Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Hand-hewn and weather worn
Taillées à la main et usées par les intempéries
We were thoroughly charmed by this rudimentary roadside fence in the French Brittany village of Ploubazlanec.

une clôture:  a fence
les intempéries:  bad weather
tailler:  to cut, to prune, to sharpen

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Monday, June 27, 2016


Passer entre les gouttes
It was between downpours on a chilly June evening in Paris that we were able to duck into Le Mouffetard, a venerable bistro in the Latin Quarter, for a big bowl of onion soup. 
The expression, "passer entre les gouttes," means to pass between raindrops. In its figurative sense it means to just barely avoid a bad or uncomfortable situation.

une goutte:  a drop
la goutte:  gout  (as in the metabolic disease which causes painful swelling of joints, and especially toes, due to deposits of urates)
une saucée:  a downpour
une averse:  a shower

©2015 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, June 26, 2016


French comfort food on a rainy day in Normandie
Not just any fold will do
The French's penchant for specificity operates right down to folding crêpes, of which there are at least 12 distinct methods, each one as attractive as the other. The above sarrasin or buckwheat crêpe with mushrooms, served in a rickety hotel restaurant in the village of Giverny, is an example of le pli en chausson. The word chausson generally means house slipper, and is often translated as "turnover" when speaking, for example, of pastries. Here, the form truly brings to mind an old, roomy slipper. To learn more about the different techniques, which include the very simple pli en journal to the stylish crêpes aux aumônières, click here.

plier:  to fold
un pli:  a fold, a pleat
le pliage: folding

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Ton sur ton
 For the record, I don't know about orange being, or having ever been, the new black, but we were enthralled by the degrees of intensity of color of these orangish roses and poppies at Monet's gardens in Giverny.

ton sur ton:  tone-on-tone
coloration:  tint, coloring
pour mémoire, pour information:  for the record

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Friday, June 24, 2016


Poppy season lasts about two weeks in late spring and early summer. Extraordinary and showy flowers, but short lived; de courte durée.  These were in Monet's Giverny garden.

un pavot:  a poppy, an opium poppy

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Another rainy day in Monet's gardens at Giverny where sometimes the umbrellas rival the blossoms and foliage.

ouvrir le parapluie: literally "open the umbrella," this is a locution used familiarly when someone seeks to shelter himself from problems caused by others; the term is sometimes used pejoratively to describe the cowardly act of blame shifting

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Nom d'un chien

More trompe l'oeil around Versailles...this mural is on rue Mazière in the Quartier Saint-Louis. 
The most fitting translation for "doggone it" seems to be "nom de chien".

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Friday, June 17, 2016


Plage des Rosaires at Plérin-sur-Mer.  In the foreground are massive blocks of granite that have been placed to strengthen the digue-promenade.

un enrochement:  rockfill, riprap

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Allez les Bleus
We noticed some Euro 2016 pre-game excitement and flag-waving early yesterday evening on the streets of Versailles. The happy French folks and their dog in the car in front of us were evidently on their way to watch the France-Albania match on television. France, host of the European championship games, won 2-0. Twenty-four teams are participating in elimination matches; the final will be held on July 10. 

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


De l'eau sous le pont
When a past matter is no longer troubling or cannot be changed, French and English language speakers often use the same metaphor, de l'eau sous le pont. To illustrate this figure of speech, we're using the above photo of the remains of an old water mill in the Normandy town of Vernon. The mill, built on a medieval bridge on the Seine, was used to grind wheat. It no longer has its hanging stone. Although it was periodically rebuilt through the centuries, it originally dates to the late 1600's.

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Monday, June 6, 2016


Grisaille is a word that can be used in a number of situations...from speaking about dullish gray weather to a style of bas-relief painting in shades of gray to obtain a three-dimensional effect. It's frequently used to describe Normandy skies, like that on the day of our visit to a charming small-town museum, le Musée Alphonse-Georges-Poulain. The museum, which is in Vernon, is largely dedicated to impressionist works of an American colony of artists who, following the footsteps of Monet, installed themselves in the nearby village of Giverny. The museum also has the distinction of being one of the few in France specializing in animal art. The pair of bronze equestrian sculptures, Chevaux Domptés, above, are the work of the New York native, Frederick McMonnies (1863-1937). MacMonnies worked in both Paris and Giverny.

dompter:  to tame; to horse break

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


We stopped along the roadside outside of Paimpol in French Brittany's Côte d'Armor to take a snapshot of a field of artichokes, but lo and behold this ultra-modern water tower captured our imaginations instead. The industrial land art is the work of renowned French architect Thierry Van de Wyngaert. To see the tower's magnificent nighttime illumination and for more information about Van de Wyngaert's work, click here.

French artichoke production is primarily in Brittany and the south of France, each region producing different varieties.

un château d'eau:  a water tower
un ouvrage d'art:  a work of engineering
le génie civil:  civil engineering
un génie:  a genius 

©2016 P.B. Lecron