Category Archives: Paris

Learning French

CoolArcadesLyonFranceFirstly as we grow up we construct phonetic and grammatical filters and auto correctors. These get in the way, and the older we get the harder it is. French is a very vowel based sounding language. It does not have the clear consonant endings that English has. The French pronounce the whole word except often the end. The English skip over the middle – just say er – and pronounce the end. The English pronounce strongly or softly, while the French pronounce in the middle of the mouth – towards the back – it’s a more moderate and nasal sound.

A lot of the French vowel sounds do not have direct English equivalents but they do have similar English equivalents. oi – wa. au – o. oui – we , u – oo. j is soft. g can be hard or soft. th is pronounced with the t & the h separately , the h is often silent. In England there is a town called Witham pronounced wit ham – this is more the French pronunciation.

Plurality is indicated by the prefixing word – preposition – le \ la (the) becomes les (lay) , de (of , from) becomes des (day) (of plural , some). Plural nouns end in s or x but the s or x are not pronounced. If x is in a word – eg Bruxelles – it’s pronounced as a s.

Consonants preceding vowels may be transferred to the vowel – c’est un – becomes – c’es tun in sound , if the un wasn’t there it would be just c’e in sound. ~tion is pronounced ~seeon.

Instead of ‘it is’ the French usually say ‘this is’ – c’est. are and have become interchanged – eg. in English – ‘what age are you ?’ – in French ‘I have 51 years’ – J’ai 51 ans.

Volleyball2HoteldeVilleParisFranceThe French language can often be formal – please is s’il vous plait – if it pleases you. They also often use contractions both on the English and on the French – ‘I am an engineer’ becomes ‘I am engineer’ – Je suis ingenieur , toute de suite becomes toute suite. They can also say things that sound odd to the English ear – ‘merci a vous’ – ‘thanks to you’ instead of thank you. Often the basic noun verb noun sentence is said noun noun verb – ‘I send you’ becomes ‘I you send’ – ‘Je vous envoie’. The French do not have a word for ‘do’ , they use the word for ‘make’ – ‘faire’ – and they don’t use it as a question indicator. A question is stated Australian style but without the do. They also don’t have a word for ‘will’ in the sense of ‘I will send you to Paris’ they say ‘Je vais vous envoyer à Paris’ – literally – ‘I go you sending to Paris’.

Past is the word ‘have’ – ‘J’ai…’. Where the French end the word in ‘~ment’ there is almost always an English equivalent word ending in ‘~ly’ with almost always the same meaning. Where the English end a word in ‘~ing’ the French just use the verb base – er or re ending – ie. the ‘to ~verb’. Possessives are said using the word ‘de’ – ‘boy’s dog’ is ‘dog of boy’ – ‘chien de garcon’. Adjectives often follow the nouns – ‘blue car’ is ‘car blue’ – ‘voiture bleue’. The French often use ‘on’ – one – instead of ‘nous’ – we.

Now , learning French. I suggest 3 hours basic French course per week over at least 3 weeks. Then just use it when you are in Paris – eg. in restaurants , buying tickets etc. – just pleasantries – la politesse. Be warned Paris has a strong tourist sector that is not the best place to learn and practice French. It’s like any such tourist sector – a lot of non French working in it , along the central drag there is a quite a bit of bad service and a fair bit of bad food etc.. IE. you have to know where to go to find the good food and good service – getting off the beaten track is , as always , the good way to go.

Saint-Séverin Church, Latin Quarter, Paris

SaintSeverinChurchParisSaint-Séverin is a magnificent church, located on the lively tourist street Rue Saint-Séverin. It is one of the oldest churches that remains standing on the Left Bank, and it continues in use as a place of worship.

It is built in flamboyant gothic style mostly between the 13th and 15th century. Covered by Gothic arches, and what looks like a small courtyard is in fact a former mass grave,Saint-SéverinCourtyardParis where only wealthy Parisians were buried in tombs. What’s more, in 1474 the first surgical operation was carried out here on a prisoner suffering from kidney stones. The operation was a success and the prisoner’s death sentence avoided!

The church’s external features include some fine gargoyles and flying buttresses. Its bells include the oldest one remaining in Paris, cast in 1412; their ringing is recalled in a well known poem in praise of Paris by Alan Seeger.

Le Mur des Je t’aime, Pigalle, Paris

In 1992, Frédéric Baron was dreaming of a love-themed trip around the world. But instead he just traveled around the streets of Paris asking people to write “I love you” in their own language in his notebook. ILoveYouBoardParisFrance

With over 311 written declarations in 250 different languages, I love You : The Wall has become a meeting place for lovers.

Made up of 511 tiles of enamelled lava, the wall is sprinkled with coloured broken heart pieces and set in the green haven of Jehan Rictus public garden, behind the Place des Abbesses.

Aqueducs d’Arcueil et de Cachan

AqueducsdArcueilParisFranceThe Arcueil aqueducts at Cachan is a set of aqueducts in the Val-de-Marne crossing at the location of a spur Valley Bièvre. These aqueducts carry the waters of three rivers: the Vanne, the Loing and Lunain, rivers in Burgundy that run more than 100 km before arriving in Paris. Two aqueducts still work and lead to the capital 145 000 m³ of water per day.

Catch the train to Accueil-Cachan station, and if you don’t see it when you get to the station, turn around. It is located in Cachan, about 10 km south of the périphérique, a city served by RER B. Or about 30 minutes ride out of Paris on the great Velib.

This is also the location of the aqueducts shown in the movie “Amelie Poulain” when she is talking to that older couple.

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Agrandir le plan

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Located in Paris’ 14th arrondissement, the 15-hectare (37 acre) Parc Montsouris was created by landscape architect Adolphe Alphand, as part of the city’s transformation by Baron Haussmann, a French civic planner of the 19th century.
Situated at the southern edge of Paris, the park is a romantic park in English style, much like Alphand’s Parc des Buttes-Chaumont at the north side of Paris, albeit this one is less spectacular.

The second largest park in Paris proper is a lovely open green space that is suitable for walking, jogging, or just relaxing in the sun. There is also a small lake with its own tiny island, and it attracts a variety of migratory birds and is a great bird-watching location.

ParcMontsouris2ParisFranceParc Montsouris is also very much a place to enjoy great displays of public art. Sculptures date as far back as the mid 1800s, with the most recent being crafted in 1960. Most are done in either bronze or marble and are strategically.

Oddly, a train track cuts right through the park. However, this is hardly noticeable thanks to Alphonse Alphand, who created a sunken trackway lined with pine trees. Two bridges connect either side of the park. Thanks to the presence of the track Parc Montsouris is easily reached by train as the Cité Universitaire stop of the RER train is literally located inside the park.