and to be understood without really respecting any grammatical rules. Just like in German, you need to master declensions! Here, we also use the Cyrillic alphabet, just like Russian, even though we still use the Latin alphabet. Once you know more about Cyrillic, the pronunciation will come pretty easily.
What is the paperwork required to work in Serbia?
If you want to work in Serbia you have to apply for a working visa at the police department of the city you wish to live in. It isn’t very complicated, but a little boring! There is always a missing document! A piece of advice: be patient and ask locals for help.
After a few years working in the cultural sector and music production, I wanted to give a new turn to my career by returning to the teaching business. I already had a few experiences and had worked on different projects mixing culture and education. I was right to do so, since, after doing an internship developing pedagogical tools for SpeakPlus, I got my master’s degree in teaching French as a Foreign Language. At the same time, I passed the French national exam to become an elementary school teacher. Before I head back to Paris next septembre, I am spending a year here in Belgrade, at the French Institute teaching French.
Do you want to follow French lessons with Frédéric? Please click here to start your one-to-one language lessons by webcam!