Broyer du noir

Le mot du jour : “Broyer du noir”

Broyer du noir (to crush some black shades) is an expression that comes from the XVI° century and it means to have dark thoughts, to feel blue. Apparently it comes from the painters when they used to crush their pigments to make some paint.

So to all of you people who struggle on Monday mornings, that expression is for you!

Courage! Only 5 days until the next weekend 🙂

La rentrée

Le mot du jour : “La rentrĂ©e”
This week, in France as in the UK, children are going back to school. This is a huge event called “la rentrĂ©e” (returning, going back in).

Schools in France are free (except if you opt for a private school, of course) and children don’t have to wear a uniform, but you have to buy every notebook, pen and pencil that your child is going to use, and the pencil case and backpack to put everything in it, and the special notebook (cahier de textes) to write all the homework in, and so on…

Some teachers are more demanding than others and you can end up with quite a huge bill at the end.

The supermarkets are filled with all this stuff since the beginning of July. As my daughter said : “La rentrĂ©e in France is like Christmas in the UK : much too early!” 🙂

On the day, the news on TV will be full of reports from the schools gates, usually showing little ones (school starts at three years old) crying their eyes out while their parents try to unglue them from their legs.With the pandemic going on, this year is going to be different, but I’m sure the media coverage is still going to be huge.

So once again, I’m going to enjoy the quiet back to school here, where collecting all the pieces of the uniform is still so much easier than all the stationery needed in France! 😀

Bonne rentrée à tous!

Pour des prunes

Le mot du jour : “Pour des prunes”

“Pour des prunes” (for plums) means “for nothing” or “in vain”.

You could say for example : “J’ai travaillĂ© toute la journĂ©e, pour des prunes” (I worked all day, all for nothing).

But why would lovely plums be considered so worthless?

Well, it turns out that in July 1148, Crusaders decided to lay siege in front of Damas, a city on the way to Jerusalem, well known for its delicious plums, “les prunes de Damas”.

The siege was a complete disaster and lasted for only four days. The Crusaders didn’t have a choice : they had to go back home, having only captured baskets of plums!

Since then the expression has survived in everyday French and is still very much in use today, even if we don’t always know where it comes from.

Quelque chose qui cloche

Le mot du jour : “Quelque chose qui cloche”
When something is not working well, you say in French : “Hmm, il y a quelque chose qui cloche”.

It has nothing to do with “les cloches” (bells) but with the old French “clocher” (to limp).

So “il y a quelque chose qui cloche” could be translated by “Something is limping, something is not working as it should”.

That was exactly our feeling when our eldest came back with her A-level results where the predicted As had been turned into Cs by the magic of an algorithm…🙄

Now bracing ourselves for the GCSEs results of our second daughter…

Good luck to all the students out there waiting for their results!

Il y a quelque chose qui ne va pas. Ex: L'histoire qu'il me ...

Le Franglais

Le mot du jour : Le Franglais

Le Franglais is used to describe this weird mix of French and English words commonly used in France. Each time I go back to my country, I discover new ways for French people to use English words in their everyday life.🙂
For example, we heard sentences like : “Plus besoin de downloader, tu peux regarder en streaming” (no need to download anymore, you can stream it)
On the radio, a sports store was telling mothers that their kids would be “super lookĂ©s” (very stylish), if only they were wearing their brand of sportswear…
I think it’s a very French thing to do, as, to my knowledge, French Canadians tend to avoid this kind of mix. For example, they use “fin de semaine” (end of the week) when French people use “le week-end”
The poor English words are not always used accurately, and I feel for the English speaking person wondering why “les baskets” are trainers and “le pressing” is the dry-cleaner! 😄
A little picture taken in France to end this post… “Tested on the English” says the board proudly!

Une escapade

Le mot du jour : “une escapade”
When you go for an “escapade”, it means you go away to escape (of course!) everyday’s life 😊

I am now in an “escapade” in my home town (or rather village) and won’t be online in the next couple of weeks.I wish you all a lovely summer!

Église Saint-Pierre de Marsilly — WikipĂ©dia
Carrelets de la Pelle Ă  Marsilly | La pĂȘche au carrelet n'a 
 | Flickr

Le Quatorze Juillet/ La FĂȘte Nationale

Le mot du jour : “Le Quatorze Juillet/La FĂȘte Nationale”
Remember two weeks ago when I talked about “faire le pont” to join your weekend with the next holiday? Well this week in France is going to be the perfect example.

Tomorrow is “Le Quatorze Juillet” also officially called “La FĂȘte Nationale” and known in the UK as “Bastille Day”.

On that day, France celebrates the beginning of its Revolution, when a group of common people took over the royal prison of La Bastille (where people could be imprisoned indefinitely without trial on the order of the king) on the 14th of July 1789.

At the time there were only seven prisoners left, but it was a huge symbol and so was considered the first step of the French Revolution.

So how do we celebrate that day in France ? First by not going to work. You’d better do your shopping the day before, because it could be hard to find anything open on that day.

Then in Paris the military walks on the Champs-ElysĂ©es, in a “dĂ©filĂ©” (like a catwalk but for tanks and horses and infantrymen…). People clap all along, and it takes the whole morning. This year, health workers are to be honoured and will be walking alongside the army.

After that, the next big events are the fireworks and balls organised in every town and village. They are free to attend (well, payed for by the people’s taxes), so we discovered with surprise the concept of fireworks with fees when we arrived in the UK 🙂

I remember very well going to the ball in my village and dancing until it was sufficiently dark to start the fireworks (usually around 11pm). I have to say, Le Quatorze Juillet is one of my favourite festival in France, as it is in summer and is usually very joyful.

Obviously this year is going to be a little bit different, but I wish all my French friends a very happy FĂȘte Nationale !

La croix et la banniĂšre

Le mot du jour : “La croix et la banniĂšre”
This expression (“the cross and the banner”) is used to talk about something difficult to do.

Ex : “Les taches de framboises, c’est la croix et la banniĂšre Ă  laver” (“Raspberries stains are very hard to take out” – you can see where my inspiration came from 😄)

But why would cross and banners mean difficulties?

Once again, it goes back to the catholic background of my country, when processions were a common occurrence.The organisation of these events was apparently very complex : who is going to carry the cross (and so be in the first place)? In what order should the different banners follow? Where to put the local public figures? And so on…So it turns out a procession was a very sensitive, diplomatic operation.

Next time you are faced with a tough job to do, don’t forget to launch your arms in the air and say in an exasperated tone : “C’est la croix et la banniĂšre !”

Faire le pont

Le mot du jour : “Faire le pont”
“Faire le pont” (translation : “to make the bridge”) is, I think, a typically French concept about how to make good use of your bank holidays. Let me explain.

In France there is a fair number of public holidays, particularly in May, where you have : 1st of May (Labour Day), 8th of May (end of Second World War) and, very importantly the catholic festival of “Ascension”, which is always on a Thursday.

So when one of these days fall on a Thursday or a Tuesday, people usually “font le pont” (make the bridge) : they take a day off work on the Monday or the Friday to link the public holiday with their weekend, hence the bridge concept.

This is very common practice, and “le pont de l’Ascension” is completely part of the language in French, for example.

So if people ask you : “Tu fais le pont cette annĂ©e ?” (Do you make the bridge this year?), they are not asking you if you are working hard as a construction worker but if you are thinking of taking a day off 😀

La FĂȘte de la Musique

Le mot du jour : La FĂȘte de la Musique
Today I am not going to explain an expression but I will talk about a festival.

“La fĂȘte de la musique” (Music Festival or Make Music Day) happens everywhere in France on the 21st of June, since 1981.

On that day, anyone can go outside in the streets and play music. Lots of concerts happen spontaneously at every corner of streets, in bars, parks, car parks…

Not every musician is good, but all of them are enthusiastic and that is what I particularly love about that festival. It is a very nice day and one of my favourite festival in France. And it is all entirely free!

You can find all genres of music from classic to heavy metal, jazz to hip hop, pop and world music…

Obviously this year, because of the pandemic, the festival was quieter than usual, but if in the future you find yourself in France for the 21st of June, just wander along the streets and enjoy!😊