Monday, March 30, 2015


Les chats, c'est comme le papier, ça se froisse très vite. 
-- Guy de Maupassant

Cats are like paper, they are quickly rumpled.

French Birman, Pompon, throws his ears back to illustrate the word froissé, which can either mean crumpled, or as here, vexed. Pompon is posing in front of an antique Japanese katagami stencil made of mulberry bark paper. Such stencils were used to print patterns on silk for kimonos.

© 2015 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, March 28, 2015


It's time in France--and the entire European Union for that matter,  to set the clocks to daylight saving time, or l'heure d'été. The annual change takes place the last weekend of March in the night between Saturday and Sunday, at two o'clock in the morning. How to remember whether to set the clock forward or back? Anglophones use the reminder "spring forward, fall back." But is there an equivalent mnemonic device in French? 

Yes! Here it is: because the change is usually around the first of April, associate the av of the month avril with avance, the French word for advance. For the passage back to l'heure d'hiver which takes place at the end of October, associate the re ending of octobre with the word recule, or move back. 

The above clock face featuring a representation of one of the two Chevaux de Marly sculptures is mounted on a wall along the road between Marly-le-Roi and Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

une astuce:  a tip or trick

©2015 P.B. Lecron

Friday, March 20, 2015


Not bad, not bad at all. Pas mal, pas mal de tout. 

As in English, the French familiar expression pas mal is elastic and can be stretched from meaning a simple "so-so" to a resounding exclamation of approval. Much depends on the intonation and punctuation. It can also be wielded to say that there is a significant number or quantity of something. For example: "Il y a pas mal d'armoires urbaines peintes en trompe l'oeil à Versailles." There are a lot of utility boxes painted in trompe l'oeil in Versailles. In the one pictured above, the stream of water and drain are particularly well-done.  Utterly.

tout à fait:  utterly

©2015 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, March 15, 2015


A giant sculpture of a stiletto high-heel shoe sits atop simulated hatboxes in the atrium of the biggest luxury and fashion outlet mall in France, One Nation Paris.  

The closet French equivalent of the expression, "if the shoe fits, wear it," is "si le chapeau te fait, mets-le donc!"  This expression is not to be confused with "porter le chapeau" which means to wear the hat, an idiom for taking the blame.

©2015 P.B. Lecron