How to Use the French Pronoun en

How to Use the French Pronoun "en"

If you want your French to sound more advanced, one of the best ways is to understand how to use the French pronoun “en.”

Sure, you can construct proper sentences without these tiny words, but you’ll be doomed to forever sound like a beginner. And who wants that? Not us – our goal is to get you speaking fluidly as fast as possible.

So this week, we’re going to focus on how to use “en.”

EN replaces de + noun

1. In relation to QUANTITY or NUMBERS or ADJECTIVES

When discussing quantities of something, “de + noun” phrases are almost inevitable. In this context, “de” represents the preposition “of”, which indicates that a quantity, number or adjective is being discussed.

The adjective, adverb or quantity is always repeated at the end, even if that amount is none. To illustrate:

Combien de tomates voulez-vous? J’en voudrais six.”
(How many tomatoes do you want I would like six [of them])

Combien paires de chaussures as-tu? J’en ai beaucoup.
(How many pairs of shoes do you have?I have a lot [of them])

Est-ce que Marie a des frères? Oui, elle en a deux
(Does Marie have brothers? Yes, she has two [of them].)

J’ai acheté trois jolies robes, j’en ai acheté trois.
(I bought three nice dresses, I bought three nice ones)

Est-ce que tu as un Euro? Oui, j’en ai un.
(Do you have a Euro? Yes, I have one.)

Est-ce que vous avez une voiture? Non, nous n’en avons pas
(Do you (all) have a car?  No, we don’t have one.)

NOTE: It is NOT correct to say: “J’ai un” or “Non, nous n’avons pas une”. You must use “en” to indicate the quantity.

2. In relation to a THING, a LOCATION, or VERBS PRECEDED by DE

Je me souviens de ta première voiture…je m’en souviens
I remember your first car… I remember it

J’ai peur de la mort…j’en ai peur
I am afraid of death… I am afraid of it

Je reviens du Brésil…j’en reviens
I am coming back from Brasil… I am coming back from there

Est-ce tu as besoin d’aide? Oui, j’en ai besoin
Do you need some help? Yes, I need some

Ils s’occupent du projet? Non, ils n’en s’occupent pas. Jean s’en occupe
Are they handling the project? No, they’re not handling it. Jean is handling it.

Paul parle-t-il de son travail?
Does Paul talk about his job?

Oui, il en parle tout le temps!
Yes, he talks about it all the time!

Careful

When it comes to replacing a noun of person, you keep ‘DE’ and use the tonic form of the pronoun:

J’ai peur de ce professeur…J’ai peur de lui
I am afraid of this teacher…I am afraid of him

Elle est jalouse de sa soeur…elle est jalouse d’elle
She is jealous of her sister…she is jealous of her.

3. With PARTITIVE ARTICLES

A partitive article in French (du, de la, des) is an unknown quantity of something. In English, this translates to “some” or “any.” “En” replaces the partitive article and the noun. For example:

Avez-vous de la confiture?  Oui, j’en ai.
(Do you have any jam? Yes, I have some).

Boit-il du vin?  Non, il n’en boit pas.
(Does he drink [any] wine? No, he doesn’t drink any.)

Est-que tu as acheté du pain?  Non, j’en ai oublié d’acheter. J’en peux acheter plus tarde.
(Did you buy some bread? No, I forgot to buy some. I can buy some later.)

Do you have any questions about how to use the French pronoun “en”?  If so, feel free to write them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you! Or, of course, you can always contact us to discuss French lessons.

 


Opening a French Bank Account: Key Vocabulary & Information

It’s September. A time for fresh start. A different season. And new people.

 Every year at this time, Paris is hit with a huge wave of new expats. We know that right now there are thousands of you out there – students, families, professionals and a lucky few just hanging out – trying to get settled into your new life here.

 Of the many items on the new expat to-do list, opening a French bank account is one of the most important…and one of the most puzzling if you don’t understand the relevant vocabulary.

 Let’s rectify that, shall we?

 

 Must-Know French Bank Account Vocabulary

Un justificatif de domicile = a proof of address

You’ll need this critical piece for most administrative procedures. They can be: electricity bill (facture d’électricité), a receipt of the payment of your rent (quittance de loyer), income tax receipt (avis d’imposition sur le revenu), tenant insurance receipt (certificat d’assurance locative). Usually, the bill must be less than three months old. Note: phone bill are in general not accepted.

Un compte bancaire = a bank account.  

 This general term covers a variety of accounts, including checking/current accounts (compte à vue/ compte courante), savings accounts (compte d’épargne), and fixed term saving accounts (compte d’ terme).    

 

Un compte joint = a joint bank account.

 With this type of account, a couple may have equal access to the bank account. But when signing up, pay particular attention to whether the account is for X “ou” Y, or X “et” Y.   With an “ou” account, either partner may sign legally check. If it’s an “et” account, both partners must sign each check for it to be valid.

 

Un compte sur livret = a government-regulated savings account.

Unlike other savings accounts, livret accounts usually have a deposit maximum, but the interest rates may be slightly higher. Most livret accounts are tax-free.

 

Une carte bancaire = A bank card.   Upon opening your account, you will receive your carte bancaire. This card is used to withdraw money from the bank from a distributeur automatique (ATM). It also serves as a debit card, with payments either being withdrawn from your account immediately, or in a lump sum at specific date.

 

Les frais bancaires = Bank Charges/Fees.

 When signing up for your account, be careful. Most French banks will hit you with a dazzling array of frais bancaires. This may include account administration fees, direct deposit fees, and foreign currency transfer fees. At most banks there’s even a charge for having a carte bancaire! Be sure to about fees and charges associated with your account in advance. Fees pile up if you accept a bank’s “package” even if the basic checking account is free.

 

Relevé d’Identité Bancaire (RIB) = Bank account details. This is a handy slip of paper that contains your – surprise, surprise – relevant bank account details, such as your bank number, branch code and account number. RIBs are used for prélèvements (direct debits) from your account or virements (transfers) to your account. You’ll be asked for a RIB to set up automatic bill payment deductions for gas, electric, telephone, etc., or if your employer wants to make direct deposits into your account. RIBs are usually found at the back of your checkbook, but some banks allow you to print them at ATM machines or print them online.

Key Phrases to Know When Opening A French Bank Account

 

I would like to open a checking account

Je voudrais ouvrir un compte.

• What are the charges and fees for this account?

Quels sont les frais et charges pour ce compte ?

 • How much must I deposit to open an account?

Combien dois-je déposer pour ouvrir un compte?

 • How long will it take to receive my checkbook ?

Combien de temps faut-il pour recevoir mon chéquier (carnet de chèques)?

 

 

French Phrases You May Hear When Opening Your Bank Account

• Puis-je avoir une pièce d’identité ?

 May I have your identity card /proof of identity ?

• J’ai besoin d’une facture d’EDF ou gaz….

 I need (to see) an electricity or gas bill…

• Vous devez remplir ces formulaires.

 You must fill out these forms.

• Combien voulez-vous déposer pour commencer ?

 How much do you want to deposit to start ?

 

If you need help with French bank account vocabulary or speaking with your banker, contact us! We can help you practice the specific conversations you need to know to settle into your life in France!  

 


7 French Autumn Words You Must Learn

In this last week of August, as the summer heat begins to release its grip, the shops fill with back-to-school items, and the leaves on the trees turn orange-yellow, our thoughts cannot help but turn to le changement des saisons (the change of the seasons).  

 L’automne (autumn) is one of the most pleasant seasons in Paris. Le temps est un peu frais mais beau (The weather is a little cool, but beautiful), en septembre et octobre, il n’y a pas beaucoup de pluie (in September and October there isn’t much rain) and les musées (the museums) aren’t as crowded as in summertime.  

 If you’re in France this fall, you’ll find that certain French autumn vocabulary words pop up again and again. Don’t be left out of the conversation! Learn the following 7 French autumn words and understand their place in French culture.

1. La Rentrée – The Return

In France, August is the time of vacation. Many pharmacies, boulangeries and other shops completely shut down; large cities are drained of nearly everyone except tourists; the métros and buses are empty, while French beaches heave with glistening bodies.  

In early September, the situation reverses. People return to the cities, tanned and rejuvenated. Shops fling open their doors, children return to school, the streets fill with people, and real life begins again. This is la rentrée.

During période de rentrée, which is more or less the first three weeks of September, it’s common to hear phrases like:

Bonne rentrée!” (Enjoy your return to school!)

Je suis trop chargée en ce moment. On se voit après la rentrée.” (I’ve too much on my plate at the moment. Let’s see each other after the return)

2.  Les Vendanges – The grape harvest

 Who doesn’t know that wine is a fundamental part of the French identity? No one. But many people don’t realize that in France celebration of wine begins long before that first delectable glass is poured. In September and October, les vendanges – the grape harvest –is celebrated in various ways all throughout France.   One of the most famous festival, La Feria des Vendanges takes place in Nîmes in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France.

 But Paris has it’s own celebration as well with the Fêtes des Vendanges de Montmartre, which will occur this year from 7 – 11 octobre. The hilly, picturesque neighborhood of Montmartre has a small vineyard that produces about 1500 bottles of wine each year. It’s a modest amount, but the joy of its making is big.

 So, if you want to practice your wine vocabulary, indulge in a little wine tasting, or just soak up the lively atmosphere of a wine-themed street fair, head over to Montmartre on these dates and check it out.

 3.    Reine-Claude – Greengage plums

Starting in late summer, these delectable little green plums make their annual appearance in market stalls throughout France. With their green peau (skin) and golden flesh, les reine-claudes look as if they’re bursting with the last bit of summer sunshine. And they taste like it, too. Invariably sweet and juicy, you’ll enjoy them by the kilo. If you want the pleasure to last, consider that they make an excellent confiture (jam.)

 

4.    Les Feuillages d’Automne – Fall foliage

As we mentioned, l’automne is the perfect time to go on long promenades in the French countryside. Not only is the weather pleasantly fraiche (cool), but the feuillage d’automne can be lovely.

If you’re in Paris, a little walk through the crackling, leaf-strewn lanes of the Jardin de Tuileries an give you a cozy autumnal feeling. But if you feel the need to be completely surrounded by nature, there’s nothing like a stroll in the forêt de Fontainebleau , the woodlands of the famous château, to make you feel far, far away from city life.

5.   Champignons sauvages – Wild mushrooms

 In l’automne, the French go crazy for wild mushrooms, whether eating them or picking them (la chasse aux champignons) or debating the merits of their favorites.  At the marché, you’re spoiled for choice for champignons sauvages.

Among many others expect to find an abundance of fat-bottomed cèpes (porcini); golden, crinkly-topped girolles (chantarelles); and the darkly shriveled but oh-so-delicious morilles (morels). In November, la saison des truffes (truffle season) begins. If you can cough up the money for this extraordinary-tasting fungus (truffles cost upward of $2,000 per kilo), it’s a must-try.

 6.  Nuit Blanche – White Night/ All-nighter

 If you’re a student in France, you’ve probably become quickly familiar with the term “nuit blanche,” which means you’ve stayed up all night or pulled an “all-nighter.” (Studying, no doubt!) But in Paris in autumn, Nuit Blanche has a greater meaning.

 In mid-September, signs go up everywhere reminding people that the annual “Nuit Blanche” is approaching. This refers to a night in early October where Paris turns into an all-night arts festival. Scores of museums, galleries, theaters and public spaces remain open all night, giving people a unique view of the city at night and opportunity to interact with Parisian spaces differently.

Nuit Blanche 2015 takes place on samedi 3 octobre.

7.  “Il est arrivé!” – It’s here!

In mid-November, you’ll likely see these words written in large swooping letters in the windows of numerous wine shops and cafés throughout Paris. Who’s here? The annual arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau, of course.

Every year, on the third Thursday of November at precisely one minute after midnight, the nationwide celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau wine begins. Beaujolais Nouveau is a very young wine, only six or seven weeks old, made of Gamay grapes. Traditionally, it was a vin ordinaire (a simple table wine) drank in Beaujolais to celebrate the end of les vendanges. Since the 1970’s, however, it has become a commercial and marketing sensation. Wine-lovers now celebrate this first wine of the season all around the world.

What are some of your favorite French autumn words and phrases?  Share with us below!

 

 


3 Tips for Improving Your Ability to Read French

In our private French lessons, we primarily focus on learning to speak like a native, and most of our lessons are spent in conversation.

 But reading in French is fundamental to improving your speaking ability. One of its biggest benefits, of course, is that reading can substantially (and quickly) widen your vocabulary. It can help you more easily absorb grammar and sentence structure. And depending on what you read, it can help foster your understanding of French culture, politics, and humor – all of which will certainly help you adjust to your life in France.

 If you want to read more fluidly in French, try these 3 tips before settling down with your next roman (novel) or journal (newspaper).

 

     1.  Choose what you read carefully.  

When deciding on what to read, it’s key to choose a subject that’s interesting to you and that it’s at an appropriate level.

 You might be thinking: “Well, duh!” but it’s not unusual for students to read certain subjects or mediums that they think they should be reading rather than what truly interests them. But that path just leads to glazed eyes, a wandering mind, and the unfair assessment that reading French is so hard and sooo boring.

 So, don’t bother stoically plodding through Le Monde, if you think you’d enjoy reading Glamour or Top Santé more.  Think outside the box. In addition to novels, magazines, and newspapers, there are countless blogs written in French on a wide range of topics, from travel to cooking to finance.  

 If you’re longing to read a classic like Balzac, but just aren’t up to that level yet, look to classic French children’s books like Le Petit Prince or Le Petit Nicolas series. If you like comics (bande déssinees), you’ll have so much fun with the ancient Gaul, Asterix, or sharing in the adventures of the Tintin.

 Bottom line: it doesn’t matter much what you read, as long you enjoy it.

 

       2.  Ditch the dictionary (initially).

Too often students of French read with a book in one hand, and a dictionary in the other. Forget that. Interrupting your reading flow to look up new words also breaks up your broader understanding of the language and how it is used.  

 Approach reading in French similar to how you would watch a French film or listen to a French song. Let the language flow through your mind, allowing it to effortlessly call up certain images and whatever understanding you can grasp.

Your brain will fill in many of the blanks by interpreting an unfamiliar word’s meaning through context.

 (Note: be sure that you’re reading at an appropriate level or slightly above your level – if you’re baffled by every other sentence, you’d be better off finding something slightly easier.)

 Of course, we’re not saying you should never use a dictionary. While you’re reading, underline new words in pencil so that you can remember to look them up later. And when you do look them, try researching them in French dictionary, which will keep you thinking in French. But keep a good French-English dictionary on hand for times you’re truly stuck or exhausted.

 

      3.    Read aloud

Reading aloud (haute voix) is a great way to improve your French on multiple levels. You can strengthen your vocabulary, pronunciation and accent, and boost your ability to speak fluidly all in one fell swoop. Reading aloud also forces you to pay attention to words that you might skip over as you read silently.

When you read aloud, do so slowly and consciously, and read each page or passage twice. During the first reading, just let the words and understanding flow without great effort. In the second reading, pay attention to how your tongue and mouth move as you read.   Do this for 10-15 minutes every day – or even every other day – and we think you’ll be pleased with the results!

 What do you enjoy reading in French? Share your favorite books, magazines and blogs below!


Quiz: Amener, Apporter, Emmener, Emporter

Pop quiz! How much did you absorb from our post on the French “bring / take” verbs: amener, apporter, emmener and emporter?

Think you’ve got it? Well, here’s a chance to test your knowledge.

Review the post, then take the quiz below. If you have any questions about this quiz or about these verbs, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments below.

Ready…? Allez!

 

  1. J’_______ mon fils à son cours de violon à 8h. Mon mari ira le chercher à 9h.

a) emmène

b) apporte

c) amène

 

  1. Chaque dimanche, Jacques ­­­­­­­­_______ le petit déjeuner au lit à sa femme.

a) apporte

b) emmène

c) emporte

 

  1. Françoise ________ nos enfants à Disneyland demain; je crois qu’elle-même adore les attractions !

a) amènera

b) emmènera

c) emportera

 

  1. “S’il te plaît, _____-moi l’éponge à côté de l’évier. J’ai renversé un verre d’eau.”

a) emmène

b) emporte

c) apporte

 

  1. Quand vous préparez votre voyage de ski, n’oubliez pas ________ de la crème solaire. Même en février il peut y avoir beaucoup de soleil!

a) apporter

b) emporter

c) amener

 

  1. _____-vous quelqu’un au pique-nique ce samedi?

a) Amenez

b) Apportez

c) Emmenez

 

      7.  Non, nous ne pouvons pas être là avant 17h. Nous _______ notre voiture de location au garage.

 a)rapportons

b) ramenons

c) remmenons

 

      8.  Ils ______ leur chat avec eux quand ils nous rendent visite.

a) apportent

b) emmènent

c) amènent

 

     9.  “Peux-tu _____ Marie chez elle? Elle habite dans ton quartier.”

a) amener

b) ramener

c) remmener

 

 10.  Alice, n’oublie pas de______ ton livre quand tu pars. Merci de l’avoir prêté!

a) emmener

b) apporter

c) emporter

 

Answers:

 1) c 2) a 3) b 4) c 5) b 6) a 7) b 8) b 9) a 10) c

 

Any questions? Ask us below or call us for a private French lesson!

 

 


10 Ways to Say Goodbye in French

Sometimes it’s the simple things that trip you up when speaking French. Saying goodbye, for example, might seem like an easy enough thing to do. But there are numerous phrases for it and, believe it or not, it is possible to use the wrong one!

Here are 10 ways to say goodbye (or otherwise end a conversation) in French:

  1. Au revoir. (Oh reh-vwah) This is the most common ways of saying goodbye in French, and it’s acceptable for the vast majority of situations, formal and informal. It literally means “until we each see each other again.

 

  1. Bonne journée / Bonne soirée. (Bun zhoor nay / Bun swah ray) These phrases mean: “Have a good day/ Have a good evening,” respectively, and they are typical ways of ending a conversation.  You are acceptable in formal and informal settings. For example, it’s common to use it when ending a conversation with a client, or leaving a store or restaurant.
  1. À tout à l’heure. (Ah too tah leuhr). This means “see you later.” This phrase is used if you will see the person later in the day. It’s acceptable in both formal and informal situations.

 

  1. À plus tard (Ah plue tahr). This phrase also means “see you later” but is only used in more informal circumstances. You may also hear it said as “à plus” (ah plue-ss), which is just an abbreviation. In informal emails, you may see it written as A+.

 

  1. À bientôt (Ah bee yen toe). This is general ways of saying “see you soon.” You’d use it formally or casually, when you know you’ll be seeing the person soon. If you’re seeing the person within a matter of hours, you could say: À très bientôt. (See you very soon).

 

  1. À tout de suite (Ah too deh sweet). Here’s yet another way of saying “see you very soon.” The key distinction is that you’d only say it when you’re seeing the person immediately following your conversation. For example, if you were having a conversation with a friend about where to meet, and you were planning to meet right afterwards, you could end the conversation with “à tout de suite.”

 

  1. À la prochaine (Ah la prosh-enne). This phrase means “until next time” or “see you next time.”   Unsurprisingly, it’s used when you’re unsure of when you’re going to see the other person again.

 

  1. À demain (A deh-mahn). This phrase means “until tomorrow” or “see you tomorrow.” Naturally, it’s for use when you’re certain of seeing the person you’re speaking to tomorrow.

 

  1. Salut (Sah-lou). This is a very casual way of saying goodbye (or rather, ‘bye!) in French. Note that it also means “hi!”

 

  1. Adieu (Ah d’yew) Use this rather somber goodbye word only when you know you will never see the person again. Literally, it means “until God,” which gives you a strong clue as to the sense of finality it imparts.

 

Have any questions about how to say goodbye in French? Ask us below!


French Food Vocabulary Guide

Has this ever happened to you?

You’ve settled at your table in a fine French restaurant, airily waved away the English menu, started perusing the French menu… and realized you’re completely lost.

 Sure, you know that porc is pork. But what is travers de porc? And what about joues de boeuf? Does that really mean beef cheeks? Do cows even have cheeks?

There’s no question that at many French restaurants, extra vocabulary guidance is in order. Certain restaurants will feature parts of the animal that you’d likely have trouble naming in your native language, much less French. And even if you’re able to figure out the kind of food offered, then the mode of preparation – often included in the description – may throw you off. And then there’s the simple fact that hundreds of dishes have names that simply do not translate.

 Be baffled no more. Here’s a short guide to common French foods, dishes and preparation styles that you might encounter in a French restaurant.

Bon Appétit!

 French Meats & Poultry Vocabulary

(Vocabulaire pour les viandes et les volailles)

 Agneau = lamb

 Andouillette= tripe sausage (chitterling sausage)

Biche = female deer

Canard = duck

Caneton = a young male duck

Cannette = a young female duck

Cervelle = brains

Coq = Rooster

Entrecôte = beef rib steak

Escargots = snails

Faux-filet = Sirlon steak

Gigot d’agneau = leg of lamb

Jambonneau = Pork knuckles

Langue de boeuf = tongue of beef

Lapin– rabbit

Marcassin – young wild boar

Magret de canard = fattened duck breast

Sanglier – wild boar

Moelle – beef bone marrow

Os – bone

Oie Goose

Paleron = shoulder of beef

Pied de mouton = sheep’s foot – OR – a kind of wild mushroom, so watch out!

Pied de porc = pig’s foot

Pigeon – pigeon

Pigeonneau – young pigeon

Pintade – guinea fowl

Queue – tail (e.g., queue de boeuf – oxtail)

Ris d’agneau/ veau = sweetbreads of lamb/veal

Rognons = kidneys

Travers de porc = spare ribs

Volaille – poultry

 

French Seafood Vocabulary

(Vocabulaire pour les fruits de mer)

Cabillaud = cod

Calamar = squid

Crevettes = Shrimp

Gambas = large shrimp

Étrille = a small crab

Flétan = halibut

Goujons = small catfish, usually fried

Huîtres – Oysters

Limande = sole-like ocean fish

Lieu = Pollock (a white fish)

Lotte = monkfish

Morue = cod (young)

Moules = mussels

Noix de St. Jacques = sea scallops

Palourdes = Clams

Pétoncles = small scallops

Seiche = large squid

Truite = trout

 

French Vegetables Vocabulary

(Vocabulaire pour les légumes)

Asperge = asparagus

Aubergine = eggplant

Betterave = Beet

Carotte = carrot

Cèpe = porcini mushroom

Cresson = Swiss chard

Courge = squash

Courgettes = zucchini

Épinard = spinach

Fenouil = fennel

Mange-tout = snow peas

Navet = turnip

Poireaux = leeks

Panais = parsnips

 

French Foods/Dishes

(Cuisines française)

Acras de Morue = codfish cakes

Boudin noir = Blood sausage.

Charcuterie = various cold cuts, pork sausages and other salted, prepared meats

Cassoulet = a casserole of white beans, confit of duck or goose

Coq au vin = chicken slow-cooked in red wine, garlic and other seasonings and vegetables

Cuisses de Grenouilles = Frogs legs

Friture = a plate of small fried fish or other seafood

Galette – a crêpe made of buckwheat flour

Grattons – crispy fried pieces of pork; cracklings

Joues de Boeuf/Cochon = Beef cheeks/pig cheeks

Oeuf en meurette = poached egg in red wine sauce

Oeuf à la coque = soft-cooked egg

Pâté = a mixture of cook meat and fat, formed into a spreadable paste.

Quenelles = fish (usually pike) dumplings

Ragoût = stew

Rillettes = paté-like; salted pork (or other meat) cooked slowly in fat then formed into a paste.

Tête de veau = calf’s head.

French Preparation Terms

(preparation à la française)

à l’ancienne = in the old style

à la vapeur = steamed

à l’étouffée = stewed

à point = medium (cooked, as in a steak)

au four = baked

confit = meat (usually duck or goose) cooked in its own fat

coulis = fruit purée

croustillant = crispy

en croute = baked in a crust

farci = stuffed

feuilleté = cooked in a puff pastry /phyllo dough)

 fumé = smoked

mijoté(e) = simmered

papillote = cooked in parchment paper

Parmentier = with potatoes

 poêlée = cooked in a pan

 

 What’s the most memorable French dish you’ve eaten? Share with us below!


On y va! French Beach Vocabulary

These days in Paris, we’re experiencing une canicule (a heatwave). If you weren’t already thinking of heading à la plage (to the beach) for a refreshing getaway, you probably are now!

France has thousands of lovely beaches, from the sweeping golden shores found on the Atlantic Coast in places such as Bretagne (Brittany), Normandie (Normandy) and Biarritz, to the hidden coves and sparkling turquoise waters of la Mediterranée (the Mediterranean) in the South of France. The stunning island of Corse (Corsica) also offers extraordinary white sand beaches, and you’ll find amazing, plages sauvages (wild/unspoiled beaches) in the Poitou-Charente region.

If you’re really desperate for some sand-time but can’t leave Paris, there’s always Paris plage, an artificial beach created for one month every summer in the city center. This beach, which runs along the Seine, has several tons of imported sable (sand), chaises longues (beach chairs) and palmiers (palm trees), ice-cream stands, live music, and plenty of other activities. Although you’re not going to think yourself swept away to a beach in Cannes, it’s definitely worth a visit.

 French Beach Attire

If you’re going to French beach for the first time, you should there are a few things you should know – mainly about attire. Depending on where you are from, it may surprise you to see men of every age wearing tiny Speedos, and women of every age wearing tiny bikinis, and small children wearing nothing at all. In France, the body isn’t something to be hidden away in shame. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear as little as possible.

Which brings me to plages naturistes (nude beaches). You may have heard about France’s nude beaches, and it’s true that they are plentiful here. But that doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable for adults to run around tout nu (fully naked) any beach they choose. If you want to get naked on a beach, here a few tips:

  1. Research French nude beaches first. With a little Googling, it’s easy enough to find plages naturistes in any region.
  1. Observe the locals. If you’re not sure whether it’s socially acceptable to go full monty or topless, watch what the locals do. If you don’t see it, don’t do it. As a foreigner, you shouldn’t be the one to try to change the local custom.
  1. Don’t be rude. Taking pictures, staring, pointing or speaking loudly about nude beach-goers is a gross breach of etiquette. If you’ve accidentally stumbled upon a nude beach or upon the random naturiste / nudiste (nudist) and it makes you feel awkward or offended, simply go elsewhere.

 

French Beach Vocabulary

And now, here are some beach words that may come in handy during your vacances balnéaires (beach vacation).

 La sable – the sand

Les lunettes de soleil – the sunglasses

La serviette de plage – the beach towel

 

Le parasol –beach umbrella

La crème solaire – the sunscreen

Le maillot de bain – the swimsuit

Coup de soleil – sunburn

 

Le château de sable – the sandcastle

La pelle – the shovel

Le râteau – the rake

Le seau – the bucket

 

L’eau – the water

La vague – the wave

Le courant – the current

La marée haute –high tide

La marée basse –low tide

 

Un poisson – a fish

Une étoile de mer – a starfish

Une algue – algae

Un coquillage – a seashell

Une mouette (a seagulls)

 

A few useful verbs

Nager – to swim

Plonger – to dive

Prendre un bain de soleil – to sunbathe

Faire un pique-nique – to have a picnic

Faire un château de sable – to make a sand castle

 

Will you be going to a French beach this summer? Where will you go? Share with us below!


Bastille Day: Background & Vocabulary

How quickly the year is passing! Another July 14th is just around the corner. You may know it as Bastille Day, but here in France, it’s called “La Fête Nationale” or “le quatorze juillet.”  

 What’s it all about? Simply put, it’s the date that marks the start of la Révolution française (the French Revolution) and represents the day on which France won her independence from the unchecked and absolute power of the monarchy.

 A Quick History Lesson

 In the 1700s, France was divided into three social classes, known as “États” (estates): the first estate was le clergé (the clergy); the second estate was la noblesse (the nobility), and the Third Estate was everybody else. While the third estate did consist partially of the bourgeoisie (middle class), its largest component was the poorest of society, known sometimes as sans-culottes (without britches).  

 Although the first two estates made up about 3% of the entire population, they were disproportionally wealthy, privileged and powerful, and subjected the vulnerable people of the Tiers État (Third Estate) to harsh and arbitrary laws.

 By 1789, the country was mired in a severe crise économique (economic crisis) and many among Third Estate were fighting starvation, while the other two estates thrived. Ras-le-bol (fed up), the leaders of the Tiers État created a new assembly to write a constitution, very much against the wishes of King Louis XVI.

 On 14 juillet 1789, a mob in Paris, spurred by rumors that Louis XVI planned to use force to destabilize the new assembly, stormed the immense stone prison la Bastille, killing numerous guards and releasing the seven prisonniers politiques (political prisoners) it held. The storming of Bastille gave heart to the masses as the Bastille was viewed as the ultimate symbol of the monarchy’s absolute power. That very night hundreds of people began to tear down the Bastille, stone by stone.

 Just over a month later, on 26 août 1789, the new assembly voted for the Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens), a constitution that set out the individual and collective rights of all French people, regardless of social class.  

 And so la République française was born.

Celebrating 14 juillet in Paris

Le quatorze juillet has been a jour férié (national holiday) since 1790. And in Paris it brings quite the doozy of a celebration.

In the morning, an enormous défilé militaire (military parade) struts down the Champs-Elysées to salute le Président de la République (President of the Republic) and other high-ranking French politicians who greet the procession at the Place de la Concorde. Low-flying military jets roar overhead in a spectacular flyby, the tri-colors of the le drapeau français (the French flag) trailing behind them in clouds of smoke. Of course, everyone sings l’hymne national (the national anthem), la Marseillaise.

 When night falls, thousands of people swarm toward the beautifully-lit Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower) to watch the feu d’artifice (fireworks), which burst into life just behind the legendary tower. Those not at the Eiffel Tower might be dancing the night away at the exhilarating bal des pompiers (Firemen’s Ball). These balls – hardly formal events – take place in firehouses all over Paris and are open to the public, usually with just a suggested donation.

 Sounds good, non? Come to Paris and celebrate with us!  Bonne fête!

Will you be in Paris for le 14 juillet? How will you celebrate?  Share with us (in French, if you like) below!

(photo: Sergii Rudiuk / Shutterstock.com)

Verb Spotlight: Amener, Apporter, Emmener, Emporter

In this month’s verb spotlight, we’re going to focus on the French “bring / take” verbs. It’s no surprise that these verbs – amener, emmener, apporter and emporter – can prove troublesome for Anglophones as there are very subtle distinctions between them and none has a direct translation into English.

In French, the correct use of a “take/bring” verb depends on two or three factors:

  • the nature of object being brought or taken
  • how the object will be brought or taken, and (sometimes)
  • whether the speaker will leave or stay with the object at the destination.

Let’s take a closer look at each verb:

AMENER

Definition: To bring.

What? A person, animal or any object capable of movement on its own.

How? The person or object is driven, guided or led, not carried.

What next? The person or object is left at the destination without the speaker.

The verb amener is based on the verb “mener” which means to lead. So when you use this verb, imagine leading a person, animal or mobile object to a certain destination and then leaving them there.

Examples:

J’amène mon fils à l’école = I bring my son to school.

Amènes ta petite amie chez nous = Bring your girlfriend to our place (Drop off your girlfriend at our place).

• Si Marie avait les temps, elle aurait amené sa voiture au garage avant de partir. =

If Marie had the time, she would have brought her car to the garage before leaving.

BUT: Naturally, this being the French language, there’s an exception to the ‘leaving the object at the destination’ rule. Amener is also appropriate to use in circumstances when you’re bringing someone along. So:

• Est-ce que tu l’ameneras à dîner demain? Are you bringing her to dinner tomorrow?

EMMENER

Definition: To take

What: a person, animal or any object capable of movement on its own.

How: The person or object is driven, guided or led, not carried.

What next: The speaker stays with the object at the destination.

 Emmener is also rooted in the verb “mener.” So this verb is appropriate if you’ve led, driven or physically guided someone/something to a destination. But this one is only appropriate if you plan on staying with the person upon arrival.

Examples:

  • Aimerais-tu que je t’emmène dîner? = Would you like me to take you out for dinner?
  • Emmène-moi avec toi! = Take me with you!
  • Il emmène son chien au parc chaque samedi matin. He takes his dog to the park every Saturday morning.

 

APPORTER

Definition: To bring, to take

What: An object that’s incapable of going anywhere on its own

How: By carrying it.

Apporter is rooted in the verb “porter,” which means to carry. The prefix “a-“ signifies that something is being physically carried to another place. For example:

  • Qu’est que vous apportez au pique-nique? = What are you bringing to the picnic?
  • Peux-tu m’apporter une tasse de thé? = Can you bring a cup of tea?
  • Ils apportaient leurs livres à l’école chaque jour. = They brought their books to school every day.

BUT: In a few circumstances, it’s acceptable to use amener although apporter is the technically correct verb. For example when invited to a dinner, it wouldn’t be unusual to ask:

Qu’est-ce que je devrais amener? or Qu’est-ce que j’amène? (What should I bring?) instead of “Qu’est-ce que je devrais apporter?”

EMPORTER

Definition: To take away (with you)

What: An object incapable of going anywhere on its own

How: By carrying it.

 Again, we’ve got the base verb “porter” which indicates that something is being carried. In this case, however, the emphasis is on the fact that the object is going away with you, as opposed to that you’re taking it to somewhere else.

You may find it helpful to remember that “emporter” is the French equivalent of the term “take out” or “take-away,” with respect to meals taken from a restaurant.

Examples:

• J’ai emporté mon parapluie ce matin mais il n’a pas plu. I took my umbrella (with me) this morning but it didn’t rain.

• Emporte ces papiers. Take away those papers.

• Tu emportes toujours un livre. = You always take along a book.

• Repas à emporter . = Take-away food.

Note that the reflexive form of the verb is an expression: 

S’emporter: Marie s’est emportée = Marie lost her temper.

If you’re still confused or have further questions, drop us a line below or contact us! We’re ready to help you learn the French that you really need.