Lingua Franca | French lessons Brisbane

French lessons, events & trips

FRENCH LESSONS EVENTS & GIFTS

Christian Dior

As many of you may know, we are taking a group of students and friends down to Melbourne to see the Christian Dior exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria soon, with the lovely and talented Paul Hunt as our chaperon*

In celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the House of Dior, the exhibition is organised by theme, and includes a sumptuous display of more than 140 créations* designed by Christian Dior Couture between 1947 and 2017.

Part of the reason for my interest in this exhibition is that this year I have watched two or three documentaries on Christian Dior and his famous maison de couture*. As often happens, someone recommended a doco to me, I watched it and then off down the rabbit hole of haute couture* I went. I wouldn't rate fashion as one of my passions (though I've always had an interest in it) but these documentaries really got me in. The creativity, the craftsmanship and the sheer beauty of the creations are really worthy of marvel and an absolute visual delight.

I started with 'Dior and I', which documents the arrival of Raf Simons as the new Creative Director of the house. Measured and modest, does Raf have what it takes to modernise the brand? If all it took were creativity, Raf would be a shoo-in (see his transformation of a somewhat bland exhibition space into a floral explosion for proof). However, as we learn, politics, egos, tempers and commerce all have a hand to play.

Next, I moved onto Inside Dior, which charts the arrival of Dior's first ever female Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. I cannot for the life of me work out how I managed to watch it as I can only find la bande annonce* now, but I believe it is available on Foxtel.

Then, thoroughly intrigued, I travelled back in time to see where it all started. Christian Dior: The Man Behind the Myth an English-language documentary that lifts the veil on Dior's upbringing and his unlikely rise to “director of dreams for high society”.

I hope you enjoy this most beautiful journey dans le terrier du lapin* as much as I did.

 

*chaperone | *creations | *fashion house | *high fashion | *the trailer | *down the rabbit hole

Coin culture | Culture corner

© Bianca Brandon-Cox

© Bianca Brandon-Cox

Even if your childhood has long passed, I am sure you’ll remember the little counting rhyme you used to use in order to make decisions. Does ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…’ ring a bell at all? I bet it does. And I bet now you’ve remembered it you’ll be wishing you could use it as an adult from time to time when things get really compliqué*, non?*

Have you ever wondered (and I’m guessing not) how the French enfants* approach this decision-making process? Well, wonder no longer, because le voici*:

Am, stram, gram,

Pic et pic et colégram,

Bourre et bourre et ratatam,

Am, stram, gram.

As to the meaning of the ditty, speculation abounds, including having origins as a Teutonic saying used to decimate prisoners (not so nice) or even a Shamanic incantation (très mystérieux*). Ma version préférée* is that is simply a form of onomatopoeia, invented for the sheer pleasure children’s ears.

For those of you who are more visual, voici une vidéo*. It is très mignon*.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3jZmWdcebs

*complicated | *no? | *children | *here it is | *very mysterious | *My preferred version | *here is a video | *very cute

Le chouchou | Teacher's pet

Corinne Sklavos

LCCN #7 | Corinne Sklavos.jpg
 

Name/nom: Corinne Sklavos

Age/âge: 28 

Level/Niveau: ABR

 

LF:    Corinne, quelle est ta profession?

CS:     I work as a medical scientist.

LF     Pourquoi tu étudies le français?

CS:    I am studying French to minimise my sense of unilingual shame on my trip to France in September. I have never studied a language before but I am having a lot of fun in my group lessons at Lingua Franca. I have some very clever friends that speak French. I like texting them in French when I can…it’s good practice for those irregular verbs (no wonder I’m le chouchou). French culture just seems so cool to me too: wine, cheese, Dior…say no more!

LF:     Mot préféré en français?

CS:     My favourite French word is Billecart-salmon 🥂 #tchintchin

LF:     Merci, Corinne et bon courage pour Term 4.

CS:     You’re welcome, LF!

 

On aime | We like

Chef's table France

© Kevin Laurino / Netflix

© Kevin Laurino / Netflix

Even if you don’t have Netflix, I strongly encourage you to take a look at Chef’s Table France on Youtube. If you have Netflix, tant mieux*, you are in for a sensual treat of the highest order.

The Emmy-nominated series opens the door on the world of French cuisine. Beautifully shot and captivatingly told, the stories of the passion, drive and sheer excellence of some of France’s top chefs will have your papilles* pulsating. The series will open your eyes to the esteem in which the French hold their most enduring obsession: la cuisine*.

One of the most touching stories comes from Alexandre Couillon, a high school dropout from the gastronomic wasteland of Noirmoutier on the Atlantic Coast, whose surname means ‘moron’. Despite this unfortunate moniker, Alexandre is an absolute genius in the kitchen. Along with his wife, Alexandre pours his heart and soul into their restaurant La Marine, in the hopes of putting his terroir* on the map. Seven years later, they are ready to walk away defeated, when un grand rebondissement* comes their way. No spoilers here, but if you don’t shed une larme ou deux*, you might need to check your pulse. Fantastic viewing. The best thing for you, as a student French: English subtitles. Watch, learn and be inspired.

Voici la bande announce* for season 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsysCwH3zQ

*all the better | *taste buds | *food | *homeland | *twist in the tale | *a tear or two | *Here is the trailer

Au nid | In the nest

links

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If you’ve been meaning to do it all year, grab your last chance to come along to a Free Trial lesson here au nid. We’d love to get you started on your French apprentissage* before the year is out.

If you’re plein d’enthousiasme* about your French, these upcoming school holidays offer you a chance to hone your skills even more. Whether it’s travel French you’re after, or you want to clean up all of those pesky little words (en, à, aux, mon, du…ringing bells?) our September workshops could be just the solution*. Learn more here: En Voyage and Les Petits Mots.

Can you believe we’re heading towards the end of the year already? Before things get too crazy, be sure to sign up for Term 4. Classes start the week of the 2nd October and we look forward to seeing you en classe*.

Youpi!* It’s finally happening. Many of you have been asking us for years and in September 2018 we’re going to make it une réalité. Yes, our inaugural France trip. We’re in the planning stages, but if this announcement make your oreilles* prick up, go here to learn more. 

For those of you who prefer to stay a little closer to home, we will once again be heading off to Nouméa in April next year. We’d love to have you come along. Let us know you’re keen. For all you rats de bibliothèques* out there, in Term 4 we will once again be running our Club de Lecture on Thursdays at 10am. This term, we have chosen a slightly easier book called Et si c’était vrai*, which will be a relief to those who participated in Term 3’s bookclub. By the way, huge félicitations to those very students. You certainly did not shy away from the challenge! Your vocabulary will thank you, c’est promis.

Finally, a lovely thing happened au nid* this week. Katrina was named as a finalist in the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders ALEA awards. She did not take out the gong this time, but what a wonderful feeling to be nominated. To the mystery person who made it happen, un grand merci*.

*learning | *all fired up | *answer | *in class | *Yippee! | *ears | *bookworms | *And if it were true | *I promise | *in the nest | *a huge thank you.

MY FRENCH STORY | MON HISTOIRE FRANÇAISE

Ricky Self

LCCN #6 | My French Story | Workings NL FB Ricky.JPG

I started learning French when I was in high school. I enjoyed it but was frustrated I couldn’t practise and use it much, so after a year of learning French at school, I stopped. Ten years later, I made the decision to start learning a language and that’s how French came back into my life. I was planning a three to six-month European trip, and I thought knowing a bit of French would be helpful. I was also considering living there for a bit as I have a British passport. Ten days into my European trip, I met the biggest motivation to learning the language: a French girl called Elsa.

From then on, I started learning with a lot more consistency! I was always buying new books and getting excited by new French movies but mostly I was studying every single day whenever I could, with Elsa’s help sometimes. After a year of learning, we spent three months in France and I noticed an improvement. I was spending most of my days listening to the radio, watching French TV and trying to speak to Elsa’s family and friends. It was really hard but it definitely helped my confidence. We moved back to Australia after that and although I still had the best reason to practise my French with me, I kind of stopped for about a year until we moved to Brisbane in August 2015.

Here, I found my motivation again and I was studying several times a week, on my own, watching the news on SBS every morning and going along to French Meetups when I could. I joined Lingua Franca in early 2016 which gave a real boost to my French: the structure of the lessons and the support of the tutors really helped me reach a higher level and even motivated me to sit the DELF B1 in November 2016. I had never sat a French test in my life so this was pretty daunting, though exhilarating. I remember being in front of my test and thinking to myself “Wow, you’re really doing it!”. So I did, and I passed. It gave me a huge boost and so when we visited Elsa’s family for Christmas 2016, I felt confident enough to speak to everyone in French. I loved it and I loved not relying on Elsa for translation and being able to have proper conversations with people. When we came back, I decided to challenge myself even more and enrolled for the DELF B2 training. It’s great for me because it gives me an end goal to focus my studies on and to stay motivated.

In June 2017, we went back to France and I decided to travel on my own for half of our trip which really challenged me. The safety net was off and I had no other choice but to speak French all the time. This experience was amazing and gave me a little taste of what fluency would feel like, which is now my new goal.

À la découverte de | discover

Les châteaux Cathares

© IP3 PRESS/MAXPPP

© IP3 PRESS/MAXPPP

“Kill them all and let God sort them out”.

Fighting words indeed, allegedly uttered by the Papal legate Arnaud Almaury prior to the massacre at Béziers, the start of a crusade against the Cathars which ultimately led to the massacre of approximately half a million inhabitants of the Languedoc Roussillon region. 

So who were the Cathars and why was the Catholic Church out for blood? With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see that c'était joué d’avance*. The Cathars were a religious group who appeared in France in the 11th century. It is believed their ideas came from the Byzantine Empire (modern-day Turkey and Bulgaria) and travelled to France via northern Italy. They represented a threat to the all-powerful Catholic Church as their philosophy gained ground and was tolerated or even accepted by many Catholics in the Languedoc region. While the Roman Catholics believed in one all-powerful God, the Cathars had a dualistic approach to religion, believing there was a good God who had created all that was immaterial (good, permanent and immutable) and a bad God who was the god of all material things, including the world and everything in it. They believed this bad God had captured souls and imprisoned them in ‘tunics of flesh’ (i.e. the human form) through conception. The only way to escape the mortal coil and enter heaven was to become a Parfait or Parfaite (Perfects, or those who lived irreproachable lives) and thereby avoid reincarnation. They therefore believed that all non-procreative sex was better than procreative sex, believed in contraception, masturbation, euthanasia and suicide. They did not eat meat, believed in the equality of men and women and possibly worst of all, refused to pay tithes to the Catholic Church. The stage was therefore set for a bataille royale*, which indeed came to pass. Pope Innocent III called for a formal crusade, and the slaughter began.

Since the Cathars were well-liked amongst the populace of Languedoc, they were often given refuge in the hilltop châteaux* scattered around the Languedoc region. These châteaux, often built on the top of escarpments and mountains and believed to be impenetrable proved not to be so. Over a period of two generations, starting in 1208, more than half a million people were killed, and not all of them were Cathars. Such was their popularity, it was often difficult to distinguish between true Cathars and Cathar sympathisers, many of whom were members of the Catholic Church, resulting in Arnaud Almaury’s famous, if bloody-minded, proclamation.

Les Chateaux Cathares, some of which have been restored, are firmly on the tourist trail in the region now known as Occitanie, an eerie reminder of the crusades of the Medieval Era.

 

*it was a foregone conclusion | *battle royal | *castles | *

De quoi ? | Say what ?

se prendre un râteau | rouler une pelle

©EverEarth

©EverEarth

What is it about the French using gardening tools to describe amorous pursuits? Perhaps they really love their jardinage*?

Prendre un rateau* is a colloquial French saying and is used to describe the (often humiliating) experience of being rejected by a love interest. So why are we talking about râteaux*? Well, if you think about it, c’est logique*. Imagine you’re walking along, dreaming about your intended, and you step on the teeth of a rake. What happens? Well, the handle hits you in the face and you’re laid out flat. Ça fait mal*, c’est humiliant* and ça laisse des traces*. We can all feel the pain, non?

“Oh le pauvre, il a essayé de draguer Martine, mais il a pris un râteau.” 

“ Oh the poor thing, he tried to pick up Martine, but she rejected him.”

Less violent, but perhaps even more excruciating, by the way, is to be put in the ‘juste-un-pote’* category, ’ with ‘pote’ meaning ‘mate’ or ‘friend’. Ouch!

So what if, in fact, you’re lucky enough to not ‘prendre un râteau’, but succeed in winning over your paramour? Well then, you might have to change verbs (and nouns for that matter) and rouler une pelle, which means ‘to snog’. Why is French kissing known in France as ‘rolling a spade’? You’d have to ask a French person. Sérieusement*, I’m out of ideas.

 

*gardening | *to take a rake | *rakes | *it makes sense | *it hurts | *it's humiliating | *it leaves a mark | *friend-zone | *seriously

On aime | we like

Call my agent

© Dix pour cent / DR

© Dix pour cent / DR

Call My Agent, or as it is known in France ‘Dix Pour Cent’* is a twelve-part series about a small team of theatre/cinema agents in the 1st arrondissement of Paris and is light entertainment at its best. The ‘dix pour cent’ of the title refers to the cut the agents take from their famous clients’ earnings. And believe me, once you've watched a couple of episodes, you’ll believe the agents deserve every single centime*. Perhaps borrowing from the success of HBO’s Entourage, the series includes cameos from some of French cinema’s greatest vedettes*, amongst them Cecile de France, Nathalie Baye, Laura Smet, Christophe Lambert and Isabelle Adjani.

Series 1 is now available on Netflix.

 

*Ten Per Cent | *cent | *stars

Au nid | In the nest

links

It's not too late to join us in Akaroa. We have someone who has had to pull out so there is a Seaview Studio going begging at the moment. Jetez un œil. If you're keen to know more, just let us know.

We have had a huge response to our annual Raclette Dinner and it is sold out. It’ll be back on next year, but if you can't wait that long, you might want to register your interest for our upcoming Dégustation de Vin* scheduled for September.

Great news here au nid*. Deborah is back and she’s available for conversation classes and private lessons. In Term 4, Deborah will be taking on a full roster of evening group lessons, but in Term 3 she has a couple of spots available of an evening and would love to see you.

If you’re keen to put your French to the test, register your interest for the DELF in 2018. As you know, since the DELF classes are so small (max. four students) we decide their place on the timetable to suit the participants, autant que possible*. So if you think you may be interested, let us know and we'll start the ball rolling.

Want an introduction to French wines in a fun, relaxed setting? Come and join us as Constant Beguin Billecocq, from Noble Wines joins us to give us an intro into les vins français*. We'll be tasting un vin blanc*, un vin rosé*, un vin rouge* and un champagne, bien sûr*. Places limited, lots of fun to be had.

Don't forget, Speaking Practice starts in just two weeks' time, and it’s not too late to benefit from the ‘Catch the Worm’ Price. Following straight on from Speaking Practice, in the September school holidays, we have two fantastic workshops, En Voyage and Les Petits Mots. En Voyage will have you speaking more like a local and less like a tourist. Les Petits Mots is for any of you who have ever exclaimed ‘It's the little words that get me!”. Limited places.

 

*wine tasting | *at the nest | *as much as possible | *French wines | *a white wine | *a red wine | *of course

MY FRENCH STORY | MON HISTOIRE FRANÇAISE

clinton hanney

I started studying French to keep my old brain active and have a challenge. I learnt a little French at school, many years ago‚ and it seemed logical to build on that.

No one in my family speaks another language, so I feel very pleased with myself!

As a child, my father worked for Qantas and we travelled extensively, but never to Europe. I hated travelling and vowed and declared I would never travel overseas again. But, learning French has changed my mind completely and now I have travelled to France using my basic French to great effect. I have the most beautiful friends in the Pyrenees, I am applying for Irish citizenship and would love to live in France one day for a period to experience the culture, beauty and language, not to mention the food and wine! I don't recognise myself and learning French, especially at Lingua Franca with the best teachers, has been transformative. 

The standout moment speaking French was in France and is twofold: I asked a woman with a pram getting on a train from Paris to Bordeaux if I could help her and she said she was ok, but appreciated my offer (she recognised I was Australian!) and then when I realised we were on the wrong train going to Versailles and I asked for directions, successfully.

I try and do a couple of hours each week at least, and now doing the DELF I study on Sunday morning with my fellow student. So that's on top of 2 hours of lessons in each semester. Thinking about it, I should be better than I am, so no reflection on my teachers!

Speaking French makes me feel good about myself, clever, and it lets me appreciate how clever people are who are multilingual. 

And as a bonus, I have made a whole host of new and wonderful friends. Merci beaucoup!

 

Editor's note: Clinton may well have left the best part of his story out. A true romantic, he and his beautiful wife Cathie, married 30 years, renewed their vows in a tiny church just outside of Pau in south-west France last year. Une histoire qui touche le cœur...*

*A story that touches the heart.

ON AIME | WE LIKE

AUDIBLE

LCCN 5 - Photo blog - Say what- - être à côté de ses pompes.png

The vast majority of our students have a real passion for reading. They are also, like everyone else, often time-poor. Notwithstanding, they have a real desire to improve their French, and often lament how difficult it is to understand the spoken word. Is there une solution*? Well, yes, it appears there may be.

Audible Inc. is a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming. That is, they sell audio books, and it is no surprise to learn their parent company is Amazon.

Although there is nothing quite like sitting down with a really good book and whiling away the hours, it's also true that being able to listen to your favourite books while exercising, cooking, doing the gardening or even while stuck in traffic n'est pas mal du tout*.

There are nearly 6000 French texts available to download, from the French version of Harry Potter, to Le Petit Prince* and Jules Verne's Vingt Mille Lieues Sous les Mers*  as well as a huge range of French textbooks. 

The best bit? You can listen to your book at three-quarters of its natural speed. This is a fantastic option for French learners, especially if you have a hard copy of the book in your hands as you listen.

We're so excited by this app's possibilities that we've incorporated it into our new Club de Lecture*. We're starting off with Ensemble, C'est Tout, a book by Anna Gavalda which was made into a movie starring Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet. The idea is that we'll listen to a passage in class, check our comprehension, then read the passage in French (a hard copy of the book is included in the cost of the course) and finally translate it into English. Students who download the app can then re-listen to the passages at home, over and over again if necessary. We're confident this approach will vastly improve students' comprehension in a relatively short space of time as well as being really fun. If this sounds like your thing, fais-nous signe*.

*a solution | *is not bad at all | *The Little Prince | *Twenty Thousands Leagues Under the Sea | *Book Club | *let us know

AU NID | IN THE NEST

links

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NEW! French book club. Are you a lover of la lecture*? This could be great for you.

Term 3 starts the week of the 10th July. Book your spot now.

We still have a couple of spots left for our October Akaroa trip, so if you're keen on yacht cruises, Pohatu penguins and world-class cooking schools, just let us know. We'd love you to come.

Don't forget our free monthly Meetup events. Talks in a a mixture of French and English on an aspect of French culture.

Are you counting down the days to Le Festival? We are, and hope to see you there. It's shaping up to be a great year.

Celebrate La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) by attended an event ou deux* during La French Week. More info here.

Our conversation classes run all year. Thirty minutes, a maximum of four in each class.

Did you miss this month's My French Story, featuring our very own student, Clinton Hanney? Read his touching, funny and romantic tale here.

 

*reading | *or two

 

 

EN UN MOT | IN A WORD

CURFEW

LCCN 4 - Photo Blog - En un mot -Vinaigre.png

C'est vrai*, curfew is an English word, but did you know it has French origins?

Curfew originates from Middle French and is a mix of two words: the verb couvrir (to cover) and the noun feu (fire).

For the real intellos* out there, the word dates from the early 14th century and was originally, in Old French, cuevrefeu. Cuevre is the imperative form of the verb covrir, which later became couvrir as we know it today.

So why were the French being told to couvre-feu*? Well, it seems William the Conqueror, or Guillaume le Conquérant, the first Norman King of England, was to blame. Also known as Guillaume le Bâtard*, perhaps he was just a huge killjoy who wanted everyone safely tucked into bed by a certain heure*? In fact, his bastard moniker referred the fact that he was the son of Robert Le Magnifique* (imagine having such a great name?) and his maîtresse*, Arlette de Falaise, not that he was just a big old rabat-joie*.

In fact, demanding that townspeople return home to deaden or cover up their fires (not necessarily extinguish them) at the ringing of an 8pm bell served two purposes for William. Prohibiting the use of live fires after the curfew bell was used as a repressive measure to prevent rebellious gatherings of the conquered English. But clever William was able to pass this off as concern for his fellow citizens. Since most houses at the time were made of timber and particularly susceptible to fire, being forced to cover them at the ringing of the bell greatly reduced the risk of incendies*. Malin, non?*

 

*It's true | *brain-boxes | *cover-fire | *William the Bastard | *hour | *Robert the Magnificent | *mistress | *party pooper | *fires | *Clever, eh?

SAY WHAT? | DE QUOI?

ÊTRE À CÔTÉ DE SES POMPES

Photo credit: Shopstyle

Photo credit: Shopstyle

I think we can all agree that les pompes* in the above photo are sérieusement sexy*.

So how did the French expression ‘to be beside your pumps’ come to denote a rather unsexy state of mind?  And why are you beside your pompes and not in them?

As you may know, the French word for shoes is chaussures*. The word pompes came about in the 19th century as a slang word for shoes, allegedly since their flimsier construction let water in via the soles, thereby turning them into little suction pumps (pompes aspirantes).

Since shoes are associated with walking, and therefore the idea of direction, it stands to reason that if you’re not walking in your pompes, but to the side of them, you’re not exactly focused. It describes the idea of doing something without thinking, of not being in the moment, of there being a décalage* between thought and reality. A more dramatic definition describes an angoisse existentielle*, or a difficulty in adapting to the real world.

In English, we have many ways of expressing this idea, though none possibly as evocative as être à côté de ses pompes. We talk of ‘not being with it’, or ‘being out of sorts’ or even ‘being away with the fairies’. Come to think of it, that’s a lovely expression! 

The word pompe is a useful little word. Here are some other meanings:

les pompes = push-ups

  • Mon entraîneur fait 200 pompes avant d'arriver à la salle de sport.
  • My trainer does 200 push-ups before he gets to the gym.

avoir un coup de pompe = to have wave of tiredness

  • Oh là, j’ai un coup de pompe. Je vais faire une petite sieste.
  • Wow, I’m suddenly really tired. I’m going to have a little nap.

être une pompe à fric = to be a money pit

  • Ce bateau est une vraie pompe à fric.
  • That boat is a real money pit.

lâcher les pompes = to leave someone alone

  • C’est ma décision, alors lâche-moi les pompes!
  • It’s my decision, so get off my back!

*pumps | *seriously sexy | *shoes | *gap | *existential anguish

 

 

AU NID | IN THE NEST

LINKS

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What's the most expensive property in French Monopoly? Come along to our French games afternoon to find out.

Next up in classes? Speaking Practice starts this coming week - alors ne tardez pas*!

We are running two great little workshops during the June/July school holidays.

Term 3 starts the week of the 10th July. Book your spot now.

Our October Akaroa trip is filling up fast. If you're keen to come, please let us know ASAP. A $500 deposit will secure your booking. We'd love you to come.

Don't forget our free monthly Meetup events. Talks in a a mixture of French and English on an aspect of French culture.

Katrina will be running a Masterclass on asking questions at the end of June. For high intermediate/advanced students only, classes are limited to six participants. 

Enrolments are open for the June DELF intake.

Our conversation classes run all year. Thirty minutes, a maximum of four in each class.

 

*so don't delay

 

 

A LA DÉCOUVERTE DE | DISCOVER

EVIan-les-bains

Even if you've not yet made it to the town itself, it is nevertheless almost guaranteed you've bought the spa town's most famous export: Evian water. 

Located on the banks of Lac Léman* in the Haute Savoie region and a truly stunning 35-minute ferry ride from Lausanne in Switzerland, Evian-les-Bains is a high-end spa town. Past visitors have included the Lumière brothers (pioneers of French cinema), Marcel Proust, King George V of England, François Mitterand and King Farouk of Egypt. Since 1994, the best female professional golfers from around the world have descended upon Evian for the prestigious Evian Championship, held in September of each year.

The French have had a longstanding interest in the curative powers of spring water, dating back to Napoleon's first French Republic. So much so, in fact, that in 1807 a scientist was despatched to analyse the waters of the region. Deeming them sufficiently pure, the construction of linking infrastructure followed soon after and before long a booming spa town was born. The town of Evian was so synonymous with water than in 1859 its name was changed to Evian-les-Bains to capitalise on its popularity for those seeking le cure*.

With this rise in popularity came the need for more and more hotels, and in 1909 the most luxurious of them all was constructed: l'Hôtel Royal Evian (pictured). Set on 47 acres of wooded grounds, the hotel comprises 150 chambres*, three restaurants, a La Prairie spa (if there's a heaven, I hope it's this), four tennis courts and a ski-shop (naturellement*). Like most things in Evian, the hotel is owned by the multi-national food products company Groupe Danone (2015 turnover €22.4 billion), whose brands include Evian, Badoit, Volvic and Activia. Interestingly, Groupe Danone is dwarfed in financial terms by one of its neighbours just across the lake in Switzerland, Nestlé S.A., whose 2015 turnover was a touch shy of €250 billion, ten times that of Danone's.

Alors voilà*, yet another French village* to add to your list of destinations.

Fun fact: in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein spends the first night of his lune de miel* in Évian. Sadly (and a lot less romantically) he is unable to prevent his monster from strangling his new wife Elizabeth.

 

*Lake Geneva | *thermal therapy | *rooms | *naturally | *So there you go | *village | *honeymoon

 

COIN CULTURE | CULTURE CORNER

les crottes de chien

LCCN 4 - Photo Blog - Coin Culture - Crottes de chien.png

Those of you who are regulars at our nid* here in Newstead, Brisbane, will be aware that the walls are not exactly perfectly soundproofed. You'll often hears bursts of laughter coming from neighbouring rooms and occasionally even your name being mentioned (which can be a bit disconcerting...).

This week, however, was especially interesting. Elsa and I were beavering away in one room, while another of our tutors, Charlotte, was taking a conversation class with two of our lovely students next door. The lesson started off conventionally enough, with Charlotte asking 'Est-ce que vous avez déjà trouvé de l'argent dans la rue?* Elsa and I smiled and then went back to our work, becoming engrossed in our respective tasks. About ten minutes later, however, both of our heads snapped up as we heard 'caca'*, 'crotte'*, 'chien'* and finally 'quoi?'* in rapid fire and then Charlotte's laughter as she was cornered into delivering Scatologie 101* to our curious students.

It appears the conversation had turned from finding money in the street, to finding chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe and then, perhaps inevitably, to finding les crottes de chien - dog poo.

We've all heard disparaging remarks about les crottes de chien on the streets of Paris but the veracity of such criticism is in debate.  So what do we know?

  • There are approximately 17 dogs for every hundred people in France, a figure significantly above the 10% worldwide average for dog ownership.
  • Many hotels offer a separate rate for dogs (in the order of €10/night)  and not only are dogs welcomed in many restaurants, in some they are even able to take a seat at the table.
  • Approximately 600 Parisians are hospitalised every year from injuries sustained from slipping on les crottes.
  • In 1982 Jacques Chirac brought in specialised vehicles called moto-crottes* in order to deal with the problem. These were phased out in 2002 in favour of a new law allowing fines of up to €500 for dog owners who fail to clean up after le meilleur ami de l'homme*
  • There's an app for it! Bye Bye Crottoir* allows users to put out alerts as to the location of fresh crottes in the hope that authorities will then come along and clean them up. 

It is said that the difference between tourists and true Parisians is that while tourists spend their time looking around them at the beauty as they traverse the streets of the city, locals have their eyes fixed firmly on the trottoir*, ever vigilant for an errant crotte.

However, the last word on this belongs to Charlotte, our tutor, who was heard telling her students the upside to this whole story. "In France it is actually considered good luck to step in a crotte with your left foot".  So there you go, a porte-bonheur* with a difference.

PS This is why I love my job: in order to write this entry, I turned to wordreference.com to get to grips with the exact meaning of the word crotte. I literally laughed out loud when I got to crotte d'œil*. I may have an infantile sense of humour but it made my day.

 

*nest (our office) | *Have you ever found money in the street?" | *poo | *turd | *dog | *what? | *Scatology 101 | *dog poo | *lucky charm | *but why? | *poo buggies | *man's best friend | *a porte-manteau word mixing crotte (dog poo) and trottoir (pavement) | *pavement | *lucky charm | *eye booger