Friday, July 29, 2016

TO JUMP FOR JOY!

Sauter de joie!
At the Musée des Impressionismes in the village of Giverny is a temporary exposition of the Spanish post-impressionist painter, Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923). His painting, Le Saut à la Corde, above, shows young girls jumping rope.

Vocabulary
sauter:  to jump, to leap


©2016 P.B. Lecron

Monday, July 25, 2016

KITCHEN TALK


Made from Scratch
Like the slate board says, the foods served in this restaurant are entirely prepared and elaborated by its own kitchen staff, which means that it qualifies for the French government's "Fait Maison" label. The label indicates to the prospective client that the dishes served are made on the premises and are not industrially prepared and assembled. Le Vieux Logis Restaurant in the charming village of Gerberoy goes a step further and posts a delectable litany of culinary skills practiced in its kitchen. After enjoying a delicious meal there of fresh, in-season local foods meticulously prepared and presented, we can vouch for the results.

Located in the heart of Picardie, Gerberoy is classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France. The French post-impressionist artist, Henri Le Sidaner, put Gerberoy on the map when he installed himself there in 1901; like his friend Claude Monet did in Giverny, Le Sidaner created his own country garden paradise of light and flowers. Roses and hollihocks abound in this medieval village.


©2016 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, July 24, 2016

SUNDAY PAINTER

Whether this anonymous aquarelliste be a professional artist or not, this snapshot of him crouched on the Japanese bridge in Monet's gardens at Giverny serves to illustrate the term "un peintre du dimanche." 

Vocabulary
un aquarelliste:  a watercolorist (USA), a watercolourist (UK)
un peintre du dimanche, un peintre amateur:  a Sunday painter, an amateur painter

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, July 23, 2016

IN FULL BLOOM


En pleine floraison
It's that time of year again when the water lilies at Monet's garden pond at Giverny are in full bloom.

Vocabulary
une feuille de nénuphar:  a lily pad
un étang:  a pond

Expression
les poussins sont nés:  it's that time of year again; literally "the chicks are born"
encore cette période de l'année:  it's that time of year again


©2016 P.B. Lecron

Friday, July 22, 2016

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN?

Sitting a relaxed guard with its front paws uncharacteristically crossed and sporting a rather original coif of turrets is one of two sphinges at the sumptuous baroque 17th-century Parisian mansion, l'Hôtel Salé. The word sphinge is the French way to indicate the female gender of a sphinx. This sphinge and her twin were among the first to set the lavish trend in Paris, which was borrowed from Italy by François I at Fontainebleau, of sphinxes being used as ornamental sculptures. The Hôtel Salé houses the national Picasso museum and is located in the Marais at 5 rue de Thorigny.

Vocabulary
une tourelle:  a turret, a castle tower


©2016 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

RULE OF THUMB

Le winch
English words adopted into the French language are usually given the masculine gender. Take for example the word "winch"-- which we're illustrating with a photo of a small winch boat on the shores of Étretat.



©2016 P.B. Lecron

Monday, July 18, 2016

CAT'S EYES

Avoir des yeux de chat
This French expression means that one is able to see well in the dark. To illustrate it is a late 18th-century Chinese porcelain cat light holder which sits curled up in a vitrine in the Musée National de Céramique in Sèvres.

Vocabulary
l'obscurité:  darkness

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, July 17, 2016

SLEEPING

Ariane Endormie
Detail of a marvelously baroque--speaking in terms of dramatic movement--sculpture of Ariande, or Ariane to the French, in the formal gardens of the Château de Versailles.  The work by Cornielle Van Clève was executed in 1688 and is a copy of a bronze sculpture cast by Le Primatice (Primaticcio), which itself was modeled after a marble Ariande at the Vatican. The bronze had been commissioned by François I for Fontainebleau. Until the 19th century the sculpture was known as Cléopâtre (Cleopatra) because of the serpent wound around her arm.

Vocabulary
endormir:  to fall asleep
endormi(e):  asleep, sleepy


©2016 P.B. Lecron

Friday, July 15, 2016

TOO MUCH GRIEF

Bien trop de chagrin


Thursday, July 14, 2016

SIDEWALK GARDEN

Sweet and simple
A green thumb is not required for this sort of urban embellishment on a residential street in Versailles.

Vocabulary
embellir:  to embellish, to make more attractive
pousser:  to grow
un trottoir:  a sidewalk
la main verte:  green thumb

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ON THE LOOKOUT

À l'ancien hôtel des Gendarmes

Two false corner windows, one on the ground floor or rez-de-chaussée and one on the first floor, of the 18th century headquarters of Louis XV's gendarmes have become photo-op stops for those going on a trompe l'oeil safari in Versailles. In the fake windows, members of the École d'Art Mural de Versailles painted constables donned in period police uniforms and using a hand-held telescope to keep an eye on passers-by. A particularly well-suited choice because the building, constructed in 1735, now houses the larger Versailles urban area's video surveillance operations.

The building's painted faux red brickwork is characteristic of the façades of many 17th- and 18th- century Versailles edifices. The idea behind this baroque architectural curiosity was to imitate the theme of Louis XIII's red brick, white stone, and slate roofed hunting lodge, around which Louis XIV had built the palace of Versailles. 

Vocabulary
une longue-vue:  a telescope
un gendarme:  a policeman; a civil guard


For a smattering of more works graciously realized by the École d'Art Mural de Versailles, click on these links:
The Gardner's New Clothes
Snack Time
In All Manner of Ways
Slowly But Surely

©2016 P.B. Lecron

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

HIPPOMOBILE

Les Calèches de Versailles
This carriage full of tourists rolling along the streets of Versailles is a reminder that the world's first public transportation system was created by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. In 1662 Pascal, the famed French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philospher, and religious writer, obtained the privilege from Louis XIV to operate the first horse-drawn "buses" which were called "les carrosses à cing sols." For a modest tariff, the carriages, which seated eight, ran on fixed routes at regular hours in Paris, whether emtpy or not. 

Here, "sol" is synonym for "sou" which is an old French term used for a small coin, usually made of copper or brass. Curiously enough, according to the Larousse dictionary the word "hippomobile" is an adjective, although to my thinking it would make a wonderful noun. It is used to describe a vehicle pulled by one or more horses.


©2016 P.B. Lecron