Monday, May 26, 2014

FLEA MARKET

The French don't have garage sales as Americans do. Instead, municipalities periodically organize events where private citizens, for a small fee, can have a space to sell old objects they no longer want. This one was held in the dappled shade of the Place aux Herbes in the very pretty city of Uzès, in the Gard. Photo contributed by friend Sylvia.

Vocabulary
un vide-grenier:  an attic sale, a swap meet
une foire aux puces:  a flea market
un grenier:  an attic
vider:  to empty

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

FRONT WHEEL DRIVE

La Citroën Traction Avant
If you've seen war films or documentaries about the WWII Occupation of France, then you'll probably recognize the sleek lines of this car. Because of its good roadholding when turned sharply at high speeds, Citroën's Traction Avant was requisitioned and used by the Gestapo. After the war, gangsters as well had a predilection for the car everyone simply called "la Traction."  We came upon this gleaming limousine, with six passenger windows and equipped with rumble seats, in Conches-en-Ouche in Haute-Normandie. Citroën produced the car during the years 1934-1957,  finally replacing it with the famous DS series.

Vocabulary
la traction avant:  front wheel drive
un strapontin:  a foldaway seat, a jump seat, a rumble seat
luisant:  gleaming


©2014 P.B. Lecron

Monday, May 12, 2014

KNUCKLE DOWN

 A clever trick
To know how many days there are in any given month, French children are taught to make a closed fist and to recite the months touching their knuckles and the spaces in between. Starting with January on the first knuckle, all of the months that land on a knuckle have 31 days, and all of the months that fall in the valleys between have 30, except of course February which has even fewer.

Vocabulary
un poing:  a fist
une articulation:  a knuckle
s'y mettre:  to put oneself to a task; knuckle down 
une astuce:  a clever trick

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, May 11, 2014

THAT'S CRICKET

The old, human-powered carrousel in the Jardin du Ranelagh in the 16th arrondissement, is a nostalgia-loaded Parisian landmark, and a must for travelers with tots. Notice the name of this merry-go-round horse's breastplate: Cricri, onomatopœia for the chirping cricket. The merry-go-round slowly swirls around when either a crank is hand-turned, or here below, when it's simply pushed along. 

Vocabulary
cricri:  a nickname for cricket
un grillon:  a cricket

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, May 10, 2014

HIDE YOUR SAVINGS UNDER A MATTRESS

Cacher ses économies sous un matelas
    This young Frenchman has quite literally stashed his savings under a mattress.

Expression
Qui offre un coussin trouvera un matelas
Who offers a cushion will find a mattress


Vocabulary
cacher:  to hide
les économies:  savings
un matelas:  a mattress


©2014 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE

Wisteria gives a crumbling façade charisma in Versailles.

Vocabulary
florissant,-e:  flourishing, blooming; prosperous
la glycine:  wisteria
une plante grimpante:  a climbing plant, a vine
le charisme:  charisma


©2014 P.B. Lecron