Travel with me to Four Fabulous Parisian Churches

Welcome to my blog that unites my two passions: French and travel. Today, we are going to do something slightly different – we are not going to visit a city as such, but rather a part of it.  A part of Paris, to be exact, and we are going to explore four of its beautiful churches: Notre-Dame (Our Lady), Sacré- Coeur (Sacred Heart), la Sainte-Chapelle (the Holy Chapel) and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (la Chapelle de Notre-Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse).

The cathedral of Notre-Dame  de Paris is situated on the eastern side of the Ile-de-la Cité. It is considered the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world and is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris. The site on which it is built has always been a religious centre – the Celts had their sacred ground here, the Romans built a temple to Jupiter, a Christian basilica was built in the 6th century and a Romanesque church occupied the site before the construction of Notre-Dame began  in 1163 (and finished in 1345). The cathedral was built to reflect the status of Paris as the capital city of France. It became the prototype for all future cathedrals in France, such as the cathedrals of Reims, Amiens and Chartres. The cathedral of Notre-Dame has had an eventful history: Crusaders prayed here before leaving for the Crusades, Napoleon crowned himself emperor and Josephine his empress in Notre-Dame. It was looted and damaged during the French Revolution. It was only thanks to the author, Victor Hugo (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and other artists of the 19th century that the cathedral’s value was recognised and restoration begun.


The Sacré -Coeur is situated in Montmartre (Mount of Martyrs). The story behind the building of the Sacré-Coeur is quite interesting. Its first stone was laid in 1875. The construction of the basilica came about as a result of a national vow. After the 1870 Franco-Prussian War (France was defeated), it was decided to begin “the project to build a church in Paris dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as a sign of penitence, trust, hope and faith”.  The church was built in the Romano-Byzantine style, unlike Notre-Dame’s gothic architecture. From its forecourt one can see the entire city of Paris.  At its consecration, it was decided to call it the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. A Catholic basilica is a place of pilgrimage like St. Peter’s in Rome.

La Sainte Chapelle is a 13th century gothic church which stands on the Ile-de-la-Cité. It was built as a chapel for his palace by King Louis IX (Saint Louis). It was also designed to house holy relics. Building started in 1246 and completed in 1248. There is an Upper Chapel and a Lower Chapel. The latter is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Chapel was vandalised during the French Revolution and only restored during the 19th century. The most beautiful aspect of the Sainte Chapelle are its stained-glass windows which illustrate figures of the Bible. It is impossible to capture the wonderful blues of the stained-glass. I tried countless times but it is a futile exercise. The interior is elegantly simple and has an air of fragile beauty. The Sainte Chapelle, which was classified as a National Historic National Monument in 1862, is now a museum.

The Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Médaille Miraculeuse is hidden away in a small side street near the Bon Marché Store at 140 Rue du Bac. It is a real gem and well worth the visit. It is a place of pilgrimage but also a functioning church where Mass is said regularly.  Catherine Labouré was a novitiate at the seminary built on the Rue du Bac. The chapel was built on the site in 1815. In 1830, the Virgin Mary appeared to Catherine three times. During the third apparition, the Blessed Virgin asked Catherine to have a medal made with the words “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you”. The reverse side  of the medal was to have the letter M surmounted with a little cross and two hearts, one crowned with thorns and the other pierced with a sword, below. Anyone who wore the medal and prayed for graces would receive them.

The miraculous medal

French Vocabulary

We’ve learned the vocabulary of fruit in French, so how about vegetables?

les légumes = vegetables  vegetables   legumes

l’asperge = asparagus  asparagusasperge

la betterave = beetroot  beetroot  betterave

le broccoli = broccoli  broccoli  brocoli

la carotte = carrot  carrot   carotte

le champignon = mushroom  mushroom   champignon

le chou-fleur = cauliflower  cauliflower  chou-fleur

le chou = cabbage  cabbage  chou

les épinards = spinach  spinach  épinards

les haricots verts = green beans  green beans  haricots verts

la laitue = lettuce  lettuce  laitue

l’oignon = onion  onion oignon

le poivron = pepper  pepper  poivron

la pomme de terre = potato  potato  pomme de terre

les petits pois = peas  peas  petits pois

je voudrais un kilo de carottes = I would like a kilo of carrots je voudrais un kilo carottes

je voudrais deux kilos de pommes de terre = I would like two kilos of potatoes  je voudrais deux kilos pommes de terre

Travel with me to Cape Town

Welcome to my travel blog that also teaches you some French vocabulary and phrases. Today, we are going to travel to Cape Town in South Africa. Cape Town is also known as the ‘Mother City’ as it was the first city to be established in South Africa. Cape Town is known because it is a place where the mountain and the sea come together. In this case, the mountain is Table Mountain,  one of the oldest mountains in the world. The sea is both the Indian ocean and the Atlantic ocean.

The Cape of Good Hope

Cape Town was founded in 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck was sent to establish a permanent supply station there by the Dutch East India Company. It was Bartolomeu Diaz, a Portuguese sailor, that first discovered what was to be called the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ by Henry the Navigator in 1488. Dias called it the ‘Cape of Storms’. The name ‘Cape of Good Hope’ was used also for the entire region.   Later this region became the Cape Province.

In 1806, the British took over from the Dutch. Many farmers were unhappy about this so they moved away to the north. This migration was called ‘the Great Trek’. Many influences contributed to making Cape Town what it is today – the Germans, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the Khoisan (original inhabitants), the British and the Huguenots who had fled from persecution in France.  For example Simon van der Stel, the first Dutch Governor, brought wine-making to the Cape. South Africa is now renowned for its wines.  The town of Stellenbosch which is the heart of the wine industry was named after him.

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city which attracts countless tourists annually. There are many things to do in Cape Town – from hiking up Table Mountain (or taking the cable car) to visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela  and many other political prisoners were imprisoned, from going to a fancy restaurant and trying the local cuisine to going on a tour of Table Bay and swimming with sharks. Visit the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and see the many shops, restaurants and other places of interest (the Aquarium, the museums, the seals flocking in the harbour) in this huge mall. Admire the wonderful views of Table Bay Harbour, Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town. Or better yet, travel out of Cape Town and take a tour of the Wine Route.

Visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which places a strong emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants. “The garden lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, making Kirstenbosch the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site”.


Fancy going to the beach? Try Clifton Beach or rather Clifton beaches as there are four of them in this Millionaire suburb. They go by the unimaginative names of First Beach (favoured by surfers and volleyball players), Second Beach (family friendly), Third Beach (family friendly) and Fourth Beach (adheres to stringent international environmental standards). The beaches have beautiful golden sand and aquamarine water which is chilly. Clifton is said to be one of the sought after pieces of real estate in the world.

green point stadium
Green Point Stadium

And don’t forget to visit the stadium that was built for the 2010 World Football Cup, or to drive and see Signal Hill and Lion’s Head. Cape Town is also known for its jazz music. And…..and ….. There are so many things to see and do that it’s impossible to mention them all here.

signal hill
Signal Hill

French Vocabulary

Today, we are going to learn the French names for fruit:

une pomme = an apple  applepomme

une orange = an orange  orange  orange

une banane = a banana  banana banane

un citron = a lemon  lemon citron

des raisins = grapes  grapes  raisins

un pamplemousse = a grapefruit   grapefruit pamplemousse

une poire = a pear  pearpoire

un avocet = an avocado  avocado avocat

une pêche = a peach  peach peche

une pastèque = a watermelon  watermelonpasteque

une fraise = a strawberry  strawberry fraise

une framboise = a raspberry  raspberry framboise

une noix de coco = a coconut  coconut noix de coco

une mangue = a mango  mango mangue

un ananas = a pineapple  ananas  ananas






Travel with me to Jamaica

Welcome to my blog that unites my two passions: travel and French. So let us explore and then learn some French. Today, we are travelling to the Caribbean island of Jamaica, home of the legendary Bob Marley and reggae, Usain Bolt, the sprinter and Grace Jones, the singer to name a few.

Jamaica’s first inhabitants were the Taino Indians but soon after Jamaica was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1494, the Tainos died out and African slaves were imported to do the work on the plantations. Interestingly enough, although the Tainos died out, they left various words used in English, such as barbecue, maizo, canoe, hammock, potato, hurricane, tobacco and cannibal.  The word ‘Jamaica comes from an Awarak word (Xaymaca), meaning “land of wood and water”.

Jamaica became independent in 1962. Its capital is Spanish Town but Kingston is extremely popular with the tourists. Jamaica is also infamous for the city of Port Royal, home of British buccaneers who preyed on Spanish ships in 1600s. Another tourist attraction is the town of Ochos Rios where you can find a statue and a type of shrine to the late Bob Marley. In Kingston, you can visit the Bob Marley Museum which is located on the site of his recording studio.

Jamaican cuisine
Jamaican cuisine

There are many things to do in Jamaica from hiking to the Blue Peak Mountains to canoe rafting and jeep safaris, not to mention the beaches. Visit the historical sites and taste the cuisine – from goat curry to fried dumplings, jerk and ackee and salt fish.  Jamaica also has many exotic fruits such as many types of mangoes, star apples, otaheiti apples, tamarind and many others. The pineapple was introduced to Hawaii from Jamaica.

james bond beach
James Bond Beach

If you like film trivia, you might like to learn that Jamaica is also famous for Ian Fleming’s house called ‘Goldeneye’. His neighbour was Noel Coward. Ian Fleming wrote many of his Bond novels at ‘Goldeneye’, and an adjacent beach was named ‘James Bond Beach’. A number of James Bond films were shot at his estate, including Dr. No and Live and Let Die. In 1995, the 17th James Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan  was entitled ‘Goldeneye’.

So explore the island, visit its many attractions and feel the vibe.

love the life you live.
live the life you love.”
Bob Marley

French Vocabulary

Today, we are going to learn the vocabulary for household tasks in French:

les tâches ménagères = household tasks taches

faire le ménage = to do the housework ménage

faire la vaisselle = to wash the dishes vaisselle

faire la cuisine = to do the cooking faire la cuisine

passer l’aspirateur = to vacuum passer l’aspirateur

bilayer = to sweep bilayer

faire la lessive = to do the laundry lessive

repasser = to iron/press repasser

faire son lit = to make one’s bedfaire son lit

ranger = to tidy ranger

faire les achats = to do the shopping faire les achats