French the natural way: carnaval & planning your trip to France

Coucou les French learners,

C’est déjà le mois de février ! It is already the month of February! Il fait froid et il y a de la neige, it is cold and there is some snow, brr !

La neige dans mon jardin

This reminds me of a story about Polo à la neige which is spot on to acquire:
Il fait froid = it is cold
Il neige = it snows
Faire un bonhomme de neige = to do a snowman
Il met = he puts on
Tout à coup = suddenly

Although it is cold month over here, Février is also festive. Right now, le carnaval is happening in most francophone countries. The word comes from the Latin expression carne vale, which means “farewell to meat”, signifying the approaching fast or Carême, Lent which will start next Wednesday, le Mercredi des Cendres, Ash Wednesday.

I love this traditional carnival song from Québec, in Canada. You can follow the lyrics here: chanson-du-carnaval

The most famous carnavals are happening in Nice, and as far as La Martinique and la Nouvelle Orléans, in Louisiana. Why? Because on March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived south of New Orleans, and named it Pointe du Mardi Gras when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday.

You can also read about the famous Carnaval de Binche in Belgium in this document by Oxford Education aimed at upper intermediate learners: carnaval.binche

Finally, I love this short poem by Robert Desnos entitled La Chauve-souris, the bat. Go to this slideshow and see if you can remember the words, it is fun!

Image de Tête à Modeler, un site d’activités créatives pour enfants

Planning ahead: immerse in the French culture

Are you planning to go to France in the near future? February is usually the month when we start planning our next adventure! The problem is that when you travel to a country to immerse in the language, you end up wandering around museums and sights where the tourists are, not enjoying the language nor its people so much! So it is sometimes best to go somewhere different.

I started to follow Ecole des Trois Ponts because it is a different kind of language school. First of all it is located in a region which is dear to my heart, l’Auvergne ! It is not the typical touristy part of France, yet it is beautiful and it offers an authentic taste of the French culture. It is near to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France and it offers French cooking courses, such as pastry classes where you learn the techniques and little secrets for preparing several types of croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche and viennoiserie. Miam !

I also had the chance to meet lovely Laetitia and Valérie who run the school and I really liked the concept. The residential French courses are designed to be fully immersed in the French language and the culture. Learners have many opportunities to listen to French throughout the day in real life situations: breakfast time, with the housekeeper or chef, during an afternoon break in the sitting room or in the garden or at the convivial and relaxed dinners always in the company of a French tutor… Plus, there is the option to have individual lessons or in groups, with maximum 6 people which is ideal.

Randonnée dans la région, photo de @JansFrance

The school has generously shared with me a very special recipe inspired initially by the worldwide renowned 3-star Chef Michel Troisgros, who happens to be from this region. It is un gâteau de crêpes soufflées and it is perfect to celebrate Mardi Gras!

Click on the picture to see the recipe better

Happy crêping!

A bientôt !

P.S. Got friends, family, colleagues or clients who want to become fluent in French? Share this with them, they’ll thank you for it 🙂

P.P.S. Be sure to watch the famous fable by Jean de La Fontaine about le corbeau et le renard, the crow and the fox. And then listen to the authentic version.



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