A Passion for Complication

A slightly adapted excerpt from Demystifying the French: How to Love Them and Make them Love You, published by Winged Words Publishing, 2019. Copyright Janet Hulstrand, all rights reserved.

It’s best, whenever possible, to give the merchant exact change when buying something in France. “I do not know why, but I do know that French people really, really, really want you to give them exact change if you possibly can. They just do,” I tell my students.

This can lead to a confusing situation for Anglophones, because the word for “change” in French is monnaie. So if a French person looks at the money you have given them and says “Vous n’avez pas de monnaie?” you might understandably be confused. After all, haven’t you just given them monnaie?

But no, you see, you have not. You have given them argent, which means, literally “silver,” and is the word used for money. Or you have given them espèce, which means “cash”: but you have not given them exact c…

Voir Plus about A Passion for Complication
  • 0

Les Maréchaux?

Why are the boulevards on the edge of Paris (where the Tramway and PC bus run) referred to as “Les maréchaux“? This ring of roads, which totals 33 kilometres and connects the portes de Paris, has different sections each named after a French field marshal. Lannes, Brune, Kellerman... Les boulevards des Maréchaux were originally the military route that gave access to the ramparts, built by Thiers in 1840, which circled Paris protecting it from invaders and sieges. In 1860 Paris annexed the towns on the periphery as well as the ramparts and glacis (A glacis is the open grassy slope on the outside of the ramparts – As with many military terms we use the same word in English, but it comes from Old French glacier ‘to slip’, from glace ‘ice’, based on Latin glacies) which created a wide gap in the urban landscape. The gap was gradually filled in by the ramshackle housing of the less fortunate. In the 1920s the ramparts were removed and the area since called «la zone» was rebuilt with …
Voir Plus about Les Maréchaux?
  • 1

Atelier des Lumières Journeys Around the Mediterranean

Immersive is the right word.

You are immersed in a very dark room and must let your vision adjust then you begin to see light, hear sound and things move. You are surrounded by Monet, Renoir, Chagall, Dufy. By the Mediterranean. You are immersed in the sea of light. Then you hear Ella Fitzgerald sing “Summertime” and you resurface to sing and even dance. You are immersed in what is going on around you. You don't want to leave.

‘Monet, Renoir, and Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean’© Culturespaces/Nuit de Chine Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Le Lavandou (detail), 1894, oil on canvas, private collection; Claude Monet: Woman With Umbrella Turned Towards the Right (detail), 1886, oil on canvas, 131 x 88 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Antibes (detail), 1888, oil on canvas, 65.5 x 92,4 cm, Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London; Palm Trees at Bordighera (detail), circa 1884, oil on canvas, 61.3 x 74 cm, private collection, Photo © Lefevre Fine Art Ltd.,…
Voir Plus about Atelier des Lumières Journeys Around the Mediterranean
  • 0

Laughter in France

Laughter is the best medicine. Reflections on laughter in France, the land of La Vache qui rit!

Première-affiche-par-B.Rabier,-1924,-Maison-de-la-Vache-qui-Rit.-©-MVQR The city of Bordeaux seems to be the center of laughter in France

One might say Bordeaux likes to laugh more than elsewhere in France. The city is host to the Festival Les Fous Rires de Bordeaux 14-21 March 2020 http://lesfousriresdebordeaux.fr/ and just concluded the exhibition "Rire!" at their science and nature Muséum. But Bordeaux doesn't own the market there are many other spots are also holding festivals in 2020, for some funny reason most are in March!

Festival d'Humour de Paris 14-24 March https://festivaldhumourdeparis.com/ Le Printemps du Rire in Toulouse 6 March - 5 April https://leprintempsdurire.com/ 36ème Festival Mont-Blanc d'Humour 23-26 March https://www.saintgervais.com/fete-et-manifestation/36eme-festival-mont-blanc-dhumour-saint-gervais-les-bains Les Vendanges …
Voir Plus about Laughter in France
  • 0