The Beautiful Language


August 27, 2021

As French Lessons bids readers au revoir from its 2021 edition, we review Lolo’s choice to immerse herself in real French life over the summer. Certainly our teen found the option more palatable than the alternative, an online French class, but with what results?

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Luck in Antibes: It’s not for the birds

Yoko and Rocky poodles

July 22, 2021

When Philippe got plastered by a well-fortified seagull, we laughed over his dumb luck. After Lolo’s and my near-misses – and a couple four-leaf clovers in the garden – we wondered: Did these things mean bonne chance in France? And why did we need so much of it? We soon found out.

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August 16, 2018

From infuriating legalese to unwritten expectations, the rental market is tricky at the best of times.  French Lessons tests the waters in the Côte d’Azur this summer with its quest to hire . . . a cello.  We leave Nice’s top stringed instrument maker humbled and charmed.

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July 16, 2018

Jemma, the author of French Lessons, thinks she’s pas mal – not bad – at speaking the French language. But whether from the good locals of her hometown in the Côte d’Azur, or from Philippe (her French-Canadian husband) or Lolo (her fluent teen), she never seems to get much encouragement.

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Ten (More) Ways to Spot You’re in the Côte d’Azur

June 22, 2018

French Lessons is thrilled to embark on its 12th season digging into real life in the French Riviera.  As we find our feet, it’s Christelle’s heels, the climatisation (as ever!), the parking, the coffee and a couple beachcombing locals that remind us:  We are back.

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How Food Spices Up la Langue Française

July 17, 2017

A trip to the shoe store tells me – to put it the French way – that my daughter soon will eat soup off my head. It’s a startling idea, even without the soup. A velvety potage is one of many ways that French food spices up its mother tongue.

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French: One Language Divided by Two Lingos

July 14, 2015

When our favourite taxi driver arrives at Bellevue dressed in a canary yellow dress and rhinestone high-heels – all dressed up to the nines – she unwittingly launches a debate over les deux françaises.   Who knew that French French and Quebecois French could be so different for little apparent reason?

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French Language: Form Over Substance

July 4, 2013

Mastering the French language is fairly impossible if you begin as an adult, but local endorsements of your competence en français can bring a certain self-satisfaction – until, of course, you’re put in your place.  Thanks to manicures and blue cheese, we learn it’s more than a wide vocabulary and decent grammatical sense that holds the key to success.

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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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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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To Tutoyer or Not To Tutoyer

June 22, 2011

How can the tiny word “tu” cause so many problems for foreigners in France?  I’m suddenly invited into this special world where some locals prefer I call them “you” in the familiar sense.  But their encouragement is fraught with pitfalls – social, grammatical and otherwise.  I’ve been warned:  Once you start using “tu”, you can never go back.

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A Smartphone in France: Bon Courage

June 12, 2011

My first task in this summer’s return to the Côte d’Azur is to purchase a local carte SIM for my new iPhone 4.  A trip to any phone company, of course, hardly comes without heart-pumping anxiety – and that’s especially true when you’re an American woman discussing brand spanking new cellular technology with a Frenchman.  In a foreign language.

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