Both English spelling and pronunciation are heavily influenced by the French. Many of the spellings and pronunciations that English learners call "crazy" are due to this French influence on the English language. However, people are a bit too quick to say that English has little to no regularity in its phonetic patterns. It's just that the regularity for the phonetic patterns for "big" words are not taught in our school systems. When one only has the phonics of "small" words to work with, it is impossible to read words like crucial, impartial, unique, or flambe. These words all follow regular patterns. See The Patterns of English Spelling for more information on word families, including a complete listing of words in the English language by word family.
For more information on the different languages from which English gets its "fancy" words, see the chart on the AVKO article "Read by Grade 3, Say What?".
For a condensed history of English's formation, see the article "How French Has Influenced English" on About.com. Another helpful resource on their site is a list of French Words and Expressions in English. These expressions and words are used often in English and many of them should be known by heart as they will be encountered often.