Teaching or Learning French the fun way: THE WEATHER/LE TEMPS

Teaching about the weather in French is always fun. You can incorporate games and revise grammar as well as introduce new vocabulary.

Quel temps fait-il aujourd’hui?/What is the weather today?

This is the perfect opportunity to introduce weather vocabulary and revise the verb faire in the present, past and future.

il fait beau = it’s nice weather

il fait mauvais = it’s ugly/bad weather

il fait chaud = it’s hot

il fait froid = it’s cold

il fait du vent = it’s windy

il y a du soleil/il fait du soleil = it’s sunny

il y a des orages = it’s stormy

il y a des nuages = it’s cloudy

The verb faire

The verb faire is used very often to describe weather in French, so it is important to learn it, especially as it is an irregular verb:

Present tense of faire (to make or do)

je fais

tu fais

il/elle/on fait

nous faisons

vous faites

ils/ells font

You can also revise/review the negative by explaining that il fait froid (it’s cold) can become il ne fait pas froid (it’s not cold). The students can then be asked to make sentences based on the example, such as il fait chaud (it’s hot)/il ne fait pas chaud (it’s not hot). Or you can ask for opposites: il fait beau (it’s nice weather)/il fait mauvais (it’s ugly weather).

Games

Role-playing

An excellent way to review the weather is to divide the students into groups of two to role-play that they are weather presenters, giving the weather forecast (la météo). Give them a map of France with ten of the biggest French cities marked on it, and ask them to add two or three weather symbols per town, e.g. Nice   . Ask them to add the temperature too.  So, you should get something like : À Nice, il pleut et il neige (in Nice, it is raining and snowing). Il fait 7° (it is 7 °).

If you want something extra, teach the four points of the compass: le nord (north), le sud (south), l’est (east), l’ouest (west). This should lead to sentences such as : Dans le sud de la France, à Marseille, il fait du vent et il pleut (in the south of France, in Marseille, it is windy and raining).

Be sure to mention that there are many French prepositions to translate the English ‘in’, e.g. dans with points of the compass and à with cities.

Once they are ready, each person in the group presents the weather for five towns. The more creative, the better.

There are podcasts in easy French online that the more advanced students may listen to. These could be used as a listening or comprehension exercise or both.

Matching-up

Another game that can be played is matching up weather symbols to phrases, so a symbol of the sun should be matched with il y a du soleil/il fait du soleil (it’s sunny). You can either give each student a worksheet with symbols and phrases or you can hold up the weather symbol. The first student to answer correctly gets a sweet.

There are many exercises online that can give you ideas.

Who wants to be a Millionaire? Qui veut être millionaire?

You can get a template for ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ on the Internet and tailor to suit your purposes. You could have questions such as : what does il fait beau mean? and give four choices, or you could ask what the opposite of il fait beau is, etc.

Les Saisons/the Seasons

Of course, you could also take the opportunity to revise or review the seasons together with the weather. Ask the question: quel temps fait-il en hiver? (what is the weather in winter?). This is another example of a different preposition to translate the English ‘in’.

Les Mois/Months et les Jours de la Semaine/Days of the week

Learning about the weather is also a great way to revise the months and the days of the week. Thus, you can ask your students questions, such as en quels mois fait-il froid/chaud/beau/mauvais? (in which months is the weather cold/hot/nice/ugly?), etc.  Or a-t-il fait très froid en décembre? (was it very cold in December?).

The days of the week (les jours de la semaine) may also be inserted into the weather by asking questions such as quel temps faisait-il lundi? (what was the weather like on Monday?) or quel temps fera-t-il samedi? (what will the weather be on Saturday?).

Idioms about the weather

It is fun to introduce the more advanced students to French idioms about the weather. Get them to compare with idioms about the weather they may know in English.

Il fait un froid de canard (it’s a cold for ducks) = it’s very cold.

avoir la chair de poule (to have hen skin) = goosebumps.

un temps de chien (a dog’s weather) = ugly weather

il pleut des cordes (it’s raining ropes) = it’s raining cats and dogs.

il gèle à pierre fendre(cold enough to split stones) = it’s freezing.

après la pluie vient le beau temps= after the rain comes the nice weather.

il pleut à verse = it’s pouring.

une chaleur à crever = hot enough to die

le calme avant la tempête = the calm before the storm

une tempête dans un verre d’eau = a storm in a teacup.

avoir la tête dans les nuages = to have one’s head in the clouds.

Thus, the weather can be a wealth of information and a source of fun too.

 

 

Christmas Traditions in France

The French celebrate Christmas (Noël) with what I would call flexibility. It can start as early as the 6th December with the feast of Saint Nicolas and last until the 2nd February, the feast of La Chandeleur (Candlemas).

The Feast of Saint Nicolas

The feast of Saint Nicolas is celebrated on the 6th December, especially in Lorraine, Alsace and in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. There are many legends about him and Santa Claus’/ Father Christmas’ character is based on him.  Saint Nicolas was said to have saved some children from persecution. The day of his death, the 6th December, became a day when he brings sweets, biscuit and gifts to children on his donkey.  He is dressed in red and white and carries a bishop’s mitre and crozier.  He is accompanied by a bogeyman called Le Père Fouettard (Father Whipper) who gives out bundles of twigs or coal to naughty children.

There are many parades in towns on the feast of Saint Nicolas.

Christmas Eve La Veille de Noël

According to tradition, the Christmas tree (le sapin de Noël) should only go up on the 24th December but many people choose to put it up earlier. French children do not hang stockings up but leave their shoes out (les souliers) so that le Père Noël (Father Christmas) can fill them with gifts (either on 5th or the 24th December). However, presents (les cadeaux) are also placed under the tree.

An important part of tradition is the Crib (la crèche). The French crib does not consist only of the traditional figures of the Virgin Mary (la Vierge Marie), Saint Joseph (Saint Joseph), baby Jesus (l’enfant Jésus), the shepherds (les bergers), the angels (les anges),  the three kings (les rois mages) santons and the usual animals. It contains all kinds of clay figures called (little saints) representing village life such as a butcher (in boucher), a baker (un boulanger), the mayor (le maire), the knitter (la tricoteuse), etc. One of these santons is called le ravi (the delighted one) because he is so happy to see the baby Jesus.

On Christmas Eve, people attend Midnight Mass and then come home to a large meal – the réveillon.  They eat things such as seafood (les fruits de mer), oysters (huîtres), duck (le canard), goose (l’oie) or turkey (la dinde). They drink champagne (le champagne) and some parts (the Provence region) of France serve 13 desserts. These desserts (fruit, different kinds of nuts, candies fruit, etc.) symbolise Jesus and the twelve disciples at the Last Supper. Every guest must taste each one to have good luck for the coming year.

les 13 desserts
la bûche de Noel

Of course, the traditional Christmas dessert is la bûche de Noël (the yule log) which is a chocolate sponge and buttercream dessert shaped like a log.

New Year’s Eve/ La Saint Sylvestre

New Year’s Eve is called la Saint Sylvestre. There are parties and a huge meal again – le réveillon de Saint Sylvestre. It is a tradition that one kisses under the mistletoe (le gui) on New Year’s Eve. Gifts, called les étrennes, are exchanged on New Year’s Day when everyone wishes everyone une Bonne Année (a Happy New Year).

The Epiphany/ L’Epiphanie

The 6th January is the Epiphany and celebrates the coming of the magi or three kings (les roi mages). Once again, children receive small gifts and sweets. And a special cake is made called the galette des rois (the king’s cake). This is made of puff pastry and almond paste and contains a small token baked in it. It is decorated with a crown. Whoever finds the token becomes king or queen for the day.

la galette des rois

La Chandeleur / Candlemas

The 2nd February is the feast of la Chandeleur and the day when Christmas decorations are put away. It is a day when crêpes are eaten and the Christmas season ends.

 

 

FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS: AU RESTAURANT (PART 3)

In my last 2 blogs, I talked about the types of restaurants there are in France, the different kinds of dishes and the kinds of meals the French have.  Added to that was useful vocabulary relating to cutlery and crockery and food and drink.

Today, I will introduce role-play in the restaurant and other useful information as well as some grammar.

Réserver une table (Booking a table)

It is always a good idea if you make a reservation, otherwise you could arrive at the restaurant to find that you have to wait and be placed on une liste d’attente (a waiting list).  So, you could either book online (réserver en ligne) if you have access to the internet or you could phone:

  • Allô? allo
  • Bonjour, ici le Café Vert. (Good day, Café Vert) bonjour
  • Bonjour, je voudrais faire une réservation pour ce soir (Good day, I would like to make a reservation for this evening) reservation
  • Très bien, Monsieur/Madame, c’est pour combien?  (Very well, Sir/Madam, for how many?) c’est pour combien
  • C’est pour quatre personnes (it’s for four). pour 4 personnes
  •  A quelle heure pensez-vous venir? (For what time?)a quelle heure
  • A  20 heures (for 8 p.m.) a 20 heures
  • C’est à quel nom? (In whose name?) c’est a quel nom
  • Parmentier. parmentier
  • C’est noté – à ce soir, Monsieur/Madame. (It’s done. See you this evening) c’est note

Bonjour de France has another example with exercises.

Au Restaurant (At the Restaurant)

Most restaurants offer a menu du jour menu du jour  or la formule  formule (special fixed lunch menu) with limited choice. Un plat du jour plat du jour(daily special) is available if there is no fixed menu.  Otherwise, restaurants have an à la carte menu where you can choose anything off the menu (la carte or le menu).


Make sure you do not call the waiter ‘garçon’ as this rude. You should call him ‘Monsieur’. If it is a lady, call her ‘Madame’.  The word for a waiter is le serveur and a waitress la serveuse. Always be polite and use s’il vous plaît (please) and merci (thank you).

Useful vocabulary

Qu’est-ce que vous désirez comme…….?  qu’est-ce vous desirez what would you like as a…….?

Vous avez choisi? choisi= have you decided/chosen?

Qu’est-ce que vous nous recommandez/conseillez? recommandez what do you recommend?

Donnez-moi   donnez-moi = give me

Je voudrais  je voudrais = I would like

Je prendraije prendrai= I’ll have

Quel est le plat du jour?quel est le plat du jour= what is the daily special?

Qu’est-ce que vous avez comme boissons?   comme dessert? qu’est-ce que vous avez= what do you have as drinks?  as dessert?

l’entrée   entrée   = starter

le plat principal  plat principal= main course

le fromage  fromage = cheese

le dessert dessert= dessert

service compris  service compris= tip included

service non compris  service non compris= tip not included

Payer par carte   payer par carte= pay by card

Payer en espèces   payer en espèces= pay cash

en accompagnement   en accompagnement= as a side dish

la carte des vins  carte des vins = wine list

manger   manger(see the Grammar section) = to eat

boire    boire   (see the Grammar section) = to drink

commander   commander   = to order

laisser in pourboire laisser un pourboire= to leave a tip

For meat, you need to know:

saignant  saignant = very rare

bleu   bleu = rare

à pointà point= medium rare

bien cuit  bien cuit= well done

For mineral water:

de l’eau plate  de l’eau plate= still

de l’eau gazeuse  de l’eau gazeuse= sparkling

There is usually a bottle of mineral water on the tables in restaurants. This is not free.

If you don’t want to pay for water, ask for de l’eau de robinet   de l’eau de robinet  (tap water)

Ordering water:

une carafe carafe= jug

un verre     verre= a glass

une bouteille  bouteille = a bottle

Role-Play: at the restaurant

Another example on YouTube.   TV5 also has a short video in French with exercises and a transcription.

Grammar

manger (to eat) is a regular -er  verb:

je mange                                  nous mangeons

tu manges                                vous mangez

il/elle/on mange                      ils/elles mangent

boire (to drink) is an irregular verb:

je bois                                      nous buvons

tu bois                                      vous buvez

il/elle/on boit                           ils/elles boivent

commander (to order) is a regular -er verb:

je commande                           nous commandons

tu commandes                        vous commandez

il/elle/on commande              ils/elles commandent

 

The Partitive Article

Expressing quantity = some/any not all. Hence. I would like some cake, not all the cake; I would like some butter, not all of it.

Masculine singular :   du   = du vin

Masculine plural :       des =  des fromages

Feminine singular:      de la  = de la viande

Feminine Plural:          des =  des viandes

Nouns beginning with a vowel or ‘h’:  de l’   = de l’eau

However, after a negative, they all change to ‘de’:

je n’ai pas de vin  (I don’t have any wine)

tu n’as pas de fromage

elle n’a pas de viande

nou n’avons pas d’eau

 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Let me know what kind of things interest you.

 

FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS: FOOD (La Nourriture) and DRINK (Les Boissons) Part 2

C’est l’heure du déjeuner. c’est l’heure A table! a table Bon appétit!  bon appétit(it’s lunch time. Let’s eat!) In my previous blog,  we learned the names of the 3 main meals in France and some of the food and drink items, so now it is time to go to the restaurant. Allons au restaurant!   allons au restaurant (Let’s go to the restaurant!)

Types of restaurants in France

There are many different types of eating places in France from the Cafés which serve basic food and are focused on coffee to the Michelin-star type restaurants.

There are bistrots (bistros) which are not clearly defined and can be a pub, a bar or a restaurant. There are brasseries (the name means ‘brewery’) which resemble cafés but serve full meals. There are also speciality shops such as Crêperies  (which serve pancakes or crêpes) and Salons de Thé which specialise in teas but also serve quiches, tarts, cakes, etc.

Salon de Thé

Cutlery and Crockery (Argenterie et Vaisselle) argenterie

The way the table is set is very important – it is almost an art in France.

le couvert = table setting couvert

la nappe = tablecloth nappe

la serviette = the napkin serviette

le couteau = the knife couteau

la fourchette = the fork fourchette

la cuillère = the spooncuillere

la cuillère à soupe = the soup spoon cuillere a soupe

la petite cuillère = the teaspoon petite cuillere

le verre = the glass verre

un verre à vin = a wine glassverre a vin

la tasse = the cuptasse

la soucoupe = the saucer soucoupe

la bouteille =  the bottle bouteille

une assiette = a plate assiette

le bol = bowl bol

le plateau = tray plateau

Idioms about eating and drinking

mettre les petits plats dans les grands = to put on a great spread

manger à la bonne franquette = to eat without fuss/simply or informally

manger à l’oeil = to eat without paying

manger comme un moineau = to eat like a sparrow, i.e. very little

manger la grenouille = to eat the frog, i.e. to spend one’s savings (in the XVIIIth century, piggy banks were shaped like frogs)

manger son chapeau = to eat one’s hat i.e. to admit to a mistake

boire comme un trou = to drink like a hole, i.e. they never stop

mettre son grain de sel = to put in one’s salt’s worth i.e. to give one’s unsolicited opinion

la moutarde me monte au nez = the mustard is getting up my nose, i.e. I am getting angry

la vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin = life is too short to drink bad wine

 

Famous French Dishes

Many French dishes have become famous throughout the world and may be found on different menus.

Of course, there are frogs’ legs (cuisses de grenouilles), snails (escargots) and steak tartare to be sampled.

Then there are dishes such as :

le canard  à l’orange   (duck à l’orange),

le boeuf bourguignon (beef stew),

 le coq au vin (chicken in wine),

la soupe à l’oignon (onion soup),

le cassoulet (beef and bean stew),

la salade niςoise (niςoise salad)

la ratatouille

French Desserts

la Tarte Tatin: legend has it that this luxury-type of apple pie came about because of an error with caramelisation. It is now made with pears, apples, quinces and prunes.

le Mille feuille  (also known as a Napoleon cake): delectable layers of pastry and custard cream. Its name means a thousand leaves which refers to the countless layers of pastry used to make it.

la Crème brûlée:

le Macaron: this meringue-based sweet has been around since the Middle Ages and was introduced to France by Catherine de Medici.

la crème caramel;

la mousse au chocolat:

 

The above desserts are just some  of the many French desserts.  There are also certain desserts that are made on special feast days, such as:

Christmas (Noël) : la bûche de Noël (Christmas log)

Mardi Gras: crêpes (pancakes)

Epiphany: la Galette des Rois (King’s cake)

 

My next blog will include phrases about going to the restaurant. So make sure to look out for it.

 

 

 

FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS: FOOD (La Nourriture) and DRINK (Les Boissons) in French Part 1

When one thinks about France, one of the things one thinks about is its food and its drinks. So if you are learning French what better way is there to improve your vocabulary than to learn that of la nourriture (food) and les boissons (drinks). Not to mention the fact that it is tied to French culture.

Donc, allons-y! (so, let’s go!) Let us start with the names of meals (les repas) in France: le petit déjeuner (breakfast = literally means ‘small lunch’), le déjeuner (lunch) and le dîner (dinner).

Le Petit Déjeuner à la française (French Breakfast)

Qu’est-ce que tu manges au petit déjeuner? qu’est-ce que tu manges au petit dejeuner

(what do you eat at breakfast?)

je voudrais =  je voudrais I would like

donnez-moi = donnez moigive me

Breakfast is eaten between 6h30 and 8h30 a.m. It differs from a full English breakfast and is usually called a continental breakfast by hotels. It usually consists of the following items:

j’ai faim  = j’ai faim(I’m hungry)

un croissant  un croissant

des céréales cereals

des fruits fruits

un yaourt (yoghurt)yaourt

le pain (bread) pain

la baguette (French bread) baguette

un pain au chocolat pain au chocolat

un pain aux raisins  pain aux raisins

une tartine (a slice of bread with butter) tartine

avec beurre (with butter)  avec beurre

avec de la confiture (with jam) avec confiture

avec du miel (with honey)avec miel

Qu’est-ce que tu bois au petit déjeuner? (what do you drink for breakfast?)  qu’est ce que tu bois

j’ai soif (I’m thirsty) j’ai soif

du café (coffee) du cafe

du thé (tea) du the

du lait (milk) du lait

du sucre (sugar) du sucre

du chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) du chocolat chaud

un jus de fruits (fruit juice) jus de fruits

un jus d’orange (orange juice) jus d’orange , un jus de pomme (apple juice)  jus de pomme , un jus d’ananas (pineapple juice)

An excellent resource is a voiced powerpoint created by a Welsh school. It has a voiced slide show, role play tasks and speaking tasks. It is also fun.

Le Déjeuner (Lunch)

Qu’est-ce que tu manges au déjeuner? (What do you eat at lunch?) qu’est-ce que tu manges au déjeuner

Le déjeuner (lunch) dejeuner usually takes place between 12h and 14h p.m. It consists of the following courses:

l’entrée (the starter) entrée

le plat principal (main course) plat principal

le dessert (dessert)  dessert

le fromage (cheese) fromage

The Welsh site mentioned above is also great for food and LanguageGuide.org has an illustrated vocabulary with pronunciation.

Food Items

le riz (rice)

la viande (meat):

le boeuf (beef)

le bifteck (steak)

le mouton (mutton)

le veau (veal)

le poulet (chicken)

le porc (pork)

le poisson (fish)

l’agneau (lamb)

les saucisses (sausages)

les légumes (vegetables):

les pommes de terre (potatoes)

les petits pois (peas)

les haricots verts (green beans)

le chou (cabbage)

le chou-fleur (cauliflower)

les champignons (mushrooms)

les carottes (carrots)

French Desserts (to name but a few):

la mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse)

la crème caramel  (crème caramel)

les crêpes suzette 

la crème brûlée

les profiteroles

l’éclair

la tarte tatin

Drinks:

le vin (wine)

le vin rouge (red wine)

le vin blanc (white wine)

le vin rosé (rosé wine)

le champagne (champagne)

la bière (beer)

Le Dîner (Dinner)

Qu’est-ce que tu manges au diner? (what do you eat at dinner?)

The French eat dinner at about 20h and it’s usually something lighter than lunch.

So there you have it: some of the French food items, drinks and meals.  More in the next blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel with me to Stonehenge

Welcome to my blog which explores my two passions : French and travel. Do you love history? Well, travel with me to a wondrous site that existed thousands of years ago: Stonehenge, which has been classified as a World Heritage Site.

IMG_2459

Stonehenge is a very impressive ruin which is a wonder of ancient achievement and a symbol of mystery. Stonehenge has inspired people to interpret it for centuries. Who built it and why? Archaeology provides the best hope for answering questions about its mysterious origins. Some suggested that it was created by magic, some guessed (wrongly I learnt) that the Druids had built it.

IMG_2453

The word ‘henge’ in Stonehenge refers to a prehistoric monument consisting of a circle of stone. The most visible elements of Stonehenge are the stones themselves. They vary in size and  those in the central cluster are arranged in a series of circular structures. The stones in this central cluster were brought to the site in about 2500B.C.  There are very large stones that support the lintels. Others are much smaller. The stones vary both in their size and in the raw material from which they were formed.

The largest stones are known as sarsens and can weigh over 35 tonnes. The smaller stones are known as bluestones collectively although they include a variety of different types of rock. The outermost setting would have been a circle of 30 upright shaped sarsens. Only 17 of these still stand while only 6 of the lintels are still in place. Inside and concentric with the sarsens was a circle of 60 small upright bluestones. Moving inwards, you will find a horseshoe of 5 massive sarsen trilithons. Three of these still stand. Stonehenge is situated on an axis  and is aligned with both the midwinter and the midsummer solstice.

Stonehenge nowadays is a very different place for tourists A new visitor has been built and you can take a shuttle to the monument. Cars are no longer allowed to drive close to it. There an interesting exhibition at the visitor centre with many finds that were excavated as well as huts that the people would have lived in. Of course, there’s the usual gift shop. And a cafeteria.

We were lucky to go on a beautiful day – the first time we went it was -11°C but this time it was great. We hired audio guides and meandered along from spot to spot learning about Stonehenge and its history. Well worth a visit but book online to get slightly ahead of the queues.

Trip Vocabulary

Here are some useful links to do with travel:

[Vocabulaire TOEIC] 50 mots à savoir sur le thème du voyage (+expressions idiomatiques)

http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/guide/anglais/organiser

http://www.anglais-francais.net/vocabulaire/themes-indispensables/le-voyage.php#ancre1

http://www.babelcoach.net/fr/vocabulaire_anglais/guide_de_survie_voyage_anglais#basics

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel with me to Disneyland Paris (Round 2)

Welcome to my blog about French and travel – my two passions. It has been a while but here I am back again.  I have travelled to Disneyland Paris again so thought it might be nice to get a fresh perspective.

Disneyland Paris (previously EuroDisney) lies in the region of  Marne-la-Vallée in France (32 km/20 miles east of Paris) . It can be reached by train, bus or car. You have to fly to Paris first unless you live in Europe or the UK. It opened its doors in 1992 and attracts a large number of tourists. It is the most popular theme park in Europe.

 

IMG_1910
The Santa Fé Hotel

It consists of two parks: Disneyland (the original park) and Walt Disney Studios (opened in 2002). It is usually a good idea to stay in a Disney hotel as there are many benefits. There are usually good package deals to be had which include accommodation, half-board, unlimited entry to both parks and free parking. The choices are varied : the Santa Fé Hotel (where we stayed and which was great except for the loud people), the Cheyenne, the Newport Bay Club Hotel, the Davy Crocket Ranch, the Disneyland Hotel, the Disney Hotel New York , Sequoia Lodge.

DSC03315
It’s a Small World

Once you get to the parks, the usual Disney magic takes hold of you. There are many choices : shows, interactive exhibits, rides, autograph book signings by characters, parades, fireworks etc. We went when it was raining but the magic still persisted.

Highlights are, of course, It’s a small world with its incredible puppets, Ratatouille the 3D ride, the Jedi training Academy, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ride,  and so on. Everything is bilingual so if you don’t understand French,  don’t worry!

French Section:

I’m going to try something different this time. I’m going to give you links to useful sites, such as ( just click on the link to open a new window):

booking a hotel room

food vocabulary

meals

travel and holidays

Travel with me to the Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg

main staircase winter palace
The main staircase

Welcome to my blog which unites my two passions: French and travel. Today, I would like to invite you to visit the sumptuous Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg. The Hermitage owes its origins to the creative and educational activities of the Russian rulers. The winter residence of the Tsars became the centre around which a great museum, its architectural complex and its countless treasures crystallised. Construction of the current Winter Palace began in 1754 and took 8 years to complete. It was built by the architect Francesco Rastrelli on the order of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. When Catherine the Great became empress in 1762, she wanted to have the Small and Old Hermitage to be built next to the official residence in order to house her art collection.  The Raphael Loggias block was added to the Old Hermitage.  This was followed by the building of the Hermitage Theatre .  This whole group of buildings next to the Winter Palace became known as “the Hermitage”.

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The Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace

Catherine the Great  wanted her palace to be more beautiful than any other European palace. And I truly think that she succeeded. Catherine acquired 225 paintings in 1764, the Gotzkowsky paintings. Thus the history of the museum is traditionally held to be 1764 and the day chosen was 7th December, the feast day of St. Catherine (in honour of its founder). The collection continued to grow under Catherine’s successors.

The Winter Palace which was the imperial residence for many years became part of the Hermitage Museum in 1917, the year before Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks. It was then declared a state museum. During the First World War, the museum’s main collections were moved to Moscow and were only returned at the end of 1920. The museum also lost many of its works when the practice of expanding museums across the USSR was established. Tragically, many of its masterpieces were sold to buyers abroad in order to solve the state’s financial problems. The trade was only stopped in 1934.  The museum was also bombed during WWII but it stood firm and in 1945 the museum reopened its doors to visitors.

There are countless beautiful things to see in this museum – a lot of them gold! In fact, they have a Gold Room where there are so many incredible things it’s difficult to describe. You are not allowed to take photos in this room though. You will see many of the imperial family’s belongings in this room which is actually more than one room, and many treasures dating back to the 4th to the 7th century B.C. It really is worth the visit.

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Another beautiful item which is in the Hermitage (not in the Gold Room) is the Clock Peacock made in the 2nd half of the 18th century by Englishman James Cox. It is an amazing piece of machinery which still works.

It can take years to see all the collections and priceless pieces of art in this Museum but even to see just a small portion is a worthwhile endeavour which will delight you.

French Vocabulary

L’Hôtel

je voudrais réserver une chambre, I would like to book a room reserver

une chambre simple, a single room chambre simple

une chambre double, a double room chambre double

une chambre avec petit déjeuner, a room with breakfastavec petit dej

une chambre en demi-pension, half board demi pension

en pension complète, full board pension complete

avez-vous une chambre pour ce soir? do you have a room for tonight? chambre pour ce soir

pour deux personnes/pour deux nuits, for two people/for two nights deux personnes

la douche ne marche pas, the shower doesn’t work douche ne marche pas

la télévision ne marche pas, the television doesn’t work tele ne marche pas

quel est le prix d’une chambre double?  how much does a double room cost? prix chambre double

est-ce que le petit déjeuner est compris? is breakfast included? dejeuner compris

à quelle heure faut-il rendre la clé? at what time must we check out (return the key)? rendre la cle

 

Travel with me to Epcot, Orlando

Welcome to my blog which incorporates two of my passions: French and travel. Today, we are going to visit Epcot Theme Park in Walt Disney World, Orlando. Known for its huge geodesic sphere (Spaceship Earth),  Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and was designed to “take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry.” Epcot consists of two main areas : Future World and World Showcase.

epcot map
Epcot map

The main entrance leads you into Future World whose focus in on energy, the environment, ocean life, the land, imagination, health, communication, transportation and space exploration. Inside the sphere (or ‘golf ball’), you will find the history of communication featured in Ellen De Generes’ Universe of Energy ride.

There are countless other attractions such as Living with the Land (a boat ride), the Seas with Nemo and Friends which features a large aquarium, you can also ride on Clam-Mobiles or attend a Talk with Crush the Turtle. You can Journey into Imagination with Figment which is great fun for kids.

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One of our favourite rides is Soarin’ which is an incredible simulation ride. It takes you soaring over California and lets you smell the oranges, skim over the sea and soar over mountains. You really feel as though you are flying!

 

epcot lagoon
Epcot Lagoon

The World Showcase  is comprised of 11 countries ( Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada) situated around a lagoon. Each country is themed and cast members are dressed as that country’s inhabitants. This part of the theme park is very relaxing as there are no rides but exhibitions, restaurants, boat rides and shows. You experience the culture and cuisine of each country. So stroll around the lagoon and sample a croissant from France, pasta from Italy, hot dogs or burghers from the United States, bangers and mash from the United Kingdom, tacos and churros from Mexico. There are cafés and restaurants depending on your taste and the depth of your pockets. There are also gift shops (of course!) in each country where you many marvel at fine Italian glass and Venetian masks, etc.

One of the highlights of the Epcot experience is the fireworks display, Illuminations : Reflections of Earth, which takes place every evening. But whatever happens, you are guaranteed a good time so eat, drink and be merry and enjoy the experience!

French Vocabulary

The vocabulary of the restaurant and café (Part II):

voice notre sélection de vins = here is our wine selection. selection de vins

êtes-vous prêt à commander? = are you ready to order? pret a commander

qu’est-ce que vous voulez manger? = what would you like to eat? vous voulez manger

qu’est-ce que vous avez comme sandwiches? = what type of sandwiches do you have? vous avez comme sandwiches

qu’est-ce que vous conseillez? = what do you recommend? vous conseillez

nous vous conseillons notre plat du jour = we recommend the speciality of the day. nous vous conseillons

l’addition, s’il vous plait = the bill, please. l’addition

je crois qu’il y a une erreur dans l’addition = I think the bill is incorrect. erreur addition

un croque-monsieur = a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. croque monsieur

un croque-madame = a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. croque madame

de la mousse au chocolat = chocolate mousse mousse

un steak-frites = steak and fries steak-frites

de la soupe à l’ognion= onion soup soupe a l’ognion

 

Travel with me to Two Great Museums: the Louvre and the British Museum

Welcome to my blog in which I share my two passions: travel and French. Today, we are going to visit two great museums – the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London. Both have innumerable treasures to see and discover and are well worth the visit.

The Louvre

The Louvre began its life as a fortress in the Middle Ages when King Philippe Auguste decided to build a strong defence against the Anglo-Norman threat. Thus, at first, the Louvre was not a museum or a royal residence but an arsenal. The Salle Basse (Lower Hall) is all that remains of the medieval Louvre. In the 14th century, the Louvre was surrounded by the city and lost its defensive function.  In 1364 to 1369, it began to be transformed into a royal residence.

After many transformations, in 1692 Louis XIV ordered the creation of a gallery for sculptures in the Louvre. It became the residence of the Académie Française and later of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture). “In  1791, the revolutionary Assemblée Nationale decreed that the “Louvre and the Tuileries together will be a national palace to house the king and for gathering together all the monuments of the sciences and the arts”. It was thus the French Revolution that facilitated the present museum.

 Today the Louvre is one of the biggest museums in the world and houses the famous Mona Lisa (La Joconde), Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. It is housed under thick glass with many other security measures in place and is much smaller than one would think. But there are always crowds around it.

DSC04835The glass Pyramid which now forms the entrance to the Louvre was controversial when it was first built in 1989 but has now become an icon of Paris. It was part of the ‘Grand Louvre’ project which sought to modernize the museum. In the 1970s the Louvre was struggling to cope with the numbers of visitors and its entrances were too small. The French President at the time, François Mitterand, appointed the Chinese-born American architect, Ieoh Ming Pei to redesign the entrance. The result was an underground entrance with access to the Louvre, shops and restaurants.

The Louvre also houses the Venus de Milo. This Hellenistic statue, which was found on the island of Melos in 1820, is a combination of classical tradition and innovation. The goddess seems arrested in time and the craftsmanship of the clothes draping her is amazing. You can also see the Victory of Samothrace (the Nike in Greek). This is a statue of a winged girl representing victory and standing on the prow of a ship.

The Louvre is divided into 8 collections or departments, each shaped and defined by the activities of its curators, collectors and donors. They are : Paintings, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Near Eastern Antiquities, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Islamic Art and Prints and Drawings. If you wish to visit the Louvre, make sure that you have plenty of time – in fact, one day is definitely not enough!

The British Museum

british museum

The British Museum was founded in 1753 and was the first national public museum in the world. Visitors numbers have grown from 5000 a year to over 6 million a year. Admission is free. The Museum came into being thanks to the will of Sir Hans Sloane who bequeathed his collection of 71,000 objects to King George II in exchange for £20,000 for his heirs. The gift was accepted and in 1953 an Act of Parliament established the Museum. It was opened to the public in 1759 and was free to ‘all studious and curious Persons’.

In the early 19th century, several important artefacts came to be housed in the British museum: the Rosetta Stone, the Townley collection of classical sculptures, the Parthenon scuptures and the remains of the Temple of Halikarnassos.

rosetta
The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 in a village called Rashid (Rosetta) by Napoleon’s soldiers while they were enlarging a fort. It is believed that it was carved in 196 B.C. It has writing in three different languages on it: Greek, Demotic and hieroglyphics. This enabled historians to decipher hieroglyphics. After the French were defeated by the English, the Stone was sent to the British Museum.

The Parthenon Sculptures are also housed in the British Museum. The Parthenon was a temple dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of the city of Athens. It stands on the Acropolis (see my previous post on Athens) which surmounts Athens. Lord Elgin brought the sculptures to England at the beginning of the 19th century. There has been great controversy over the sculptures which are also called the Elgin Marbles as Greece is demanding that they be restored to them and has even built a Parthenon Museum to house them.

There many other noteworthy treasures to be found in the British Museum and it has special exhibitions periodically. When I was there, there was a whole exhibition dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian which was very interesting.

Thus, these are two great museums that should be visited and enjoyed.

French Vocabulary

Today we are going to learn French vocabulary to do with the restaurant (Part I).

hors d’oeuvres = starters  hors doeuvres

menu léger = light meals  menu léger

le plat principal = main course  plat principal

le dessert = dessert  dessert

les fromages = cheeses  fromages

je voudrais un plat à emporter = I would like a take-away  emporter

bon appétit ! = enjoy your meal! appétit

avez-vous une table pour quatre personnes? = do you have a table for 4? table pour 4

j’ai réservé une table au nom de ……= I have reserved a table in the name of …..  table au nom de

voice votre table, elle vous convient? = here is you table, does it suit you?  table convient

je voudrais la carte, s’il vous plait = I would like the menu please. carte svp

voici le menu et la carte des vins = here is the menu and the wine list  carte des vins

voulez-vous quelquechose à boire/ à manger? = would you like something to drink/ to eat? quelquechose a boire

je voudrais une bouteille de vin rouge/ blanc = I would like a bottle of red/white wine bouteille vin

je voudrais une bouteille d’eau plate/pétillante = I would like a bottle of still/sparkling water  eau plate