Monday, 30 July 2012

Les jeux olympiques have started in London!

Les jeux olympiques or JO were re-introduced in 1896 by le baron Pierre de Coubertin in memory of the antique tradition and they took place in Athens.
The second JO happened, in total confusion, over 5 months, in Paris in 1900.

By 1920, the flag, le drapeau, with the 5 rings, les cinq anneaux, designed by Pierre de Coubertin appeared.
Les cinq anneaux, bleu, noir, rouge, jaune, vert linked together ( entrelacés) on a white background, un fond blanc, represent the five united continents and at least one colour of the 5 colours can be found on the national flags.

The first Winter olympics, les jeux olympiques d'hiver, took place in Chamonix in 1924.
The 1924 Olympics were again in Paris, but better organized this time and the motto, la devise, Citius, Altius, Fortius ( plus vite, plus haut, plus fort) ( faster, higher, stronger) was used.
1928 in Amsterdam saw the first olympic flame ( la flamme olympique) and the first relay of the flame ( le premier relais de la flamme) was introduced in Berlin in 1936.
Ludwig Guttman, a neurologist at Stoke Mandeville hospital near London put together the first paralympic games ( les jeux paralympiques) in 1948.
The best athletes win medals ( des médailles): médaille d'or, d'argent et de bronze.

On the second day of the games, France has won deux médailles d'or in swimming:
400m nage libre chez les femmes ( free swim for the women): Camille Muffat
Relais 4x100m chez les hommes.
We'll see what happens in the next few days.

If you wish to join a French course in Bristol or in Bath, have a look at the website. For more info...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Did you know that Le Tour de France finished yesterday?

I am sure that if you are French or British, you do know!! What a splendid win by Bradley Wiggins, le vainqueur du Tour ( the winner) who wore le maillot jaune ( yellow jersey) for 14 étapes ( stages) and a fantastic display by his team right through Le Tour, without forgetting the great sprinter Mark Cavendish and the young, very promising cycliste Chris Froome! And of course, there was Thomas Voeckler, le Français meilleur grimpeur ( king of the mountain) who won le maillot à pois rouges (white jersey with dots).

Le Tour de France is also called La grande boucle ( the big circle) at it covers most of France in vingt étapes for a total, this year, of 3496,9 km.
Some étapes are sur le plat ( on the flat) some are dans les montagnes ( in the mountains) and some are les étapes contre la montre ( time trials).
With each stage there are les échappées ( this is the group of riders that get to the front of the race) ahead of le peloton which is the main group of cyclists.
La voiture balai is for those who can't keep up or have given up so they get picked up by the big minibus which follows the race.
If you wish to find out more about this fantastic event, go to TV5 website. For more info...
Next year, le Tour will start en Corse (in Corsica), so book your holiday early!!!
If you would like to find out more about French culture and French regions as well as improve your French, why not join one of our French tuition classes starting in September. For more info...

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Le jour du 14 juillet...

Do you know what 14th July stands for? It is a commemoration of the storming of the Bastille (la prise de la Bastille) which happened on 14th July 1789, during the French revolution (la révolution française). It was a very important symbol, even if only seven prisoners were freed on that day - the prison was almost empty!
Nowadays a large military parade (un défilé militaire) is held on Champs Elysées, and in the evening, most towns and villages celebrate with fireworks (les feux d'artifices).
Credit: Celeste Hutchins

The famous French singer Georges Brassens had a different take on the day, and in one of his most famous songs entitled Bad Reputation (La mauvaise réputation), he sings:

Le jour du 14 juillet, je reste dans mon lit douillet,
La musique qui marche au pas, 
Cela ne me regarde pas.
Je ne fais pourtant de tort à personne,
En n'écoutant pas le clairon qui sonne
Mais les braves gens n'aiment pas que
L'on suive une autre route qu'eux

On the 14th of July
I keep to my cosy bed
The marching music
Holds no interest for me
Yet I don’t harm anyone
By not listening to the bugle
But good folk don’t like it when
You follow another way than theirs

If you would like to listen to the song, you can find one of many versions here, with a translation:

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Discover the "Dame à la licorne" tapestries:

Have you ever heard of 'The Lady and the Unicorn' (la dame à la licorne)?
It is a series of tapestries (tapisseries) from the late 15th century, considered to be one of the greatest works of art from the Middle Ages. You can now see it in Cluny Museum in Paris. Five of the tapestries depict one of the five senses:
Smell (l'odorat)
Hearing (l'ouie)
Sight (la vue)
Touch (le toucher)
Taste (le gôut)
Sight (la vue)

The last one, À Mon Seul Désir, is thought to represent generosity (la largesse). Each of the 6 tapestries include a woman (une dame) and a unicorn (la licorne) as well as a lion (un lion) and several other animals (can you spot the whispering rabbit?).
Why not discover more on the museum's website, or better, go and see it in person this summer?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Who's in for a game of pétanque?

Audrey and her students have recently had a game of pétanque in Queensquare. If you have never played, you might want to give it a try on your next holidays in France. It is played with metal balls (boules) and a smaller wooden one (le cochonnet). The aim is to get your balls as close to the cochonnet as possible.
Whether you decide to roll a boule as close to the cochonnet as possible (pointer) or you are trying to strike the opponent's boule out of the way (tirer) is up to you; you will find a lot of French people playing pétanque and drinking pastis (aniseed alcoholic drink) at the same time!

If you would like to give pétanque a try, why not join us on Saturday 1st  September in Queensquare at 4.30 pm? Spaces are limited so please let us know in advance if you would like to come!