Kerry Worries About His French Skills While Abroad

State secretary goes on language safari during French trip.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius at the Foreign Ministry in Paris, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius at the Foreign Ministry in Paris, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.

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Il parlait en Francais et ils ont ri.

Don't understand that? Neither do most Americans. This is precisely why Secretary of State John Kerry was worried he wouldn't be allowed back into the country.

The newly minted chief diplomat leaped into his French skills with vigor on Wednesday while speaking at a press conference with his French counterpart, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

[MORE: Kerry Regales Berliners With Tales of Divided City]

The mostly French audience laughed twice during his opening remarks in their native language, in which he referenced the great French food that has drawn Americans to Paris for centuries. He concluded his bilingual repartee by admitting he should continue in English before becoming disavowed at home.

Kerry, who spent part of his upbringing in France as the son of a diplomat, afforded the audience a luxury he denied the Canadians, who also cherish their Francophone ancestry.

During his first ever press conference as secretary of state earlier in February, on his inaugural international trip to Canada, Kerry shot down a local reporter's request to answer her question on the Keystone pipeline "en Francais."

"Not today. I've got to refresh myself on that," he said.

[READ: Kerry Shows Grace Praising George Bush in Farewell Address]

And refresh himself he did. Later at the Wednesday press conference, a French reporter began a question in French and paused to ask Kerry which language he would prefer.

"Whatever you're comfortable with," Kerry responded.

Fewer than 2 million people in America speak French as of 2007, according to Census statistics. Use of the language is commonly shunned among politicians who fear it makes them appear "un peu trop bourgeois."

Check out the footage of the two conferences:

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