Bellevue: A Tale of Two 10-Year Olds

August 21, 2015

When my daughter Lolo tags along on a visit to elderly friends, we compare the lives of two 10-year-old girls living within the walls of our home, Bellevue – stories that are separated by a full 75 years. An iPad and a runaway apple remind us of today’s prosperity.

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French Collège: Increasing the Fun Factor

July 29, 2015

France’s education ministry is brewing up plans to reform its collèges, or middle schools, in order to make them more equitable – and with luck, a bit more fun. From dry teaching to unforgiving grading systems and unsavoury attitudes, French Lessons learns the inside scoop from those invested most.

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Côte d’Azur Homecoming: Let Summer Begin!

June 23, 2015

Hop aboard your favourite Uber vehicle and travel with us as we launch French Lessons 2015. A couple young visitors play “spot the difference” between our Canadian hometown and Antibes, our summer home, while a local friend declares, “Ça y est les vacances!” Let summer begin!

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France’s Remaining Optimist: Sailing in Antibes

August 28, 2013

French Lessons offers a round up of this summer’s blog posts – from taxes, history and comic strips, to wine, fashion and celebrity – while sharing one final, forward-looking story.  Antibes’ picturesque bay provides an ideal setting for Lolo’s first sailing class – even if her abounding optimism is hardly what distinguishes her among her peers.

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The Côte d’Azur: The World’s New Silk Road

July 26, 2013

An impromptu wine-tasting, a celebrity invitation and an esteemed golf tournament – all transpiring in a single, long breath of time – blend the foods and talk, traditions and table manners of France, India, Austria, Germany, Russia, China, the United States, Slovakia, Russia, Canada, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia in the Côte d’Azur, a modern-day melting pot.

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Astérix for Foreigners

July 12, 2013

The popular French cartoon character Astérix invades our household as Philippe introduces Lolo to a childhood favourite.  Like language, we learn that comic strips are best introduced at a young age.  As father and daughter howl over this classic series steeped in double-entendre and edgy cultural stereotyping, I realize the butt of the jokes is often my very (non-French) roots.

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Brittany vs French Riviera: Which is the Real France?

June 15, 2013

Before returning to France’s extreme southeast for the summer, Philippe, Lolo and I stop to visit France’s extreme northwest.  Geography, weather and architecture aside, the country’s regional differences narrow as we encounter a series of typically French displays – namely, strikes.  We extend our northerly stay.  When, finally, will we reach the “real” France?

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Rentrée: Re-Entry After a Côte d’Azur Summer

August 29, 2012

Before returning to Canada, we review the summer’s blog posts and consider how over the years we North Americans have become part of the heady mosaic of summertime Antibes.  But as our family contemplates leaving, it takes an outside voice to remind us how well-adapted we’ve become to the Côte d’Azur’s famous high-season antics.

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Monaco and Taxes: Method or Madness?

August 16, 2012

To most people Monaco is the ideal spot for a daytrip.  To a few select individuals, though, the city-state is home.  Pauline tells French Lessons about real life (with kids) in the fabulously swanky principality cut into the French Riviera coastline.  Separately, a yachtsman brings Monaco’s famous tax advantages to life – or not, as it were.

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Fast Food – à la Côte d’Azur

August 9, 2012

The glitz and glam of the Côte d’Azur even seeps into its pizzas and burgers.  Where else do you find lobster, foie gras and truffles as must-have ingredients than in this world of fast food haute couture?  Still, there’s one food we North Americans bring to the French table – even if locals put their own, tidy spin on it.

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Central Casting: Characters of the Côte d’Azur

June 28, 2012

A simple family day out in Cannes turns into an out-and-out Côte d’Azur spectacle as a string of provocative characters – let’s call them Inappropriate Boob, Tommy Bahama, Diva, White Wig and Tarzan – populate an innocent Sunday lunch and unwittingly broaden the horizons (shall we say) of our attentive grade schooler.

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Double Vision: The End of a Cap d’Antibes Summer

August 26, 2011

While French Lessons has one foot rooted in the Côte d’Azur and the other pointing toward a Toronto rentrée, stratospheric property gossip and megayacht quarrels form a fitting finale to the season.  Meanwhile visits by the so-called Little Mouse, midnight skinny dippers and a heartwarming postscript to the story of Bellevue make this summer unforgettable.

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