Sunday, July 23, 2017

MEETING OF SMALL MINDS

Esprit de clocher

Here's a handy French term that encompasses the notions of both small-mindedness and local patriotism and accounts for village rivalries, village quarrels, and chauvinism. Esprit de clocher is an old expression used to express the idea that one's world view doesn't go beyond one's own village. In short, parochialism.

Despite its meaning, we're using as illustration for this term a photo of an elegant bell tower which is an architectural curiosity for its locality.  The tower's lead-covered dome, dating to the late 16th century and entirely restored, is of Spanish style, atypical to its French Brittany department, the Côtes-d'Armor. In addition, elements of the façade of this neo-Gothic church, l'Église Notre-Dame et Saint Mathurin in the village Moncontour, are borrowed from the Italian Renaissance style.   Moncontour is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.



Vocabulary
un beffroi:  a belfry
un clocher:  a church tower, a bell tower, a steeple
une cloche:  a bell


©2017 P.B. Lecron



Saturday, July 22, 2017

HEAD FIRST

La tête la première
Brueghelesque expressions are a presage of what visitors will see in the Jardins d'Étretât on the Normandy coast where a multitude of the resin heads are centerpieces in an incredible contemporary garden of topiary art. The heads are the work of Spanish artist Samuel Salcedo and are reminiscent of the carved stone faces that dot the terrain of another prominent suspended topiary garden, Les Jardins de Marqueyssac in the Dordogne. The Étretât garden is on the upper chalk cliff, la Falaise d'Amont, which affords a magnificent view of the opposite cliff and its the famous Aiguille, or needle structure. The above photograph was taken at the entrance of the garden.

Expression
Réfléchissons ensemble:  let's put our heads together

©2017 P.B. Lecron

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MONKEY BUSINESS


Another animal on the Mini-Carousel in Rouen serves today to illustrate a number of French terms used to translate "monkey business,"  which anglophones take to mean silly or dishonest behavior. Some of them are bêtises,  singeries,  manigances, and une affaire louche.


Vocabulary
un singe:  a monkey
une singerie:  a monkey house
les singeries:  monkeying about; antics
manigancer:  to plot
les manigances:  plotting, scheming, shenanigans
une affaire louche:  a shady deal, a shady business


©2017 P.B. Lecron

Monday, July 17, 2017

THIS LITTLE PIGGY


This little piggy went to the market on an old-style mini-carousel at the Place du Vieux Marché in Rouen.

Vocabulary
un porcinet:  a piggy, a piglet
un porcin:  a pig
un porc:  a pig, a swine (literally and figuratively)


©2017 P.B. Lecron

Saturday, July 8, 2017

SCHOOL'S OUT

Fin des cours
To mark that today is the last day of classes for French school children we're posting a photo of one more example of the charming trompe l'oeil murals painted by students and professors of the École d'Art Mural de Versailles on utility boxes around Versailles. 



©2017 P.B. Lecron