13 French Expressions That’ll Make You Sound Like You’re from Provence

Every country has expressions that are confusing to foreigners. For example, if you told a French person “that’s in the ballpark,” they would wonder why you were talking about a sports stadium.

So what does it mean when a French person says “Il est fada“? Not every French person could tell you, because that expression comes from Provence. I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Provençal expressions.

Read all about them at Frenchly.

The Hottest Ticket in Paris

The Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence is one of the area’s top tourist attractions. It’s a totally immersive sound and light show with a cultural purpose. Recent shows have explored the work of artists like Picasso, Chagall and Van Gogh.

It has been such a success that a sister site has opened in Paris, the Atelier des Lumières, and it’s one of the hottest tickets in town. Don’t miss it if you travel to Paris!

Read all about this great new Paris attraction in Frenchly.

“Paris was not itself!”

This month marks the 50th anniversary of May, 1968, when strikes and student protests nearly brought down the French government. I recently talked to three people who participated in or lived through these tumultuous times about their experiences. At the time, one was a French university student, another a French factory worker, and the third an American grad student doing research for his PhD. Their three different perspectives are fascinating.

You can read the entire article at Frenchly.

Franco-American Cultural Differences: An Insider’s Perspective

For the last ten years, my wife Val and I have split our time between California and France. And we’ve observed a great many cultural differences between the two countries…

I recently gave two talks on the subject – one to a French group and one to an American one. Four of these cultural differences generated a lot of discussion.

You can read my article on the subject at My French Life.

Vive la différence !

Why I Love France

Annette Charlton has a great website called A French Collection with lots of interesting information about France and even a little boutique of fun stuff to buy.

She recently asked five of her favorite “Frenchy” bloggers to write short posts about why they love France. I was honored to be included in such a terrific group and happily wrote about why my wife Val and I love the country so much.

If you’d like to see what the five of us said, here’s the link.

Book Review—Paris Ever After by K.S.R. Burns

SYNOPSIS

Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.

Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.

As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.

MY REVIEW

This is a tale of love found, lost…and found again?

Amy’s got a lot going on—homes on two continents, a marriage on the rocks, and friends who may not be what they seem. K.S.R. Burns does a masterful job of drawing us into Amy’s world as she lurches from crisis to crisis. I had a hard time putting the book down because I kept wanting to know what happened next. And talk about surprises! This book is full of them.

Paris Ever After is a well-written novel with a fast-paced plot and a colorful cast of characters. One of those characters is Paris itself and Burns draws a loving portrait of this most beautiful of cities. As you turn the pages, you’ll find yourself longing to nibble on a buttery croissant at a café near Notre Dame, or maybe take a stroll along the banks of the Seine. And don’t forget the hot chocolate!

What path will Amy ultimately choose? Read this book and find out!

Highly recommended.

Paris Ever After is available at Amazon.

Wild Kingdom

St-Rémy-de-Provence, where my wife Val and I live part of the year, is a beautiful Provençal town. It has long history, starting with the original Roman city of Glanum—you can still see its ruins on the edge of town. St-Rémy is the birthplace of the medieval sage Nostradamus and the place where Vincent Van Gogh spent his year in an asylum and painted masterpieces like Starry Night.

The old city center has terrific restaurants and our Wednesday morning market might be the best in Provence, drawing tourists from all over. The town’s population is just ten thousand but it seems larger, enough so that I sometimes forget that we’re out in the country. But if I walk just a few minutes in any direction, I’m reminded of where we are.

If we go left out of our front door and walk five minutes, we are right in the middle of town. But if we instead go to the right and walk five minutes, we’re in the country. Really in the country.

All around town are the farms that supply our great Wednesday market. When we go for walks we pass olive groves and vineyards and the rows of trees that protect crops from the fierce winds of the mistral. We walk by orchards of cherries and almonds and apricots, the trees covered with brilliant white and pink blossoms in the spring. Here and there we’ll spot a mas, a farmhouse hundreds of years old, with walls a foot and a half thick.

And then there are the animals—flocks of sheep tended by a shepherd and his dogs, a few bulls here and there, goats napping in the shade of a tree. And somewhere the escargot ranchers round up their herds, ever so slowly.

We see horses a lot, and have to be careful where we step when we go for a hike because the locals like to ride their horses on the trails. In fact, they like to ride them everywhere. I was walking our dog Mica last Sunday and she suddenly got low to the ground like she was tracking something. I couldn’t see anything but then heard the clop clop clop of a horse out for a ride, its owner in the saddle. And this was just minutes from our house.

Then yesterday we rode our bikes to the nearby town of St-Étienne-du-Grès. As we rolled along the quiet country road, a baby stroller popped out from a little path off to the side, followed by a mom and her dog. Out to get some fresh air, no doubt. But then I noticed that the mom had a leash in her hand but it wasn’t attached to the dog. Another dog, perhaps?

No, the next moment a horse appeared and the whole family started ambling down the road. Mom, baby, dog and…horse? I guess even horses need to stretch their legs.

My Café Littéraire

There’s a great hotel in Les Baux called Benvengudo that I’ve written about before. The nice people there recently invited me to talk about my book at a “Café Littéraire” as part of their springtime series of events. Other events include a wine tasting by Château Romanin and a harp concert so I’m in good company.

It was an intimate event, held in the salon in front of a crackling fire (spring has been wet and cold so far), with delicious wines and pastries on offer. The turnout was modest due to the weather plus the mudslide that blocked one road to the hotel but was a lot of fun nonetheless.

My dilemma in preparing was that I didn’t know what language I would use. The expected guests were a mix of French and English speakers so I prepared for both (but secretly hoped for English, let’s be honest.)

As the time came to begin, with everyone in their comfy chairs, I polled the audience and learned that French would be the best language. Zut! So I took a deep breath and launched in and, luckily, everyone laughed at all the right moments. And my book readings were in English so overall it was a nice mix of two languages.

Once, after I did a reading, I forgot what language I was supposed to use and continued in English, until the puzzled looks reminded me to switch back to French.

Unlike back home in Silicon Valley, where the busy audience usually leaves right after such an event, here everyone ordered another drink and talked together. It was quite an international group, with people who had lived in Switzerland, Russia, the United States, the UK and France, making the discussion wide-ranging indeed, especially on the subject of cultural differences.

Two people actually spoke some Russian and took the opportunity to practice with each other. I don’t know what they were saying but I hope it included some nice words about my presentation!

Bulls Go For a Swim in Provence

An abrivado is a special event in Provençal towns, where French cowboys called gardians run bulls through the streets and into the arena. It’s an exciting test of horsemanship that not all gardians can master.

Even more exciting is the Gaso de Taureaux. Here, instead of running through the streets, the bulls are driven through a lake. It’s not clear why—maybe they need to freshen up?

Read the whole story at Perfectly Provence.

French People Are Like Coconuts

Imagine this: The PTSA meeting hasn’t started yet and two parents in the audience are chatting away—about their kids, their vacations, the hot new movie in theatres. After a few minutes, one puts out her hand and says, “Oh, by the way, my name’s Jessica.”

In the US, a scene like this—two strangers talking like old friends—wouldn’t be surprising. But would it happen in France? Pas du tout! In France, it’s considered weird to just start talking with someone you don’t know. And if a stranger tried to chat with them, a French person’s first thought would be a suspicious “What do they want from me?”

Learn how to bridge the cultural gap between French and Americans at Frenchly.