Tuesday, February 26, 2013


What we hope is the last of the season's snow, melting and dripping down from trees in the Forêt de Fausses-Reposes, formerly a royal hunting forest on the edge of Versailles. 

le compte à rebours:  count down
compter à rebours:  to count down

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Prenez votre temps
Sixteenth-century sundial, absent it's needle, at the famed Alsatian Musée Unterlinden in Colmar.

Patience et longueur de temps font plus que force ni que rage.

Moral of Jean de la Fontaine's fable, via Aesop, Le Lion et le Rat: patience and time can do more than strength and rage.

s'enerver:  to get excited, to get worked up
agir:  to behave, to act
la force:  strength
une aiguille:  a needle

dans le sens des aiguilles d'une montre:  clockwise
dans le sens inverse des aiguilles d'une montre:  counterclockwise

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Monday, February 18, 2013


Another example of Versailles beautiful: unattractive utility boxes transformed into a decorative landmark near a kindergarten and a Montessori school. With encouragement from a poodle, children disguised as Pierrot have a snack. The mural is one of many realized around Versailles by its Ecole d'Art Mural.
grignoter:  to snack
un goûter:  a snack
goûter:  to taste
l'heure de goûter:  snack time
un caniche:  a poodle

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


If I'm not mistaken this statue, during the final stages of its restoration, would be a representation of the Apostle Paul with his scroll. Façade of the Cathédrale d'Amiens.

s'accrocher:  to hang on (reflexive)
accrocher:  to hang something
attacher:  to buckle, to attach
une ceinture de sécurité:  a safety belt
un rouleau de parchemin, un manuscript:  a scroll

Photo courtesy of Marianne Lecron

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Reprenons notre chèvre à la barbe.
In other words, revenons à notre propos;  let's get back to the matter at hand.

reprendre: to recapture, to take back; to resume, to take up again
une chèvre:  a goat
une barbe:  a beard
une barbe en pointe:  a goatee

Quelle barbe!  
What a bore!

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Friday, February 8, 2013


Parez un hérisson, il semblera baron.
This 17th century French adage advises that one should never judge another according to appearances: Dress up a hedgehog and it will look like a baron.
This hedgehog can be admired in all its modest splendor on the façade near the central portal of the Cathédrale d'Amiens.

un hérisson:  a hedgehog
parer:  to adorn

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Cueille le jour présent sans te soucier du lendemain. 
Advice from antiquity frequently handed out by cadrans solaires. This one watches the hours pass in the Alsatian village of Riquewihr.

un cadran solaire:  a sundial
cueillir:  to pick, to gather
se soucier de: to care about

For more French sundials, click on these links: A French Rule of Conduct and Courage Every Hour

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Celestial time movement in bas-relief on the façade of the Metz cathedral.

au soleil; sous le soleil:  in the sunshine

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


One of the reasons Paris authorities once banned the throwing of paper confetti at the Carnaval de Paris was because confetti fights were so much fun people were scooping it up off the dirty streets to re-throw it, posing what was perceived to be public hygiene issues. The ban was in force from 1919 thru 1932, with the exception of 1922 when it was authorized by a tolerant and short-term préfet de police.

Paper confetti, as opposed to the traditional Italian confetti made of plaster chips, first came wildly into vogue during the Mardi Gras celebrations in Paris 1892. Above is a Toulouse-Lautrec poster created for a London confetti manufacturer in 1894. At the time, to shower a woman with confetti was considered an amorous advance, which only added to the moral controversy that raged over the probity of tolerating a city-wide letting go, as it were, for the time of the carnival period.

un préfet de police:  a police commissioner, a chief constable
se lâcher:  to let oneself go; let go

©2013 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, February 2, 2013


In the middle of the the pretty Place Saint-Georges in the 9th arrondissement rises a monumental reminder that for five centuries the Carnaval de Paris counted among the world's most important Mardi Gras celebrations. The bust of Paul Gavarni, a famous 19th-century artist known for his illustrations of the Paris carnival, is mounted on a charming pedestal in bas-relief of typical carnival figures. Among the characters is the débardeuse, a woman in pants disguised as a stevedore--a costume which became popular because it was simple and fast to make.
Liberating and amusing, this costume was also considered to be erotic and against bonnes mœurs. Up to and thru the 19th century, Paris had a law that forbade women from dressing like men except during carnival celebrations. Outside of that period a woman in trousers could be fined if she didn't have a special authorization to wear them, issued by the police commissioner. To obtain that, she had to have a doctor's certificate attesting that she needed to wear pants for medical reasons.

By the 1950's, an accumulation of moral restrictions to curb the revel-rousing and licentiousness during the month-long carnival celebrations, as well as economic limitations--it cost money to clean up the city after the festivities--led the popular event to become nearly forgotten. The Carnaval de Paris has in recent times been revived, but on a much smaller scale. This year's carnival is set to start on Sunday, February 10.

l'oubli:  oblivion
tomber dans l'oubli:  to sink into oblivion
une débardeuse, un débardeur:  a woman disguised in pants at carnaval time (above); a docker, stevedore;  a sleeveless tee-shirt
les bonnes mœurs:  habits or behavior conforming to the morality, religion or culture of a people
le carnaval:  carnival

©2013 P.B. Lecron