Travel with me to Pisa

river arno during day
The River Arno

Welcome to my blog that unites two of my passions: French and travel. Today, come with me to Pisa and discover its leaning tower. Once a maritime force to be reckoned with, Pisa is now renowned for an architectural project gone wrong. Everyone’s  heard of the leaning tower of Pisa but have they heard about the town of Pisa itself? Pisa is a city situated in Tuscany on the river Arno.  Besides the famous Tower, it also has many famous churches, palaces and bridges that are architectural masterpieces. It  is home to the elite University of Pisa, a public research university, which dates back to the 12th century and nowadays draws students from all over Italy. It is the 19th oldest extant university in the world and the 10th oldest in Italy.

The Piazza dei Miracoli (the Square of Miracles) is so nicknamed because it hosts four miracles or masterpieces of Renaissance architecture: the Leaning Tower, the Duomo Cathedral, the  Camposanto (graveyard) and the Baptistry. The Duomo and the Baptistry are in what has come to be called ‘Pisan Romanesque’ style.

The Torre Pendente (leaning tower) took almost 200 years to build and is the symbol of Pisa. Building began in 1173 and was the design of architect Bonanno Pisano. Unfortunately, after three of the seven tiers had been built, work had to be stopped because of the weak subsoil.  Construction was only completed during the second half of the 14th century. Today, the Tower leans 3.9 degrees off the vertical. Engineers worked to rectify the tilt (which at one stage was 4.47 degrees off the vertical) and shore up this famous tourist attraction. Nevertheless, safety is still a concern so only 40 persons are admitted at a time. The Tower was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Duomo is a magnificent Romanesque cathedral consecrated in 1118.  It is a striking tiered building with an elliptical dome (the first of its kind in Europe) that was added in 1380.  Inside, admire the early 14th-century Gothic-style pulpit sculpted from Carrara marble.

So, admire the wonderful architecture, wander the streets of the small town, taste the focaccias on offer and sip an espresso. Once again, you will be in a historical city. Pisa  is the city of churches and ancient libraries, the city of science and culture and well worth a visit.

French Vocabulary

Today, we are going to learn some French vocabulary to do with the weather:

Quel temps fait-il? What is the weather? quel temps

il fait beau = it’s beautiful weather  il fait beau

il fait mauvais = it is bad weather il fait mauvais

il pleut = it is raining il pleut

il neige = it is snowing il neige

il y a des averses = there are showers  averses

il y a des nuages = it is cloudy (there are clouds)  nuages

il fait du vent = it is windy  il fait du vent

il y a du tonnerre = there is thunder  tonnerre

il y a des éclairs = there is lightning  eclairs

il grêle = it is hailing  il grele

Il y a du brouillard = there is fog  il y a du brouillard

il fait froid = it’s cold  il fait froid

il fait chaud = it’s hot  il fait chaud

il fait frais = it’s cool (fresh)  il fait frais

Travel with me to Valletta

Welcome to my blog that unites my two passions: travel and French. Today, let us take a journey of discovery to  the city of Valletta, the capital of the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.  “Phoenician traders, Roman armies, Muslim conquerors and Crusader monks gave the Maltese island its eclectic blend of linguistic influences and architectural styles”. Malta was also a base for Allied ships and aircraft during WWII.

maltese cross

Valletta, the Fortress City, was built during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Knights of St. John and is tiny. It was a “city built by gentlemen for gentleman“.  The city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its history. Valletta is named after its founder, the Grand Master of the Order of of St. John, Jean Parisot De La Valette. The Knights of St. John ruled Malta for 250 years and left behind a heritage of military engineering and architectural feats: forts, bastions, churches and cathedrals. Their Sacra Infirmeria was the leading hospital in Europe. The Knights also gave us the famous Maltese Cross. Its eight points denote the 8 obligations of the Knights:  “to live in truth, have faith, repent one’s sins, give proof of humility, love justice, be merciful, be sincere and whole-hearted, and to endure persecution”.

grand master

One of the most popular attractions is the Grand Master’s Palace, which was the once the residence of the Grand Masters. Since Malta’s independence in 1964, it became the seat of parliament although this is set to change. But it remains the official residence of the president of Malta. It has a sumptuous interior and visitors may tour the Armoury and the State Apartments.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is Malta’s most impressive church and a shrine. It was called the Co-Cathedral as it was elevated to the same status as St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina, the old capital of Malta. The Cathedral contains many chapels, each of which is dedicated to the patron saint of the different langues or sections of the Knights. The most famous painting in the church is Caravaggio’s The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608) by Caravaggio. It is the only painting that the artist signed.

There are many other churches and monuments to visit and admire – in fact 320 in total. but it depends on how much time you have. We were there on a shore excursion so chose to take a tour of the city in a horse and carriage and then walk around the historic city centre.

French Vocabulary

Today, we are going to learn the vocabulary connected to Easter:

Joyeuses Pâques = Happy Easter joyeuses paques

célébrer = to celebratecelebrer

un poussin = a chick poussin

un lapin = a bunny lapin

poisson d’avril = April’s Fool (April fish) poisson d’avril

un panier = a basket panier

un oeuf = an egg oeuf

un oeuf de Pâques = an Easter egg oeuf de paques

je te souhaite = I wish you je te souhaite

du chocolat = chocolate chocolat

une cloche = a bell cloche

un gigot d’agneau = a leg of lamb gigot

Travel with me to Nairobi


Welcome to my blog that unites my two passions: French and travel. Travel to Nairobi, capital city of Nairobi today. It is the largest city in Kenya  with a population of more than 3 million. It was founded in 1899 from what was a swamp area, It was a rail depot at first. The word “Nairobi” came from the Maasai word enairobe, which literally means ” stream of cold water. ”

Kenya was created by European colonisation in Africa from the mid-1800s to 1960s. Kenya was a protectorate from 1895 to 1920 and a British colony from 1920 to 1963 when it became a republic. The two main languages spoken are Swahili and English.

Nairobi is a cosmopolitan city with an ethnic mix of races.  Nairobi is known as the ‘Safari capital of the World’.There are many places to visit in and around Nairobi. An important street in Nairobi is Kenyatta Avenue, named after the first president of the Republic of Kenya. Many of Nairobi’s famous buildings are situated on this street such as the Post Office housed in a skyscraper, and the strange caged Galton-Fenzi building, named after the man who founded the Automobile  Association Branch of Nairobi.

If you drive 20 minutes away from the city centre, you will discover Nairobi National Park, one of Kenya’s top parks where you can see the ‘Big Five’ and many other species living in the wild. Ten kilometres from the city centre, you will find the Karen Blixen Museum, dedicated to Danish author, Karen Blixen. One of her books, Out of Africa, was turned into a film of the same name in 1985, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep .

The Kenyan Government established a cultural centre, the Bomas of Kenya, to promote, maintain and preserve the rich and diverse cultural values of the various ethnic groups and to serve as a tourist attraction.  Then there is also the Giraffe Centre which may be found 5 kilometres from Nairobi. This centre was established to protect an endangered giraffe species, the Rothschild giraffe, native to East Africa.

Another tourist attraction are the  fourteen Thika Falls, which have historical and religious significance to Asian immigrants and the residents. There are many other attractions to visit – stroll into the colourful market, visit the Train Museum, admire the Nairobi Arboretum, go ice skating at Africa’s largest ice rink and breathe in the scent of Africa.

French Vocabulary

Today we are going to learn the vocabulary to do with meals and when we are at the table:

le repas = a meal repas

le déjeuner = lunch déjeuner

le petit déjeuner = breakfast petit déjeuner

le dÎner = dinner diner

le souper = supper souper

un verre = a glass verre

un couteau = a knife couteau

une fourchette = a fork fourchette

metre le couvert = to lay the table mettre le couvert

une tasse = a cup tasse

une carafe = a jug carafe

une serviette = a napkin serviette napkin

une cuillère = a spoon cuillere

une petite cuillère = a teaspoon petite cuillere

une nappe = a tablecloth nappe



Travel with me to Marseille

Welcome to my blog that unites my two passions: French and Travel. Today, let us discover the city of Marseille, situated in the south of France on the Mediterranean coast, together. Marseille was founded by Greek settlers in 300 BC and today is the second largest city in France, after Paris.

It started off as the town of Massilia, a trading post, in the Vieux Port.  Part of its heritage remains the Vieux Port (Old Harbour) where you can buy fresh fish from off the boats. Marseille remained a free port (the last free Western centre of Greek learning)  before falling into ruin. Its revival took place in the 10th century AD when the counts of Provence took an interest in it.

Marseille became part of France in 1480. It embraced the French Revolution and sent 500 volunteers to help. These men travelled to Paris singing a rousing march composed by Rouget de Lisle. This marching song became France’s national anthem, known as the Marseillaise.  The city has suffered several severe bombings during WWII, first by the Germans and Italians  in 1940 and then by the British in 1944. Much of the city was rebuilt during the 1950s and has become a thriving city with a large population. Marseille is now home to many universities and has a reputation for great education.

There are many interesting places to see in Marseille from the Vieux Port to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, which overlooks the city on Garde Hill. It watches over fishermen, sailors and the whole city. Several chapels were built on the site before the  basilica was consecrated  in 1854 . It is built in the Roman Byzantine style – with domes, gold and mosaics. It consists of two parts –  a low vaulted church and a high church. There’s a large statue of the Virgin Mary on the belltower.

The Château d’If lies off the coast of Marseille. It is renowned for its role in Alexandre Dumas’ novel, Le Conte de Monte Cristo (The Count of Monte Cristo). It was first a fortress, built by François I, then a prison, where political prisoners were incarcerated.

The Palais Longchamp is a monument dedicated to water and is not a palace.  Ever since the city of Marseille was built, there was a problem finding water so a canal was built linking it to the river Durance. It was opened in 1849 and remained Marseille’s main water source until 1970. The monument was built by the same architect that built the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, Henri Esperandieu. He ” designed this magnificent large fountain/waterfall/water tower that is embellished with colonnades, staircases, pavilions and a triumphal arch, lavishly decorated with sculptures of nymphs, stalactites, lions, tigers, dolphins and Camargue bulls”.

There are many other attractions to visit in this cosmopolitan city with its huge vistas, its restaurants and its feeling of history (it even has its own smaller version of the Arc de Triomphe) so if you are in the region, take a trip to Marseille and the beautiful region of Provence.

French Vocabulary

Household items (part 3):

la bain = the bath bain

la douche = the shower  douche

le lavabo = the sink  lavabo

le robinet = the tap  robinet

le savon = the soap  savon

la serviette = the towel  serviette

les toilettes = the toilet  toilettes

le papier toilette = the toilet paper  papier toilette

le porte-serviettes = the towel rail porte-serviette

la brosse à dents = the toothbrush  brosse a dents

le dentifrice = the toothpaste dentifrice

le shampooing = the shampoo shampooing

le rasoir = the razor  rasoir






Travel with me to the Mont Saint- Michel

Welcome to my blog which unites my two passions : French and travel. Explore the Mont Saint-Michel off the coast of Normandy (about 150 km from Paris) with me today. In 709 AD, at the request of the Archangel Michael, the Bishop of Avranches built and consecrated a small church. In the 11th century a Romanesque abbey was built and many additions later, we have the present abbey. Around the church and later the abbey grew a village whose surrounding walls date back to the Hundred Years’ War. The Mont Saint-Michel is now home to a Norman Benedictine Abbey which can be visited by tourists. You can tour it and marvel at its wonderful medieval architecture.

The Mont Saint-Michel is an iconic French attraction  which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site  in 1979 and is visited by 3.5 million tourists annually. It is situated on a rocky tidal island which means it is only an island at high tide. Its past is colourful as it withstood a siege of 30 years during the 100 Years’ War and was used as a prison during the French Revolution.

The Mont Saint-Michel is renowned as having the highest tides in Europe.  The tides are caused by the action of the moon and sun. When they are in line with the earth, this causes the greatest attraction which corresponds to high tides (Spring tides). If the sun and moon form a right angle, the attraction is reduced and you get low tides (neap tides).  The ‘supertide’  or’ tide of the century’ happens every 18 years when waves rise to the height of 4 storeys. It took place on Saturday 21st March 2015 because of the solar eclipse on Friday 2oth March. People came from all over to see the phenomenon, although a tidal expert declared that it fell a few inches short of expectations. The Mont Saint-Michel is joined to the mainland of France by a narrow causeway but during the supertide, it was completely surrounded by water.

At the Mont Saint-Michel, you can visit the Abbey which is open every day (except January 1, May 1 and December 25), or stroll through the narrow winding streets of the surrounding medieval  village which is a pedestrian-only zone. You will find many tourist-type shops, restaurants and a few hotels in the village. There are also a few museums that can be visited if you want to learn more about the history of Mont Saint-Michel or its tides. Or you can take a walk along the ramparts and admire the stunning views across the bay.

French Vocabulary

French vocabulary for household items/furniture (Part 2):

ovenun four = an oven four

microwaveun four à micro-ondes = a microwave oven four micro-ondes

fridgeun réfrigérateur/ un frigo = a fridge frigo

stoveune cuisinière = a stove cuisinière

dishwasherun lave-vaisselle = a dishwashing machinelave-vaisselle

sinkun évier = a sink évier

washing machineune machine à laver = a washing machine machine a laver

spin dryerun sèche-linge = a spin-dryer sèche-linge

vacuum cleanerun aspirateur = a vacuum cleaner aspirateur

couper = to cut couper

frire = to fry frire

saupoudrer = to sprinkle saupoudrer

goûter = to taste gouter

assaisonner = to season assaisonner

rôtir = to roast rotir



Travel with me to Oudtshoorn

Welcome to my blog once more and come and experience my two passions with me: French and travel. Today we are going to the town of Oudtshoorn in South Africa. It lies in the Klein Karoo (small Karoo) between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountains in the Western Cape province and lies in a valley. It was named ‘Karoo’ by the early inhabitants of the region, the San (Bushmen).  It became known as the ostrich capital of the world after two ostrich-feather booms during 1865 – 1870 and 1900 – 1914.  Ostriches which are huge flightless birds are indigenous to Africa and ideally suited to the Karoo’s dry weather. Unfortunately, because of overproduction and a change in fashion, the two booms were followed by market crashes.

It is the largest town in the Klein Karoo and is dependent on its ostrich farming and tourism industry. The first building in what was to become the town of Oudtshoorn was a Dutch Reformed Church erected in 1838. The village and then town of Oudtshoorn grew around it and thus was founded in 1847. It was named ‘Oudtshoorn’ after after the daughter of Baron Pieter van Rheede van Oudtshoorn, who was appointed Governor of the Dutch Cape Colony in 1772 but died at sea in January 1773 on his return voyage to the Cape.


The area in and around Oudtshoorn has much to offer the tourist – from the famous Cango Caves to the Cango Wildlife Ranch, the crocodile ranch and the elephant-feeding experience. Of course, there are also the ostrich farms to visit. We stayed on a charming holiday farm situated outside Oudtshoorn. It is called Wilgewandel and has a lot to offer families – camel rides, donkey cart rides, mini-golf, animals to feed, waterslides and hiking trails, etc.


The Cango Caves  are one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – limestones creations in different colours. They are South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction. Wonder at the huge stalactites and stalagmites as you walk through the warren of caves! Immerse yourself in the 20-million year history of the caves (if you’re not claustrophobic!) and marvel at what is frequently described as one of the Natural Wonders of the World.


The Cango Wildlife Ranch started out as a crocodile farm and then became a place for the conservation of the cheetah and other endangered species. On the Ranch, you can have a variety of animal encounters – from feeding birds to seeing white lions, from Bengal tigers to Pygmy hippos. It is a wonderful place for adults and children alike.


There are many different ostrich farms to visit. Tourists can see the ostriches, ride them, touch them and hear about the history of the ostrich industry. Ostriches will swallow anything and can run extremely fast. You can also stand on ostrich eggs and see their incubation. The origin of the phrase ‘to bury your head in the sand’ comes from the supposed habit of ostriches who hide when faced with a predator. Unfortunately, ostriches suffer from avian flu and often have to be put down which is devastating for the farmers and the industry.


At Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, you can have a wonderful experience – feeding the 3  baby elephants (they are still larger than you in size!). They are orphans whose parents were poached in the Kruger National Park. You get to feed them, touch them and have photos taken with them. They also play ball. And the experienced guides give you interesting facts about them.

So come and see a wonderful corner of South Africa for yourself, enjoy the experiences with the different wildlife and visit one of the Natural Wonders of the world.

French Vocabulary

Today we are going to learn the French for furniture items (part 1):

les meubles = the furniture meubles

tableune table = a table table

chairune chaise = a chair chaise

litun lit = a bed lit

sofaun sofa/ un canapé = a sofa/couch sofa

carpetle tapis = the carpet tapis

curtainsles rideaux = the curtains rideaux

bookshelfune bibliothèque = a bookshelf bibliotheque

mattressle matelas = the mattress matelas

armchairun fauteuil = an armchair fauteuil

cupboardun placard = a cupboard placard

sheetun drap = a sheetdrap

pillowun oreiller = a pillow oreiller





Travel with me to Orléans

Welcome to my blog that brings together my two passions: travel and French. Today come with me and discover the city of Orléans in France. It is a city that lies 110 kilometres south-west of Paris and is linked to the history of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), who raised the siege of Orléans during the Hundred Years War and was martyred by being burnt at the stake. Joan of Arc was also known as ‘the Maid of Orléans’ ( La Pucelle d’Orléans in French).  The city is situated  in the Loire valley (see previous post on Châteaux of the Loire) and is a city that was devastated during the Second World War, although some of the historic monuments still survive.

joan of arc

What can you see and do in Orleans? Well, to start off with go and see the 19th century sculpture of Joan of Arc in the middle of the Place du Martroi. There is a similar one in Paris.

sainte croix

The Cathédrale de Sainte-Croix is a gothic church worth visiting. The site was that of many different churches. The first church was built in 330 AD at the dawn of Christianity. After that three other churches were built on the site. The cathedral that we see today was finished 400 years after the siege of Orleans. Its most impressive feature is its western stone façade with its two 88 metre towers and rose windows. At Christmas time the Cathedral’s windows are lit up in pink and purple.


You may also visit the reconstructed house of Joan of Arc. It was rebuilt after it was destroyed in World War II. It is not the house where she was born but the one she stayed in during the siege of Orleans in 1429. It is now a museum containing exhibits connected to her life.


The Hôtel Groslot is also a beautiful old building to visit. It was the 15th century residence of Jacques Groslot but after his death the building was used as the town hall during the French Revolution. Several famous people passed through here, such as Francis II. It contains artefacts dating back to guess who? Joan of Arc, of course. It is now a popular tourist attraction.

Take a stroll through Orleans and breathe in the atmosphere, picture Joan of Arc (Saint Joan of Arc now), admire the old buildings and churches and savour the specialities of the region ( fish, often served with a beurre blanc sauce, as well as wild game, lamb, calves, beef,  fowl, and high quality goat cheeses.  Vinegars from Orléans are a specialty ingredient used as well).

French vocabulary

Today we will continue with the vocabulary of the house by learning certain phrases:

où habites-tu? = where do you live? (informal/familiar)habites-tu

où habitez-vous? =where do you live? (formal) habitez-vous

j’habite une maison = I live in a house j’habite une maison

j’habite un appartement = I live in a flat/apartment j’habite un appartement

j’habite rue de la Paix numéro 2 = I live at number 2 rue de la Paix rue de la paix

ma maison est petite = my house is smallma maison est petite

ma maison est grande = my house is big ma maison est grande

j’ai trois chambres (à coucher) = I have 3 bedrooms j’ai trois chambres

ma cuisine est assez grande = my kitchen is quite big ma cuisine est assez grande

j’ai un grand jardin = I have a big garden j’ai un grand jardin

j’ai deux garages = I have two garages j’ai deux garages




Travel with me to the Châteaux on the Loire

Welcome to my blog that brings together my two passions: French and travel. Today travel with me to the beautiful castles on the Loire River which is the longest river in France. The history  of the castles is closely linked to the French kings.

These châteaux were built during the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment and are architectural gems. There are countless châteaux, each one exquisite and unique in its own right but I am going to discuss six of the main ones: Chenonceau (my favourite), Chambord, Château d’Amboise, Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Blois and Château de Villandry. These castles are all situated on the Loire River and its tributaries, in the region of the historic cities of Tours, Orleans, Amboise, Blois, Chinon, Angers and Nantes. The region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.


Chenonceau could be called ‘the Château des Dames’ as it has had the imprint of many famous women on it, among them Diane de Poitiers ( mistress of King Henri II) and Catherine de Medici (who was Henri II’s wife).  Situated on the Cher, the Loire valley, it is a jewel to be admired. It is the most visited private historical monument in France and boasts a museum, beautiful gardens and a wine estate.


Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire valley. It boasts a large garden and a hunting park which are both listed as Historical Monuments. François I brought Leonardo da Vinci back with him after visiting Italy as he wished to create a building in the Italian Renaissance style. The resulting building was immense ( with 426 rooms, 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces and 800 sculpted capitals) and a testimony to the king’s interest in architecture and hunting. Chambord’s museum is famous for its tapestries. Chambord was also visited by Louis XIV (who had a hand in the additions to give it its definitive silhouette) and the famous playwright Molière and his theatre company.


The Château d’Amboise is situated in Amboise which is at the heart of the Touraine region.It belonged to the House of Amboise but was confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century.  It has been the home of several French kings such as Charles VIII (who died after hitting his head on a door lintel) and Louis XII and was also designed by Leonardo da Vinci who is supposedly buried  in a chapel there.


The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau is built on an island in the Indre river in a striking setting. It was also built under the reign of King François I and is a jewel of the early French Renaissance. The French writer, Honoré de Balzac, described it as “a faceted diamond set in the Indre”. The interior resembles an Italian Renaissance castle.


The Château de Blois is situated on the Loire river in the city of Blois which lies between the cities of Tours and Orleans. It was also the residence of many kings – seven to be exact and ten Queen consorts. It was previously owned by the Counts of Blois but later became a favourite residence for the French kings. This castle evokes the pomp and circumstance of the French court during the Renaissance.


The Château de Villandry is known for six gardens divided into four terraces  :  among them the decorative gardens or gardens of love,  4 perfect squares of boxwood which represent tender love (represented by hearts separated by flames), passionate love (hearts shattered by passion), fickle love (four horns of love betrayed) and tragic love (blades of daggers).  There is also the Sun garden, and the water garden. Villandry is the last of the castles to be built on the Loire during the Renaissance.

As mentioned above, there are many other châteaux but it is wise to choose a few good ones and rather visit them at leisure – otherwise they may all blend into one another.

French Vocabulary

Today, we are going to learn the vocabulary of the house:



une maison = a house maison

un toit = a roof toit

un garage = a garage garage

une salle à manger = a dining room salle a manger

un salon = a loungesalon

une salle de bains = a bathroom salle de bains

une chambre à coucher = a bedroom chambre

une fenêtre = a window fenetre

une pièce = a room piece

une cuisine = a kitchencuisine

des toilettes = a toilet toilettes

une buanderie = a laundry room buanderie

une cave = a cellar cave

un grenier = an attic grenier

Travel with me to New York

Welcome to my blog that brings together my two passions : French and travel. Learn something interesting about New York today and pick up some French vocabulary too.

New York, the Big Apple, is the largest city in the State of New York whose capital is Albany.  The Hudson River, named after an English explorer, separates it from New Jersey.  It was named in honour of the  Duke of York by the English who took it over in 1664 (previously it was called New Amsterdam). It is known for its fashion, art, entertainment, education and technology among many things. It has been described as the cultural and financial capital of the world.

New York is a huge bustling metropolis with a vibrant day and night life. Even  Frank Sinatra sang about it. Who hasn’t seen a photo or a film featuring Broadway or the Statue of Liberty? What about the Empire State Building? And Times Square? Staten Island? These places are all familiar to many, especially those who like American films.

Broadway is a 21 km road running through Manhattan and is known as the heart of the  American theatre industry. Its name comes from the Dutch name Breede weg. It is really magical to see a show on Broadway – we saw Beauty and the Beast. Hopefully you won’t have annoying people talking right through the show sitting behind you!


The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France given to America in 1886. It represents the Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas.  She holds a torch and a tablet on which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence (4th July 1776). Edouard de Laboulaye provided the idea for the statue. If you have seen the film, National Treasure 2 with Nicolas Cage, you will have heard De Laboulaye’s name mentioned.  It became the symbol of immigration during the 19th century as it was the first thing immigrants saw when they sailed to New York. More movie trivia – it featured in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes where it is seen half buried in the sand;it is destroyed  in Independence Day and The Day after Tomorrow.

The Empire State Building was opened in 1931 and at the time was the world’s tallest building. It is no longer the case, of course. The building has 103 floors and is served by 73 lifts that whisk you up to the top in seconds. It has observation decks on the  86th and 102nd floor  and is visited annually by thousands of tourists. It has its own zip code because so many businesses are housed in it.

Of course, New York is also known for the tragedy of the Twin Towers when terrorists took control of planes and crashed them into the World Trade Centre on 11th September 2001. Thousands died in the attack and today, at the site where the new Trade Centre is being built (ground Zero), there stands a museum  and a memorial wall in honour of those who died.

Times Square is a large intersection known for its huge New Year’s Eve party when  over a million  gather to count down the time to the New Year. It has become a global tradition to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop from the flagpole.  It is a hub of restaurants, shops and theatres.

So take a Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour, jump onto a ferry, dine in a restaurant , go shopping or stroll through Central Park. It will be worth it.

French Vocabulary

Today, we are going to learn some useful French phrases you will need to go shopping:

acheter = to buy acheter

un achat = a purchase achat

une carte de crédit = a credit card crédit

une bonne affaire = a bargain bonne affaire

échanger = to exchangeéchanger

combine coûte…? = how much does ….cost? combien coute

il/elle coûte = il coute

cher = expensivecher

bon marché = cheap bon marché

en promotion = special offer en promotion

les soldes = sales soldes

en solde = reduced en solde

un client =  a customer client

le prix = the price prix



Travel with me to Vatican City

Vatican City (Cittá del Vaticano) is actually Vatican City State. It is situated within Rome and is the smallest city/state in the world. It covers 44 hectares and has a population of 852. It came into being in 1929 as a result of the Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Holy See. The Pope resides in the Apostolic Palace or Papal Palace in Vatican City and has done so mostly since the return of the Popes from Avignon in 1377.

Within this tiny enclave, whose officials are all part of the clergy, can be found St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. St. Peter’s Basilica, which stands on Vatican Hill, is regarded as one of the holiest places on earth not just for Roman Catholics but for all Christians. It was built on the site where it is believed that St. Peter, the first Pope, was martyred and buried in 64 AD.  It is one of the most famous works of Renaissance architecture. It is the second church to be built on this site – the first one built by the Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, was demolished and the current one built in the 15th century.

In order to reach the Basilica, you have to pass through St. Peter’s Square, a square bordered by massive colonnades that symbolise outstretched arms. It was built in the 17th century by Lorenzo Bernini and has 140 sculptures of saints around it.


Thousands of faithful or curious people stand in this square on Sundays to see the Pope at a high window while he addresses and blesses everyone in multiple languages.  He appears at 12 noon as that is the time for the Angelus prayer. Although he looks like a small dot in the distance, it is still quite thrilling to see the Pope in person. We got to see Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 before he retired from the papacy.


The interior of the Basilica is truly impressive – it is huge and opulent. We were awe-struck! The most famous sculpture in the Basilica is the statue of La Pietà, created by Michelangelo. It is a statue of the Virgin Mary holding a dead Jesus after the crucifixion. Michelangelo claimed the block of carrara marble he used was the most perfect block he had ever seen.  St. Peter’s tomb can also be seen in the Basilica.


The Sistine Chapel or la Capella Sistina was named after the pope who commissioned it, Pope Sixtus IV. It is also a huge tourist attraction because of Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Chapel commissioned by Pope Julius II. Michelangelo depicted stories from the Book of Genesis from the story of Noah to the Creation. He painted them in reverse chronological order, leaving the Creation till last as he claimed that his technique with frescoes would have improved even more. The election of a new Pope takes place in the Sistine Chapel which is also the Pope’s private chapel.

And then there are  the Vatican Museums which are many mini-museums holding vast collections. They were started by Pope Julius II during the 16th century and display works collected by  different popes. So, you will need to spend quite a long time in Vatican City and even then, you will only have scratched the surface of all the historical and religious artefacts there are to see.

French Vocabulary:

Today, we will continue with the vocabulary of  men’s clothing in French.

qu’est-ce que tu portes? = what are you wearing? tu portes

je porte …. = I am wearing je porte

shirtune chemise = a shirt chemise

t-shirtun t-shirt = a t-shirt t-shirt

trousersun pantalon = trousers pantalon

jeansun jean = jeansjean

shortsun short = shorts short

tieune cravate = a tiecravate

beltune ceinture = a belt ceinture

waistcoatun gilet = a vest gilet

suitun costume = a suit costume

dressing gownune robe de chambre = a dressing gown robe de chamber