I know you're dying to know how DH's phone app language lessons turned out. In summary: "I EAT TOMATOES!" is approximately as useful a statement as one might have expected. Nonetheless, DH really powered through our vacation with a jolly mix of Franglish, gesticulating, and ducking behind Medium Fry whenever the going got tricky.
Naturally, Medium Fry did an excellent job helping the rest of the fam muddle through. In less predictable news, I am pleased to announce that I used what I learned in/retained from school (which I am now referring to as "rudimentary transactional French") to reasonably good effect. Maybe that's a little subjective, but at the end of the day I mostly ended up with the baguette or café crème or five museum tickets that I had asked for, so it couldn't have been that bad.
It also wasn't necessarily all that good, either: my rudimentary transactional French did fail me a couple of times. For instance, I got really cocky about tossing a jaunty "Bonjour!" around as I strolled the cobblestone streets early each morning but when a garbage man followed up with a "Comment ça va?" one day, I completely froze. Completely. I stopped walking and just stood there with my mouth hanging open. He had already disappeared around a corner when my brain fired up again. "Shit!" I yelled after him, "Ça va bien!"
I also panicked a bit while counting out change for a cashier. Damn those confusing little Euro coins! Ideally, I would say something charming yet strikingly intelligent, with a slight, hard-to-place accent and a Bond-like suaveness: "Pardon the delay. I'm simply unfamiliar with your delightful currency." Panties would drop. It would be amazing. Unfortunately, in that particular moment the only statement I could cobble together was, "I'm sorry! I'm Canadian!" (I was corrected enough times on my Québécois pronunciation during our trip that I'm pretty sure the lameness of the statement wasn't even tempered by the quality of its execution.)
In retrospect it was a pretty Canadian thing to say, but I'm afraid it leaves things a bit open to interpretation. So if you are ever in the south of France and find yourself confronted with the stereotype that Canadians are bad at math, bad at money, and/or just plain "slow", it's probably my fault. If your parlay voo isn't too bad maybe you could correct the record while you're there. Regardless, definitely offer up some sort of apology - it's just our way.